Over the past few months, a number of articles have caught my eye as they reinforce important learnings about how search has evolved. In light of these articles, I’ve looked at how brands and retailers need to shift their mind-set around ‘SEO’ and use it more strategically within marketing campaigns.
SEOs have a role in development
SEO has evolved greatly over the years and it doesn’t operate in silo. Search engine algorithms have advanced significantly to weed out spam and reward sites that have relevant and valuable content – ultimately sites that provide users with what they want.
SEO and UX go hand-in-hand and which is why it’s important that the SEOs of today have good knowledge of usability and experience design as well as the technical aspects of search. All these skills can be a huge asset when redeveloping a website.
Your optimisation team will have in-depth, historic knowledge of your current site’s performance, what works and what doesn’t as well as your business goals. They also have knowledge of a number of different platforms so can advise on the best platform even before the project has kicked off.
When developing a site, use your SEO team’s experience, learnings and advice to your advantage. Get their input on technical requirements and recommended specification for your new site to ensure that important elements, for both the search engines and users, are factored into scope.
Then by the combined ideas of your optimisation team, designers and developers will ensure you end up with a site that exceeds expectations in terms of architecture, content, optimisation and user experience.
I recently read a good post about the relevance of keyword analysis in Search Engine Land. I couldn’t agree more with the points raised and want to reinforce how brands should be using search term analysis today.
The Hummingbird update in 2013 was an important step in Google’s quest to provide better quality search results. By better understanding the intent of search queries by looking at context (rather than specific keyword matching) they have been able to provide smarter, more relevant search results.
Of course, bespoke on-page optimisation still has its part to play, but brands need to forget trying to rank for certain keywords and focus on adding relevant, more varied content around topics or subjects.
Keyword analysis today should help identify popular keyword themes, product opportunities and review what questions are being frequently searched for. This kind of analysis will help you find gaps and opportunities for targeted content, be that additional products, improved categorisation or filtering functionality, enhanced product information, how-to guides or FAQs.
Think about the role your content plays in a conversion and investigate terms that will target more of the right customers throughout their search.
Measuring your marketing
Another interesting read was this article on Moz which discussed why looking at correlation rather than focusing on causation needs to be more of a focus for modern SEOs and marketers.
It is becoming harder and harder to predict and measure success from individual channels and the key statement in this article is that SEOs are “becoming more complete marketers, with greater influence on all of the elements of our organisations’ online presence.”
All these articles reinforce that SEO shouldn’t be treated as something that operates in isolation. Retailers need to change their view on traditional SEO tactics such as keyword analysis, as these should be used far more frequently and strategically to inform content creation. Expanding quality, engaging content is always going to be the best long-term strategy for natural success, not focusing on specific keyword rankings as many brands still do!
Retailers also need keep focused on the bigger-picture. Of course monitor granular channel specific metrics, but don’t obsess over them. Tie everything back to your bottom line. If your marketing channels are working, you will be able to see this in your sales, revenue and market share.
And finally, be sure to get the most from your agencies by pooling their knowledge to ensure your marketing campaigns are joined up. Whether it is a new site build or a strategy review, get your agencies in the same room to work together, share plans and collaborate on strategy to ensure you maximise the effectiveness your marketing.