It may sound weird coming from a company whose flagship service is SEO, but search engine optimization is not the magic key to success in business. In some instances, the organic channel may not even the best digital channel for brands to focus on.
Too many businesses are spending too much time in the SERP trenches, with marketing managers and business owners working tirelessly to implement on-page and off-page strategies described in one of the thousands of “how to” guides spamming the web.
Fact is, putting all of your eggs in one basket is a common business mistake, and it is often made with digital marketing. Search engine optimization will always be a risky investment due to volatility in search results caused by algorithm updates and the fact that it will never become an exact science. Google’s algorithm is complex and proprietary, to the point that even its own engineers don’t know it in its entirety.
This does not mean you shouldn’t invest in it. Key elements of a great SEO campaign, like content marketing and promotional outreach, lead to a significant positive impact on the business. But organic always takes time and results are never guaranteed.
The best strategy for digital marketing is to weave search engine optimization efforts in with marketing initiatives on other digital channels. A sound integrated marketing campaign will achieve greater organic growth results than following the best SEO guide on the planet.
With so many social media sites on which to claim a brand’s real estate, it’s important to pick one or two best platforms and leverage them strategically.
Most businesses make the mistake of simply going through the motions when it comes to social, lazily curating content from other sources or offering little value to their followers. This is a waste of team bandwidth and a missed opportunity.
Instead, your social strategy should tailor content and seek engagement with your following to build rapport and trust. The key is to find a platform that 1) helps your ideal customers discover you easily and 2) uses the proper content format to help you connect with the fans/followers.
Some of the top social platforms and their uses include:
- LinkedIn: This business-focused platform is great for B2B marketing. It’s a great outlet for publishing expert articles on your company page, and getting your content in front of decision makers with its PPC platform.
- Facebook: This behemoth is so ubiquitous that you’ll find a bit of everything here. Facebook is great for connecting with existing customers and getting in front of potential customers’ eyes. Its advertising platform also allows you to efficiently target specific audience groups, getting a good return on paid search advertising.
- Instagram: This platform is best for anything visual. The rise of video content on the platform has been a revelation for most marketers. It’s a leading platform to reaching millennials both for B2B and B2C purposes.
The Impact of Social Media on SEO
Trying to choose between social media or SEO is a mistake. They are actually quite complimentary.
It has been widely debated whether or not search engines take social signals into account as a ranking factor, and the full answer is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no”. But there is an undeniable correlation between search rankings and articles that perform well on social media.
More importantly, a strong social presence that gets content in front of a larger audience will boost the website’s chances of earning media coverage and links organically. Journalists and bloggers may discover your content through hash tags or by seeing your content shared by a friend.
By putting in a little more effort, you can leverage social media to promote your content directly. Tools like BuzzSumo allow you to find who shares content in your industry and pitch it directly to them, a common link building strategy utilized by top SEO agencies.
Pay-Per-Click is a form of online advertising where businesses pay when somebody clicks on their online ad. Businesses are able to launch campaigns and see results almost instantly, using the data they collect to refine and improve the performance of their advertisements.
There’s more to PPC than simply buying ad space. Most major social networks have some form of paid advertising available – for some, like Google, it is their biggest revenue driver.
Much like growing a business’ social presence in the first place, it’s all about using the right platforms. LinkedIn shines for B2B and Instagram has shown tremendous performance for B2C brands. Google Ads (recently rebranded from Google Adwords) has been a leader in paid search advertising for both B2B and B2C industries.
By using the advanced targeting options, an advertiser is able to show their ads to relevant would-be customers on numerous platforms, in different formats, and types of media. YouTube allows businesses to run video ads in front of other people’s videos, which adds a strong relevancy element. Facebook allows you to promote your content or generate new fans for your Facebook page. The options are extensive.
Companies can afford to pay more to acquire a customer through PPC than they may earn from the initial sale if they have a higher lifetime value of the average customer, which forces ongoing optimization and refinement.
The PPC world is heavily data-driven. Paid ads provide insights into what people are looking for, what happens when they land on a page, and how to improve conversions. Advertisers are paying for each and every visitor, so every visit gets a lot more respect and attention than visitors from other digital channels.
How PPC Helps SEO
Performance data from PPC campaigns allows businesses to quickly learn the value of traffic on a granular level. Driving traffic for specific keywords shows the conversion rates for those queries, which helps you understand the value of targeting those keywords/topics and determine whether they are good targets for an organic campaign.
PPC can also help determine the efficiency of a landing page with quick A/B testing. Doing so will help you not only optimize a page for conversions, but also make sure your page provides the right information to improve bounce rates and time spent on page – metrics rumored to be used by Google to determine a page’s quality.
It’s important to note that Google has stated that PPC campaigns don’t have a direct influence on search results: “Google’s first responsibility is to provide Search users with the most relevant possible results. If businesses were able to pay for higher rankings in the search results, users wouldn’t be getting the information they’re looking for.” (source: Google Ads)
However, in addition to the quick data that can have a profound impact on the overall efficacy of an SEO campaign, there are other fringe benefits as well. For example, it has been long-believed that AdWords campaigns can help new sites get crawled more quickly, and that user behavior metrics from all channels help Google determine the general quality of your site.
Email marketing can be seen as an old-school strategy, but “timeless” is a better way of looking at it. The strategy has evolved over the years and the technology has only gotten better. Whether it’s cart abandonment drip campaigns for ecommerce, or newsletter signups for lead generation, email can increase revenue as well as increase brand loyalty.
According to a study by Barilliance, the average rate of cart abandonment in 2017 was over 78%. More than three quarters of website visitors who placed an item into their shopping cart left before completing the purchase.
Other studies have found the rate of cart abandonment to be anywhere from 55% all the way up to 80%, with mobile users being more likely to leave the page without completing the checkout process.
Email campaigns that send a reminder to people that left items in their cart can be very good at turning some of those abandoned carts into conversions. By that point, they’ve already left the site, so any successful attempts to bring them back are a major bonus, and a prime example of the evolution of email marketing strategy.
Drip campaigns are another great way to build trust & relationships with your audience, especially if your product is a hefty investment for your buyers. When somebody joins a mailing list, they’re making a deliberate effort to stay in touch with that business. It’s great top of funnel entry point that eventually leads to generating sales.
How Email Marketing Can Improve SEO
People who have made the effort to subscribe to a mailing list are going to be among your most engaged and interested visitors. They saw the initial content, and said “I want more of that, and I want it in my inbox.” Because of this, they’re going to help boost user behavior metrics like session duration and page views.
Readers are also more likely to share your content in the long run, providing a powerful initial boost that can drastically help organic reach on social media. This, in turn, often results in organically earned links, whether it’s from readers sharing the content on forums or writers referencing your content on their own blogs.
Additionally, email can breathe new life into your older content. Smart timeliness with email can revive your posts from the past and further engage your readers you’ve acquired since the original post went live. In essence, email can help you keep your content evergreen.
Influencer marketing has grown significantly over the last few years. The rise of social media has paved way for individuals to attract a significant following and gain influence over the followers.
Blue chip brands have been sponsoring influencers for decades in traditional media, but smaller companies are starting to realize that they can do the same online. While most businesses may not be able to land a brand deal with widely-known influencers, smaller influencers are well within reach (and budget).
The millions of niche communities that exist in the digital world have led to a rise in small-to-medium sized influencers who are respected in their niche but don’t have anything close to mainstream recognition. Nor do they need it – their influence with specific audience segments is exactly what makes them so valuable to brands.
Influencer Marketing Hub conducted a survey of 272 marketing managers, and 28% of them pegged influencers as the fastest-growing method of acquiring customers online, with “organic search” and “other” tying for second place at only 15% each.
Finding the small-to-medium sized influencers in a niche can lead to exceptional opportunities. Product placement and outright endorsement are a common strategy to get your brand in front of an influencer’s audience. Many smaller influencers are still quite affordable and the potential ROI they present to a business is too great to ignore.
How Influencer Marketing Can Improve SEO
Aside from promoting your brand by wearing your merch, featuring your products, or simply sharing your content (all things that lead to an increase in brand awareness for your brand), influencer marketing can actually have a great impact on SEO.
A segment of the influencer’s fans will naturally grow curious and look up your brand after learning about it. They’ll click through to the business’ website, or social media accounts, or whatever else is occupying the SERP real estate. If the campaign has targeted the right influencer and audience, many of the fans will turn into your customers.
The main benefit to SEO, however, comes from all of those branded searches that result in people visiting the site. All of those people searching the brand name helps signal to Google that your company is a legitimate and popular entity, worthy of rankings and traffic.
Integrated Marketing Expedites SEO and Secures Your Business
The total sum of marketing efforts on multiple digital channels will inevitably lead to greater business growth. It is important to look at all the marketing channels as a single cohesive unit instead of looking at each channel in a vacuum. A smart integrated marketing strategy will weave channels together and allow them to support one another.
The best part is that Google evaluates your brand on a holistic level. This means the greater your visibility and coverage across the digital space, the more likely you are to experience greater organic visibility.
Having great marketing overall also leads directly to sales without having to wait for rankings, while improving SEO in the long run. Perhaps most importantly, if the organic channel were to ever be compromised by yet another algorithm update, your business will still have other channels in place to drive sales.
SEO is one of many investments that can be used to bring in new business. It’s not always the primary avenue, but rather just one way to get there. When businesses look beyond organic at other avenues for online marketing, not only do they achieve the end-results they were hoping to get from SEO (read: business growth), but they’ll also boost their SEO in the process.