In the coming year it’s predicted that SEO will become less of a siloed discipline, integrating more and more with other channels and platforms. At the same time, although digital marketing budgets are set to rise by 17% in 2015, most of this is focused on customer experience technology, such as programmatic advertising campaigns.
In this environment it’s vital that SEO marketers justify their budgets by adopting effective integrated techniques that drive improved customer experience and conversions, not just traffic. How can search marketers capitalise on this and track the effectiveness of their campaigns?
SEO is competing with social, personalisation and content marketing for digital marketing spend in 2015 according to Salesforce.
Since Google lodged their Panda patent application it’s been clear that brand mentions without an HTML link are taken into account by Google’s algorithms and form part of a business’s holistic authority profile. This is just another development pushing SEO and PR closer together, meaning that influencer marketing is no longer just the domain of either PRs or link-hungry SEOs.
For search marketers this means going beyond previously-used tactics. Simply sending influencers products or offering to write guest posts are not necessarily going to be the most effective techniques as the focus moves to nurturing long-term relationships.
Events, roundtables, blogger recognition awards and cross-over projects involving influencers can all be part of the new mix, pushing SEO departments into the realm of traditional marketing. Customer experience and social media monitoring shouldn’t just be the domain of the social or customer service team either.
Search marketers can leverage these channels to nurture those already aware of or using their products or services and jump on any customer service problems. This can lead to positive social and blog mentions, or if it’s done exceptionally for long enough as Nordstrom did, entire articles by industry leaders.
The debate about social signals’ relevance and impact on SEO still rages, although experts agree that it impacts SERP listings both indirectly and directly, demonstrating the authority of the website. Google’s Knowledge Graph update to show brand’s social channels makes the connection between SEO and social even closer.
It’s now much easier for a user searching on brand terms to go directly to a company’s social media account. If they’re neglected or use poorly-targeted content, an excellent chance to engage search engine users and encourage them to take the next steps in the marketing funnel is lost.
SEOs can support and work with social media marketers by sharing with them data about which pages on the website are most popular and the terms the site ranks well for. This can suggest areas that social campaigns can focus on to produce content that answers user queries and plays a role in converting searchers.
Not to mention that tracking social analytics provides information on exactly which topics are engaging people, providing SEOs with insight that could be used for onsite content development.
The idea that creating useful, engaging and unique content is hardly new. Although content marketing and SEO are separate skillsets, the overlap between the two is significant and growing. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) 40% of organisations use search rankings to measure the effectives of their content marketing campaigns.
The CMI says that other top goals are lead generation, brand awareness and sales - a clear crossover with any SEO campaign.
This an opportunity for SEOs to widen the scope of the content elements of their campaigns. Building links and ranking for keyphrases is still important, but more attention can be paid to providing useful content throughout the entire user journey. This can include larger, interactive pieces or tools that become an evergreen resource, user-generated content that increases social awareness as well as trust and developing a strong identity and focus that readers find memorable.
Meanwhile data from analytics and social metric tools like Brandwatch and BuzzSumo can be invaluable in highlighting topics that audiences are talking about, to enable creation of laser targeted content that is naturally relevant and provides value to the customer journey.