Did you learn a new digital marketing tactic today? Generally speaking, it’s likely to be useful but is it helpful for your brand right now or at all? More importantly, are emerging SEO implementations fueled by interests in rankings or conversions? In many cases, you need increased exposure to secure better conversions. However are paths to better conversions fueled by insights from SEO's or consumers? Or is it both?
I read an interesting blog post the other day that talks about how SEO is still very relevant in 2018. Some SEO's may argue this but I believe SEO is still the #1 foundation for a successful digital strategy. The post went on to explain how much SEO has grown and we need to understand that “SEO in 2018 requires new skills and approaches to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.” My main takeaway is that these new skills and approaches essentially will allow for better consumer-to-brand engagement. After all, SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization and not consumer-brand optimization. Meaning, technical aspects place a brand in a good position but when it comes to ‘ranking well’ with consumers, brands should defer to those with experience in that department, the consumers.
Always a great and obvious question. Typical business reps may respond with, “to make money.” Which is always important but really, what is the purpose? Is the site selling products such as an e-comm site? Is the site’s purpose to educate (a business consultant’s way to give consumers a ‘sample’)? Is it to lead more people to a brick-and-mortar store (such as restaurants, doctors, dry cleaners, etc.)? Are they just looking for more leads?
A digital marketer can’t always answer that question for you, it’s an in-house question. However, depending on user engagement, consumers can answer such a question. What is your brand’s current state? What are the brand’s long and short-term goals? What marketing strategies have they done in the past? An initial purpose may change but ensure it is identified before doing any implementation and marketing.
Digital Marketing suggestions and tactics are often delivered in ‘catchall’ fashions but the reality of business is that each one is very unique in their own way. Depending on a brand’s business model and present goals, there are a number of ways to answer the question. Are your consumers engaging in brand-desired behavior? While digital marketing specialists may pick up on patterns in marketing and provide suggestions, they may not offer the best solutions regarding how to modify customer behavior. Consider ‘inquiring’ about behavior related to bounce rates, low conversions, how they engage the site, etc. Your website is a means to an end. Improve the means by asking customers through a survey.
Do you have a well-defined target market? The typical business rep from the first question may say, “those with money to spend.” Again, that is typical but defining and targeting a market isn't always that simple. For instance, an online marketer may love the usefulness of Facebook, yet after doing some research, you may find high percentages of your consumers are not using the platform. The business usually knows best but the SEO expert can help with this through some useful tools.
The Consumer Barometer by Google is a useful tool to help you understand how people use the Internet across the world. Also from Google, Google Analytics and the Google Keyword Planner are two great tools to utilize in terms of identifying the target audience. Any experienced SEO can effectively use these to paint that great picture. Leveraged tools of online marketing should be contingent on a brand’s target market.
So, are search engine optimization experts irrelevant? Absolutely not! But keep in mind, SEO's and good rankings are just one piece of the puzzle. Ensure your brand is also listening to its consumers, allowing good rankings to materialize into good conversions.