Understanding SEO and Integrated Marketing
Any business that operates online simply must have a workable web marketing strategy in place, but it can be somewhat difficult to adapt your techniques to align them with the changes that are constantly being made to the search engines. Life was much easier a few years ago for those looking to optimise their web pages for Google and the like, but as the main search engines have become more and more sophisticated, the need for fresh, interesting and engaging content has become greater and greater.
You can no longer afford to be cynical and rely on strategically-placed keywords and nothing else if the required rankings are to become a reality. There’s a long list of factors to consider and implement, from branding, PR, responsive design, international considerations and more which means that securing the best search engine rankings can seem like something of a full-time job. Because successful SEO can require an expert knowledge in the field, many website owners do ask for outside help with their search optimisation, leaving them to go about their business safe in the knowledge that search marketing is being handled professionally on their behalf. Nonetheless, if you do have the time, skills and resources it remains possible to do your own SEO in-house.
A Unified Voice
More and more influential figures are talking about what is branded ‘integrated marketing’. This involves taking a number of marketing channels and unifying them. This requires employing the same tone across your web marketing and any other brand engagement activities you might pursue, giving off a feel of real coherency whilst exploiting every avenue available to you. Each of these strategies can come to compliment and reinforce each other and ensuring that your message hits home.
It’s now estimated that companies spend around 2.5% of their annual revenue on digital marketing and that digital marketing spend represents around a quarter of what is invested in all marketing activities. Paid search has brought excellent results to many companies, but only around 9% of companies have said that they would put search marketing in their top 3 most successful marketing tools. This means that those working in SEO are arguably challenged with making companies see the potential of their work, encouraging them to invest more in their services and skills whilst enabling them to see that without search marketing assistance, an integrated marketing campaign may not be as successful as one would hope.
SEO and PR
Meanwhile, it could be argued that those working in SEO should widen their skills range to promote a better understanding of cross-promotion. There are many transferable skills that can be offered by those working in SEO that should be able to be utilised fully in other fields such as PR – and a better understanding of PR should of course lead to better implementation of SEO too. By liaising with others in the marketing field, relationships can become more robust and those all-important backlinks can be generated too.
Writing on Moz.com, Stephanie Chang spoke in great detail about the integrated marketing and the relationship between SEO and PR, with particular reference to startups and crowdfunding as well as with regards to bigger, more-established organisations and services. For example, in a crowdfunding project, it’s important that the actual site that is showcasing the project is optimised for SEO too as well as the funding page as that is the place where products might be sold once funding is complete. The site will need to feature at the top of the search engine results pages when the relevant terms are types in – alternatively crowdfunding can take place on the main website, though this isn’t known to be a tried and trusted alternative to the main funding sites. With so many crossovers between PR and SEO, it’s no surprise to see that the two areas should complement one another so much.
Market On and Offline
Of course, a marketing mix of both offline and online activity should not be neglected, and printed media can and regularly does lead to customers heading to the web to find out more about a product, service or organisation. It is also important to reach the small amount of people for whom the internet does not play a huge rule in their lives, and ignoring them can be highly detrimental to your marketing efforts. As long as the printed media is around, there’ll always be people who prefer the experience of consuming newspapers and magazines over tablets and smartphones, and there is not much to be gained by failing to reach them.
Great content becomes more and more important with each passing day and it is interesting and imagination-capturing blogs, articles, images and videos that can enable a company to transcend its competitors. Also, the more content is liked and shared, the higher it can appear on search engine rankings, whilst enabling you to convince consumers that you really are passionate about the field that you work within. This helps build brand engagement and permits you to create long-lasting and prosperous relations with the public – demonstrating once again the robust overlap of PR and SEO.
Getting integrated marketing right can be a long process, and many mistakes can be made before the right results are reaped. What seems certain though is that companies and even not-for-profit services can hardly rely on one simple channel to gain exposure, nurture loyalty and increase exposure levels. As Chang states, a unified collaborative effort is always required to exploit all the channels available whilst maintaining a coherent voice, and consistency really is key. A unified vision can work wonders for a brand’s identity, allowing the public to see what makes a service stand out from the rest and display a company’s values in the best light possible. It’s essential that everyone working on a marketing campaign has an in-depth understanding of what a company is trying to achieve and a unified idea of how to achieve it, and when SEO staff can successfully become the voice of a company, it’s clear to see why their work is needed.