Is there any marketing topic that seems more important than search engine optimization (SEO)?
Well, ok, maybe inbound marketing, but the two go hand-in-hand.
For the busy marketer who is already trying to keep up with the ever-changing demands of digital media, SEO can be intimidating.
But do not despair: there are a few simple tactics and strategies that you can build into your day-to-day marketing practice to move the needle that won’t take over your life.
What matters most is to know what you don’t know (yet). You need to understand what your key objectives for SEO are and what you can realistically accomplish on your own or with the staff at your disposal. There might be a point in time where it makes sense to bring in “the expert”. Being realistic requires understanding first.
But let me start at the beginning. Why does SEO matter so much?
SEO matters because we live in the digital age where almost anything you might want to know can be found online. If your product or service can’t be discovered via Google search, the likelihood is high that your prospects will be shopping somewhere else. That certainly applies to me.
Whether you are in the B2B or B2C space does not matter, a well-known Forrester study (and many others) show that most people are 70-90% through the traditional sales cycle before they will ever talk to a sales person. At this point, there is a short list of vendors and products, and it’s too late to get on it.
And that’s all that inbound marketing means: The prospect finds you (you pull them in) vs. you pushing out information to them.
Of course, traditional marketing is not dead and email marketing, in particular, is alive and kicking, but the combination of push and pull marketing is what generally works best (like peas and carrots).
Social media is in the twilight zone when it comes to push and pull.
- On the one hand, your tweets, Facebook status updates and blogs are information that you push out to your followers and fans.
- But on the other hand, much of information published via social media can be discovered in search on Google also.
- And most importantly: if you play social media right, you don’t just amplify but engage with your clients; push and pull in action.
Hence, there is the term Social Media Optimization (SMO)
SMO is your social media activity that helps you increase your discoverability and brand awareness.
As we all know, we live in the day of secret algorithms.
Nobody is 100% sure how Google decides what content to serve up first, or how Facebook decides which 2% of your page fans get to see the content you post organically.
But, there are many best practices from people who have been successful in ranking high in search results and who have – to a degree – reverse engineered the algorithms. Of course, to keep us on our toes, the platform vendors keep modifying the algorithms.
My point is, it is a fact that social media activity helps with SEO (or SMO; semantics).
Example 1: Twitter just recently announced that Google will tab into their fire hose of tweets so that all tweets will be searchable on Google.
Example 2: If you write a blog, and promote that blog via social media, pointing back to your blog post via URLs on Twitter and Facebook, you create a kind of circular motion. Instead of trying to educate and entertain your audience in a single place (e.g. your website, your Facebook page), you are in all the places your audience is at, all the time. (Note: all the time, if you have the resources; otherwise: divide and conquer).
As my motto states: “Fish where the fish are”.
It’s not rocket science but does require some elbow grease and time.
Image provided by David Saunders on Flickr, via CreativeCommons.org.