As the algorithm rules change, so does the role of SEO in organizations. SEO departments were first formed to support adversting and to help companies build multitudes of links in order to get their brand found. The huge shift in efforts toward content creation has caused a change in how companies are using SEO. The goal of SEO in this new marketplace is to find ways to help the algorithm see the value in what the company is saying. In this ecosystem, SEO is much more of an integrated, umbrella position. Effective SEO is no longer native to any specific department in an organization. Instead, it should be home to every team in your business.
How SEO is positioned within an organization can depend on the size of the brand. In smaller companies, the Marketing Director may be the person who is trying to do it all. This is a tough position and it is hard for one person to keep their eye on all of the details. Large companies and agencies have the luxury of having entire departments, or at least a couple of people, dedicated to the SEO function. In any organization, large or small, the SEO efforts should not exist as an island.
The successful integration of SEO happens when the upper level executives understand and value SEO. For some, SEO is seen as “free traffic” fabricated by the wave of a magic wand. For others, SEO is seen as a link building tool that was somehow gaming the system using behind-the-scenes technology. In truth, integrated SEO allows companies to set a centralized hub for marketing strategy.
In a closed loop system, SEO is part of PR, marketing, and development. Historically, the problems and animosity toward SEO have cropped up when brands isolate SEO to a specific department only, making it hard for the rest of the teams to understand the benefits of the data. Integrating SEO in your organization can change your workflow and processes and create a collaborative working environment where everyone is telling the same brand story.
Agencies vs. In-House SEO
Which is better, in-house teams or agency SEO? We hate to keep saying it, but it really does depend on the size of your organization, your budget, and where you will get more value. For many organizations, in-house SEO teams may not have as much current knowledge because they do not have the resources to keep abreast of updates on the latest digital trends.
There is a greater challenge for in-house SEO teams to be self-starters and to have the time or inclination to keep themselves updated on the latest in search. These teams may be kept busy tying together SEO efforts with marketing, PR, advertising, and the myriad of other things that are intended to raise awareness about the brand, increasing its findability.
In an agency, the success of the agency is build upon how well personnel keep up with the latest trends and how well they communicate those changes to their clients. No matter the organizational model you choose, the SEO objective should be to help create a unified marketing message that takes all the channels into account.
Search is the Last Legitimate Way to Reach Out to People
What do we offer that is valuable? This question should be the question all brands ask themselves as they reach out to their audiences through organic search. The very nature of Google is a question and answer format. Users come on with a question looking for answers, and when they look for answers, content marketers want to be there to answer those questions on behalf of their brand. In some ways, the new search environment has been a devolution, taking the internet back to the early days when people used it because they wanted to get information.
Companies that are getting found now are discovering the core needs of their audiences and responding to those needs. This has been powerful from a marketing perspective, but also allows companies to provide a service for the people they are trying to reach.
Content marketing is a win-win solution for both parties– the market and the brand. As people take to search engines to get answers, brands are given a variety of opportunities to be found by their target market. For SEO, social analytics was the platform that paved the way for people who did not have a background in statistics to get involved in day-to-day metrics. The biggest impact for SEO has been the challenge of using search data to integrate paid, social, content, and brand awareness to tell a better story.
SEO to Actual Sales
Beyond brand awareness and advertisement, the objective of SEO is to increase sales. Getting started using SEO can be as simple as tracking how far people are scrolling on your webpage and then looking at how to optimize the way they see your content. Would you drive more conversions if you added an action button further up the page, instead of waiting until the end? To translate traffic to sales, make SEO relevant to whoever you are talking to, and focus on creating a message that reflects your brand. In the process, your SEO goals will help you to get to know your market and what they look for when they search.