When I started in digital marketing, I splattered meta-data and keywords into content like Pollock. I am not proud of this because not only does this date me, but it is also horrifically against best practices as we see them today. If you ever read anything along the lines of “California vacation lovers and those who love California vacations? For the best California vacation, look no further than these California vacations,” I send my deepest apologies.
Fast forward 20 years, I’m now happy to say that organic SEO best practices have dramatically improved, both for the marketer and the end-user. As we move into 2023, it’s more important than ever to remember search does not take place in a silo. It should be a thoughtful, integrated strategy running across the complete customer experience.
Not sure how to integrate SEO? We have six key ways to de-silo your search integration across your organization when it comes to working with search engine optimization teams, agencies, or practitioners.
Search Meets Research, Personas, and the Audience Journey
Search traffic provides a treasure trove of qualitative and quantitative information about your audiences’ needs, vernacular, attitudes, and more.
Do people talk about your travel product by saying “vacation” or “trip”?
Do high school students looking for information about their college of choice search for “ASU”, “Arizona State”, or “Arizona State University”?
When searching for enterprise software, do your customers say “platform,” “tool,” or “technology”?
Using search data helps you discern what will resonate best with your audience. Couple this with surveys, stakeholder interviews, and digital data and you have a solid (and quantifiable) foundation for your personas and audience journeys.
When search teams share high-level keyword information across the organization, it can help support everything from media relations to product development to recruitment and beyond.
Integrate SEO and UX
According to “SEO For Everyone” authors Rebekah Baggs & Chris Corak, search and user experience teams shouldn’t be kept on separate tasks (or quite frequently within separate silos). These practitioners or teams often have some of the same goals in mind: ensure the site is easy to find, navigate, use, and enjoy. Although, they may approach the process of getting to the end goal differently.
Don’t let the idea of The One Perfect Keyword create tunnel vision—you want to be looking at the bigger, more nuanced picture. An improved user experience means people stay on the page longer, interacting further with your site, not clicking the back button, revisiting the site anew, and sharing your content—all boons for SEO. The better the overall site experience (think UX, load times, mobile navigation, et al.), the more likely you’ll reach the coveted top ten in SERP.
– Baggs & Corak
Search and….. the Offsite Experience?
During my Britney-and-Justin-era SEO days, I didn’t anticipate I’d be planning for SEO even before the site experience began.
It is now critical that search marketers consider how their content is presented, consumed, and shared even before the user gets to their site. Examples of this include maps, movie listings, local listings, and product descriptions.
As top search results provide answers via the SERP itself, search marketers and content creators need to button up content, images and calls to action even before a user steps foot on your site.
Search and Social
One of my favorite mash-ups over the years has been search and social. It’s interesting to find how search keywords and activity on your site overlap with social engagement conversions and customer care. This isn’t revealed through a pretty venn diagram. This typically looks like a psychologist blot experiment with various overlaps in bizarre and unpredictable ways.
As the great resignation continues and teams have more and more to do (with fewer resources, patience, and stamina), one way to offset that workload is figuring out ways to collaborate, leverage each other’s expertise, and do more together, outside of the SEO silo. Top social sites for search engine optimization (and content distribution, amplification, and atomization too!) include LinkedIn, Pinterest, Medium, Twitter, and Meta (the artist formerly known as Facebook).
Pull quote: According to Pinterest, 444 million people globally come to Pinterest every month to get inspired. Last year, 88% of Pinterest users purchased a product as a result of their New Year’s Resolutions.
SEO, Meet Creative and Content
Content marketers and writers need to ensure content is not just “me me me” or “product product product” copy.
What questions does your audience need answering? In what cadence? Where? Why? How (video vs text vs app, for example)? I can promise with 99% accuracy it’s not, “why are these SaaS tool features so yummy?”
Creative is critical too. According to Google’s John Mueller:
Sometimes those small differences do play a role in regards to how people perceive your website. If, for example, you have something that is on a financial topic and people come to you and say, “well, your information is okay but it’s presented in a way that looks very amateurish,” – then that could reflect how your website is perceived. And in the long run could reflect something that is visible in search as well.
Poor design can lead to high bounce rates and short time on site, adversely impacting ratings. Search marketers working on their 2023 goal or to-do list might consider adding “meet with the creative team” (over coffee or cocktails works!)
For a goldmine of additional insights from Google’s John Mueller Bookmark This: 57 SEO Insights
SEO and Video
With YouTube continuing to dominate as a primary search engine, optimizing videos for SEO should be on your radar as well. Videos should mirror your search keywords, be thoughtfully optimized, and mirror the sophistication of your brand, both from a creative and UX perspective.
Keep your eye on:
Channel trailer, featured video, and channel sections
Channel name, description, and site links
Profile picture, banner image, and video watermark
SRT Files,Tags, & Hashtags
Titles and headlines for thumbnails
Now’s The Time To Integrate SEO
To help phase your efforts, begin by learning what terms and topics your audience is searching for, build content focusing on those phrases and issues, and use the research to understand the highest interest levels. Focus your content initiatives on those first.
In addition, tools like TubeBuddy, Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and YouTube Search Predictions will help you learn what is working – and what’s not as you integrate SEO.