Photo Credit: John Bertino
I recently had the pleasure of attending the San Diego SEO Meetup at the University of San Diego, where a few of the industry’s best discussed how SEO is evolving and the new skills we’ll have to learn to keep up. Walked away with some great insights and a lot to research after listening to this group of panelists for an hour:
- Jordan Kasteler, Sr. SEO Manager at Red Door Interactive
- Jon Clark, Director SEO at Razorfish
- Chris Hart, Head of Client Development, US at Linkdex
- Adria Saracino, Head of Content Strategy at Distilled
SOME KEY TAKEAWAYS:
SEOs are continually pivoting into new marketing roles.
Photo Credit: John Bertino
“SEOs are not just SEOs anymore,” as Jon Clark puts it. Traditionally, SEO has been a top-of-the-funnel marketing channel focused on helping brands gain awareness and consideration from potential customers. As it’s evolved, SEO has expanded and become more relevant across the different stages of the funnel.
Adria Saracino added that modern SEOs are focusing not just on optimizing to gain awareness, but rather, putting increasing emphasis on understanding how people are getting into the funnel in the first place. This implies an entirely new skillset: market research. And, frankly, SEOs are well equipped to do this. The ability to find information in the dark corners of the Internet is our bread and butter—think link prospecting. We’re also very metrics-driven, allowing us to contribute new processes for capturing and analyzing data. These skills give SEOs a strong advantage in keeping pace with the digital marketing practice as a whole and SEOs are stepping in as the need for these types of services grow.
So, yes: SEOs are not just SEOs anymore.
Paid content promotion is where SEOs fall short.
“We rely too much on owned channels to promote content,” says Jordan Kasteler. “It doesn’t do the content justice.”
It’s true. I’ve certainly been guilty of this. I’m sure this process looks very familiar to SEOs out there:
Create content–>Optimize–>Publish–>Promote on social–>Hope people find it through Google
So how do we address this: by allocating budget in the content strategy to promote on platforms like Outbrain, Taboola, StumbleUpon, and the many others available. This is no promise that your content will go viral and get a million links. But it will get your content in front of an audience; and, at the very least, you’ll gain insight into whether or not your content is compelling or useful. As with all things in marketing, do the due diligence to understand the audience on the various platforms and what content might work well within each community. And, of course, test.
Low conversion rates may be a function of the disconnect between the promise you’re making before the click and what’s delivered on the page.
When analyzing conversion rates, a starting point for analysis is typically the page itself. Jordan argues that while it is important to review the landing page, it is equally important to look at the ad, link, or search result that the person clicked on to reach the page. Is there a disconnect in what is promised and what is delivered by the page? We have to be more aware of the entire process and be empathetic to the expectations people might have before reaching the site.
As I sat there listening to these experts talk about SEO, I thought about what this conversation might have been like 5 years ago. No doubt a strong focus on on-page SEO and aggressive link building tactics. Instead, today, they talked about how you might acquire more links by doing better market research to understand your audience and the content they’re interested in, and writing titles that might pique the reader’s interest, rather than titles that cater to Google’s algorithm.
SEO as a marketing practice is less than 20 years old: still in its teenage years. Just getting out of the proverbial awkward phase and starting to find its place in marketing. Yes, SEO has gotten into a bit of trouble in the past, but it has a good head on its shoulder and has a bright future ahead.