There are many awesome traits of the typical SEO, from the constant inquisitiveness to the unparalleled competitiveness, but we often see ourselves as an island within the digital marketing sphere. In my opinion this is the biggest threat to SEO. In no way do I believe that SEO is, or ever will be, dead. I do however believe it is going to get far harder to do great SEO without great integration.
Human nature counts against us to a certain extent because we naturally segment into departments and skillsets. The gulf between SEO s and developers is a great example of there being a line of “what we do” and “what they do” and when we audit a website we often come up against the same issues over and over again only for us to say “those developers just don’t get it”. Coming from a development background I do think that some developers are just plain lazy and some SEOs aren’t great at having programming discussions. And so the gulf continues.
In my opinion the successful SEO of the future is going to be a far better marketer and a better communicator than today’s typical SEO. We are also going to have to be far more cross-digital than many of us are at present.
At the heart of all these activities though is the client’s customer. Any successful campaign starts with putting them at the heart of the strategy. What are their goals? What are their needs? Where do they spend their time online?
Determining how we can differentiate our client with that backdrop moves the purpose away from how do I get client x links to how can I get our client in front of these potential customers effectively? Once you take that step the SEO strategy is both aligned with their marketing goals and far easier to execute.
There are many, many areas where integration is beneficial but I’m just going to focus on three in this post:
Involving the corporate communications team can sometimes be pretty daunting as a lot of the time they are quite risk averse but taking the time to understand what they are planning for the next quarter gives you a great deal of content that you can work with digitally. Understanding who they have relationships with and how they leverage them also gives you the chance of advising them to leverage a few of those relationships online. It’s not about them understanding SEO, it’s about us understanding their world to help SEOify it a bit more.
Social and Search are often integrated into the same agency and that can make perfect sense if the Social side is not confined to think like an SEO. Social metrics give you great insight as to the virality of posts and what content gets shared most by your audience. Using those insights can be great for expanding content on the website for content marketing and digital PR outreach. They have first-hand up-to-date knowledge about what sparks the potential customer’s interest so aligning with them is a real no-brainer.
This is one of the biggest areas I think we need to grow as SEOs. We often tend to see blogs as an opportunity to guest post. This flies in the face of a successful digital PR campaign where the relationship with the blogger is central. Working together to mutually beneficial goals is the outcome and the aim is to work consistently with the blogger over a long period rather than a “place content and move” approach. We sell ourselves short with this approach and by integrating better into the overall goals of the marketing team more opportunities are open to us than simply guest posting.
An integrated approach also has a lot more buy in from the client as they start seeing you as a valuable part of their marketing team rather than an external agency/department. The chances of the strategy working are also far better as you have the entire digital marketing effort behind it rather than acting in isolation. They are also far better placed to engage with the ideas presented and are valuable allies when selling ideas back into the business if necessary.
The challenge is how to shift the mindset and for me this means reading a lot more digital marketing blogs and a lot fewer pure SEO blogs. We obviously need to stay up-to-date with SEO trends but learning how best to integrate our efforts into the overall marketing efforts will be a key skill in the future.
Do you agree?