In my position as Senior Manager of Global Search Marketing, I get an up-close view of the interplay SEO has with those who strategize and develop marketing schemes, those who develop content, build websites, write ad copy, and develop products, among many others. Many agree that SEO is both used and abused, and I want to spend just a brief moment on the latter before taking a look at best practices to increase your KPIs.
Controversy and Solutions surrounding SEO
I’m sure many of you are aware of controversies in the field of SEO and “black hat” techniques. My goal is not to stand on a soap box or moralize, but to acknowledge that controversies exist in every profession. SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, along with other leading search engine marketing groups are working to formulate a code of ethics for practitioners.
Because SEO is such a new discipline compared to others, and as humor often highlights relevant issues, I thought it might be interesting to perform a search for jokes relating to different professions. On the day I searched, Google returned about 1,300,000 results for doctor jokes, and an astounding 60,200,000 results for attorney jokes (although one site noted that there are really only three attorney jokes, the rest are just true stories).
About 1,610,000 results were returned for SEO jokes, including:
- Q. Why do SEO professionals date people based on personality instead of looks?
- A. They know better than anyone that search engines are blind and that content matters most.
Ah, this captures the true nature of SEO and the commitment to best practices. While controversies exist in every field, I hope to provide you with the best insight and advice to assist you in achieving your goals.
What is the current State of Search Marketing?
There are a number of organizations that conduct surveys into the state of search, and there is one point in particular in which there is great concurrence. Regalix, a co-innovation and consultancy organization, unequivocally states that content is the heart and soul of SEO.
SEMPO, in conjunction with Econsultancy, reports that nearly half of digital marketing budgets are spent on search, with 31% on paid search and 18% on SEO (see chart in screen shot below). HubSpot devoted a 175-page report to The State of Inbound Marketing alone.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing pulls customers in through engaging content, as opposed to “pushing” techniques, such as cold calls. The aforementioned Hubspot report further defines Inbound Marketing as follows: “Inbound marketing is a holistic, data-driven strategy that involves attracting and converting visitors into customers through personalized, relevant information and content –- not interruptive messages – and following them through the sales experience with ongoing engagement.”
Speaking of interruptions, it’s hard to imagine that salesmen once went door-to-door. However, at that time, many families had only one car, or perhaps no car, so a travelling salesman knocking on your door would be a convenience, and possibly even a respite from the day’s chores. Today, most people would consider such an interruption an annoyance.
Marketers have always known that they must make their products and services visible, but today’s consumer is less likely to capitulate in the face of high-pressure tactics and prefers to develop a relationship with businesses that meet their needs and solve their problems in a personalized fashion and through their preferred channels.
Does Inbound Marketing Work?
The answer is yes, but first I’d like to say that I am impressed with the rigor of HubSpot’s survey, which increases confidence in the results published in the report. The report notes that “It includes insight from over 3,300 executives, business owners and marketers on every continent on the globe, just 9% of which were HubSpot customers.” Here are just a few of the findings:
– Twice as many marketers say inbound marketing delivers below average cost per leads versus outbound strategies.
– Inbound delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.
– 41% of marketers confirm inbound produces measurable ROI, and a staggering 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing.
– As a holistic approach, inbound helps target a fragmented digital audience and make marketing more profitable: … The inbound paradigm gets your company working together, rather than looking at a lead as a baton to hand off from one functional group to another.
– Inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate of non-inbound marketers, from 6% to 12% total. Marketers see an average website conversion rate of 10% industry-wide.
– Testing inbound efforts drives major ROI improvements: Companies that test are 75% more likely to show ROI for inbound marketing than those that fail to test their strategies.
Yes, Inbound Marketing works, and content is the heart and soul, but how do consumers find the content they are seeking? We have now come full circle, because of course it is through SEO, which is integral to all of digital marketing.
Taking a page from Stylight
Stylight, a fashion-focused e-commerce enterprise, offers the most sought-after fashions from more than 100 different websites and brands, bringing shoppers an eclectic mix of products all available at one website. Whether or not you personally care about fashion, I’m sure that you know it is big business, and a crowded market, which results in visibility challenges. I bring this company to your attention because it expanded paid search campaigns to cover 140 million keywords in 14 countries by leveraging automated bidding. Even I have to pause a moment to think about that number: 140 million keywords.
And yes, Stylight got found, reporting conversions increased immediately, ranging from 10% to 20% through the implementation of Adobe Media Optimizer and a successful portfolio bidding strategy.
Whether paid search or organic, and known by many different names, SEO is your best friend for being found. Stay tuned for more articles demonstrating how SEO increases your KPIs, and please feel free to share your experiences with me.