SEO IS Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a well-known term, but it can be made to seem overly complex. Unpaid search, or more precisely “Organic SEO”, is simply your web site’s ability-by-design to break through the clutter and rise to a top position on a search engine ranking page (SERP).

According to comScore, Google clearly owns the US market share of search engine users at over 66%, while Yahoo and Bing each hover around 15%. Google flat-out dominates the global market share with over 80% of all search engine users.

With SEO, the marketer is your web site’s data, and the audience is the search engine’s algorithmic “spider” that crawls all the indexed pages on the World Wide Web. The spider is looking for relevant information that will satisfy a search query. It similar to how someone looking to buy life insurance is more likely to open up an effective direct mail piece from an insurance company, then sort through the contents looking for relevant information that satisfies their definition of a good offer.

Successful SEO is not a “one-and-done” process of optimizing your site with keywords and indexing the pages with a search engine. Just like a marketing campaign, there are several elements to an SEO campaign that work together for maximum effectiveness.

  • Keyword Management = Strategy Development: Discovering, analyzing, grouping and organizing large numbers of frequently searched keywords that are highly relevant to the content in your web site. This forms the basis of your web site copy and impacts design of the site.
  • Keyword Action = Creative Development: Authoring the website copy around your strategic keyword selection is literally crafting the message, making your web site relevant to the search query, and more attractive to the spider.
  • Keyword Indexing = Media Planning: Keyword indexing, or “page-tagging”, most closely resembles the art of making your marketing most visible to your audience in the most efficient way possible. Spiders crawl through your page tag first, and begin assigning value to the overall content based on what it is instructed to read. Indexing helps the search engine select your site by making your site’s relevant content more visible in the right place at the right time.
  • Website Aging = Campaign Evolution: Over-saturation of the same execution can lower effectiveness of any marketing no matter if it is an email, direct mail package or an online banner ad. Same thing goes for the content of your web site. Small changes to the content and re-indexing the updated pages at regular intervals keeps the spider interested because it detects something new and interesting.
  • Link-Baiting = Social Sharing: Establishing links back to your web site from other relevant web sites are the equivalent of someone “liking” your ad on Facebook or re-Tweeting your post. They are votes of confidence to a search engine spider and they raise your relevance score. A web site that sells football gear will be more popular to search engine spiders if there are links back to the site from espn.com or nfl.com, for example. Those sites are likely to have a lot of football-themed keywords and ultra-high relevancy scores for football-related searches.

Beware of unethical or “black hat” techniques offered by some SEOs, such as keyword stuffing and link-farming. Search engines will eventually bust you and dramatically lower your relevancy score, or ban your site altogether from the search index.

Organic SEO is a craft just like any other form of marketing. It requires research, development, creativity and execution. And it is most effective when the above techniques are employed together over time as a campaign.