Jan 03 2012
It’s interesting how many businesses act like SEO is in a different department than marketing… “oh that’s IT.” This is a real problem for people who implement SEO because the expectation is often: “go do your technical thing to get our site ranking but don’t expect any help from us, that’s your job.”
This kind of thinking might have worked out fine a few years ago but today the search engines treat sites that don’t engage as not so useful – and that impacts search rank. “But it’s just a program, how could it know what’s engaging or not?” Oh my friend, the algorithm is a program, but don’t be naïve, that’s not all search engines have at their disposal to evaluate and rank sites today.
Marketing supports SEO when:
- The big brand “endorses” the SEO strategy
- The social media plan is in harmony with the SEO strategy
- The marketing campaign designers understand and get behind the SEO strategy
The big brand “endorses” the SEO strategy
Allowing the established company brand, or mascot, the freedom to have an opinion about “non-branded” topics may be scary and new, but when done properly it can have tangible impact on a site’s search rank.
Can you imagine an insurance company who uses their mascot as a comedian? Insurance and comedy, there’s a paradox, but humor me for a moment. What can get a stranger to become interested in you and come back for more if it isn’t a good sense of humor? Consider humor as an effective way to build up a following all while hinting at or blatantly mentioning the brand message. Does a certain green lizard creature come to mind?
This is a common technique to build interest and win fans using TV, radio and other mediums of brand advertising. People may hate the company but love the company’s mascot. The mascot then becomes attractive and an influencer who can say and do things that the company spokesman could never say or do.
The company mascot doesn’t have to say anything about SEO per se, but perhaps you can imagine how the big brand can endorse the SEO strategy? It will become clearer, but for now let’s keep moving…
Social media is cool but your site may not gain search rank from it without a plan
Search engines can see tweets, likes, and other kinds of social voting for content, but if your social media plan isn’t connected to the SEO strategy, there’s a good chance the social media won’t impact search rank.
I’ve seen social media plans that involve publishing content on tumblr, blogger.com, posterous and the company blog all to get different social media audiences to engage with the brand – and that’s fine if your only goal is to get brand recognition and engagement in those types of media. But content doesn’t have to be spread out especially when you already have a following and a few cheerleaders on board.
I like how Chris Brogan expresses this in his post Google Plus Is Not Your Blog. Google+ and any social media site is an outpost for interaction with a target audience; you don’t own it so identify ways to move that audience over to something you do own, where the real good stuff is at. To take the concept a step further, identify strategies that move the conversation to specific product and service pages.
This brings up something that should precede social media engagement, but often doesn’t – do you have a content marketing strategy? Content marketing is very much a part of SEO and social media, but it’s better to view your content as a way to get in the conversation. Here are a few more questions you might want to answer about your content.
Social media is a great way to build an audience who become fans and cheerleaders for your organization so you can give them cool things to do and buttons to push.
Now just so you don’t get the wrong idea, search engines still count quality links from sites outside of social media. There are businesses that don’t find social media particularly useful which is not a problem, so don’t run off and say, “Tom said you can’t rank well unless you get lots of social media luv.”
If your marketing/PR team doesn’t consider link building when designing a campaign, it’s likely your campaigns aren’t performing optimally
Linkable assets are critical for businesses who want to rank well for competitive search terms. Check out the stories that hit the home page of Digg, Reddit, BizSugar and Tipd – most of the time these stories get links from blogs and sites around the web because they are relevant to other audiences, humorous, inspiring or solve problems that few can answer.
Link bait story ideas are easy to come up with but can take time to create – creativity is essential and the more stories you can create the better your chances of getting one shared a lot in social media.
Although many of the people who use these sites are a bit geeky, there are a number of non-geeky topics that go straight to the top and I can often spot a title that will make it.
Here are some more linkable assets to consider:
- Event marketing
- Product launches
- Doing something remarkable
It’s not enough to create linkable assets, you must market or promote them as well. And this gets back to the design team deciding on what will hit all of the goals of a successful campaign for the brand. (Linkable assets should be one of the goals, hint hint.)
Are you optimistic about your marketing team’s SEO?
In an ideal world, the marketing team fully understands how to incorporate SEO into the things they do, but that’s usually a bit too optimistic. Perhaps marketing managers, directors, and executives will realize that they have a significant role to play if they want to get the most out of SEO. Namely, facilitate a collaborative environment between the people responsible for SEO and the rest of the marketing team. Otherwise, I can guarantee you are leaving money on the table.
Just for fun, submit your topic in the comments and I’ll come up with a link bait article title for you.