There was a time when SEO simply meant adding a few key-words to your website and doing some excessive link building. Nowadays, the game has changed. As more and more of customer interaction moves to digital technologies and online competition grows, SEO can no longer be a casual afterthought, but must play a pivotal role in any digital marketing plan if a company is to be successful.
What’s the big deal?
What exactly makes SEO so important to a digital marketing plan? Put simply, without SEO all of your other digital marketing techniques are ineffective, because people aren’t able to easily find your website.
You may be putting funds, effort, and employee resources into your social media presence, online PR, and email marketing. You may have a perfectly designed website. These are all important tactics for achieving your marketing goals.
But what happens when you neglect SEO?
Take a look at this hypothetical situation:
Someone sees a friend’s post on their Facebook newsfeed representing your company or product. They aren’t interested, and continue on in their Facebook stalking. Then, two weeks later their situation changes. They found out they are pregnant; they lost their sunglasses and need new ones; they are going on vacation. Whatever the reason, your business is suddenly relevant to them and they have become your potential customer. They remember the Facebook post they saw weeks earlier with the product they now need.
What are they going to do? Scroll back through two weeks of selfies and funny cat videos in their newsfeed to find the post?
Of course not. They are going to use keywords that they remember and use a search engine to try and find it.
But while you caught this person’s attention originally through social media, you didn’t implement proper SEO practices. Pages of similar products or services filter through their search engine and yours is no where near the top. You just lost your potential customer.
While that example might sound harsh, it makes a clear point.
All other digital marketing strategies are made less effective if no one can find your website.
Need more proof?
“Google estimates that 80 billion searches are performed on their site every month. Some estimates state that 99% of search engine based clicks to sites come from the first ten websites listed on the first page of search engine results and 97% come from the first three results. This means if your business is not on the first page, it has only a 1% chance of being seen.” (Source: Boostability)
How does SEO fit in your digital marketing plan?
While the specifics of every digital marketing strategy are different, there are some basic guidelines. These include:
- Objectives (Vision/Goals)
- Strategy (How you will achieve the goals)
- Tactics, Actions (The specifics to implement your strategy)
In order to achieve your digital marketing goals you will want to create a basic strategy. Once you have your strategy in place you then must decide what tactics are most important to the success of that strategy.
For example, you may have a goal to improve website traffic by 35% for the year. As SEO helps make those goals achievable through specific actions, it becomes a tactic.
Stressing the importance of SEO is not to imply that other tactics are not to be given attention as well. As another example, you might decide to focus on four tactics throughout the year, among them SEO improvement. While you may still want to work on social media and PR in addition to the four main tactics, you will devote the majority of your effort and budget to the four main tactics that are at the top priority for growth. At the same time you can allocate smaller budgets towards things like social media and PR which will maintain baseline execution.
While SEO will help bring your specific target group to your website, those efforts must be complemented with other tactics to ensure customers have a good experience with your website and product, and want to keep coming back.
Building a consistent brand is one such compliment to SEO. Strong branding helps customers to know what to expect from your business, which leads to repeated key-words and therefore an increased SEO standing. The two go hand-in-hand.
Overall, there are many things that go into a digital marketing plan. What your business focuses on depends on your specific needs and goals. However, as we have reviewed the importance of SEO it is clear: SEO must be a priority in any digital marketing plan.
As all other marketing strategies depend on your website being seen, it only makes sense.
So now what?
Your business cannot afford to have SEO be an afterthought. As you think about the specific goals you have for your business and form the strategies and tactics to achieve those goals make SEO a continual focus.