Google’s recent algorithm changes have demonstrated the importance of an integrated strategy, and more and more clients we speak to are starting to understand that SEO doesn’t work as a silo.
Where is SEO now?
In terms of SEO, the vast majority of senior people in business are still looking at ranking reports and are still very focused on fluctuations in keyword positions.
While this is a great measure, it’s only part of the story. We are starting to see all of the different marketing channels – SEO, PPC, Display, Digital PR and Social Media – becoming more integrated. However, some companies have managed to integrate this a lot more than others and in many instances the various channels are still working very much in silos.
We have also noticed that the majority of companies are still very segregated in their internal structures, often having a marketing team working on one strategy and then a PR department working in a separate part of the business or, in the instance of ecommerce or retail, a trading team that might be working in their own department as well. We’ve found that not only do we need to consider integrating the marketing channels, but actually businesses need to integrate their internal teams and strategies too.
What has recently changed?
The biggest recent development is the introduction of Google’s new ‘Hummingbird’ search algorithm, which seeks to understand more user intent and pays more attention to each word in a query rather than just the keywords being used.
As this update will help conversational search, companies should consider what content do users want to find? What questions are they asking? What commonalities are the people on the ends of the phone finding people are asking? Let’s reflect that online and answer people’s questions. This update is brilliant because it means that people are more focused on producing really good content and trying to answer those questions.
This is especially important with the increase in mobile usage, as people are increasingly wanting quick answers to questions such as ‘Where is my nearest Hairdressers?’ People are asking how, where, when, what, why questions and search engines are very aware of that. Google, the search giant, has announced it wants to become less ‘results’ driven and more ‘answers’ driven.
What has been the response?
Following Google’s ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ algorithm updates over the past few years, we have found that people started writing huge amounts of content and suddenly there was an abundance of content online, but few really considered integrating that content into the questions that their users are asking. What is it that you’re trying actually gain from that content? Considering return on investment, it shouldn’t just be writing for writing’s sake, especially as it takes lot of time for somebody to research and produce content.
Content is at core of everything we do, because search crawlers can’t understand what a website is about without having content or without having a context to what it is that you’re actually trying to sell. But content can come in many forms, it doesn’t need to just be written text; it can be stats, graphs, videos, interviews, social conversations, interviews, infographics, emails/newsletters, webinars, images, case studies – there are so many different ways to deliver content and using an integrated mix of them all is going to lead you to quicker success.
How should you respond to Hummingbird and how should you make your efforts more integrated?
The starting point should always be your strategy. Start with what it is you are actually trying to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. This strategy will then feed into the content that you’re trying to produce, so you’re not just producing content for the sake of it, but instead it underlies and ties in with your strategy. That then feeds out into all of the different channels and then using Analytics we can review how well that content has done and feed that back in to your strategy (often a missed part of the process).
Integrated SEO = Integrated Marketing
Integrated SEO is actually Integrated Marketing. That is not to say that SEO is dead, but actually integrated SEO is a part of integrated marketing, and it is much more powerful when integrated together.
As mentioned previously, we’ve started to see that the marketing channels are becoming more integrated but the key to this success is to have one common platform, one common plan, for your marketing that you ensure that you’re feeding throughout all of the different channels. Another side to this is to integrate all of your departments so that they’re working together, and even getting the different agencies you use to work together and to share their ideas and strategy.
At 4Ps Marketing, we have highlighted that there are a number of different industries and we understand that in each of these different industries there are different internal structures that will need to integrate in different ways.
For example, our retail clients will commonly have teams for Social, PPC, blog content writers and so on, but will also have a trading team. This trading team will have wide knowledge of the products, what people are wanting and what they are buying, so by tapping in to this knowledge it will make your overall marketing strategy stronger and you will be able to feed that into your SEO strategy.
If all of the different teams within your company have one common goal – to generate business – the question isn’t actually “why should we become more integrated?” it’s “why wouldn’t we be integrated?”
In another example, within the travel sector many travel companies have call centres where they have employees constantly speaking to customers. By tapping in to those call centres and listening to what it is that your colleagues are actually hearing people ask, you can predict the kinds of questions you should be answering online. What are the commonalities in the questions that people are asking? Could you reduce those calls by answering the questions online? After all, if you’re not answering those questions but your competitors are, then your potential customers could visit them instead.
Most people fear change, but actually search engines are evolving and they will continue to do so. Therefore, a strategy should never stay exactly the same – it needs to continue to evolve with the search engines and needs to change and adapt as these updates happen, which we see as a positive aspect of search.
Here are some actions you can take now in order to become more integrated:
- Communication: Start communicating with different people within the business and see who might be impacting on the website, who might be actually contributing to the site but might not even realise that they’re doing it?
- Results: One key thing that we’ve found is giving people results and showing them the impact of what they’ve given you will entice people to want to do it more. People are results driven.
- Awareness & training: We assisted one of our clients to set up ‘Digital Lunch Bites’, during which they invited a number of different speakers to their offices at lunch time and invited anyone from the company to come and eat their lunch while they listened to sessions about digital. It wasn’t costly, it didn’t take up resource time or long training days, but it did help to build awareness.
- Shared Strategy: Sharing your strategy with everybody in the business and making everyone aware of what you’re trying to achieve is key, because they might not realise that what they’re doing could have an impact on areas of your digital marketing strategy.
Integrated SEO is important as part of integrated marketing and the whole marketing mix.
4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and technology are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in content marketing and user interaction, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels.