This post was also made to the 4Ps Marketing blog.
Is SEO dead? No (again) but it’s evolving at an ever-more rapid pace. Here’s a look at some of the biggest present and upcoming organic marketing trends to ensure that you pay attention to them this year.
SEO “Aten’t Dead ” to quote a wise old woman, but it sure as sugar is changing and evolving in all kinds of new and exciting directions. Here are some of the most significant pieces of advice I’d give to someone who wants to use organic channels to grow their business in 2018.
Technical SEO Doesn’t Work In A Silo
Long gone (alas) are the days when technical SEO fixes could be business transformative for organic performance. Now and then you may get lucky with a big win like sorting out a mass duplication problem, but the vast amount of tech SEO these days is what I’d like to class as ‘hygiene discipline’ – you do it to make the most of the organic equity that your brand and website have. Or, you use it as a way to avoid losing ground through poor practice penalties or missed opportunities, not to generate “more”. Should you still be investing in it? Absolutely – it is still a very necessary part of ensuring growth – but be wary of expecting technical measures alone to explode your traffic overnight.
It’s Not Paid OR Organic Any More
Aside from the fact that in today’s modern and ad-laden Google SERP, you’d have to be rather clinically insane to not want to do any Adwords activity at all, there’s a broader implication for what back in around 2005 used to be – an often hotly -contested subject of “PPC or SEO”. Simply put, go multichannel or go home.
Yes, there are always efficiencies to be had, but try to think more in terms of balancing your overall business performance than in the old-fashioned “but if I get more organic traffic then I can dial back PPC” (or indeed vice versa). Consider attribution modelling, or at the very least get to grip with your assisted conversion channels, and be highly aware that your users will likely have multiple touchpoints with your brand before they even think about becoming a customer.
UX Is King
It’s a very valid point that a lot of search marketing is a form of user experience optimisation for search engines, but this has never been truer than now. Google’s driving front seat on the “UX as SEO” train with everything from site speed and mobile experience to intrusive ads and non-secure sites. Make use of all the data on your site, apps and other points of contact (yes, that includes good old word of mouth!) to ensure that everything from content engagement and button functionality, to speed and phone service are as frictionless as possible.
Bear in mind that UX goes beyond online too – it’s no good having the world’s most efficient website or great lead generation if your customer service is poor, logistics chain is nonsensical and deliveries are being lost or damaged – you’ll be forfeiting conversions and unable to make profits. That’s why paying attention to the full lifecycle of your users – and I am most definitely including your existing customers in this – yields almost endless rewards in the form of improved engagement, better brand rep and, above all, a higher lifetime value.
Think Beyond The Top Of Google
I’ve been saying this for years, but it has never been truer. You need to think about where your users are starting (or resuming) their search for information, products and services, rather than just aiming for the first SERP result page.
Retailers, do you have an Amazon or eBay store? A lot of shoppers begin their journey here rather than on what we might conventionally think of as a search engine. Professional services firms, are you getting press coverage in the right industry magazines, joining the right LinkedIn group discussions, and attending the right events to be seen?
Stop just asking “how can I get to the top of Google” and instead ask “where are my users’ eyeballs” (or indeed ears, given the rise of voice-driven devices)! Those are the places that you need to be at the right time with the right content (be that an ad, creative, PR piece, boots on the ground or a good old-fashioned SERP) to capture users down the path of interest and trust in your brand.
Brand Drives Performance; SEO Makes The Most Of It
Whenever a client with a semi-decent website asks for a strategy to help boost organic growth, I often get funny looks when I put together something that has little to no tech SEO time but heavily invests in PR, outreach and other brand-related content activity.
Think of it like selling a house; of course, you’ll need to make sure the pipes aren’t leaking, and the building is structurally sound (i.e. the technical SEO) otherwise nobody is going to be mad enough to buy it for a decent price. But what do you do if you want to really wow people and boost the value of the house? You add a conservatory, refit the kitchen and overhaul the driveway so that it looks downright gorgeous.
So, if you’re looking at your organic performance as a series of silos, a channel that sits off on its own or seeing traffic shrinkage because of increased ad real estate on the SERPs, then please drop me a line and let’s go for a cuppa. The reality is much, much cooler and ample opportunities exist for real, business-transformative growth that will blow your mind.