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Lee Odden

It’s Not SEO Anymore, It’s Marketing. Deal With It.

By Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO
Customer Centric SEO

Optimize For Customer Experience

When people learn I’ve recently written a book called Optimize they usually ask what it’s about. I say it’s about optimizing customer discovery and engagement with content. The response I usually get is something like, “Oh, cool. I thought it was about SEO.”

Well, in a way optimizing content and customer experiences is SEO. That’s because what most of the better SEOs practice today is really more about the promise of marketing: attracting, engaging and inspiring customers to buy.

Whether it’s Google, Social Networks, Online News Media, Digital Assets or any other channel/format for content – best practices optimization is in effect for smart companies that want an advantage.

2005 Called, It Wants Its SEO Back. If your SEO is still overwhelmingly focused on massive keyword lists, ranking reports and directory/social bookmarking style link building then you’re stuck in 2005. It’s time to evolve with an optimized state of mind.

Optimize Throughout the Customer Life Cycle. To “optimize” in the search world may have traditionally focused on keywords and links but has changed to focus holistically on the journey from prospect to customer to advocate. At least in my view it does. When companies look at the entire customer life cycle, it will reveal a tremendous opportunity for optimization, not just for the top of the sales funnel.

Modern Optimization is Adaptable. When Google, Bing and Ask implemented various media and data sources into common search results (Universal Search) SEOs adjusted with digital asset optimization. When Google evolved their place pages, SEOs adjusted with local, mobile and geo-specific optimization. Panda? Better quality and less duplicate content. Personalization? Better title tag and meta description writing to inspire greater CTR. Social? Say hello to a tirade of G+ SEO. Conversions? Check. Pigeon Rank? If was real, check.

Helping Search Engines Helps Our Optimization. Technical SEO will have it’s place as long as there is an opportunity to create advantage by doing so. Search engines are imperfect in their attempt to crawl, index and rank all of the digital content that exists online. Making that process easier, more efficient, more useful and meaningful for search engines is something website owners must pay attention to regardless of how the search experience evolves ala universal, personal and social.

Optimization is Art and Science. Process, continual data analysis and tools are also persistent characteristics within the world of SEO because they enable some science into the art of optimization so it can scale.

Holistic Optimization for the Win. At the same time, the notion of optimization with a holistic view extends to all aspects of the customer experience with brand content. Whatever can be discovered, consumed or shared can be optimized for better performance – both for customers and for achieving brand business objectives. That means marketing, public relations, customer service, investor relations, human resources/recruiting and any other content a businesses publishes online.

Optimization Follows Search Engine Innovation. The best practices of optimization mirror many marketing best practices and in the end, the best way to view business investment in modern SEO is as an investment in marketing and all that marketing tactics can achieve. Optimizing the search experience works concomitantly with changes in search technology and how search engines work. There is no death to SEO, just a shift in what to optimize in order to improve performance.

Continuous Optimization Is Forever and Profitable. Just because Google masks keyword referrers for logged in users, emphasized Google+ content and signals, elevated content quality standards and changed how links are evaluated doesn’t mean opportunities to optimize have gone away. For companies that employ optimization as a process of continuous implementation, assessment and improvement, there’s nothing closer to effective online marketing than the practice of optimization.

Don’t Tread on SEO, Elevate It. For those who think SEO is dead. It’s just your limited understanding of SEO that’s dead. For web developers that treat SEO as a one-time task during web design and only focus on marketing content (vs. ALL of the website content), and no ongoing content promotion, you’re only touching the surface and may be causing your clients to lose revenue in the long run. For bottom feeding SEOs that continue to over-promise and under-deliver with sensationalized accounts of traffic boosts, rankings and links, you’re short sightedness is hurting companies and our industry.

SEO is really just marketing, so deal with it. The evolution of customer centric content marketing and it’s intersection with social media and optimization represents the kind of online marketing that companies are really sinking their teeth into in 2012 and beyond. To be a great SEO, be a great marketer because that’s what SEO is.

Learn More at Search Congress, Barcelona. I am very much looking forward to presenting on this very topic at Search Congress in Barcelona this week. I may not speak a lick of Spanish or Catalan, but hopefully my enthusiasm for the topic will make up for my Midwestern accented English.


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