Lee Odden

Holistic Search Engine Optimization

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO


I think it’s safe to say the idea of optimizing web sites for better rankings, traffic and sales is an idea that that has become pretty standard for most web site owners. Ranking well on search engines can provide an incredible amount of “free” traffic to a web site. Many companies base their entire business model on traffic from natural search results generating millions in revenue.

Due to the lure of the so called “free” traffic and monetary goals, many site owners, webmasters and web marketers succumb to short term strategies and find themselves chasing after the latest “trick” or tactic. Because search engines and traffic opportunities change often, web marketers can find themselves in a never ending loop.

To hedge against unsustainable search engine marketing tactics that drive many misguided web site promotion efforts, marketers would do well to diversify their optimization. Taking a more holistic perspective not only provides additional streams of web site traffic, it also benefits standard search engine rankings.

Here are three considerations for holistic optimization:

Keyword Messaging
Consider this situation: The web site optimization team conducts content and competitive analysis to generate a keyword glossary. This glossary indicates the keyword concepts being used to find the kinds of content and solutions present on the company web site. Depending on the size of the organization, who gets to see this keyword research? Is the web team the only corporate entity that produces electronic documents published to the web? In most cases, the answer to that question is no.

Keyword insight, whether it is in the form of a detailed analysis or a basic keyword glossary should be shared with any department responsible for generating content that might get published to the internet. In fact, keyword research should be involved with messaging and branding from strategic branding to product descriptions.

That way, whether it’s the company tagline or a product data sheet in pdf format, content is produced with the keywords that are relevant and in demand. Press releases, announcements, case studies, webinars, archived company newsletters, audio, video, images and of course blogs, are all candidates for keyword messaging.

Channels of distribution
Web sites are rarely the sole means of content distribution on the web for most companies. Video, podcasts, blogs, newsletters, forums, wikis, news and PR, corporate communications and intranets are all methods of online content distribution. With the increasing popularity of social media, users are interacting with a wider variety of content if new and interesting ways. Using these channels effectively presents significant opportunities for online marketers.

A holistic approach to content optimization starts with an inventory current media and channels of communication and then includes a program for information sharing, training and feedback on the optimization effects of the various channels. At a minimum, best practices can be implemented that allow communications to be keyword relevant whenever new content is published online.

Imagine a prospect that searches Google and is presented with your company’s brand in the natural search results, PPC or both. Depending on the query type and topic, your brand might also display in Google’s one box results. The same goes for blog or news search. Consistent keyword messaging in the channels where the target audience is looking instills brand familiarity, credibility and confidence.

Make optimization a habit.
It’s not realistic that everyone responsible for content generation within an organization will become skilled in the arts of SEO copywriting, but there are fundamental best practices that can be put in place to significantly improve the search engine friendliness of the content that is produced.
There is a demand in each marketplace for solutions. Making content optimization a part of best practices content creation will help meet that demand by making information easier to find wherever prospects are looking.

An organization that can proactively implement the insight that comes from keyword research across company electronic communications, within the various marketing channels and as a process, will benefit from more sustainable and productive search engine visibility whether it’s a standard search engine, news, blog, social media or even mobile search.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Adam Audette says

    Great points. I’m working with a traditional marketing agency now that’s exploring this very topic. There are obstacles, no doubt, but taking this approach can be powerful. It can unify offline efforts with the Web. One example is optimizing videos and radio spots originally created for offline channels. This also happens to tie in nicely with Google’s recent shift towards universal search with more verticals and file types being displayed in the SERPs.

  2. Exactly Adam! The days of optimizing text only are over. 🙂

  3. Avatar Daniel R says


    Nice to see we’re on the same page. I wanted to talk about this for SES San Jose this year, but I didnt get a chance to. Maybe for SMX?

    Likewise, SEO is not about “content optimization” (aka “inserting keywords”) for awhile. It is about optimizing the appeal of the website to the relevant audience to draw them via search engines and convert. Google’s Personalized Search (personalized “content relevancy”) and Universal Search (“content distribution” via Google News, Blog, Video, YouTube) are helping pushing this idea even further.

    As I mentioned in “SEO as Website Positioning Strategy”, SEO is changing in many directions:

    “1) the further integration of PR-ish tactics like “linkbaiting”; 2) the embrace of social media in social media marketing; 3) changing the metrics from rankings and to relevant traffic and conversion; and 4) thinking about usability and conversion optimization, not just search traffic generation.

    All of these new changes will be unfamiliar to someone from the early days of SEO, which mostly concerned itself with placing important keyword on the webpages.”

    New SEO needs to based on the following concept:

    “The idea of Strategic Website Positioning is to think of search marketing (organic SEO and PPC), social media marketing and website development as an integrated approach, by asking questions centered around:
    * How is your website’s content, structure and usability fit with the intent of your audience?
    * How does your website “fit” in how people search (one-box searches on Google/Yahoo, Technorati, Oodle, vertical search engines)?
    * How is your website positioned in Social Media Community? How do you want to participate?”

    Okay, it’s 1:31 here in San Francisco, so I gotta go. But a PowerPoint is coming!

    “SEO as Website Postioning Strategy”

  4. Avatar Ayrshire Marketing says

    I’ve posted a simple SEO process that I use with clients it gives them a good understanding of what stage there SEO campiagn is at.


  5. This is a great subject and one that I think most SEO’s don’t take into consideration. I think that most, not all though, SEOers try and get rankings/traffic and thats that. They don’t always focus on the bigger picture like conversion tracking, Information architecture, and ROI. These are things that need to be considered even in the beginning stages of an SEO campaign, and is something I try to incorporate in keyword research. I have yet to really see a tool that does this well. Other than mine of course.

  6. Your point is very well taken. Looking at seo from a holistic perspective is essential for success. It’s not easy, however, to persuade content editors to use the targeted keywords in their articles, let alone in their print products, blogs, etc…on a regular basis. That is one of the hardest challenges of my role as an optimizer.

  7. I was surprised how well my videos, blogs and social network campaigns performed compared to just keyword optimization. I’m also amazed as to the speed the ads were getting to the top 2 pages of a keyword search.

  8. Sounds like “holistic SEO” is the Web 2.0 synonym for what many traditional marketers strive to attain; “an integrated brand experience”.

    Place keywords as the cornerstone of a brand building initiative. This makes it much easier to deploy consistent, powerful and actionable communications across multiple channels.

  9. I recently developed a small website for a client that we tied to a Google AdWords campaign.

    He had someone put together the copy for his website. I quite politely demanded the copywriter speak to me and let me loose on the copy.

    I used the results from the Competitive Analysis and the Keyword Analysis documents to re-work the copy.

    For the £600+ he spent with me, he’s earned just over £4,000 in the first month in order via the website.

    So yes, Keyword Messaging is a requirement, not a nice-to-have idea.

    It’s also a requirement that this knowledge spread out to any outlying agencies, too…


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