Lee Odden

Essential Shifts in Online Marketing: Are You On Board? Are You Optimized?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing
Optimized Online Marketing

Is your company adaptable? Is your marketing optimized?

I think most online marketers get the fact that marketing and communications on the web is a fast changing place and that most companies are structured to move at a slower pace than the digital world is evolving.

Take for example, the notion of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s been around for about 15 years or so and in just the past few months Google has made the most significant changes ever. Despite the crystal clear focus towards search integration with social, many companies and digital pundits are still skeptical about the role of organic search let alone how to optimize Google+ to attract and engage customers.

Yesterday I saw a video on the Inc. Magazine website titled, “Increase Your Search Engine Page Rank”.  Is that really what a business needs to succeed online? An inflated PageRank score? What about understanding how to attract more customers? What about engaging customers who are inspired to refer your brand to even more customers?

I think there’s something seriously lost in translation between real consumer behaviors and marketing efforts that succeed on the web. Companies see an article like the one above and start asking consultants for help with increasing their PageRank score which is a distraction from what’s important.

To make sense for companies in the midst of all this change and differing online marketing advice, there are two essential ideas worth considering for anyone in a position to create online content:

A different way of thinking about optimization

Rather than tactics like web page SEO, blogging or video driving an online marketing approach, what if companies instead made more of an effort to focus on customer behaviors and preferences for information discovery, user experience and engagement?  In other words, what if they researched what types of media, topics and channels both customers and those who influence customers prefer? With that knowledge, develop a content mix and corresponding optimization effort.

This is content marketing 101, but so many marketers are caught up in specific tactics, they lose sight of the target audience they’re after in favor of the crack-like effect of pumping out “a viral video”, another infographic or contest to attract more fans, friends and followers.

The Discovery, User Experience and Engagement optimization approach that I talk about at length in Optimize transcends those tactics and emphasizes that a web marketing effort should be focused on the role of content and human experience as it relates to meeting both the objectives of the consumer and the brand. Once those key triggers are understood, then the editorial, keyword optimization and social networking tactics are defined.

How people find information, what formats and topics resonate, how to inspire interaction, sharing and commerce are all part of this three part optimization approach. The platforms, apps and social technology might change, but a more holistic view of optimization can guide content marketing efforts regardless of what social media, networking or search engine platform rules the day.

In this scenario, optimization is more in alignment with the actual definition of  the word optimize: ” to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible”. Then applying that approach to connecting customers with brand content and experiences in a way that motivates consumers to act: buy, refer, share.  Each touchpoint in the brand and consumer experience across the customer lifecycle can be optimized for better performance, for more desirable outcomes.

Develop adaptive models for online marketing technologies

By that I mean create processes and plans for rapid detection, testing and evaluation of shiny new social or online technologies to determine their potential role in the content marketing mix.  Many companies feel overwhelmed and don’t know what or when “the next Twitter” will pop. Or even if they should care. Others withdraw from testing and stick only with the few social platforms they know.

Creating an adaptive approach to incorporating new social and web applications, tools and platforms can filter down the most relevant shiny new objects and allow for more rapid incorporation with content marketing efforts. This approach means coordinating people that can fulfill these roles. For that, there will be some social business and internal collaboration tools involved. Leveraging your collective organization to monitor and filter for emerging social technologies relevant to engaging with your customer base can result in more rapid identification, best practices formulation and successful implementation.

Most companies don’t have staff or resources dedicated to testing out new social technologies, so why not tap into the collective knowledge, wisdom and reach of your employees, partners and even your customers? Without the ability to adapt, the momentum of many online marketing efforts will certainly die or at least lose out to the competition that’s paying attention.

As it is for the surfer in the image above, an adaptable approach to content and optimized online marketing is about the journey. It’s about trying to perfect your craft and continuously refine what you have to work with every day. Use the tools of the day knowing they will change. Focus more on whatever it takes to stay connected with your customers and community using the search and social channels that are most relevant.

How are you defining optimization in your organization? Do you see the value of taking a step back and viewing optimization more holistically? Does your organization have a process for monitoring, testing and adopting new technologies for marketing?

I’ll be talking about many of these key #Optimize principles at OMS and SES Accelerator coming up next week in San Diego. I hope to see you there. 

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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.  Article bookmarked for study. good job.

  2. Good article. Just caught it now. Wrote something similar this morning http://www.siteprebuilder.com/content/die-seo-die. Check it out and let me know what you think

  3. Exactly.  Just taught about this tonight on a webinar.  The problem with “SEO” is that we have been focusing too much on actions and tasks and not enough on the desired results.  SEO has always supposedly been a means to an end: more visibility, more traffic, more revenue.  Marketing consultants need to start with the end in mind.  Determine what are the goals of their marketing campaign.  Determine who the target market is for the client, and go out and focus on driving traffic!  SEO is only one part of the marketing campaign.

  4. Avatar Michael Braganza says

     this really good blog and it right way for optimize over website thank you.

  5. Those principles are true, but SEO is a lot more than just optimizing for a great user experience. There’s an incredible amount of actionable data that SEOs can use to improve performance of a website at attracting and engaging customers. Set it and forget it doesn’t work, just like a business offline. You have to keep marketing and refining.

    • That’s so true Lee. SEO is not a one time task. Its proactive, ever-evolving with the times and technology. In the initial days of the internet, SEO was pretty easy – pretty much as incomeideas above explained – set it and forget it. But as newer and newer platforms kept hitting the internet, the way we look at SEO kept changing. It will keep evolving with the day, so there can never be a set guideline for SEO…

  6. Avatar Gnanam Nalliah says


  7. Absolutely right! Horse before the cart – if some find your material useful, more will find it. Clocking the system only benefits 1 person – it extracts value…let’s aim to make valuable contributions and spread the benefits.

    It calls us to walk as experts, not just talk it. Marketing is all about ‘satisfying the needs of our customers profitably’ after all, there are just some things we can’t get away from. Back to basics – if you’re going to do something, do it properly, or not at all.

    Thanks for the post.

  8. Good point Sam. Marketing doesn’t fix problems with products/services. But great product and service quality certainly helps with great marketing.

  9. Avatar Bharathi seo says

    Optimisation plays a very important role in online marketing Strategies.  Adapting and creating new analytical tools would target right customer