Lee Odden

A Strategic View of Search Engine Optimization – Where Does SEO Fit in Your Content Strategy?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Optimize Book, SEO

strategic search engine optimizationCompanies large and small, in industries from retail to manufacturing, publish content online with an expectation that a certain audience of people will find, read and act on that content.  While most Search Engine Optimization efforts are rightly focused on marketing goals like acquiring more customers and increasing revenue, making purchases is not the only reason consumers use search or ask for referrals through social networks.

There’s a lot of tactical advice online about search, social media and content marketing for companies that want to better connect with customers but that advice doesn’t always consider the differences between types of companies or even content within companies. For the best return on marketing investment, it’s important to understand that there are notable differences in tactics for effective optimization depending on who the audience is, how they prefer to discover, consume and act on information.  The very nature of B2C vs. B2B or small company vs. large company content, audience and outcomes can be different, so the approach to optimizing content for search and social media must be tailored accordingly.

As a marketer, you’re charged with assessing internal resources, overall business goals, customer buying cycle and time-frame in order to make the best decisions possible with your resources. If you can better understand the opportunities for holistic search and social media optimization of content: Internal departments such as Public Relations, Customer Service and HR/Recruiting then you’ll be able to extend the value and impact of your optimization investment.  The bonus: A holistic view brings the value of search discovery to all corporate digital content and provides the added benefit of increasing online marketing performance too.

Optimization and the Enterprise

Large and complex organizations have many more considerations with coordinated optimization, social media and content marketing efforts. Many effective SEO and Social Media Marketing consultants have had difficulty making an impact because of their inability to win internal client support amongst interdepartmental teams needed for implementation.  Competent SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing expertise is moot if a consultant doesn’t understand how to navigate large and complex organizational structures. Success is as dependent on political and organizational savvy as it is on digital marketing mastery.

Operational Efficiency = Search Engine Confusion – A very large company in the Healthcare Technology field that generates tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue amongst more than 20 different companies decided to roll all of the disparate company brands and websites under the corporate content management system.  Customers visiting the old website addresses were redirected to the new home of the company under the main company website.  The new CMS allowed centralized management of website resources and a common brand identity.

What the company soon realized was that while the combined website presented a unified brand and redirected requests for old pages to new destinations, the methods were not as easy for search engines to understand as for people. Website traffic was affected and a SEO Audit was completed to identify the issues. Working with over 20 different business and operating units as well as corporate IT, the migration issues were identified and recommendations implemented.

Seeing an even bigger opportunity, the company decided to further leverage search as an effective method for relevant discovery and engagement with their B2B prospects. A SEO program was rolled out amongst individual business units, with the corporate website and Public Relations content.  Ongoing SEO implementation, content creation, link building, formal and informal training resulted in significant increases in search traffic and online leads across the portfolio of companies.

As one of the largest companies in the world, change isn’t always easy to implement, but the SEO consulting and training initiatives grew confidence in online marketing programs and the company has been implementing more social media components into their online marketing mix along with content and optimization.

Public Relations Optimization

When social media participation by brands became more popular, companies often began with marketing and sales outcomes in mind but soon discovered that people use social tools for many types of communications ranging from customer service to public relations to recruiting.  The same opportunity exists with optimizing content for easy and relevant discovery through search engines.

Marketing is not the only type of content to be optimized – Other areas of the organization publish content online that has an intended audience and set of outcomes. The public relations function within a company often produces nearly as much content as marketing in the form of a corporate newsroom with media coverage, press releases, images, video, case studies, white papers and other resources that would be useful to journalists. Each of those assets is an opportunity for journalists to discover the brand story through search engines or social referrals.

PRWeb is a press release distribution service (and a longtime TopRank Marketing client) that publishes thousands of press releases for PR practitioners and small business marketers every month. As a pioneer in the area of optimized press release distribution, PRWeb has been relied upon by the SEO and PR industries to deliver outcomes like high ranking press releases on Google and Yahoo News, website traffic and links for over 10 years.  Companies that optimize and socialize their press releases give new life and extended reach to their news by making it easy for bloggers and end consumers to find and share press release content.

Within the Public Relations department arsenal of content, there’s a mix of optimization opportunities beyond the press release including from the corporate newsroom to video and images to social media content and even contributed articles to publications and blogs. The unique opportunity for PR content optimization is that it serves the information needs of the media as well as consumers.

Customer Service Optimization

While much of the optimization and social media efforts of companies is focused on content related to customer acquisition, there’s tremendous value in making sure content that serves existing customers is easy to find. That means optimizing frequently asked questions and other support material for easy and relevant discovery through search.

From a social media perspective, it means being aware of what support related search queries are most popular so topical social media monitoring efforts can uncover service opportunities on platforms like Twitter, in forums or in comments on blogs.  It also affects social content creation so answers are easily discovered and shared within social channels by social media community managers, customer service staff and brand advocates.

Optimization works for internal search engines too – Optimization of content for customer discovery can happen with public information that’s accessed via search engines like Google or Bing as well as internal repositories of information behind a login.   One large company faced the need to optimize post-sale content for customers. Feedback from usability studies showed that customers were having trouble locating information in the customer portal, such as frequently asked questions and user information.

Optimize by Lee OddenTo help provide a better customer experience, SEO best practices were applied to existing content to create better content architecture and ensure relevant results were served via the internal search functionality.  The project began with identifying customer segments and working with client-side marketers and customer service reps to identify the information customers were most likely to search for.

Next, a separate keyword glossary was researched and created for the customer portal content. Following the development of the keyword glossary, best practice optimization was applied including editing titles of documents, headings, copy and cross linking within copy.

The end result was more organized, easier to find content to help serve customer needs across multiple post-sale stages.

Making customer content easier to navigate and find quickly can lead to increases in customer satisfaction, frequency of which customer portals were accessed as a resource and ultimately cost savings for related call center volume.

If search engines like Google and Bing are imperfect, then the search function within company websites are by far from perfect. That means optimizing content for internal use can help employees (like customers) find answers more quickly and efficiently.  I’m sure many people reading this have used Google or Bing to search for content on their own company website. That experience goes to show the power of a search engine for surfacing content that’s important for performing one’s job. It also reveals the importance of making any kind of content with a purpose and an expected audience to be optimized for discovery through search.

Whether your small or large business is focused on B2B or B2C markets, the overall opportunity to optimize content to aid in the connection with intended audiences is essential. Further, being able to discern the uniqueness of different customer expectations for how brand content is discovered, consumed and acted on will help marketers better plan their content optimization efforts for the benefit of customers and brands alike.

Excerpt with permission from Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing, published by Wiley.

Businessman touching tactile screen image credit: Shutterstock.

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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. Great point on search engine optimization helping other parts of your business, not just marketing. For me, if I can’t find the documentation for an app or an online service I am using, that makes me tempted to quit the product, which is just as bad as having a bad landing page.

  2. Awesome post! Google can be frustration now a days 🙁 Some of my sites sank ugh!

  3. Avatar Webmasters Guide says

    Awesome Post! Google can be frustrating now a days 🙁 Some of my sites sank and I’m currently working hard to get them back up on top!

  4. I’ve never understood the segregation of departments.

    It should be intuitive and obvious that the PR team communicates and interacts withe Marketing team. The same can be said for other departments … Sales, Customer services, tech support etc. Anyone and everyone that deals with the clients/customers should be able to provide some input/aid to the company in identifying the market, the audience, the needs … and should in turn be able to assist in solidifying the brand presence and message.

  5. Avatar Jakarta Apartments Rental says

    A leading search engine optimization firm to
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  6. Informative post.Really you have mentioned some great points with us. Most of people are looking these types of valuable posts. Keep in touch with us.

  7. Isn’t SEO pretty much dead and replaced by great content? But what will we do when everyone discovers this secret & starts creating remarkably great content?

  8. Thanks for a very informative post. SEO and great content goes hand in hand..Continue to great content.

  9. Target audience selection is a must to optimize your content. If you don’t know them, it is very difficult to create great content. First you have to know their preferences, consumption patterns, decision making process and so on. They go for creating contents suited to them. I think this is the most important point to consider whether you are promoting your product online or through traditional forms of marketing.

  10. Amazing…really you are the best of MASTER SEO.

  11. Avatar Bradley Johnson says

    Good article. It is indeed essential to involve the other departments so as to come up with the right content that not only the consumer needs but also the employees of the organization. If your own employees can not be able to locate the information they need what about the customers who are external to the organization.

  12. Avatar ram ch. Dash says

    Hello Sir,

    After reading this article i want to know for travel related industry how can i use this? please let me know .. This is My website http://www.kukrejagrouphotels.com


    • SEO can be used to attract any audience you’re after from prospects to media to existing customers. The effectiveness of SEO best practices is industry agnostic.

  13. SEO is not only useful for promoting a company’s website to increase its traffic but also it is one of the good marketing strategy used for online marketing. Great post!

  14. Avatar Jame mcintosh says

    I think the line between SEO and marketing is becoming a very thin line. An SEO team is having to write content for the wed just like the marketing team hass to write content for print.

  15. SEO is one of the most discussed topics on the web.
    Google marginalises SEO with every algorithm and is strikes me that the people
    invested in SEO industry are the ones that perpetuate the never ending cycle of
    tips and tricks to optimise your site.
    As Matt Cutts of Google says, you are better off just forgetting about

    • Optimization of marketing performance related to search engines is how we view “SEO”. That might be a little different than a lot of the SEO topics being discussed related to algorithm updates and whatever Matt Cutts has to say.

      Optimize for customers and to the extent that search engines play a part and you can’t go wrong.

  16. Thank you ver much my friend.

  17. SEO is the online marketing business that make your website more shine. It is not that much easiest way to build a perfect strategy. Content is one of them. Content is the more easiest way to fetch plenty of customers through your website.

  18. Avatar webseo moz says

    Great post. It is indeed essential to involve the others so as to come up with the right content that not only the consumer needs but also the employees of the organization. If your own employees can not be able to locate the information they need what about the customers who are external to the organization.