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SEO is quite a wide-ranging discipline and as such, it can achieve a lot of different business objectives. Three main ways that we could use this channel would be to attract, convert, or retain the customers that we're looking to communicate with. SEO can be a major driver of cost-effective traffic. We don't pay for the clicks, of course. So, if you're thinking long term, this can be a real driver for your business.
It makes sense that SEO should be able to perform any of these areas of attracting, converting, or retaining because it does encompass every aspect of your website. So, through data analysis, you can understand the purpose of each aspect of your website and assess which areas are underperforming or potentially overperforming. You can then attribute all activities in your plan to the objectives of either attracting, converting, or retaining customers.
A way of doing that might be to crawl all the URLs within your website, you might want to use Google Analytics or Screaming Frog for example. Find out which ones are really bringing in the high-volume traffic for you. And then, understand the intent of that traffic and understand the page itself. Is it built for attracting, converting, or retaining? If you know that from point A, you'll be able to strategize much better.
Within those three areas of attracting, converting, and retaining customers, SEO can be categorized in three more ways.
We can look at the on-page content. So this is a very multifaceted discipline and it spans everything from creative, interactive campaigns that you may host on your website through to the purchase confirmation pages.
All of this is not part of SEO. You should know the purpose of all those pages before you start setting targets. It doesn't make sense to have an acquisition page that's purely focused on volume. You'll want to know the conversion rates that you're getting once people come through to the site.
These can engage the audience and attract backlinks. It's really important to understand how this fits in with the needs of your audience, however. It could be an easy catch-all term that content is king, and we need to build more content. If your industry isn't one where people are looking for creative assets and you're not a destination site for information, people come to you because they already know they want to purchase.
You might want to focus your content efforts in that way. There's no need to go creating content assets purely for the sake of it. You should really think about the purpose of the content you're creating.
The content that we create as SEO strategists can also be used for email marketing campaigns. It doesn't just have to be what goes on the website. A lot of what we create can be re-purposed and used for completely different ways. It could be Gmail-sponsored posts, or it could just be classic email marketing campaigns. But there's a lot of crossover between SEO and the areas that we wouldn't traditionally have thought that it would cross into.
The search marketing landscape changes quite frequently as we've touched on quite a few times and will again, almost certainly. That evolving nature continues to open up opportunities for us and some of these areas, we'll look at in more detail with paid search in a few slides' time. But for the moment, we can look at this specifically for SEO.
There's a lot more information out there to do with demographics and we can take this from the paid search strategists and teams that we work with and break people down into some of those demographics.
We can then map that against some of our landing pages and tailor the content. If we know who these demographics are, we know what they're looking for, we know some of their past behavior, we can tailor the content that we serve them to make sure that they are going to make the conversions that we want them to.
Location targeting or hyperlocal targeting as it's becoming known as Google gets much, much more granular with, it is essential, now, where with paid search, we can really go after some of those queries, with SEO, we just need to make sure our local properties are optimized to the best of our ability.
That will increase the propensity that anyone that's in the vicinity will be served our results first whenever they search for whatever the query is.
And the rise of mobile has meant the evolution of on-the-go search. User journeys occur across multiple devices and that's something we need to bear in mind for all of the channels when we're looking at strategy.
But one thing we should steer clear of is viewing mobile users as merely mini-desktop users. It really doesn't work that way and you'll notice it. You're looking at your analytics package; people will behave differently across different devices. They will be searching for different things. You should tailor your content based on that. But also bear in mind the frantic nature of mobile search versus desktop.
Desktop is more considered. It can be used more as a branding tool. Mobile is about those, as Google calls them, micro-moments. It's about capturing attention. You don't have the time to really tell your story in the detail you might on desktop. A strategic thought that we should have when we're looking at all channels.
When we look at new technologies and new developments, we're obviously looking at how we can make the most of them for our businesses and one recent trend and upcoming trend that will affect things for the next few years is voice search.
The first points that you should consider is whether this is very relevant to your brand. It's not used yet for acquisition purposes necessarily; it tends to be informational. But there are a lot of considerations here as we see the number of voice searches increase that we should take into account. So search query trends are changing quite a lot because the way that we search on desktop or mobile is quite deeply engrained.
We have a way of doing things. There's a certain language to it. We search for terms like credit cards and not necessarily which is the best credit card for me, which would be more natural language. But what we see with voice search is that people are speaking in much more natural language because they're expecting the results to be different. That means a lot of things.
It does mean informational queries increase, it does mean that you have to be the one correct answer and make sure that you're being served up for that. But it also means that we get a lot more information. We've looked at the keyword volumes and the fact that we can't look at a keyword level for SEO anymore. This is a great way to look into this. We still know what the queries are.
We may not know the exact volume that they come in but if we're looking at a term like credit cards, it's hard to infer exactly what that person is looking for. If we take a term like credit cards, it's hard to know exactly what that person is looking for. We can't necessarily infer intent from that. If that becomes a longer query, which credit card is best for low credit, there's a lot more information there. We can do a lot more with that. We can create a lot more content around that. There are a lot of different ways of thinking about this. It's not just that there are opportunities to rank, there are opportunities to serve better content as well.
Voice search is integrated with a lot of third-party tools and software. It's worth thinking about the likes of say Amazon Echo, it defaults to Bing. So, if people thought using Amazon Echo a lot more, a lot more searches will default to Bing, and if you're not thinking about Bing as part of your search strategy, you could miss out there.
There are other integrations that are going on that are quite interesting, with the likes of Uber. There may be more in an e-commerce sense that happens in this way. Amazon Echo seems a logical one with Amazon itself but there could be a lot more opportunities for people and we should keep an eye out for some of these integrations because voice search can't answer everything on its own.
The more we know about people, the more we know about what they want and where they are, the greater accuracy we can use to target them and the messaging that we can use and a good example here is Google Home. So yes, there's Google Home, there may soon be Google driverless cars, there's Google Assistant which is a software that tries to integrate all of this.
If you combine hardware in different locations with software that is ubiquitous, you can really start to be hyperlocal in your targeting and deliver on some of those utopian dreams that we've had for data or marketing. So that will probably bleed more into the paid area than the organic area, but if you really want to consider and it may be very relevant for your business.Back to Top
Clark Boyd is CEO and founder of marketing simulations company Novela. He is also a digital strategy consultant, author, and trainer. Over the last 12 years, he has devised and implemented international marketing strategies for brands including American Express, Adidas, and General Motors.
Today, Clark works with business schools at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Columbia University to design and deliver their executive-education courses on data analytics and digital marketing.
Clark is a certified Google trainer and runs Google workshops across Europe and the Middle East. This year, he has delivered keynote speeches at leadership events in Latin America, Europe, and the US. You can find him on Twitter (X), LinkedIn, and Slideshare. He writes regularly on Medium and you can subscribe to his email newsletter, hi,tech.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
This module covers the key steps for planning and implementing a search marketing strategy for your organization. It addresses the key components in an effective search marketing strategy and outlines best practices for planning and research. It also covers how to execute a strategy and evaluate the performance of a search marketing campaign.