How Can SEOs Sell “Shiny, Sexy” Search?

Many brands still fail to understand the importance of search, according to an ad:tech New York panel discussion focused on SEO. So how can SEOs and search marketers get clients to realize its validity?

At the panel, Kevin Ryan, chief executive (CEO) of Motivity Marketing, explained that “A lot of clients don’t want to talk about search” because, while marketers often see the potential in trying new strategies across social, search sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

“There isn’t a shiny new toy in search like there is in social, so [selling search] becomes about client management,” said Hamid Saify, vice president of search marketing and auction media for Deutsch. Often, getting clients to recognize the value of SEO is about “humanizing data” or explaining how search can “make [clients’] lives better.”

One example Saify used to stress the power of search to make brands’ lives better was an experience he had working with HTC in the early 2000s. Data showed that customers were searching for phones in colors other than black, white, and gray. When Saify’s team shared that search data with HTC’s product development team, the brand was able to satisfy customer demand with colored phones.

Shreya Kushari, senior vice president of search marketing and performance media for Digitas, agreed that one of the best way to get reluctant clients to invest in search is to sell “paid social and paid search as testing grounds for content prediction as well as product testing.”

However, stressing the value of search for product testing and development isn’t always enough, Saify said, in which case selling search to skeptical clients becomes about packaging “sexier, shinier search as a real-time PR channel.”

Ryan agreed that teaching PR reps the language of SEO was a good strategy for influencing brand favorability through news stories and press releases. “News is a good way to [combat] negativity,” Ryan said, as long as PR reps have “templates that give them the language that people are using for when they speak to the press.”

Of course, if the product development and PR possibilities don’t get clients onboard, sometimes, according to Saify, “[Search] is about scare tactics. Step back and say, ‘This is how much is left on the table by you not investing.'”

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