Aligning SEO with Marketing – A Plan for Success

seo-alignmentOne of the best things about being an SEO is when your activities produce tangible results for a company that really moves the bottom line. So it is with great pleasure that I share some strategies and tactics that my company BusinessOnline has used to increase some of our client’s year-over-year organic search traffic.

The challenges that our clients face are similar to those faced by many other digital marketing professionals that are trying to make SEO part of the company DNA. As many of us know, things like link building and content production can be difficult to get budget for, especially in this economy. Additionally, marketing channels including event marketing, PR, social media and search (both paid and organic) often live in silos that don’t talk to one another.

Therefore, there is a lot of opportunity that is being left on the table from an SEO perspective.

Our goal for any campaign is to better to align as many marketing channels as possible with SEO best practices in order to better leverage all of these marketing activities from an organic search perspective. Additionally, we wanted to improve the internal communication, especially around keywords. To do that, we concentrate on the following areas of focus:

  1. Internal Communication
  2. Keyword Management
  3. Digital Content Strategy
  4. Social Media
  5. PR Optimization
  6. Training

Let’s discuss some of the tactics that we used to successfully align each of these areas of focus with SEO best practices.

Internal Communication

Improving the lines of communication within any organization is the cornerstone of our success. Getting everyone focused on the same goals will always have a tangible effect and produce better results than would have otherwise been possible. In order to better align the members of various marketing teams, we provide them with keyword lists that are relevant to whatever projects they are working on. Some folks get the whole keyword set and some got a subset of the overall keyword list depending on their role in the company. Once those keywords had been provided, we trained each of those groups on how they could implement those keywords into the activities that they were responsible for (more about training later).

Equally important is getting this entire initiative prioritized by management and having that priority communicated to all of the teams that we were working with. Having upper level management communicate the priority of search to the entire company is critical. Additionally, demonstrating through analytics data how important SEO is to the marketing and sales efforts of the company is another key initiative.

The other piece of the puzzle is a high degree of collaboration including weekly SEO team meetings and participation in marketing meetings. These tactics are very successful in improving communication and getting everyone aligned with the goals and objectives of our SEO campaign.

Keyword Management

Segmenting keywords into campaigns based on business objectives and then within those campaigns, segmenting by keyword group is a very important part of our process. Not only does the segmentation allow for more granular understanding of SEO performance, but it also makes it easier for us to provide relevant keywords to various marketing teams. Content writers and bloggers are given keywords that were relevant to their area of focus whereas other marketers are given the entire list depending on their role. Obviously training all these folks on how to use the keywords is a critical piece as well. But the segmentation of keywords makes a big difference in the campaign.

Digital Content Strategy

Once the keywords have been identified and segmented, a content gap analysis is performed to illustrate where sufficient content is needed to address the keywords that they had targeted. Additionally, a lot of the marketing content often lives behind an authentication wall (you have to register to download a whitepaper for example). Creating optimized landing pages for this content that is targeted towards relevant keywords with content previews (snippets) helps open that content up to search. We also collaborate with various content producers to create new content (both text and video) that is aligned with company goals and marketing objectives. Keyword research is really user research that explains how your targeted audience is using language to describe your goods, services and concepts in your industry. Therefore, aligning your marketing content with those keywords means that you are talking the same language as the people you are trying to sell to which not only improves your search rankings but also improves your conversions because people understand what you are saying.

The main goal within the Digital Content alignment is to have the people who are producing digital assets on an ongoing basis get the education that they need to create optimized content from inception. In other words, our SEO team wouldn’t need to optimize every new page on the site because it was built from an optimization perspective to begin with.

Social Media

Social Media is a huge area of focus for us. In addition to using social media channels like Blogging, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to extend messaging, promote content and engage our target audience, we want to use social media to create thought leadership, consistently produce new keyword focused content, and acquire new, relevant links that will make a difference in our SEO campaign. In addition to the keyword lists and training that we provide to social media teams, another successful tactic is a consistent posting schedule for all social media platforms for their content. We create what we called a Digital Asset Chart that gives instructions on how and where to promote each type of digital asset (blog post, video, webinar, etc). This way we always have a consistent approach to promoting content through social media, no matter whose job is ends up being.

PR Optimization

One of the most important vehicles for link building any company is press release optimization. By training PR teams on SEO best practices, we are able to make each release more impactful to the overall SEO campaign. The releases get more traffic because they get more search traffic, even if they live on someone else’s domain. And, because they are created with relevant, embedded links that point back to our clients’ Websites, every time the release is picked up, they get new, valuable links. Obviously this tactic is only successful when you’re company has something meaningful to say.

SEO Training

This is another cornerstone in the success of this SEO campaign. Empowering people within the organization to make their own contributions to the SEO campaign is a huge priority for us in any engagement because ultimately it’s easier to scale across a large organization than trying to have one SEO team do everything. We conducted training for the following groups of people:

  • Content writers
  • Bloggers
  • PR Team
  • Social Media Team
  • Internal SEO Resources
  • Management
  • IT

And depending on which group we were training, we covered the following topics:

  • Keyword Research
  • On Page Optimization (Content Optimization + Meta data + Page Titles)
  • PR Optimization
  • Social media / SEO best practices
  • Link optimization (Internal and External)
  • Site wide optimization (Technical Issues)

By demystifying SEO across various groups within the company, we were able to align all of the groups against the goals and priorities of the SEO campaign.

By aligning all of these marketing groups with those goals and aligning their activities with SEO best practices, we have been able to help many clients achieve significant gains in organic search. Hopefully this model can provide a template for others to follow to achieve similar results.

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