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How SEO Ties into Your Digital Strategy

Do you know SEO? You probably know what it stands for, but if you think it’s just another marketing tactic, you don’t really get it.

At its core, search engine optimization is about just that—optimizing for search. But that’s just part of the puzzle.

Know this: SEO isn’t a silver bullet to solve marketing challenges. Run away from vendors selling SEO—like technical optimization, link building or referral marketing—as the only thing you need (for as little as $99/month!).

SEO isn’t a solo effort, done by one vendor. It plays a much bigger role, which is one of the most important lessons for both executives and experienced marketers to learn. Let’s discuss how SEO ties into your digital strategy.

SEO as a Customer Experience Benchmark

Is search engine optimization an awareness-building tool? Sure, to a degree. But it’s also useful later on in your sales funnel.

According to a report by BrightEdge, 90 percent of consumers say they use search in every stage of the sales cycle. They’ll even type the “right words” into the search bar if they already know you! After all, it’s a shortcut to let users skip digging through your site navigation.

The same report goes on to show that customers search on the go, regardless of device. So one thing is true: your digital strategy and content—from first discovery to post-purchase engagement—has to be search optimized.

That makes SEO an ideal customer experience benchmark. If you perform well in one, you can’t be doing too badly in the other. Of course, the reverse is also true, so tread lightly.

How SEO Should Impact Web Design

Raise your hand: do you think SEO should be a layer on top of your existing website? Ideally, your hand should still be down, because SEO should be built into the fabric of your online presence from the start. Design gets you there.

Some of the most beautiful websites don’t rank well on results pages, while their ugly stepsister sites do. That’s part coincidence and part strategy. The key to success really lies deeper.

Good web design keeps SEO in mind. Consider this:

  • Users exit pages that don’t look appealing. In turn, high bounce rates negatively affects your rankings.
  • Web design must be consistent to build a natural flow of traffic. Without it, time on page and number of pages visited go down, which is another hit to your ranking.
  • If your site’s fonts and font sizes are tough to read (think serif fonts or script), folks won’t engage with your content.
  • Sound effects and autoplay videos are turn offs that make users leave your site.

But think of the positive side: a well-functioning and appealing navigation improves your SEO. So does content that’s easy to consume and prompts your audience to dig deeper into your site. And of course, the right design functions flawlessly on all devices.

Technical SEO, or the Evolution of Web Development

two people sitting at desk while collaborating on website design that incorporates search engine optimization as part of digital strategy

Web development is the code behind the beauty of your site, the parts making the website behave and look the way it does even if none of your audience members ever see it.

Don’t build a website and worry about SEO later. Instead, build the site with SEO in mind, from the first line of code, forward. It’s almost impossible to build a website that’ll rank well for relevant keywords if SEO is an afterthought.

Technical SEO is tricky, so it requires some explanation. If you work in SEO or are vaguely familiar with it, you probably know a few basics. But you can (and should) go far beyond those basics and learn how technical SEO ties into your digital strategy.

For starters, a review of the basics: your images need alt text and you need responsive code to adjust the page layout to the screen size. What about the rest? Consider some technical SEO best practices:

  • Build your website only with code that’s necessary. Garbage code slows page load speed, dinging your search rankings in the process.
  • When using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal, avoid plugins/modules that slow down your site. Instead, build as much of the functionality as possible.
  • Analyze your log files to find nuances in your code and page performances, then adjust accordingly.
  • Audit your pages for broken links, redirects and other factors that complicate navigation or hamper the browsing experience.

And that’s still only the beginning. Needless to say, your web developer needs to know technical SEO to make sure the entire site is built for search.

SEO Drives Content Marketing Success

Switch gears. Not all SEO is technical. If you’re like most marketers, your eyes have glazed over a bit (I’m not offended). But if you’ve made it this far, I’ll give you a prize for sticking around: we’ll talk about content. Most (if not all) marketers get excited about it, and it’s essential to SEO.

Content marketing isn’t just the future, it’s dominant for brand promotion and thought leadership. The more high-value, relevant content you pump out, the more you’ll succeed in gaining brand awareness and repeat customers.

So why does content work so well? Digital channels—from search to social media—are oversaturated with ads. Millions of users install ad blockers to avoid them, so you need to be creative to cut through the clutter.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just make sure your brand provides actual value to your audience. That typically happens through content, whether we’re talking about webinars, blog posts or whitepapers.

But there’s a rub. You can’t post content and expect it to succeed without some extra firepower. The internet is littered with blogs that have next to zero readership, while others are more successful in getting attention. By the way, thanks for stopping by today.

Marketers know how to give their content an audience, thanks to some SEO help. The best blog posts and long-term content pieces are optimized for the right keywords and search intent, so they rank highly on Google.

The same, of course, is also true in reverse: SEO drives traffic to your content, and the right content brings SEO success. And thanks to algorithms like RankBrain, Google ensures that only content providing user value makes it to the coveted first page of search results.

Promotion and Syndication Facilitate Better Optimization

A well-optimized piece of content or web page is a start, but not nearly enough to win at SEO. You also have to make sure others share your content.

Granted, that’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Some optimization is necessary to get the initial attention. But that attention can magnify the impact of your content and your search engine optimization.

Promoting your content and syndicating it through blog posts and other channels should be a priority. And you get plenty out of it, too: it drives attention and builds links to your website. You want backlinks, because they’re among the biggest ranking factors for your site as a whole.

Speaking of content, it’s also important to point out the value repurposing it for different channels. A little-known fact: YouTube is an SEO monster. If you can convert a blog post into a video that’s just as engaging, the more power your content has and the better your rankings and reach.

Know How SEO Ties into Your Digital Strategy to Maximize Results

SEO, design, development and content. They all work together. To review:

  • Publish a piece of content on a website that’s already optimized in both design and code
  • Make sure the content is optimized
  • Promote the content to build links and awareness, resulting in more shares, reads and conversions
  • REPEAT the process throughout the entire customer lifecycle

When you marry all of these pieces with SEO, suddenly every part of your digital strategy at least touches your SEO efforts. That’s why a vendor promising to blow up your rankings for $99/month will never keep their promise. But once you know how SEO ties into your digital strategy and you start to implement it and prioritize its success, you’ll finally get it and start benefiting from SEO.

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