This may come as a surprise, but not all marketers are SEOs. Conversely, not all SEOs are marketers. However, aligning your SEO efforts with the customer journey into a combined marketing optimization process may be your best bet to improve traffic, lead gen and revenue.
SEO used to be about growing traffic. The customer journey was a straight line and Google was a Q&A site. A lot has changed since the last few years of the 20th century, and marketing has changed with it.
The Growth of SEO and Marketing
We built the pathways that consumers followed but today, growing traffic has become a minor part of the expectations. Search engine optimization has grown beyond those pathways to include point-of-sale conversions and revenue. We’re content developers and data analysts, conversion rate specialists and builders of revenue.
Traffic is no longer enough. Developing website revenue dependent on search engines means evolving our services to meet the demand produced by the SEs and clients alike. Search results change depending on what you’ve searched previously, where you live, and where you’ve been with your phone. Context clarifies, bringing search results based on user intent.
While search engine updates and social platforms make it easier for users to find information, they also change how users interact with that information. Digital marketing is almost unrecognizable from yesteryear, with multiple touchpoints, marketing channels and long sales cycles. Meanwhile, customer journey maps have started looking like a 3-year-old’s Etch A Sketch picture.
Digital Marketing Optimization: Merging SEO and Marketing for a Better Customer Journey
With all the changes to the customer journey, how does SEO keep up? Are activities such as mapping the customer journey exclusive to marketing, or is/can SEO be involved?
The reality is, SEO and the customer journey go hand-in-hand. Out of all the areas where marketing optimization is a necessary process, I can think of three where it really stands out: personalized marketing, customer experience, and brand awareness.
Marketing is becoming more and more personalized, from the search engines to brand conversations on social media. By analyzing various types of data and customer segmentation, brands are able to build buyer personas and create a smaller target audience. In turn, marketing campaigns can center around products or services that better fit that smaller segment.
SEO can help bring customers seamlessly through the marketing funnel, from discovery to sale to continued brand advocacy. Personalized marketing is all well and good, but traffic still matters. If you aren’t seen on search results, exposure to your brand and product/service offerings is limited.
SEO takes that same marketing data and turns that personalization into a laser focus.
Look at search marketing and optimization. Depending on the market segment, we might create landing pages that target specific terms.
We provide white-label services, for example, but we don’t want a B2B or B2C company hitting those landing pages. The return on investment would be greatly lacking. Instead, we optimize those pages for terms that specifically center around white-label SEO.
The same can be said for any niche you can think of. There is always more than one type of person looking for your products/services. Search engine optimization helps you find the words they use to look for you.
Of course, customer experience is huge in marketing – more so as brands move towards customer-centric marketing methods. To some, this may look like a completely “marketer oriented” activity, so where does SEO come in?
The answer is in the metrics, two of which are page speed and page optimization.
One of the customer experience metrics that optimization targets is page and website speed. In a Think With Google study, if the time for a page to load goes from 1s to 3s, the probability of bounce increases 32%. By the time page load is at 10s, the probability of bounce is 123%. Clearly, page speed is a factor in a positive customer experience.
Ensuring a good customer experience includes optimization processes, such as:
- keeping a page on topic
- providing scannable headlines and sections
- making sure links are working, relevant, and helpful
These may seem like small things, but they’re a large part of on-page SEO for a reason. A lot of companies end up breaking one of the three points above on a regular basis.
As a natural point of any customer journey, it’s important that your website provides the best customer experience possible. It is, quite literally in many instances, the face of your brand. How the visitor perceives your website can very easily become how they perceive your brand. SEO helps make sure that first impression is a strong, positive one.
In the short term, marketing efforts can give your brand awareness a boost. However, optimization can often double and triple your efforts. The process of optimization uses data from a range of places such as Google Analytics, SEMRush, even HootSuite, to find where your target market is most likely to be.
How does this help brand awareness? By putting yourself in front of the very people and businesses you want to influence. How much good does brand awareness do if you’re on Facebook, but your target market isn’t? So what if 5,000 people know about your brand if it isn’t relevant to them?
As well, the very act of ranking well exhibits authority for the search term. This is proven by studies like the one done by Zero Limit Web, which showed that the first 5 results on page one get 67.6% of all clicks. That’s quite an incentive to rank first, and also a strong brand statement. “We’re the top result.”
So what’s the conclusion here? In short, we’ve reached a time in digital marketing that pure marketing and pure SEO should no longer exist. Marketing teams and SEO teams shouldn’t be in their different silos, never to talk to one another.
If your marketing team doesn’t know what your SEO team is doing and vice versa, there is something wrong with your strategies. Align your SEO with your customer journey map using marketing optimization and realize better customer experience, a smoother flow through marketing funnels and, ultimately, a stronger bottom line.