SEO Must Be About More Than Your Website

As marketers, we sometimes need to step back and focus on the big picture. Columnist Casie Gillette discusses how offline, social and email channels can work with SEO for major wins.

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At SMX East a few weeks ago, Arnie Kuenn, Marketing Land columnist and CEO of Vertical Measures, gave a very interesting statistic around the buying journey.

He noted that 93% of all consumers use search before making a purchase — and on top of that, 86% of people are conducting non-branded queries.

That’s a lot of people using search in the buying process!

The question for marketers is, “Are you optimizing for search?” If you answered yes, here’s another question:

“Are you optimizing for search on all channels?”

For most of us, when we think search and SEO, we think about our website. However, not only do people search on other channels, they also search based on what they see on other channels.

For marketers to truly be successful, SEO has to be synced up with our other marketing avenues. Let’s take a look…

Offline Channels

An iProspect study from 2010 showed that 40% of online searchers were influenced by offline channels. A more recent iProspect study showed that 67% of online users are driven to search from exposure to some offline channel.

Think about it this way: 67% of online users saw something in print, on TV, on the highway, or perhaps, on the train during their morning commute and then headed over to the web to search for it.

As marketers, our job is to ensure that when people take that step, they actually find our website. That’s where SEO comes in!

The challenge for us is that there’s a good chance the person searching won’t be searching for your brand. Truthfully, they probably won’t even remember it.

After all, people barely remember advertisers during the Super Bowl, and that’s when they are actually paying attention to ads.

As marketers, we need to align our SEO strategy with our offline marketing campaigns to ensure our site can be found. We need to know:

  • What taglines are being used?
  • What are the story lines?
  • What images are used?
  • What’s in the ad copy?
  • What makes the ads memorable?
  • How will people search for the ad?

These things should then all be integrated into the website and other online channels (think social), geared at capturing your offline audience who will be searching by what they remember.

Let’s use Nike as an example.

Nike is a huge brand that recently put out a fantastic commercial commemorating Derek Jeter’s final season.

When I heard about it, I headed over to Google and searched [derek jeter ad] and got a results page full of news stories (and YouTube videos) about the Derek Jeter Gatorade commercial:

Derek Jeter Ad SERP

However, when I searched [nike derek jeter ad], I got the following:

Nike Derek Jeter Ad SERP

I had to use the brand name to find the Nike site. Once there, I found the commercial is on the site, but nowhere on the page does it actually mention anything about it. On top of that, the Nike YouTube video of the commercial isn’t even optimized for search!

Now, I know that this is Nike and that people will figure it out. But the point is this: if I can’t quickly and easily find a commercial put out by Nike, it’s going be really hard for me to find content put out smaller, lesser-known brands.

Social Media

According to a recent Gallup poll, 62% of consumers claimed that social media had no influence on their purchasing decision. However, in a separate report by Shoutly, over 90% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product if it had been recommended to them by someone they follow online.

Man, that’s confusing. In the words of double rainbow guy, “What does this mean?”

In my opinion, consumers aren’t exactly sure how social media is influencing their buying decisions, but they are looking for (and listening to) product recommendations from their online friends. In fact, do a quick search on Twitter for “have a recommendation,” and you’ll get tons of results:

Twitter Recommendations Result

The key here for marketers is not just monitoring the right keywords to be able to find and respond to these types of queries, but making sure you are using the right terms in your updates so users can find you.

As I wrote in a previous post, social and search need to be aligned. People are no longer just searching through traditional search engines, and it’s up to companies to ensure they can be found elsewhere.

Give your social team a list of keywords people are using to find your business. Offer them Webmaster Tools data, AdWords data, whatever you can to help them understand how people find your product or service. Your social media team must also be thinking about SEO.

Email Marketing

Did you know that 122,500,453,020 emails are sent every hour? Every hour! How is that even possible?

Despite that, email is one of the most successful marketing tactics we have. According to Circle Research, 42% of businesses say email is one of their most effective lead generation channels, with 88% of B2B marketers citing email as THE most effective lead generation channel.

Where does SEO come into play here? Meet structured markup…

Gmail Promotions Tab Visual Enhancement

When the Promotions Tab hit Gmail, many marketers were worried. Would email open rates go down? Would click-through rates go down? Would people even read their emails? While the data are still rolling in, one thing is for certain: there are some exciting opportunities.

Back in March, Google rolled out their Promotions tab visual enhancements, giving email marketers the opportunity to create Pinterest like messages using structured markup.

Image via Marketing Land

Image via Marketing Land

Marketing consultant Justin Briggs also talked about utilizing structured data in email during his SMX East presentation, where he noted the integration with Google Now.

For email marketers, utilizing the structured markup tactics SEOs are currently using could help drive open rates, click through rates, and improve overall campaigns.

If you are an email marketer or an SEO/email marketer, I highly recommend checking out this post from Litmus, which provides a great overview of the Promotions tab and offers instructions on how to generate these messages.

Break Down The Silos

We’ve all seen the posts on the importance of breaking down marketing silos so I’m not going to repeat that here.

What I will say is this… SEO should be something that is thought about in all departments. From web development to offline advertising to paid search, email marketing, and more… we all need to be aware of how our audience looks for our products and services.

While we may not be able to break down the walls and integrate SEO into every department, I advise you as SEOs to take it upon yourself to deliver opportunities to your teams when you can. One small win can go a long way in getting everyone on board.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Casie Gillette
Casie Gillette is the Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at KoMarketing, a B2B online marketing firm based in Boston, MA. She has been in the search industry for twelve years and loves all things Internet-related.

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