SEO, once a highly specialized and often marginalized task relegated to the back rooms of website development teams, is now a mainstream digital marketing activity. Its dramatic rise can be attributed to various emerging trends, including:
- Search engines now drive a large volume of highly targeted traffic from people intent on accomplishing research-based, purchase-oriented, and content consumption goals. Businesses can earn significant revenues by leveraging the quality and relevance of this traffic for direct sales, customer acquisition, and content and branding/awareness campaigns.
- Visibility in search engines creates an implied endorsement effect, whereby searchers associate quality, relevance, and trustworthiness with sites that rank highly for their queries.
- Dramatic growth in the interaction between offline and online marketing necessitates investment by organizations of all kinds in a successful search strategy. Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for tasks ranging from researching purchases in verticals such as real estate, automobiles, and technology to finding local resources for health and wellness services. At this stage, businesses simply cannot afford to ignore their customers’ needs as expressed through searches conducted on the major search engines.
Search engine optimization is a technical marketing function that relies upon both content creation and technological development, and success in organic search greatly depends upon various technical and analytical tools that provide access to valuable data necessary for ongoing SEO and website improvement, as well as overall user experience optimization. The intersection of and interdependence between website technology and online marketing has become clear, and essential—and SEO was at the forefront of this trend. New conference events such as MarTech (produced by Third Door Media, the company behind Search Engine Land and Search Marketing Expo) are beginning to provide platforms for learning and growth within the powerful intersection of marketing and technology.
As with all marketing functions, specific goal setting is required for success to be measured and achieved. While SEO can be viewed as a project (and there are certainly situations in which SEO “projects” exist) the best investment, in our opinion, is to treat it as more of a process—one that is iterative and ongoing, and requires steady commitment from the stakeholders of an organization.
An ongoing investment is needed to create a site with the proper content, architecture, and overall foundation for SEO success. The results may not appear instantly, but a business that makes a patient and prudent commitment to SEO, invests in quality content development, constructs a crawlable site architecture, and earns legitimate linking relationships will be handsomely rewarded.