The business value of SEO in 2021: From revenue generation to reputation and retention
- SEO is without a doubt the most cost-effective channel for enterprises today.
- SEO also adds incremental value in a number of different ways.
- It helps maintain brand equity, helps inform product and sales.
- SEO can also be used as a PR channel and vice-versa.
- From consumer behavior trends to market and demand volatility, search behavior can provide the data businesses need to understand market drivers and pivot in real-time.
- SEO adds value by providing a model for continuous digital improvement of the user (customer) online experience.
Those within the industry understand that the inclusion of SEO as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy is an absolute. But while we recognize that SEO holds the keys to digital success – from the insights and context it provides, to the optimization of content it can deliver – we sometimes overlook the additional business value of SEO.
The power of doing SEO now cannot be understated. As the most cost-effective channel for enterprises today, SEO also adds incremental value in a number of ways. In this article, we’ll consider just seven ways of them.
1. Brand awareness
Some tend to think about SEO primarily in terms of rankings and traffic. While both are great ways to measure the success of your SEO strategy, limiting yourself to those metrics alone can miss the wider value provided by a first-page result – whether it converts to click through or not.
Every search returns pages of results, and each time your product, service, or brand appears on page one of those results you create an impression. Those impressions are fundamental to brand awareness, which is the extent to which consumers recognize your brand, your product, or service.
In an endless sea of options, brand awareness is the first step in the marketing and sales funnel. Whether you’re promoting a new product or focused on retention, recall and recognition are key. SEO presents an opportunity to build brand awareness with every search.
In creating your SEO strategy, you will have ensured your site is easy to navigate, simple to search, accessible, and – critically – credible. Landing your business on the first page of results not only increases visibility but also means you’re more likely perceived as a leader in your industry.
2. PR and reputation
The shift from print media to digital has exponentially expanded your company’s potential audience. Online publications often have much higher readerships than traditional media outlets, and as such digital public relations support increased visibility of your brand.
Understanding that both online and traditional print publications leverage industry experts as content contributors, as step one in your PR and reputation strategy you’ll want to ensure you’re visible to be considered an expert in your local area and/or your industry.
Once in the virtual domain as an expert, your credibility continues to grow and has an incremental impact with each piece of coverage. News publications tend to have high domain authority, as links continue to be one of the most important ranking factors for search engines, each and every media mention further optimizes your searchability with a multiplier effect that continually increases your credibility. and visibility.
3. Consumer and market insights
Throughout the ongoing global pandemic, we’ve seen incredible shifts in consumer behavior worldwide. As consumers continue to re-evaluate everything from their careers to lifestyles and demand more from the brands they choose to buy from, seeking meaning in their purchasing, the insights SEO can provide offer incredible value. From consumer behavior trends to market and demand volatility, search behavior can provide the data businesses need to understand market drivers and pivot in real-time.
Using SEO results and search patterns, combined with the right strategic thinking, can lead to continuous improvement across a number of departments.
Consider content strategy, for example. Marketers know that high-quality content is critical to sales strategies, but what makes for success depends on the needs and wants of users. Understanding user search patterns can help to inform desirable content throughout the buying stages, ultimately leading to better conversation rates.
4. Content and cross channel activation
Of course, we can’t consider content strategy without addressing cross-channel activation. Integrating and activating content across marketing channels – from video to email to verticals and beyond – allows you to reach your customers in the places they are. It acts as the starting point for the personalization we know consumers crave.
By implementing optimized content in an integrated approach that covers everything from paid search to social, an intelligent content framework supports strong organic search success while fulfilling consumer curiosity by ensuring that content is optimized not just for one channel, but for all channels.
Smart content is optimized from the point of creation and ready to activate across channels. The key to successful cross channel activation is a true understanding of customer intent, targeting customers with the detail they want and need, when they need it, and optimizing to ensure visibility.
5. Customer experience and retention
The hallmarks of a good digital experience are key components in the assessment search engines perform when considering whether your site is the best result to showcase. From usability to the relevance of content and simple search functionality, Google wants to see that your site and content are the best answer.
SEO adds value by providing a model for continuous improvement of the user (customer) online experience. Add to that the personalization facilitated by SEO and you’ve got yourself the basis of a top-notch customer experience.
As customers across the globe are craving more personalized experiences, successful businesses are looking at the customer experience holistically – and SEO is a great tool to support the complete customer view. Providing a package of integrated tools and features, SEO insights are an opportunity to take digital strategy from the page to the personal by leveraging data to deliver personalized experiences to customers in real-time.
6. Offline and local
Consumers leverage online research to inform their offline activities, as we well know. Mining SEO insights informs offline and local campaigns, as well.
From a service perspective, from comments to questions online, what consumers want to know in the digital space can lead to conversation starters in the physical space. Arm your customer service representatives with these insights for more meaningful in-person engagements, ultimately deepening the customer relationship.
Informing an in-store experience with SEO insights doesn’t end with sales training. In understanding search terms that returned no results, your buyers are presented with items your customers want you to offer, providing opportunities for new product lines and/or diversification in your services.
7. Revenue and lead generation
Customer acquisition can be costly. We know that inbound strategies are the most effective, and that SEO is a key source of leads. Rather than investing countless hours in outbound marketing strategies, drawing in customers with the information they need – when they need it – as they research and review throughout their buying journey provides a cost-effective avenue of lead generation.
Whether B2B or B2C, revenue grows when the right content is delivered to the right customer, at the right time. Optimizing online content across channels can generate more traffic, more conversions, and thus provide more revenue.
In short, having the right SEO strategy can bring success well beyond the digital space. Understand that set-it-and-forget-it is a strategy doomed to fail. Committing to monitoring and activating SEO insights in as near to real-time as possible gives organizations the opportunity to meet customers and prospects where and when they’re most receptive to your messaging.
From sales to service and loyalty, when supported by the right insights there are almost endless opportunities for companies to reap the value of SEO.
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.
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