SEO was ‘invented’ as a marketing strategy over a decade ago, and in that time it has continued to be used as a tactical approach rather than strategic. This is probably because there are very particular tactics applied for link acquisition, traffic, mention and ranking acquisitions among other KPIs used to measure success and efficacy.
One thing has become clearer over the years, however: SEO is a lot more than just tools, tactics and hacks. Many businesses today are embracing the use of SEO as a strategic business driver, and inviting their SEO experts onto their strategic teams. This article discusses a few ways in which SEO can be used to impact strategy.
- Reduce cost of digital media
For many lines of business, PPC is a costly venture, requiring as high as $10 per click. In the legal field for instance, the amount can rise to up to $200. Having a high position in organic search results can help to reduce cost of paid advertising for those high-ranking queries, freeing up much-needed funds to be sent to other unaffordable yet important marketing campaigns and strategies. This is an important impact of SEO on a business’s financial standing, and one that many businesses often ignore.
- Defend market share
Getting high rankings in organic search result listings will not only increase revenue and traffic from your site, but they also reduce revenue going to your competitors. For B2B businesses, which are characterized by high lifetime value of a single client, investing towards high-quality, optimized content can be seen as a strategic move to preserve market share. Missing a single opportunity to attract a prospective client in organic or paid search means you’ve given that client to a competitor. SEO can therefore be seen as a strategic asset with offensive as well as defensive abilities.
- Influence branding decisions
SEO isn’t the same thing as PR, but they do have one main goal in common: increasing general positive visibility of a brand and gaining favorable impressions among clients. This is the reason that SEO agencies today have added PR to their list of proficiency and vice versa.
Raising brand awareness is a major strategic marketing objective. Today, we have online reputation management as a component of both SEO and PR. Paid advertising is an important tactic in averting reputation management crises. This makes SEO a pivotal component of brand advertising.
- Increase efficacy of non-search campaigns
Searchers will often turn to search engines because they have been exposed to some marketing campaign: it could be a news story mention, remarks from friends and acquaintances, offline events or television advertising. The level of search traffic can therefore be used to measure efficacy of these offline/off-search strategies. Search behavior can also be analyzed to detect unique patterns within a business’s target audience, which can be used in strategic planning and to improve marketing efficacy.
- Develop new products and services
Paid as well as organic search can be taken as a massive, scaled and real-time focus group on which you can perform predictive analysis through data collection. You can tell what your customers need and want and on occasion gain the opportunity to invent a product/service that fills a gap in the market. This kind of virtual focus group provides huge potential for value-addition as well as A/B testing strategies and site elements before deploying on a fulltime basis.
Is SEO strategic in your organization?
The first question to answer is the person to whom the SEO team leader reports. Naturally, where the SEO head reports to a high-level manager, SEO insights can be gainfully employed for organizational-level strategic planning.
However, it goes beyond placing appropriate organizational hierarchy. It’s about involving the SEO team during conceptualization stages of project/product development rather than at implementation. SEO concerns and data should be factored in at the earliest possible time. It’s about considering SEO, not as icing on a baked cake, but rather an important ingredient that should be added with the flour, eggs and margarine.
This can only be accomplished by sensitizing all departments, from the top down, on the value of SEO, including departmental pointers on how SEO can be used in specific areas. This will certainly not be accomplished in a day, but as you do so, you’ll notice that your business gains an advantage in decision-making, and, used properly, such advantage can improve service delivery and overall performance.