I think someone has set a reminder on her calendar to post a blog article or blast comments on social networking sites every two months or so to say that “SEO is dead.” Despite her efforts to reaffirm the death, SEO is clearly not dead. At the same time, we hear these interesting new phrases such as “owned media” and “inbound marketing.” Are these “new” concepts taking over what we commonly know as SEO?
Here are some of the popular terms:
- Owned media
- Content marketing
- Inbound marketing
- Customer lifecycle marketing
Owned media refers to the media you own such as a website, microsite, marketing materials, and social sites. It’s usually used in a comparison with paid media and earned media.
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a defined target audience to drive profitable customer action.
Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customers’ interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert over time.
Customer lifecycle is a term used to describe the progression of steps (reach, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty) a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service. Its goal is to get a potential customer’s attention, show her what you have to offer, turn her into a paying customer, and then keep her as a loyal customer.
When you read the above descriptions, you notice that these are all very similar in concept.
SEO is not about placing the keywords on a web page, or ranking higher for the keywords. It’s to optimize any digital content that you create and publish including blogs and the social content. The successful SEO enables you to present the right content, which satisfies the searcher’s needs at each stage of the lifecycle or buying cycle, at wherever the channel she performs search. Your SEO goal is to convert search users into customers by taking whatever action that you want them to take. So really, those “new” concepts are not new at all, and perhaps those terms are describing SEO or certain areas of SEO.
Enough rant on the concept. It’s time for the action. Let’s go over the key action items for successful SEO.
1. Identify what (keyword) they search. Keywords give you a great insight into what the searchers are looking for. Let’s take the keywords to be the voice of consumers and listen to “what they want,” not what you want them to hear. In addition to your SEO target keyword list, go through the search query reports from analytics tools and the paid ad campaigns. Pay attention to the conversion performance of the keywords. If a keyword brings lots of traffic, but only a few of them convert, think of the reason why it’s happening. It could be because the keyword is mapped to the wrong content, attracting the wrong audience, or some other reason.
2. Pinpoint when (buying cycle and lifecycle). Next, you want to put the keywords into different groups based on the intent, buying stage, and the type of content they are looking for. Typically, the broader the keywords, the more likely searchers are in the earlier stage in the buying cycle. This process helps in mapping the keywords to the right content.
3. Locate where (channel) they are. Then, you need to identify the appropriate channel to touch the potential customer’s interest by presenting the content. People don’t search just from the search engines using PC anymore. They search for information from social networking sites, using smartphones and tablets, too. Oftentimes, people search for different information from mobile compared to PC, or search engines vs. social sites. Knowing where they are helps you to focus on the right types of content for each location or device.
4. Organize your content and fill the content gap. Using all of the above information, organize the content, and make sure to have the right content available for each keyword group, and the location where people conduct the search. You may not have the content for some area, in which case, you want to create the content to close the gap so that the potential customers will complete the buying cycle and convert.
It is important to keep in mind that SEO (regardless of the terms) has to consider both push and pull. Don’t just push what you want people to see, but provide what they are looking for at the right time in the right place so that people will respond to your optimized content, and convert.
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