Is SEO dead? Simple answer…No. Okay. Thanks for reading. Have a great day!
I recently saw a great video over on Moz.com Whiteboard Friday about the death of keyword ranking reports. After watching this video, I became passionate! I think Cyrus Shepard, Senior Content Astronaut for Moz, really hit on some key points! These are my thoughts that were sparked by the video.
With Google’s shift towards keyword data showing [not provided] it has caused an uproar in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) community with many just claiming that SEO is dead. This quickly shows the level of understanding a person has about SEO and how they define SEO. There are a few things you need to understand first in order to get the most out of this post.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
According to Wikipedia, Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
What is a Web Search Query?
According to Wikipedia, A web search query is a query that a user enters into a web search engine to satisfy his or her information needs.
What are the 4 categories of a search query?
- Navigational Search Query
- Informational Search Query
- Transactional Search Query
- Connectivity Search Query
Navigational Search Query
This is when you search for a single website or the website of a specific company. (e.g. ESPN, Sears, etc.) This is sometimes referred to as a “branded search”.
Informational Search Query
This is when you search for general information that covers a broad topic. (e.g. Dog Training, New Cars, etc.)
Transactional Search Query
This is when you express a specific intent like purchasing a vehicle or downloading a new app.
Connectivity Search Query
These searches are far less common among the average user and usually are only used by SEO’s, Online Marketers, Web Developers, etc. They report on the connectivity of an indexed page on the web graph. They will give certain information about link structure, URL’s pointing to a page, amount of indexed pages on a site, etc. (e.g. site:robertjsmithforhire.com)
Okay! Now that we made it through the background information, let’s get on with it already!
Where in that definition from Wikipedia about Search Engine Optimization did you see the word “keyword ranking” at all? For so many years, SEO’s have focused directly on Keyword Rankings. To them, this was a great indication of ROI for their clients. This caused SEO’s to not truly align with their clients’ goals! While keyword rank is one indicator of how your brand is doing, it is just one very small piece of the overall puzzle that clients often don’t understand or care about.
SEO, in and of itself is, and always has been about 1 thing… Get traffic to a website through organic search engine visibility!
Some of you might be asking…”Well what about conversions?” or “What about Social Media Marketing?” To this I simply say…NO! SEO is one piece of the puzzle to Inbound Marketing or Online Marketing. (Whichever you choose to call it) A comprehensive internet marketing strategy involves but is not limited to:
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Conversion Optimization
- Search Engine Optimization
- UX design
- A/B Split Testing (Multi-Variate)
- Reputation Management
- Competitive Research
- Etc., Etc., Etc.
Now, don’t get me wrong. With things like social signals, author rank, knowledge graph, local results, etc. playing such a big part in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) these days, there is quite a bit of overlap between SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, etc.
In order to effectively implement a solid SEO campaign, you must:
- Understand the client’s goals and Key Performance Indicators as well as how those KPI’s align with the goals.
- Align your SEO KPI’s with the client’s KPI’s.
- Report on the KPI’s that matter to your client, not you! Show how the SEO campaign contributes to the overall Online Marketing campaign.
- Be well-rounded enough to understand the relationship between other aspects of the campaign and how they all affect each other. (Knowing SEO without knowing things like Social Media Marketing just doesn’t cut it in today’s world.)
- STOP FOCUSING ON KEYWORD RANK AS YOUR MAIN INDICATOR OF SUCCESS! Focus more on the traffic the keywords are bringing, then align that with your clients’ goals.
If we go back to the types of search queries, on second look, you will start to notice that they tend to align with different parts of the inbound marketing process. Hubspot has a great blog post on the buyer’s journey. The more you understand about this, the better your SEO results will become. Let’s align the search queries to the buyer’s journey.
Awareness Stage = Informational Search
Consideration Stage = Navigational Search
Decision Stage = Transactional Search
So how do we use this information to supercharge our SEO efforts?
Use the power of SEO to rank the pages that are designed for the corresponding stage of the buyer’s journey to the search query. Huh? Let me explain.
This is where it becomes paramount for an SEO to understand inbound marketing. If you understand the Keyword Indexing and Long-Tail Keywords for the Informational Search, you can optimize content that gives general information to the visitor for that search query. Then, you use Keyword Indexing to optimize the content that caters to the consideration stage through Navigational Search. This is where brand awareness is key because you want them to recognize your brand to move them to the next stage! Lastly, you use Keyword Indexing to optimize the content that is focused on a sale conversion during the decisions stage to the transactional search.
Throughout this entire process, you are using the entire inbound marketing methodology to Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
If you take all this information, and align it to your clients’ specific goals and KPI’s, you will quickly become an SEO rock star! Why? Because you are not just doing SEO, you are contributing to your clients’ bottom line. Then you won’t have to prove ROI, it will be obvious.