Seth Price of Placester recently had an opportunity to chat about holistic search marketing and search optimization with Lee Odden and how it applies to particular verticals. Specifically real estate. For those of you who don’t know Lee, he has been writing about SEO and content marketing since early 2000, long before most of the world understood the value of search marketing. His company, Top Rank Online Marketing has worked with clients such as HP, PRWeb, StrongMail, Marketo and Vocus.
I was introduced to Lee Odden first through his blog, TopRankBlog.com and most recently through his book, Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing. This is the first book to outline a straighforward approach to what is now called “Holistic SEO” Traditionally SEO has been treated as an initiative that exists in a vacuum asking for change without justification across the rest of the digital touchpoints. Lee’s book outlines how to you can set the stage for an optimized state of mind and create an integrated online marketing machine. You will learn all the steps from planning, and implementation to scaling your newly optimized mentality accross your organization. Below are some of my takeaways from reading the book and my interview with Lee.
Get a sense of what’s possible.
We tend to look at content and SEO strictly from a keyword and eyeball perspective. Lee talks about how companies create many kinds of content. Marketing, PR, HR and knowledge-base information that is all ripe for optimization. Look outside the box and think about engaging your customers through their entire life cycle.
Determine a baseline.
You have to audit what you have in place already. Here is a list of 5 crucial audits that you should perform. Think of hiring an experienced outside firm to perform them to get the most out of them.
1) A Keyword Research Audit: This helps identify what phrases represent the mix of reasons consumers use search to find topics relevant to your business, competitors and product offerings.
2) Content Audit: This takes inventory of all content and digital assets that could be a potential entry point via search recommends SEO copywriting tactics to showcase those pages as most relevant.
3) Technical SEO Audit: This audit is to make sure your site is helping the bots do their job efficiently and correctly.
4) Link Footprint Audit: This audit helps to indentify the quantity and quality of links from web and social sources then compares the results with top competitors in the space to discover opportunities to pursue.
5) Social SEO Audit: This audit helps to assess your brands social presence, engagement and distribution through social channels.
Research and listen.
With search, competition can come in multiple guises, including search results, links, advertisments, social reccomendations, and digital assets. Understanding that your competition is anything that pulls the attention of your customers and prospects away from your content is crucial to being successful online.
You must have a content marketing strategy.
Because consumers are bombarded with information, Interruption marketing is no longer effective. Lee argues that an optimized content marketing strategy is a plan for delivering thoughtful content with certain audiences and outcomes in mind. In the context of your company working to achieve it’s goals by being useful to your customers, community and constituents.
Truly understand your customers personas.
Who are your customers? what are their lives like? What drives them? Until you understand the picture of real people that might buy what you have to sell you will be throwing darts in the wind, hoping to hit a target. It’s important to know the personas preference for content discovery, consumption and engagement. This will help you develop a more successful content marketing approach.
Don’t focus on keywords until you know your customer.
Spending the time to understanding what your customers care about and which keywords are driving your and your competitors websites will set that stage for effective keyword research. Too often keyword research results in an unstructured list of keywords without customer relevance. Don’t waste your time picking random keywords just because they are popular.
If it can be searched, it can be optimized.
It’s time to look beyond more traditional web page content optimization and optimize all of the content in your inbound marketing arsenal. Text content, digital assets and social media all required consideration. Blogs, white papers, articles, e-books, case studies, testimonials, microblogging, webinars, videos, photos, podcasts and newsletters are the top content tactics to focus on.
Measure, value, refine, and repeat.
The role of key performance indicators (KPIs) helps you determine the influence of your content across the buying and customer life cycle. It is super important for the relationship between goal setting and measurement to be in lock step. And with that in mind, looking beyond visit, impressions and an increase in sales to include other measurables important to you brands success. Brand perception, thought leadership, driving customer engagement, providing better customer service, increasing customer retention and growing advocacy and referrals are top on the list according to Lee.
There is so much I couldn’t fit in this article and interview. I highly recommend that you buy Lee Odden’s book Optimize. It’s worth the modest price many times over and will lead you in the right direction to optimizing your SEO, social media and content marketing.