Old SEO, meet new SEO: How to get buy-in for modern marketing
Written by Steven Shattuck and published
Marketing moves fast.
The SEO strategies that win today – creating high-quality content, focusing on the metrics that matter to clients and investing in digital PR – are often far different than what’s come before them.
Next-level marketers and SEOs know what it takes to be successful today, but convincing the powers that be within a business or organization can be challenging.
You may encounter leaders who are set in their ways, marketers who are clinging to tactics that are no longer effective, or bosses who have been led astray by out-of-date opinions and resources.
But don’t despair – you can get them to come around to you way of thinking with a little finesse. Here are three big-picture philosophies and strategies that work now, and the tips you need for getting leaders’ buy-in to implement them.
1. Give away your knowledge for free
Businesses and organizations who are seen as experts in their field all have one thing in common: they are prolific publishers of helpful, brand-agnostic content. This means that they aren’t constantly publishing whitepapers about their own products and services, but rather giving away all of their thought leadership in an effort to show off their expertise.
The result is rapid community growth, which leads to increased social shares and backlinks.
For some industries, giving away all of your intellectual property can be a tough pill to swallow, especially in those verticals where intellectual property and employee knowledge is a key differentiating factor that isn’t unveiled until a prospect becomes a customer.
To win today, companies have to let their guard down and embrace the fact that Internet users are looking for answers to questions, and won’t even consider hiring a vendor until they know for sure that they are truly experts.
A great example of this is from the agency SEER Interactive, which recently published a mammoth (un-gated) article on their site that the author says took more than 60 hours to complete. This “Guide to Doing Almost Anything” with the tool Screaming Frog has dominated the social conversation since its publication, and will likely appear in search results for the foreseeable future.
A few years ago it might have been considered crazy to give away this kind of knowledge for free, for fear that prospects would simply “do it themselves” rather than retain your business.
What to say:
“Everyone is becoming a publisher. If prospects don’t get content that is easily accessible, educational and authoritative from us, they’ll get it from a competitor.”
2. Choose the right metrics
Rankings have long been the reigning KPI for SEOs and web marketers. But with so many other sources of referral traffic available to business and organizations, rankings are no longer king.
In fact, first page rankings can lull some marketers into a false sense of accomplishment, or may simply be a result of poor content and suspect link building.
Instead, focus on the metrics that matter. Conversions are an ideal KPI because they allow marketers to tie their efforts directly to the company’s bottom line.
If you can point to increased conversions regardless of rankings, there’s a good chance you’re doing something right. Plus, you can avoid the dreaded supervisor question: “Our rankings are up, why aren’t sales?”
What to say:
“As long as traffic and conversions increase, why does it matter where we rank?”
3. Earned media is the new link
Not only will businesses and organizations need to become publishers, but they’ll also have to start adopting traditional PR tactics to get their content placed on leading online media outlets.
This means a concerted effort to build relationships with reporters and gatekeepers of major online publications, which will require the inclusion of skilled publicists and editors within the marketing department who will go out and earn marketing, rather than pay for it.
A “content czar” who oversees the quality of all outgoing content may also be appropriate.
Once the relationship is made, these leading blogs, journals and communities can funnel traffic to your content in volumes never thought possible.
Adding significant headcount of this nature to a traditional marketing department may come off as strange to leadership, but it truly represents the marketing department of tomorrow.
What to say:
“The best marketing is earned! Let’s put a team in place who can secure placements with leading media outlets that won’t be able to resist featuring our content.”
With these three talking points, you should be able to convince even the most stubborn executive to let go of outdated strategies and start focusing on the SEO strategies that win today.