Jon Ball, CEO of Page One Power, recently interviewed Matt Roberts, the founder of LinkDex, in a special episode of The Backlink Show.
The two will be hosting a Webinar "Link Building and SEO Now" on May 6th, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT. That's tomorrow, so make sure you register here.
The SEO industry is in a state of upheaval right now, with more changes in the last three years than the previous ten. Between inbound marketing, social media, and content marketing confusion is rife.
Jon Ball attended SMX West in San Jose last month, where Roberts presented "I am SEO." Jon was impressed with Roberts' authority and voice of clarity, and knew his message needed further amplification. In the recent Backlink Show episode they discussed six different key topics:
- The ROI and Power of SEO
- The current state of SEO
- SEO as a channel in the marketing funnel
- The role SEOs in marketing campaigns
- The role of SEO in content marketing
- Links on the web and it's power as a signal.
Let's jump into it.
The ROI and Power of SEO as a Marketing Channel
Jon was blown away by the research Roberts used in his SMX West presentation, a report from eConsultancy.
Specifically, Roberts discussed the fact that over and over again organic search has been shown to be a top online marketing channel. This power extends to first click, assisted conversions, overall lifetime value (LTV), authority building, branding, and consumer trust.
"I'm a passionate SEO but this isn't about SEOs wanting to bang their own drum. This conversation has moved beyond that - this is just about the facts around what consumers do every day, and the volume with which they do it. And once you get into that part of the conversation, you realize how big this channel is and should be." - Roberts
However, there's been a real disconnect between the power of SEO as a channel, and companies understanding and investment in SEO as a marketing channel. This led to Roberts and Ball discussing the current state of SEO.
The Current State of SEO
There have been a plethora of changes within the SEO industry in just the last few years. Many have noted that the industry has grown in terms of maturity, largely at Google's prompting.
But we're not all the way there yet, and many SEOs are experiencing growing pains. However both Ball and Roberts agreed this is necessary growth, and there's never been a better time to be an SEO.
SEO began as a technical industry, often with the perception of "hacking" the algorithm to appear in search as opposed to seeing SEO as a marketing channel. With the growth of the web and Google, SEO is beginning to move into that perception as a media channel. As Roberts said:
"We don't want to be there just because we managed to hack the algo - we want to be there with the very best content there is on the web. And that content is going be reflect our brand in the most positive way possible." - Roberts
The fact of the matter is that organic is great for brand building - something Roberts talks about in depth. And only by seeing ourselves as marketing professionals can we continue to mature and improve. We need to put users at the center of our goals, as opposed to search engines. Search engines are the means, and users are the purpose.
"it's not about gaming Google, it's about the consumer and it's about their experience with your brand. And, in many ways it's about maximizing the number of times your brand is able to talk to them through their favorite channel." - Roberts
And that's how we'll earn larger investments, budgets, and a seat at the marketing table. That's how we'll be seen as a portion of media and marketing versus what's the smallest amount they can invest to check the SEO box.
SEO as a Channel in the Marketing Funnel
Google search is ingrained into the internet in a way few mediums are. As Roberts said, to explain the inherent trust users have in Google:
"People Google stuff - that's what they do." - Roberts
So SEO as a marketing channel can hit consumers at every stage of the marketing funnel, including consideration, evaluation, final purchase, and even product review.
Organic search is in a unique position to assist users all the way through their decision making process. And that gives a lot of power to SEOs and brands willing to fully invest.
The Role of SEOs in Marketing Campaigns (and Content Marketing)
SEOs in the past have famously been perceived as a technical consultant, or a sub-marketing department. We've often had to fight for our place at the marketing table.
Roberts, who has studied the power of SEO, believes that if SEO is high on the marketing agenda, they should be helping lead marketing decisions.
"If the business objective, that comes from the top, is to make sure that in that channel that everyone is saying "We must be there, when our customers search, we must be there. We want to be there with a voice, a brand building voice, a converting voice." If that is the number one thing that c-level is saying must happen, then we need the content team to focus on that, and the people giving them the direction is not just the c-level, it's the search people who have the insights and knowledge on how to direct that effort." - Roberts
If the business directive in marketing is to be prominent in organic search, SEOs must be allowed to help direct that effort, according to Roberts.
SEOs Role in Content Marketing
Content marketing is a huge discussion in the SEO industry right now, with many favoring a content marketing approach within an SEO campaign.
There's no doubt that content marketing has power, and can add value to an SEO campaign. But there's much confusion right now in the role it should play, and how content marketing should involve SEOs.
"I don't know any brand that is able to dominate their sector without all of the different interactions between different departments functioning in an optimal way. This isn't about cannibalizing each others professions, this is about collaboration. It's about team work. It's about knowing what game you're planning and how you're keeping score." - Roberts
Roberts appreciates the power of content marketing, but if your primary concern with your content efforts revolves around organic traffic, and improved visibility in search, then an SEO should be helping determine strategy.
The Power of Links as a Signal
Link acquisition is still extremely important, and plays an important role in SEO according to Roberts.
"Let's be really straight - links are a great signal, and search engines use them to decide which domains and which content to rank. That's just fact. They're not going to change that today, tomorrow, or even next year. They're a brilliant signal, and you can see exactly why they use them." - Roberts
Roberts pushes the importance of having professional SEOs and link builders involved in any link strategies.
"The people doing it need to really know what they're doing, and they need to do it the right way. That's why you turn to professionals." - Roberts
Links have long been the core of Google's search algorithm, and undeniably valuable in improving search visibility. However, with the Google's increasing devaluation and punishment of manipulative links, link acquisition has become harder and harder. There are no longer any short cuts, and low quality links must be avoided.