SEO has changed drastically over the decades. Gone are the days when content marketers and SEO experts relied on tactics such as keyword stuffing, spamming links, and posting content on blogs and social media somewhat aimlessly in order to help boost rankings.
However, over the years, Google changed the rules of the SEO game, forcing companies and marketers to be more strategic about their SEO practices. Additionally, marketing leadership has also lost sight of the importance of a strong SEO approach. As a result, many have adopted somewhat of a distorted view of how long it takes for a good SEO strategy to drive desired results.
The top 3 myths of traditional SEO approaches
Here are the top three myths to many marketing leadership approaches related to beliefs about SEO:
- We should see results quickly.
- The “SEO team” handles all our SEO well.
- With the rise of social media, SEO will naturally happen and doesn’t need as much focus as it once did.
Let’s address and debunk them one at a time.
1. We should see results quickly.
There is a huge misconception that good SEO practices will boost results quickly. Most content marketers and SEO experts roll their eyes at this statement and would agree that marketing leaders are in serious denial when it comes to accepting how long a solid SEO strategy actually takes.
When asked “how long will SEO take?” (and to avoid answering this with “it depends…”), the cold, hard truth is that seeing results from an effective SEO strategy can take up to a year. The top three elements that determine how long SEO takes include the following:
- Competition — of course, the more competing webpages your company or brand is up against, the longer it will take for SEO. This is also industry-specific.
- The presence and number of inbound links — specifically the number of high-quality links to your website. The rate at which more websites link back to your site also matters.
- The content itself — it’s safe to say that most content marketers know that publishing high-quality content does wonders for SEO. Content that is value-driven and that solves a reader’s or visitor’s problem is considered top-performing content that ranks.
2. The “SEO Team” handles all our SEO well.
Sure, your SEO team might be following the strategy your company had mapped out. However, if your strategy doesn’t follow best SEO practices (such as the items mentioned above), then your SEO is only going to be as successful as the strategy in place that your SEO team is following. So, if that strategy incorporates some poor or outdated policies, then you are setting your SEO team up to fail.
The user experience
Additionally, the SEO team might understand how your company ranks against the competition, but it’s also important for them to understand the user’s experience with your website.
Not every SEO team is equipped with the proper knowledge and skillset to assess a website for UX. Therefore, depending on the nature of your agency or company, and your SEO team’s skillsets, you may need to recruit a UX expert to navigate your website and recommend improvements that will allow users to find and land on your site, and find the content that they are looking for.
SEO teams + non-SEO teams
Operations are another key element in the overall success of an SEO strategy, yet it is one that is often overlooked. SEO teams need to rely on or work closely with non-SEO teams to make optimization a success. This should be treated like a “partnership” in order to make a truly positive impact on SEO.
Furthermore, developing processes that foster the best practices, policies, and systems that are all designed to govern how SEO is handled and implemented (including change management) matters in the overall effectiveness of an SEO strategy.
Establish a governance process
It’s important for marketing leaders and experts to have a high-level view into the organization’s content processes. With multiple content contributors, it’s important to develop a governance process to review content, provide feedback, and ensure that it is in line with the organization’s tone, voice, values, and mission. This also ensures that all messaging and content creation efforts are consistent across the board.
3. With the rise of social media, SEO will naturally happen and doesn’t need as much focus as it once did.
The role of social media in an SEO strategy has been a debate for years. Some experts claim that social media has no impact on SEO rankings, whereas others believe that social media posting and presence can boost rankings.
In 2018, Hootsuite tested the SEO results of articles, both with and without social promotion, and discovered that posts with top social shares received an average 22 percent increase in engagement and rankings.
Here are some quick key findings:
- Links in social posts may or may not have an impact on SEO.
- Social profiles do have an impact on search results. (In fact, social media profiles often appear in the top search results for brands and key thought leaders or influencers.)
- In addition to using Google and Bing, users also search social media channels to search for keywords, products, and brands.
How to achieve long-term SEO success
So, now that we have debunked some of the common myths and flaws in SEO strategies, how do teams and companies achieve long-term SEO success? In addition to the tips and tactics mentioned above, agencies and companies can contribute to SEO differently by taking more of a team-centric approach.
Here are some examples:
- “Smarketing” — The concept of sales and marketing alignment (still commonly referred to as “smarketing”) is crucial. Sales helps Marketing to understand which terms, questions, and topics are discussed on calls and in emails with leads, prospects, and potential customers. These insights can help marketers improve targeting efforts.
- Customer support — Similar to Sales, Customer Support is focused more on customers’ pain points and the challenges they face. This can also help marketers determine what content to produce in order to address these issues.
- Executives — Executives are key stakeholders that need to feel like they are influencing the SEO strategy. This level of influence will ensure their buy-in over the long-term. They may also provide some helpful, high-level insights that can be leveraged in content and campaigns.
In addition to recognizing these key stakeholders and their crucial roles in an effective SEO strategy, they can also play a role in content creation. Furthermore, by forming an integrated network of professionals that span the organization and all contribute to content operations, the organization is not only able to leverage in-house resources for effective content ideation and creation, but also creating content that effectively meets stakeholder needs.
Mission-driven SEO: the humanistic approach
In addition to the notes above, we are also seeing a shift away from the tactical SEO approach to more of a humanistic approach. SEO is becoming more “mission-driven,” which means that Google is placing more emphasis on brands that are more empathetic to customers’ needs and challenges, and how the brand’s mission and values play a role in solving customers’ concerns.
Human-centered marketing is in, and mission-driven SEO is playing a huge role in it. This model fosters relationship-building between companies and customers to develop loyalty and trust. Furthermore, this approach to SEO and marketing goes above and beyond simply scheduling meetings, meeting customers’ needs, or closing deals; rather, this type of marketing ensures that the brand’s voice, values, and mission directly impact the customer.
Expanding beyond the SEO team
All in all, the overall effectiveness of an SEO strategy involves taking a completely different approach to SEO in the first place. More than ever, SEO involves more of a team-centered focus that comes from all areas of the organization. All parts of the organization are responsible for the effectiveness of an SEO strategy.