About twenty years ago business users started using email to communicate.
About ten years ago, business people and marketers wanted to do more email marketing because they figured out that their prospects were using email more and more. But the really smart marketers realized early on that BCCing 1000+ people in Outlook didn’t really cut it. There were deliverability and tracking issues plus, if you really pushed the limits, your domain name could be banned by email servers. Very bad!
Enter email marketing technology and software – ExactTarget, ConstantContact and MailChimp are a few of my favourites. Today, every marketer in the world who is serious about email marketing supports the process with technology. Email marketing has become a marriage of man and machine.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is following a similar path as email marketing:
About 10 years ago, really smart business people and marketers started realizing that SEO was a viable way to generate leads. We are now just starting to see some really sophisticated SEO software systems (I’m not talking free tools) that marketers can use to track, manage and measure SEO campaigns; technology that will support marketers in their quest for SEO dominance.
But an SEO software system will not replace the personal practice of SEO. These SEO software systems will merely support the SEO consultant and the marketer providing them with more control, making them more productive, and giving them access to their data on a daily basis.
Just as you still need a person to pull the trigger on an email marketing campaign, you will still always need a person to compose relevant, keyword rich content on a regular basis, which is the key to a strong and successful SEO strategy.
In a nutshell, here’s how the SEO landscape has evolved over the past decade:
- Ten years ago social media did not exist. Today social media accounts for approximately 8%-10% of search algorithms.
- On-site factors are still important, but it’s the off-site factors (your web presence) that can catapult you ahead of your competitors.
- It used to be sufficient to report on organic search rankings on a monthly basis. Not anymore. Organic search rankings change daily. It is humanly impossible to manually gather unskewed, non-personalized search engine rank data on a daily basis. You need SEO technology.
- Google tweaks its algorithm every day (this is a good thing), therefore it is more and more difficult to game the search engines. The only way to win long term is to be committed to publishing original, consistent content.
- Competition is fierce. Ten years ago very few businesses understood the importance of being found in the top 10 in Google. Today not only are more businesses taking SEO seriously, but there is more content for the search engines to index and rank. Because of this, it is a necessity to understand your web presence footprint and which keyword phrases are driving conversions so you can become laser focused on them.
- A thorough competitive analysis can now be done in minutes, rather than days. Enough said.
- YouTube did not exist a decade ago. Today it is the second busiest search engine only after its parent, Google. More and more people are consuming information through video content. And here’s the big secret – it is so easy to rank high in YouTube for the keyword phrases that your prospects are using to try to find you – you CAN crush your competition in YouTube!
- Proving ROI is a requirement. Ten years ago it was sufficient to report that $2000 was spent on SEO and the rank for a particular keyword increased. Today a VP Marketing or a client wants to know precisely:
– what SEO action was executed;
– how web presence was improved;
– what the impact was on organic search engine rank;
– what the conversion rates were for each keyword phrase; and
– how many organic searches turned into visitors, conversions, customers and how much did they buy?
Only SEO technology can help answer these questions.
So before you launch your next SEO campaign, ask yourself which SEO software system best suits your needs. How will you track, manage and measure the impact of your efforts, SEO 3.0 style?
My prediction is that SEO will continue to follow the path that email marketing took and eventually every marketer who is serious about SEO will support the process with technology. Man and Machine!