A whole new way to think about digital marketing
Back in the good ol’ days, when search engines still resembled the Wild West and Google was not yet one of the largest companies in the world, SEO was as simple as picking the right keyword and adding it to a page many, many times. Throw in a couple of spammy links you bought from a farm somewhere in the Third World and your site was good to go.
This was the environment in which SEO, and in some ways digital marketing as a whole, came into its own as an industry. And though times have changed and Google’s algorithms are now sophisticated enough to crack down on the spammers who try to ‘game’ the system with keywords and links many people are still caught in the old SEO=keywords mindset. This is especially true of many business owners and other decision makers, who don’t have time to hang onto the words of Matt Cutts as if he were a Delphic oracle.
Even though it’s been years since Google released Panda and Penguin, marketers still have to fight battles against people who want to over-optimize URLs, stuff a keyword onto a page twenty times, or even buy paid links because they think that’s what SEO is. And on the other side of the spectrum are the alarmists, who come across one article proclaiming ‘SEO is Dead!’ and consider slashing whole chunks of their marketing budgets.
Part of the problem lies in the phrase SEO (or search engine optimization) itself. Great marketers have always known that SEO never really stood alone. They’ve always incorporated it into the larger marketing picture. But for lots of other people who aren’t clued in to the nuances of the industry, SEO has become a massive distraction, causing them to insist on “optimizations” that are at best pointless and at worst harmful to a site.
That’s why we’re proposing the industry rethink the term SEO altogether. Instead online marketers need to think of their on-page strategy in terms of SEOUX® (pronounced “so”): a seamless integration of search engine optimization and user experience (UX).
Traditional SEO was too often focused on driving traffic, and then dumping people onto pages so crammed with keywords it made for a poor user experience.
A SEOUX® approach to digital marketing privileges above all else the experience of the user. It recognizes that making sure qualified visitors have a positive experience is more important than attracting lots of random people through organic search.
Keywords and gateway landing pages have their place, but only within a larger information architecture framework that makes sense.
A SEOUX® strategy puts an emphasis on presenting information clearly and concisely and making conversion as easy as possible. Redesigning a page or A/B testing a call-to-action can often have a greater impact on the bottom line than optimizing for some different marginally relevant keyword.
More than anything else, a SEOUX® strategy respects the integrity of the brand, openly communicating its value to potential customers and eschewing spammy tactics meant to deceive. As the era of SEO performed in a box gives way to an era dominated by social media and personal recommendations, much of a brand’s digital marketing will be done for it so long as the foundation is solid.
Ultimately, there’s nothing in a SEOUX® strategy that the best digital marketers aren’t already doing, but it’s a new lens through which all marketers (and their bosses) need to start viewing their work: holistically, not as the work of several different silos, as part of building a successful website and business, not just driving traffic.
Photo via MoneyBlogNewz on Flickr.