‘Search as Marketing Channel Is Completely Undervalued’; Will 2022 Be Year of SEO?

Google’s John Mueller said putting the category name or topic name in your URL slug has zero impact on your rankings. Entrepreneur’s Timothy Carter said that in today’s SEO, the functional role of keywords has evolved into a “guiding force for your strategy.” SEO is a complicated thing these days. We’re here to help.

“Why are there so few vice presidents of search engine optimization?”

That was a question asked in a recent Endless Coffee Cup podcast by host Matt Bailey of SiteLogic quoting the headline of an article written last year by his guest, Greg Jarboe, CEO & co-founder, SEO-PR.

“It seems to me that search as a marketing channel is completely undervalued,” Bailey said. “And despite everyone wanting to say they’re data-centric… I’ll give you this example. I was in a training call with a marketing department, and I even had an analyst say, even though social doesn’t make a big impact in the analytics, we still can’t not do it. And, and I’m just kind of looking like, ‘So you’re saying the data’s not there, but yet you’re choosing to make the investment. And I understand there might be some tangential things or something like that, but that means in the absence of data that supports your conclusion, you’re still going to do it anyway. So why the emphasis on data-centricity?’”

Jarboe quickly responded. “Let’s just take a long look at the fact that 53% of the traffic that you can track comes from search. It turns out only about, oh, 5% comes from social. Now, if you look at the budgets in most organizations, I would argue that they are probably the reverse… And that’s because social is what our good friend, Avinash Kaushik, likes to call, ‘a faith-based initiative.’

“And the answer is I’m all for experimenting and finding out new things that may work. But at the end of the day, SEO, this organic search stuff, is paying your salary and also paying the salary of five other people who aren’t in your department. But they’re wasting the company’s money down in the social media group.”

The timing of this discussion could not have been any better for our AM&P Network. On Jan. 20, Erin Hallstrom, director of digital content at Putman Media’s Food Processing brand, kicks off our new 9-part, 40-Minute Editorial Training Series with a crash course on SEO best practices.

The numbers on where our emphasis lies do bear out. A report from Clutch and Ignite Visibility found that just 19% of SEO-focused businesses put resources into paid search.

“While you will get a better ROI on organic search long term, brand-new websites should always start with paid,” Ignite Visibility CEO John Lincoln, winner of Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of the Year” award, said in the report. “Even mature websites that get millions of visitors a month from organic should invest in paid. The two complement each other. Paid is a bit more precise and controllable.”

Charity Huff, CEO of January Spring—a digital marketing and advertising agency that partners with niche media companies—also sees the benefits of paid search.

“Businesses need to have both a paid and organic plan to reach customers,” she said. But “paid search is one of the few places on the web where businesses can own the message. You pick the keywords most important to your potential customer, and you deliver the message that you know will be the most compelling. Organic search is strongest when the content comes from other people, such as ratings and reviews. Organic search sources the message. Paid search lets the business control the message.”

Jarboe said that the reason he decided to write the article on the lack of VPs for search was to underscore “the fact that in many organizations search is in the wrong department. It started off in IT because it seemed technical, and 15, 20 years ago it was technical, by and large. So that was the right place to put it then.

“Over the years, particularly after the Panda Update, it’s all about your content, and pardon me, you can’t fake links anymore. You’ve got to earn the links and how do you earn links? Well, with really good content. So it goes back to content again, and all of a sudden the success metrics in SEO shifted out of the technical IT department realm into the marketing realm. But the SEO people didn’t shift with it.”

“It is absolutely amazing to me,” said Bailey, whose Endless Coffee Cup podcast continues to draw a big audience. “And you said something that really triggered something I’ve been saying ever since I started in analytics, and that’s that big numbers lie. And as much as the executive team loves big numbers and the more big numbers you put on a report that seems to do well, but they always lie.”

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