Sayonara SEO firms, hello content relations

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
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Guest post by Adam Dawson

Oh search engines; you glorious portals to millions of tidbits of information that have made settling arguments over useless facts painless.

Because of you, there is a scarcity of scenarios where questions go unanswered because someone can whip their smartphone out and “Google” it. Instead of wandering through libraries, spending hours shuffling through books to find the facts and statistics we need, we can now find the same info with a few keystrokes and a click of a button. We also have the ability to effectively market businesses by optimizing search results through the practice of SEO.

Over the past several years, SEO has caught a bad rap from those who claim it is used too often as a trick or gimmick to lure unsuspecting customers to company sites with irrelevant search results. Time and time again industry commentators have written tiresome editorial pieces that claim this strategy is “dead” when, in reality, it’s more alive ever. Sure the dated tactics of white and black hat SEO may have gone the way of Pauly Shore’s acting career, but in the modern world, it’s about utilizing amazing content to aid searches in authentic ways.

The absurdity of thinking SEO is “dead” is laughable, especially considering that 93 percent of all online experiences start with a search engine, according to Search Engine Journal. The same source also states that SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate outbound leads like print advertising and direct mail average a puny 1.7 percent. If having that large of an advantage over other tactics deems something as dead, I’m not quite sure what it means to be alive.

As long as we’re on the topic of death, have you ever heard the saying “the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of a Google search result?” As humorous as it is, this quip holds more truth than our first president of the United States. According to Search Engine Watch, the top listing of a Google search alone receives 33 percent of the traffic. From this barrage of statistics, it should be clear that SEO stronger than ever, which is exactly why it shouldn’t be segregated into its own category, but integrated as a primary component of every company’s content relations.

Now is where I enlighten you on what exactly content relations means… cue the inspirational music. Imagine a one-stop-shop where a business could have all of its creative strategy handled by a team of multi-skilled renaissance men/women. These firms would encapsulate every type of strategic service into one package, so instead of shopping around for a PR, SEO, social media and marketing agency, organizations can save boatloads of time and money by selecting one jack-of-all-trades.

Content relations firms are the next great evolution in marketing and communications. As communicators, our endeavors must be highly coordinated and make use of the most compelling technologies to weave corporate stories that intrigue and inform, while doing so in a way supersedes the billions of pieces of content in existence. This should all go according to core philosophies that include data-driven creative orchestration, a holistic approach and utilization of advanced technological enhancements.

A creative agency that lacks creativity is like a BLT lacking in bacon. Whether it’s filling a blog with posts, writing compelling thought leadership articles or curating a client’s newsletter, firms need to put stress on the creation of owned content. On top of that, they need to holistically strategize where and when to place media stories and tie them into equally amazing events. They need to be tech savvy, following all the latest trends so they know what the next big gadget is and how they can use it to their advantage. New technologies are breaking ground every day and disrupting the way we do business. They can be used to not just earn media, but interweave earned and owned content.

Realistically, the only thing that’s dead, other than my interest in reading another piece about the demise of SEO, is the trend of disparate firms that dedicate themselves solely to SEO, PR, social media and marketing. No longer should branding methodologies be fragmented, they should be conjoined into one superpower instead. An organized, well-oiled machine that focuses on the amazing ways to utilize, create and evangelize the range of content out there. SEO should be seen as one of the vital cogs that keeps content relations’ engine running as it cruises us into the future of creative strategy.

Photo courtesy SEO Planter, Flickr

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