So I was trying to explain to my parents about what my profession is. “We optimise websites for better Google rankings, it’s called Search Engine Optimisation“, I said. It was apparently a failed mission as after almost three years, they still think I work in IT or some sort of computer engineering field. To some of my friends I’d say, “We do SEO”, which actually made my job sound way cooler. In fact, most of my friends and my parents haven’t heard of the term ‘SEO’ and to them, it sounds like a skill that is highly niche, technical and something totally irrelevant to their lives. For those who don’t work in the search marketing industry, you might wonder how relevant is SEO to what you do. During the past few years I’ve worked with quite a few businesses (from startups to enterprise), marketing graduates, writers and PR professionals, which has made me realise how essential and beneficial it is to have a certain level of SEO knowledge even if you don’t aim to pursue a career in the SEO field. Here let me tell you why.
1. Marketing Graduates
Just flick through job ads in the marketing category and you’ll be convinced about why learning SEO is essential to either get your foot in the door in the marketing industry, or to take your marketing career to the next level. Some of our previous SEO interns have successfully scored their first full-time job with national brands as digital marketers and they mentioned how much interest their future employers showed at the interviews when they talked about their SEO experience. Do you know the term SEO sounds like a kind of foreign language to most business owners and managers? Now you can show your potential values by explaining how you can act as the bridge of communication between themselves and their web developers (who are a constant source of head-banging frustration for most) on all things site optimisation related. You know how to strike the perfect balance between achieving the best usability of a website and its potential to attract organic search traffic. You may not be a writer, but you know the strategy behind crafting and structuring onsite content that is readable as well as Googlebot-friendly. Your potential employers know these skills are specialised and aren’t exactly cheap to acquire, especially those who have been burnt by spammy cheap SEO packages and black hat tricks.
2. Public Relations Professionals
When you think about the objectives of PR activities and SEO, they actually serve common goals – to attract (free) eyeballs and to be found by the right influencers. With the merging of online and offline publishing, most PR companies are adapting to the shifts and have started to harness the power of online influencers and to be found by journalists researching online. A team with great SEO knowledge and PR skills will simply double your ROI. 91% of journalists frequently do their researches on companies’ online press area according to the 2014 report published by TEKGroup. PR professionals of course know how to craft releases and potential story ideas to pitch to journalists, but when they’re published online how do you ensure they get found and read? Hello, search engines! This is a prime example of how SEO skills can add value. From knowing what keywords to use on releases, to linking to the right pages and structuring your online media room, a PR guru with SEO knowledge can leverage their storytelling power to reach their target audience in a reactive way. Also, chances are that if you rank well for a story hosted in your online news room, the momentum is simply continuous. Your story will attract clicks and views for months to come via organic search. This is something that offline PR cannot deliver.
No doubt copywriters know how to pitch themselves to clients with their skillful use of words. But how about pitching themselves to search engines? If you’re a freelance writer who’s just started, you’ll know how difficult it is to make your voice heard without word of mouth and references. No doubt networking is one big aspect of selling, but don’t forget that we turn to Google every day to look for services and check reviews before purchase decisions are made. The situation here is quite similar to being a PR professional with SEO knowledge, you have the right tool and now you have the powerful amplifier (SEO skills and organic traffic) to get yourself found by your potential clients.
On the other hand, combining copywriting skills and the knowledge to optimise your content for searches is like having nutella on peanut butter brownies – this is how you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. After recent bloodshed by the Google Panda, businesses especially e-commerce have learnt their lessons about the risk of thin content and keywords-stuffed pages. Good copywriters with the most up-to-date SEO knowledge know how to incorporate natural variations of keywords in website content while making them interesting to read as well as share-worthy on social channels. It has quickly become a highly sought after skill for businesses when hiring copywriters. Many large corporates these days have their in-house copywriting teams sitting within the digital marketing area and working closely with their SEO-ers (either onsite or outsource) to create content for different online platforms such as website, blogs and social channels.
4. Small Business Owners and Startups Entrepreneurs
As mentioned, outsourcing SEO work is an option for businesses while it isn’t quite cheap due to its labour intensive nature. For startup business owners, spending a couple of hundred dollars to do an actual SEO learning course will pay for itself in the long run. Starting your website from a clean slate and knowing the best practice for URL structure and site architect etc. means you save yourself thousands of dollars (and many hours) down the track to get web development work redone. Surely anyone can build a website and start a web business these days with user-friendly CMS such as WordPress and Shopify. And of course, most entrepreneurs know how cost-effective organic search traffic is to their web businesses. However, not everyone wins the race when it comes to the ranking game. Those starting with user-friendly sites optimised for search with enticing and targeted content from day one will harvest big rewards in the long run. The dominance in search engines by the travel booking site Wotif.com in Australia for example shows how important it is for startups to invest in SEO from the beginning stage to plant success in the future. As a small business owner, even if you have the budget down the track to contract SEO work with agencies, speaking the same SEO language will ensure you make a wise decision in choosing the best SEO service providers and that they’re delivering the biggest bang for your bucks.
About the author:
Juliet is the Product and Marketing Manager at Digi.training (launching in March 2015), an innovative training platform offering online SEO course by industry experts who currently mange enterprise level SEO accounts. Digi.training aims to school in-house marketers and entrepreneurs on best practice digital marketing techniques that improve reach, engagement, ranking and ROI.