What A Shock: Marketers Don’t Like SEO! 08

Apparently marketers don’t like SEO — because they don’t understand SEO. That’s the upshot of a new report just out, where SEO ranked at the tail end of digital initiatives.

I call bullshit on that. It’s not that marketers don’t understand SEO. It’s that they don’t like it.

I did my first SEO work in 1996. That’s two years before there was a Google. And marketers didn’t understand SEO then — or so they said. They’ve kept the message consistent for the last 22 years: “We don’t get SEO.”

Look, SEO is not rocket science. It’s where searcher intent intersects with content. Know what people are looking for and give it to them. It’s that simple.

This is not about SEO being hard to understand. It’s about SEO being hard to do. The last time I climbed on this particular soapbox was four years ago — and nothing has changed. SEO is still hard, maybe harder than it has ever been. That’s what marketers don’t like.

Well, that and many other things. SEO is hard to control. It’s hard to predict. It’s hard to measure. And that makes it almost impossible to rely on. All of those things are anathema to marketers.

But here’s the biggest reason for SEO’s lack of popularity with marketers: It’s not very exciting. It’s arduous. It about as sexy as weeding the garden. That’s probably why social media tops the list of digital initiatives, and not SEO.

So why even bother with search? For two reasons.

First, there’s no better crystallization of prospect intent — short of converting on your own website — than an online search. The planets are aligned, the heavens have opened with a hallelujah chorus, the Holy Grail has fallen into your lap.

I spent the better part of two decades researching search user behaviors. Trust me when I say that this is as good as it gets.

That’s reason one. Reason two is that somewhere between 75% and 85% of those prospects will click on an organic listing. When we’re talking about capturing a motivated prospect, this is no-brainer stuff.

Yet marketers are saying no thanks, we’ll take a pass on that.

If online is important to your marketing, chances are extremely good that SEO is also important. I don’t care whether you like it or not. You have to do it. If you don’t want to, find someone who does.

That brings up another reason marketers hate SEO: It doesn’t really live in their domain. SEO, by its very nature, stretches across multiple domains. It has to be systemic across the entire organization.

So, it’s not entirely a marketer’s fault that SEO is neglected. It tends to fall into a no-man’s land between departments. Marketers don’t push it because there are many other things they can do that they have complete control over. And if marketers don’t push it, no one else is going to step forward.

Executives, who may legitimately not understand SEO, think of it solely as a marketing exercise. Tech support hates SEO even more than marketers. And corporate compliance? Don’t get me started on corporate compliance! There’s a reason why SEO has always been known as a red-headed stepchild.

As a past SEO-er, I wasn’t really surprised to see that SEO still gets no love from marketers.

I’ve forced myself to eat broccoli my entire life. And it’s not because I don’t understand broccoli. It’s because I don’t like it. Some things remain constant. But you know what else? I still choke my broccoli down. Because my mom was right — it’s good for you.


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