It’s time CEOs gave SEO the attention it deserves – here’s why – TechRadar

CEOs likely know from their marketing departments that paid techniques are just one branch of their digital marketing efforts. In reality, the tactics for digital marketing constantly evolve in line with new tech trends, regulations, and audience preferences. With digital marketing changing faster than ever, business leaders risk relying on tactics that are no longer relevant in today’s digital landscape.

About the Author

Craig Dunham is the CEO of Deepcrawl.

For example, in recent years paid social advertising has become more expensive while its effectiveness has dropped.  This is due in part to an oversaturated market, with social channels established as the go-to marketing focus during the pandemic. In today’s search-first world, CEOs should recognize that organic search is a more viable, cost-effective option for customer acquisition, providing long-term benefits to their company’s digital presence – and acknowledge the role SEO plays in the success of this.

Most marketing teams are adept at on-site SEO. They understand the need to optimize content and consider keywords to create stronger online engagement. With recent search engine updates, however, technical SEO and website health have become increasingly important drivers in organic search—yet these factors are still often overlooked as necessary elements in marketing and conversion strategies. This oversight can be combated with a dedicated SEO department, but it is all too common for SEO teams to run in silos and not be integrated into the core business operation. This creates a disjunction between technical and marketing efforts, consequently hindering the effectiveness of website functions.

With the growing influence of technical SEO on search marketing efforts, running SEO teams in a silo is the wrong approach. To make the most of their online ventures, CEOs need to consider SEO and website health when making marketing, sales, and strategic decisions. Put simply, multiple departments will have a hand in SEO success, so it must be a collaborative effort that is baked into business processes from the C-suite down.

So, what is technical SEO?

To understand how organic search can be leveraged for meaningful revenue results, CEOs should be familiar with the basics of technical SEO and how it influences search engine results pages (SERPs). In short, technical SEO governs the overall search engine ranking, performance (speed) and user experience (UX) of a website. Naturally, Google wants their browser to be used as much as possible, so they promote websites that provide a great experience for users. Generally, this means fast websites with great content and well-considered navigation rank better. 

Without technical SEO, the ‘look’ of a website might be great, but the crucial foundation beneath the content won’t benefit UX and will ultimately affect website authority and search rankings. Google ranks websites by crawling their pages and reading the site’s code to understand its worth and context. As an example, when an image accompanies site content, Google needs to be told the contextual relevance of the image. This is possible by describing it in hidden ‘alt text’ code. Furthermore, to benefit the user experience, those images also need to be compressed to save on loading time. These technical SEO factors show Google that a website is suitable for fast browsing while also telling it which search terms best suit the page.

While paid advertising might provide more instantly gratifying results, those results are only temporarily boosted. Organic methods win when it comes to longevity. After a paid campaign is over, the results cease as well. In addition, paid advertising costs typically increase in proportion to the amount of traffic being acquired. With technical SEO, every improvement made will create a more effective website going forward. These results continue beyond the lifespan of a paid campaign and come at a relatively fixed cost that is decoupled from the amount of traffic being acquired. When a page ranks higher in search results, it receives more traffic and lowers the customer acquisition cost (CAC).

data

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Why data matters for better search results

SEO best practices change regularly because Google and other search engines are constantly updating their algorithms – so knowing how these updates will affect your search results and how your company’s website is performing against new ranking criteria is crucial. Gathering data on how your – and your competitors’ – websites are performing and how users are finding and experiencing them is imperative if you want to ensure search success for your business moving forward. 

While recent technology trends have focused on Big Data and compiling huge volumes of varying data points, a 2020 study by research firm IDC revealed 68% of collected data is never used. A shift from generalized mass data collection toward BigOps, whereby data collection is automated across all business touchpoints to provide real-time analytics, shows how voluminous data can be used more effectively. Companies that use BigOps to hone SearchOps – the same automated processes applied to search and site optimization – will be better positioned to measure data.

Having solid, well-considered website data tools, automation, and operations in place allows the C-suite to better understand the role of SEO specialists and bolster their effectiveness by ensuring all internal teams have real-time, easy-to-understand insights into website performance and the impact this has on everything from customer acquisition to revenue. Empowering your teams with leading technical SEO tools can help boost effectiveness and cross-functional collaboration across multiple teams and ultimately make a real difference to your website performance and your bottom line. 

The importance of SEO platforms and how to choose the right one

While CEOs might sign off budgets to invest in content SEO & technical SEO SaaS platforms such as Deepcrawl, they’ll rarely know much about how these tools are used. But there’s a real benefit to understanding the basics of what these tools provide.

SEO tools can provide deep insights into exactly how and why your website is getting the search results it does. These platforms can be integral when identifying and fixing poorly performing pages and can provide overarching website performance knowledge that will benefit multiple departments. Having a shared source of knowledge and data will help teams work together with better cohesion. With the increasing importance of technical SEO elements in overall site health and performance, SEO tools can help your web developers, UX designers, and marketing departments work in alignment from a single source to improve their collaborative processes and enhance your overall return on investment in SEO and website performance. 

Furthermore, providing your team with an appropriate SEO SaaS platform can boost team efficiency and free up time for your staff, as many of the best SEO tools have time-saving automation that will decrease the need for labor-intensive manual checks on website code and architecture. With automation tools, best practices for search engine optimization are built-in and regularly updated to match the ever-changing ranking criteria we discussed above. Finding the right SaaS platform for technical SEO can help your company get the search results your brand needs to stay top-of-mind with customers and prospects, helping your internal teams align on objectives that are often at risk of being ineffectively siloed into individual departments.    

Thriving in a search-first age

We’re in a search-first age. Almost all of us begin our personal and professional queries on Google these days, and brands that reach the top of the search results are better positioned to turn customer intent into brand awareness and sales. While paid ads can provide a temporary boost, organic search boasts longer-term and more cost-effective rewards. Meeting your customers where they are (and aligning your brand with the needs they are trying to meet in their online searches) has never been more important for businesses that wish to build their credibility, authority, and revenue. 

With search established as a key driver for multiple business functions, CEOs stand to benefit a great deal from understanding SEO and developing an awareness of the tools that exist to provide knowledge, efficiency, and collaborative improvements for their teams. Investing time and effort into building out a strong SearchOps initiative within your business and identifying the right technical SEO platform can provide valuable insights for everyone in the C-suite and enable teams across your organization to succeed in the search-first age. 

CEOs have a deep understanding of wider business ambitions and bigger-picture strategies that will all be influenced to some degree by search results—and as such, I would encourage more of us to get involved with technical SEO and website health efforts. Our digital world is changing rapidly and our choices as consumers are driven more than ever by search engines – with declining returns on investment in the digital advertising space, getting up to speed with the world of search offers a valuable advantage in the long-term. 

If you’re interested in improving the search engine optimization of your website or business, check out our roundup of the best SEO tools

Craig Dunham

Craig Dunham is the CEO of Deepcrawl.