So you are probably asking yourself, “What’s a multi-channel channel?” Good question! When you take a look at the various online marketing channels, SEO has some special characteristics. It’s part of the reason that I love working on Natural Search projects. As many of you probably know already, on-site SEO is extremely important. Optimizing your website for Natural Search is a prerequisite for gaining top rankings. Making sure you have a clear path for the bots to index your site is extremely important, minimizing errors on your site, optimizing your navigation, linking structure, ensuring you are throwing the correct header response codes, and optimizing the core html elements on each page are all important. But let’s face it, inbound links are still incredibly important. I’m referring to links from other websites, preferably from powerful and relevant sites in your industry. This is where SEO and Natural Search start to cross channels. Read on.
So How is SEO a Multi-Channel Channel?
Whenever I have a whiteboard in front of me and the conversation shifts to SEO, I get to sketch my multi-channel chart. For argument’s sake, let’s say that you’ve already done an incredible job at optimizing your website structure and want to start increasing your SEO power. Chances are you will sit down with your team and start brainstorming link-building ideas. As you start to map out ideas, it will become extremely clear that you’re now talking about more than just SEO…you will be including other online marketing channels as part of the conversation. I can guarantee it.
The Multi-Channel Ramble:
Here we go… As part of your link-building conversation, you will inevitably start brainstorming ways to utilize social media and social networking sites to get the word out about your content. For example, sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Mixx, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, FriendFeed, Propeller, del.icio.us, and many others depending on your niche. You will also want to start a blog, which will be your platform for providing additional content on your site that can provide value to your visitors. You might also start brainstorming viral marketing campaigns using video, user generated content, web applications, and mobile applications. In addition, you might launch contests and sweepstakes too. You might brainstorm widgets and social applications, which can also impact your inbound links. Then, as you build new campaigns, you will probably leverage your PR department to help get the word out. And while you’re at it, you might tap into your loyal base of customers to help spread the word about your new content and tools (maybe starting with your in-house email list). Then, as part of your keyword research process for SEO, you might run some Paid Search campaigns to test the impact of various groups of keywords. And by the way, you will be working with your web analytics team to track all of these efforts at a granular level…
So, based on my multi-channel ramble above, you would have touched upon:
3. Social Media
4. Viral Marketing
5. Word of Mouth Marketing
8. Mobile Marketing
9. Email Marketing
10. Video Marketing
Now, can you see why I call SEO the multi-channel channel? ;-) Based on our example above, you would be hitting 10 marketing channels during your link-building campaign. Not bad for a little word like SEO, huh?
SEO and the future
Will what I explained above always be the case? I believe that as emerging technologies expand (like Mobile and IPTV), you’ll probably be able to add more channels to the list and not less! Will inbound links be the lifeblood of Natural Search in the future? I don’t know. Right now, it’s still the best way to determine how third parties feel about your content by casting votes (or links) to your site. And as long as that’s the case, then developing ways to increase your inbound links will be critical (which will keep SEO as a multi-channel channel.)
But let’s face it…technology moves at light speed. 10 years from now, we might be talking about CommuniRank™, ParsecRank™ or GabeRank™ versus Pagerank™. OK, I had to throw my name in there! :) The point is that whatever the measure is for increasing your natural search power, you will probably be leveraging a wide range of marketing channels to help increase your rankings. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
So, if you focus on SEO and someone asks what you do, get them a cup of coffee, a doughnut, and grab a conference room with a whiteboard. Then take them through the incredible, multi-channel channel that is SEO.