Victor Navarro, commercial manager at Outrider Australia, argues that the Australian marketing industry needs to re-evaluate its approach to search by embedding it at the heart of the strategic planning and content creation phase.

‘Content is king’.

It’s a well-used adage in digital marketing. It is a mantra for our industry, with good reason. Great content builds connections with consumers, drives engagement and creates a deeper understanding of brands. Content, in its various forms, is the glue that integrates multi-channel campaigns together.

But great content without great SEO is often content unseen. As an industry, SEO is all too often overlooked during initial planning and strategy stages, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. As a consequence, the quality of the content is diminished as brands retrospectively drop keywords into content in order to achieve what is now a tactical goal.

With search existing across more devices than ever and becoming increasingly important to brand exposure and recognition, the question has to be asked: Why do we reverse engineer digital content to incorporate keywords? A recent study commissioned by Outrider into online consumer behaviours indicates Australians are relying on search more than ever and are turning to brands for that information. This presents a real opportunity for marketers to use SEO strategically and directly engage consumers where they are making their purchasing decisions.

It’s a question that needs to be asked, especially when there is so much to be gained when SEO is incorporated early in the planning stages. Here are three reasons why SEO shouldn’t be an afterthought in your next digital marketing campaign.

It’s cost-effective

In this current climate, it’s never been more important to create cost-effective campaigns with cut-through. And with the growing influence of digital, that cut-through can come through well-executed SEO and researched keywords.

However, the current system is inefficient and often costly. Incorporating keywords after the fact often requires an increase in investment due to significant copy rewrites. It also often results in poor copy that lacks any real relationship to keywords being inserted. This aspect of today’s poor practice creates a disconnect between your tactical SEO goal and the overall objective of your website or campaign.

By incorporating SEO earlier in the process, starting at the design and content development phase, budgets are not consumed by costly rewrites and edits. It also means your keywords and content will work together seamlessly as part of a larger SEO strategy aiming for long lasting and positive online brand awareness.

Greater relevancy

Organic search results inspire trust; irrelevant content pumps up bounce-rates. Keywords that have no real relationship to the content often result in a poor user experience, with browsers quickly recognising unrelated material and leaving the page or platform immediately.

Content that is optimised for SEO can also improve the consumer journey and ensure it’s part of a larger call to action. Websites and content with SEO at its core will be more relevant to the search query, experience fewer bounce rates and result in greater conversion rates. The reason being that content and keywords won’t act in isolation, but part of a purchase journey that ensures visitors are participating in fluent and intuitive process.

The result: a better consumer experience and a greater return on investment.

Shorter lead times

Make your content count by ensuring your target audience sees it in a timely matter. Well-executed SEO, implemented early in the planning process, will generate longer lasting and higher ranking search results sooner.

Rewrites to insert keywords are costly, they also generate inefficiencies further down the line. Each edit or rewrite requires a resubmission to Google, slowing down the process for indexation. The logic is simple. If you submit optimised content earlier and with fewer edits, visitors and Google will recognise your content sooner and index it higher.

Integrating SEO as part of the overall strategy from the beginning also means keywords won’t simply be added haphazardly, but act as just one tactic in an array of strategies that optimise the page and its content for greater and long lasting online brand visibility.

SEO is perceived as a technical discipline within the digital mix but the truth is that effective SEO counsel at the right time in the planning process can be the difference between great content that works and great content that misses its mark.