SEO is the acronym for “Search Engine Optimisation”, which refers to practices and techniques used to optimise websites (both technically and content-wise) to improve organic performance.
Since it’s one of the many online marketing channels, it should be prioritised as a primary revenue generator. To emphasise this, let’s start with numbers from one of the biggest sales seasons of the year, Black Friday.
Here are four key stats from Black Friday in 2022:
Globally, online shoppers spent 2% more this Cyber Week compared to 2021, with a 3% increase on Black Friday alone and a 4% increase on Cyber Monday (Salesforce);
In the US only, consumers spent 2.3% more on Black Friday and 5.8% more on Cyber Monday ($11.3 billion) compared to the same day last year, setting a new record both for the day and for the year (Adobe Analytics);
Search was the main channel driving traffic to online shops, with a stable share of 30% throughout Cyber Week (Salesforce);
Mobile drove, on average, 75% of all visits worldwide during Cyber Week (Salesforce);
Brazilian online retailers recorded a BRL 5 million loss in revenues in the first 12 hours of Black Friday this year, mainly related to the loading time of webpages and server capacity, which led to consumers bouncing and leaving the website (Estadão).
In short, during one of the biggest sales seasons of the year, consumers found their favourite products by searching for them online from their mobile phones, spending more where they could stay and leaving when websites didn’t load. This is where we enter the SEO realm.
What Holistic SEO looks like in practice
There is a widespread misunderstanding that SEO is about adding keywords in titles and headings and waiting for the magic to happen. However, both in practice and in theory, the foundation of SEO relies mainly on four pillars: content (keywords, search intent, content types, information hierarchy, and internal links), technical performance (loading speed, core web vitals, and website architecture), reputation (mentions, social signals, external links, and authority), and user experience (responsiveness, accessibility, and user journey).
In other words, actual website "optimisation" work is not solely centred on ranking specific keywords. Instead, it must also focus on improving user experience when browsing and attracting organic traffic from users actively searching for the brand, its services and products. This is achieved by creating pages and structuring designs to meet users' questions and needs.
This also requires examining the user experience from multiple devices such as mobile, desktop, and tablets and checking different screen resolutions, which ensures a pleasant and undisturbed browsing experience with fast loading times, no invasive interstitials, and layout stability. Ultimately, SEO works to attract qualified organic traffic and streamline users' paths to conversion by approaching the website as an intuitive product.
Therefore, proficiently applying SEO correctly leverages organic traffic and attracts qualified visitors more likely to convert. Achieving this success demands bringing different areas together: design, development, copy, UX, CRO, product, on-site merchandising, and IT.
During sales seasons like Black Friday, Singles' Day, and Christmas, when there is a considerable increase in traffic flow with a much higher search volume containing transactional and commercial search intent, an element of even fiercer competition is expected. Here, bringing in a competent SEO approach becomes crucial as it will meet anticipated performance results and integrate the website as a product that can be used as a tool.
SEO across different channels
Here’s how SEO can work alongside other channels and departments to build a holistic approach in practice:
Audience insights: identify audience trends and interests that contribute to the definition of digital campaigns and product/service highlights;
Page structuring: SEO can use search data to help structure landing pages or product pages to create content that is more relevant for the user and to rank better in search engines;
Ramp-up brand visibility early on: a strong SEO-driven external link acquisition campaign working with PR, Affiliates, and the Social Media department can leverage brand visibility before the sales season begins, ensuring online visibility and awareness advantage against competitors;
Reviewing and strengthening technical performance: SEO can and should be involved in tests and experiments together with the IT and CRO team to prepare the website better to receive increased traffic flow, either by optimising the content layout stability (CLS) or by identifying issues that slow down the website rendering and navigation.
Returning to the statistics from Black Friday in 2022, it is evident how these four points can help bridge the difficulties that led companies to lose millions during sales season. If users are searching for a product you have, you want to make sure that your website has visibility to reach them. If your website has visibility to reach that audience, you need to ensure that your content is aligned with users’ intent. Once your audience is on the website, a pleasant user experience will ensure their permanence by offering fast loading time, proficient use of server and website resources, and a clear information hierarchy and navigation. This is SEO.
What is holding companies back from adopting a holistic approach?
Contrary to what initially may seem like an easy answer, the reality for most enterprise-level companies is not a matter of budget, but the organisational structure itself, which can hinder communication between departments and channels.
Depending on how the company organises its departments and where each channel sits — Performance, Product, Growth, Inbound, and Communications — this can be the decisive factor in enabling or disabling the holistic approach in digital strategy.
Here, an expert project manager can help the company establish workflows, streamlines, and processes to better navigate teaming frameworks and create timely squads or task forces. This can be a quick and efficient method to enable and deliver different expertise (or conciliate, when there is a mixed set-up with in-house and external teams), making it possible to better fuel the digital strategy and leverage sales during sales seasons.
For some, the challenge precedes the organisational structure; lacking human resources or internal knowledge raises significant barriers, especially when hiring skilled professionals at scale may not correlate with the company's current needs. This is particularly true in this post-pandemic moment, where many companies have been pushed to accelerate their digital transformation. However, not all firms could reconcile digital transformation with the existing structure of the “old approach” that was in place.
SEO for Impact
At Metyis, SEO is part of our digital approach to creating impact for our partners. Integrating the organic channel throughout the digital strategy and removing it from a supportive role that restricts its performance to marketing, we bring together a multidisciplinary team of skilled professionals from different areas. Our experts explore how organic search insights and optimisation best practices can inform and strengthen the overall digital marketing plan, contributing to the ultimate goal of leveraging sales and outcomes.
About the author behind the article
Aline Rossi is the SEO Manager with solid experience and a 360-degree approach, from content marketing to technical optimisation and link building. Having worked with brands from over 25 different countries and in several languages, she has a specialised background in launching and planning websites, as well as organising migrations and rebranding/redesign projects.