2020 was a year of monumental digital change on just about every front.
Politically, sociologically, economically, culturally and from a technological perspective, we saw major shifts sure to have long-lasting ramifications.
As we enter this new year with trepidation amidst the ongoing uncertainty of a persistent global pandemic, enterprise organizations and their leaders are looking for proven, cost-effective ways to understand these continuous shifts in consumer behavior and demand.
Last year, SEO demand reached an all-time high.
Consumers turned to search en masse to feed their informational and entertainment needs as the in-person workforce transitioned to performing their jobs remotely.
Grocery shopping, medical appointments, banking, and other routine tasks became complicated transactions requiring advance planning and often, alternate fulfillment methods.
Consumers began to have different, more emotional experiences in their quest for products, solutions, and services, so brands turned to search for insights into this behavior.
Just as quickly as consumers’ needs and behaviors evolved, brands were forced to throw out their old playbooks and historical data.
Companies turned to their SEO professionals and search insights to understand their rapidly changing customers.
Also to develop omnichannel strategies for reaching increasingly fragmented and unpredictable market segments.
In 2021, SEO pros with the ability to collect and interpret search insights as business intelligence will be best positioned to lead enterprise marketing organizations.
Here are two ways you can capitalize on this trend, delivering the full value of SEO insights and value of action inside your organization.
1. Share the Value of Both Business Intelligence & Search Insights Across the Organization
As the transformation to digital continues to accelerate, organizations will be looking to search marketers for a combination of macro market perspectives and micro granular insights to understand consumer behavior conditions.
Many organizations now look to utilize business intelligence to understand macro demand volatility in their markets, while also using valuable search insights found at a granular level.
As SEO professionals, you have a wealth of information and data at your disposal to drive that understanding.
But you’ll be hard-pressed to convince the C-level of this by just sending analytics reports up the ladder or to motivate leaders in operations or R&D to read a monthly report about on-site behavior.
Maximizing the value of business intelligence across the enterprise requires that you have a deep, almost intuitive understanding of the needs of each department and business leader.
When used correctly, macro insights can give not only the most complete and accurate view of the customer but also the environment in which they are currently in.
Think of the different types of questions your colleagues are seeking to answer across the organization:
- What factors are influencing change in purchase and discovery patterns in the market?
- Where are the greatest opportunities for the near-term?
- How can we adapt our strategies to target new or trending products and categories?
From product inventory insights and price sensitivity to privacy concerns, health and safety anxieties, and the myriad of individual preferences shaped by personal experience, search insights are the closest approximation to real-time voice of customer your company can access.
SEO insights can be used to power digital and omnichannel campaigns in any format, but also to help the business evolve and transform as market conditions require.
Granular search data reveals a great deal about consumers’ thoughts, needs, desires, and motivations.
To really build and demonstrate the value of insights in your organization, be prepared to do the heavy lifting for each team and division.
Determine the type, volume, and depth of business intelligence gleaned from search that is most useful for each stakeholder.
- Determine actual and significant changes in preferences compared to anomalies.
- Identify new opportunities worth more SEO and content investment.
- Inform sales and product teams on macro trends that may impact them.
- Identify net new behaviors for marketing, digital, and product teams.
- Summarize search findings succinctly for decision-makers so the potential impacts of your findings are clear.
2. Enhance the Value of Search Insights With Action
Insights are great, but they serve far more value with instant action.
Making the case for budget and resources to power SEO automation is a hard sell if no one else in the organization understands what it does.
Which is the more compelling argument?
“It will save us time and money by automating repetitive tasks and also enables me to optimize our web content more effectively.”
“It assists in the analysis of our massive volume of consumer and market data so I can bring you the most relevant, timely, and useful insights and recommendations.”
Making the case for SEO is never so simple as a single sentence of justification. But you get the idea.
It’s a shift in mindset – a retraining of the brain – to think and speak of SEO not as a channel or department but as a fundamental source of business intelligence that is central to the company’s success.
Even as SEO professionals are being challenged to think more analytically and technically to work alongside and reap the greatest performance possible from AI-powered tools, your communication skills and creativity are more important than ever.
Decision-makers don’t need more data. All of the business insight and data in the world is meaningless until activated.
It’s imperative that you can communicate that value in ways that are relatable and relevant to decision-makers, so your insights can drive action.
Enterprise organizations need agile marketers to interpret their data, to discern the meaning behind the figures, and to make recommendations that are ready to be activated by teams just itching for someone to give them a sense of direction.
What’s more, you must be prepared to follow through and assess the actions taken; to evaluate the efficacy of your recommendations.
If SEO is a one-way channel broadcasting insight to the organization at large without the context of outcomes, you cannot possibly improve and increase your value.
Action is what will propel your enterprise ahead of competitors when new market opportunities arise. Branding, content, and media teams will be able to take action faster and to make more informed, strategic decisions in every channel.
Business leaders will learn to trust search insights and take action quickly as their value is proven across the organization.
In 2021, SEO professionals should be looking to:
- Keep the lines of communication open and ensure you follow up to understand how SEO insights are being used across the organization, so you can adjust and advocate more effectively going forward.
- Find ways to communicate the value of machine learning and AI in your SEO processes without overwhelming others with tech-speak.
- Always weigh first-party user data against market data to ensure you have as complete an understanding of your organization’s search landscape as possible.
Moving Forward & Taking Action
In 2021, as consumers continue to turn to search for their every need from discovery and comparing pricing and features to social proof, information, evaluation, and even entertainment, those companies able to utilize the myriad of business intelligence and search insights generated by all of this activity are best positioned for success.
As you strategize for the year ahead, pay special attention to how you’ll utilize market insights to improve the speed and accuracy of your optimization.
Use it to inform strategic omnichannel decisions.
Combining business intelligence with search insights will allow you to validate which opportunities are significant enough to warrant an orchestrated omnichannel approach.
Plan now how you will take action and use real-time data to get ahead of new market opportunities faster than your competitors.
Organize your branding, messaging, and product teams and map out how smart automation will be used to help them react faster to macro trends and individual user needs alike before your competition does.
- Enterprise SEO Tips for Success with Eli Schwartz [PODCAST]
- The 4 Pillars of Enterprise SEO Success
- Enterprise SEO Guide: Strategies, Tools, & More
Screenshot taken by author, January 2021