How to harness the power of SEO in 2023

Jess Baker, Digital Content & Campaign Specialist,

In an ever-competitive digital landscape, where budgets are getting tighter and ad prices are rising, there’s no doubt that achieving cut-through is becoming increasingly difficult for brands across all sectors. It’s not all doom and gloom, though – chances are your brand is already doing something that, with some guidance, could help you weather the storm, achieving measurable impact and ROI along the way.

The name of this not-so-secret ingredient?  SEO and Digital PR.

To uncover how you can get the most from organic search, we brought together a host of SEO experts for an open and honest panel discussion.

26’s Media Director, Alex Blaikley, led the conversation with:

  • Simon Sanett, Group Head of Digital, National Grid
  • Ben Fretwell, Global Head of Ecommerce, ghd
  • Dolores McLaren, Head of SEO, Vodafone
  • Gerald Murphy, Solution Business Manager, Similarweb

So, how exactly can you leverage SEO and Digital PR this year for your brand? Keep reading to discover the 6 key questions our experts say you should consider.

How does the rest of your business see SEO?

It’s important to remember that not all your stakeholders are technical experts. While it may be tempting to showcase your expertise when demonstrating the potential impact of your SEO strategy, this may not always be the best way to encourage buy-in and channel investment. National Grid’s Simon Sanett recommends reframing SEO within the business – instead of describing the technicalities behind the scenes, why not try explaining SEO’s impact in terms of ‘what your customers will actually see? Similarweb’s Gerald Murphy echoed this, adding that you may need to reframe multiple times – by tailoring your story to each person that you’re telling it to, you can make it easier for them to understand the  impact this channel can have to the business.

Who is responsible for SEO?

It’s likely that your SEO function sits within one team – or maybe even just with one person! While this might be what works on an org chart, in practice SEO spans multiple business areas – marketing, content, technical, UX and experience, to name a few(!) – and should be seen as an opportunity to encourage collaboration and alignment across teams. Vodafone’s Dolores McLaren explained that for her, SEO is not about fighting for budget between teams – everyone is working towards  common goals so investment can be allocated fairly wherever it will generate the best returns.

Are you measuring the metrics that actually matter?

If you often find yourself drowning in measurement, and feel like you’re reporting on too many things just for the sake of it, the chances are you’re doing it wrong. Similarweb’s Gerald Murphy suggests reframing KPIs into MTMs – Metrics That Matter. By allowing different business areas to report on the specific metrics that mean the most to them, you can change your teams’ mindset, increase morale and use your results to effectively prove your impact. Additionally, Gerald emphasised the importance of benchmarking. Whilst you may have seen 20% growth, a competitor could have seen 40% -  context is key when it comes to reporting.

Are you putting Digital PR centrestage?

Whilst link building can still be important, it’s no longer the main focus of Digital PR. Simon Sanett stressed the importance of ensuring that your campaign content provides value, not just giving a reason to be linked back to, but also truly engaging your customers and answering their needs. Excellent content is only excellent if it’s also integrated with SEO. Gerald Murphy added that relevance is key, and that all content should be underpinned by a strong content strategy that aligns with your business goals. Relevant, valuable content and campaigns that have purpose will increase your brand awareness, visibility and customer loyalty.

Is your SEO team set up for success?

The build of your teams can highly influence the success of your SEO strategy – even the best ideas can fall flat without the right people putting them into action! ghd’s Ben Fretwell shared the importance of balancing technical capabilities with attitude, particularly when recruiting. SEO success requires joined-up thinking from across your business – from UX to dev, and content to analytics – making communication and shared attitudes all the more intrinsic to achieving results.

Is your digital agency working with you as well as it could be?

In an ideal world, your agency should feel like a natural extension of your team. National Grid’s Simon Sanett shared that, in his mind, an agency should feel comfortable challenging you and not just following briefs to the letter. An agency can provide you with a wealth of highly valuable expertise, so don’t just settle for one that does what you think you want. ghd's Ben Fretwell highlighted the benefits of finding an agency that you can have open and honest dialogue with, and one that will help you overcome important business challenges together. Ensuring you’re bringing your agency on the journey can give you the best chance of achieving success.

At 26, we bring experience and perspective outside of your natural line of vision. We build integrated SEO & PR strategies that move beyond awareness and optimisation, to amplify your online brand presence with purpose. Want to hear more? Get in touch with us today.  

Jess Baker, Marketing Manager

Jess has experience of planning digital campaigns across a variety of sectors - from live entertainment and creative arts, to charity fundraising and B2B comms. Jess brings her passion for digital storytelling and strategic campaigns to our Marketing team. 

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