The CMO must play a high-level role in an organization. They need to focus on the broad impact of the department’s strategic initiatives, setting the tone and course of development, rather than focusing on day-to-day operations. This leadership is important to maximize efficiency and consistency within an organization, but it does have some downsides; namely, it limits perspective on the function, execution, and true value of certain strategies.
Search engine optimization (SEO), for example, often gets neglected. While you might understand what SEO is on a high level, there are key elements a CMO might miss – leading to inefficient or harmful decisions about campaign budgeting or direction.
These are some of the most prominent misconceptions and neglected elements of SEO by CMOs.
- The timeline. First, you need to understand the timeline. As a CMO, your job hinges on seeing results, but SEO is a strategy that often takes several months to produce results. Accordingly, you’ll likely see a negative ROI while you ramp up your efforts. This may seem like cause for concern, but it’s better to wait until your SEO campaign is more developed to make a judgment call on whether to keep moving forward.
- Key metrics for success. As a CMO, you want to see a snapshot of your SEO progress from time to time so you know if and how effectively the strategy is working. Unfortunately, no single snapshot can give you the full perspective; there are many KPIs you’ll need to consider in a comprehensive analysis. It’s tempting to look at your search engine rankings as the focal point of the campaign or use your organic traffic to evaluate your success, but these factors neglect things like domain authority, page authority, and visitor relevance. Only when contextualized do these core metrics illustrate the true picture.
- Related strategies. One of SEO’s greatest strengths is its synergy with other marketing strategies. It’s tempting to treat it as an isolated effort since there are so many SEO-specific tactics you’ll need (such as updating your title tags and meta descriptions), but it’s better to treat SEO as just a part of the organic whole of your marketing campaigns. Directing your SEO staff to work collaboratively with your content writers, social media marketers, and other brand managers is imperative if you want to make the most of the strategy.
- Budgeting. You need to know the importance of budgeting for SEO, and here, everything comes down to balance. Some CMOs want to restrict the budget allocated for SEO since it won’t bear immediate results, but if you spend too little, you could end up with low-quality work or stifled momentum. On the other hand, if you dump resources into SEO, you may not be able to spend them wisely or in a way that secures long-term growth. Aim to spend at least a few thousand dollars a month, so long as you aren’t spending recklessly.
- Resource allocation. CMOs are usually tempted to keep SEO management in-house; it gives them greater control and oversight over operations and leaves the day-to-day efforts to people who best know the brand. However, it’s often more efficient to work with an outside expert, whether it’s an SEO agency or a team of independent contractors who specialize in different areas of the strategy. These specialists tend to have more experience than your in-house hires and may ultimately cost you less while practically guaranteeing better results.
- Evolution. SEO isn’t a strategy you can apply once and reap the benefits indefinitely; it requires constant upkeep and changes to accommodate new trends and opportunities. For example, Google frequently updates its search algorithm with new ranking factors and indexing processes; in response, search optimizers are required to adjust their approach. Understanding the inherent volatility of search engine rankings and knowing the ongoing effort involved in the process are essential if you want to understand your progress and position.
Balancing ground-level and high-level
You don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of SEO on a fundamental level, nor should it be necessary to understand SEO’s broader role in your organization. But it pays to improve your understanding of the strategy if you want to make it as effective and affordable as possible. Work with your SEO manager to get a clearer picture of how SEO fits with the rest of your strategic objective and work to challenge your assumptions.
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