How to be a Problem Solving SEO

These days everyone is talking about the overlap between SEO and marketing. Are SEOs marketers? If you ask me, they most certainly are – but we live in a world where SEO is a separate team with separate KPIs than the marketing team for many brands. If we’re going to prove our value to people who may have minimal knowledge in the technical side of what we do, SEOs need to be problem solvers.

A problem-solving SEO is someone who can pull and interpret data like nobody’s business, while understanding what makes their users tick at the same time. An SEO who can balance the qualitative and quantitative aspects of our day-to-day jobs will be the SEO who is respected among her “marketing” peers and executes campaigns that fill both technical and experiential voids for users.

There are a few key steps to take if you want to achieve Problem-Solving SEO status.

Report on the Data that People Actually Care About

Have you ever read a status report that was a complete waste of your time? Of course you have. And it’s an incredibly frustrating experience. As an SEO it can be tough to know how much data we have access to versus how much of it we actually need to pull for our stakeholders. I guarantee you that the weekly, monthly or quarterly report you send out includes only a fraction of the information you have access to. That’s ok. The key is to present the data that really matters to your stakeholders if you’re going to make relevant recommendations and help move the needle with your findings.

Sometimes presenting the data that people actually care about can be tough. Often our stakeholders aren’t sure what they should be asking a SEO to give them until they’ve seen it or know that it’s something we can pull. I think that’s one of the most exciting aspects of our jobs – helping other people see what we’re capable of reporting on and how that information can help drive business decisions. Here are a few ways you can get started if you’ve had someone tell you, “I’m not sure what to ask for.”

  • What areas of the site that have recently been updated? With this you can show a before/after update for keyword rankings, impressions or clicks.
  • What are the stakeholders pain points or what areas is she likely to update next? Demonstrate the onsite changes that can be made and their potential impact.
  • What do we know about user behavior for popular products during this time of year based on seasonality? Show how seasonal products performed last year, indicate what we can expect for this year and recommend ways we can make incremental improvements.
  • What do we know about our paid search campaigns that could help us? Make suggestions to create a better on-site experience for users looking for phrases we’re bidding for and how natural search campaigns compare.


Maintain a Balance Between Hard Data and Soft Data

As SEOs hopefully we’re thinking like our UX counterparts. By finding the middle ground between reporting the data that our SEO tools provide us with and the user experiences we can gain insights from, we will help shape the direction of web projects far more than we ever will by offering up one-off SEO “fixes”.

The part of this that comes naturally to us is the standard SEO data analysis. Determine how keyword data, page analysis, backlink profiles, sales and revenue data and competitive SEO analysis can help you determine incremental changes that will help grow your business.

But don’t forget to consider the human element of SEO and how the user behavior or experience can shape your analysis. Things like seasonal trends, internal search queries and conversations with your sales team can assist you in determining what types of pain points you can relieve for your users.

When SEOs combine their analytical, user experience and creative skills we become a powerhouse of knowledge. If we can help our stakeholders understand how we can put all of this information together we’ll come even closer to bridging the gap that is said to exist between SEO and Marketing.

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