Mark Bruneman is the Principal Digital Marketing Strategist at a firm specialising in Data Center Migrations and Transformations. They service very large companies who have very large data centers that are overflowing, moving, and/or changing to accommodate new technologies or business practices.
Mark is responsible for digital marketing strategy, their website, designs all communications, and owns SEO.
This article is based on an interview of Mark conducted on December 28, 2018.
Mark makes a number of insightful statements about how they ensure their Content Marketing doesn’t lose its SEO, which IS a thing.
Effective SEO Requires a Team Approach
First and foremost, SEO is a team approach. His team consists of four people: A content specialist/writer, a multichannel person (technical SEO, email, marketing automation, etc), a content marketer and writer, and him, the digital strategist who does a bit of everything.
The content specialist is an interesting position. They are an experienced marketer and a writer. They scan the industry for relevant topics and write to them while also selecting the format and place to publish and promote.
While they do a minimal amount of outsourcing, the core team members are all employees. One of Mark’s core beliefs is that good SEO requires a thorough understanding of the company’s marketing goals, the target audience, and the competitive environment, which doesn’t work well with contractors unless it’s a long term arrangement where educating them is worth the effort.
Every team member is required to have basic knowledge of technical SEO (for example, how the hierarchy of H1, H2, H3 headers informs the search engines about what the web page is about, basics of Google Analytics). This is key to ensuring content does not implement poor SEO.
The Team Approach
Before they create a web page OR a blog post, they have a team meeting in which every perspective is represented. Mark attributes THIS as to how they avoid conflict between the creative people and the technical SEO people. He flatly stated they don’t have this conflict (which I’ve heard of from others) BECAUSE of this practice.
Depending on the content being produced, these meetings can last around two hours as they hash out ideas.
Everyone understands the importance of H1, H2, H3, headers, and alt tags and the discussion isn’t about how they look (this is predetermined by style sheets), but rather the discussion is about fulfilling user intent and how the page is structured to make it easy for Google, Bing and Yahoo to interpret the page.
To manage expectations, tasks, and deadlines, they use Wrike, a tool Mark raved about. He states Wrike is the most comprehensive tool for planning. It allows them to layout their projects and view resource loading. It also provides multiple views so people can view their tasks in a way that makes sense to them.
Understanding User Intent, Personas
Mark stressed the importance of a web page or blog post satisfying User Intent based on search queries, and acknowledged the challenge of identifying User Intent from a search query. If someone is searching for “deep sea fishing”, they may be interested in finding someone to take them out, OR they might be interested in gear.The resolution of this is the creation of Buyer Personas that are relevant to the desired audience of the website. As an example Mark has provided SEO help to a friend who runs a deep sea fishing charter business (Mark lives in Cocoa Beach, Florida).
For this deep sea fishing business, they want and write for people interested in deep sea fishing charters, not people interested in gear. Having said that, it’s not a bad thing when people who aren’t your target market show up. Google seems to like busier website, and when the “wrong” people show up, your site is busier.
The Content Marketing Stack
Another point Mark stressed very strongly is the importance of everyone understanding the capabilities of and how to use the various layers of the Content Marketing Stack, which consists of: the CRM, the Marketing Automation tool, and the CMS.
ALL members of the team must have some level of fluency with the tools that make up your core stack and ancillary tools such as MOZ and HotJar. Doesn’t matter if the marketing stack is built with SAP or ZoHo, Marketo or ActiveCampaign, WordPress or Joomla. Ensuring that EVERYONE is fluent enough on how the tools work is critical to extracting actionable data from the tools.
And everyone knows how to login to and navigate within Google Analytics, MOZ and HotJar
The Job Isn’t Done Once Something Is Published
Within Marks team, the SEO optimization of a page is not finished when the page is published. Every page is updated every three months or more often if analytics indicate weakness. Additionally, the ranking of the page relative to the desired search terms is monitored via Google Analytics and MOZ and page updates are specifically targeted to improve the ranking of the page for the desired search terms.
Of special interest is ensuring that within their website, the right page ranks for the right term.
SEO Cannibalization is a Thing, to Avoid
It sometimes happens that a page on your site ranks higher for a given search query than the page you want. When this occurs, you’ve unintentionally cannibalized your own SEO. The good news is this is easy to fix. It requires further optimization of the desired page, and de-optimization of the other page.
Occurrences of SEO cannibalization can be found by using MOZ and Google Search Console.
Content Marketing and SEO for Startups
Mark provided his rules for how startups should do SEO, having worked over time in six venture funded startup companies.
It starts with a strong marketing director. Someone who is respected by senior staff and who has excellent communication and project management skills. At a minimum, it also takes three other people; a content writer, a multi-channel marketer and a designer that has technical website building skills and SEO experience. He emphasized that the hires must be experts in the tools they will be using. Start-ups don’t have the luxury of the time it takes to train staff.
Interestingly enough, Mark suggests that developer tasks can be outsourced provided the developer works under the close supervision of the Marketing Director and designer.
The Importance of Backlinks
Mark agrees being proactive about attracting backlinks matters. Mark likes the Moz toolset for analyzing competitor backlinks and services such as PRWeb for programmatic outreach activity.
Industry Guides and Mentors
Mark appreciates the guidance provided by Neil Patel, whom everyone in the SEO and Content Marketing industry knows of.
- Know your stack, well.
- Everyone, even non SEO people, know SEO basics.
- Every page and post starts with a group meeting where everyone voices their issues and concerns.
- During this meeting these topics are ALWAYS on the agenda:
- Meta data (title, description, Open Graph)
About the Author
Kevin Carney is the Founder and CEO of the boutique link building agency Organic Growth. He has 8 years of SEO experience and 25+ years of experience managing large technical projects.