Working With SEO: Cross-Departmental Learnings From Product, Sales and Marketing Teams
At a recent BKK Web meetup at Morphosis and Seven Peaks' headquarters, Phuwit (Toon) Limviphuwat, SEO Manager (APAC-MEA) at Electrolux, spoke about the most impactful ways that product, sales, and marketing teams can collaborate with SEO (search engine optimization) experts to deliver outstanding results.
If you weren't able to attend the event, this article will provide you with Toon's latest insights into cross-departmental collaboration on SEO.
What is SEO and why does it matter?
Before Toon explored how teams across the organization can all contribute to SEO, he briefly reviewed what SEO is and why it is important.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimizing a website or online content to improve its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) like Google and Bing. The goal of SEO is to generate organic growth for a product and make sure it appears organically at the top of SERPs.
Why should you care about SEO?
People use search engines to find information, research how to do things, find new ideas and inspiration, and more. When people want to learn something new or find something specific, they turn to search engines like Google. This is where the consumers are, and it is how they find products when they’re intentionally looking.
Why does SEO matter?
First, SEO plays a vital role in the customer journey, helping people find the right information at the right time.
Second, organic search is responsible for 53.3 percent of all internet traffic. In particular, more than 50 percent of website traffic comes from Google searches, accounting for more traffic than Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and all other platforms combined.
Third, organic search is non-intrusive. Unlike advertisements, organic search traffic comes in a natural way, and people only discover products through organic search when they're actively looking for them. In most cases, this makes the conversion rate, quality of traffic, and engagement rate of organic traffic higher than those of other types of traffic.
Effective SEO comes from collaboration across teams
You might think that good SEO comes solely from the marketing department. But that isn’t the case. In fact, it's important to understand that SEO doesn't come from a single team; it comes from the contribution of an entire organization that understands what it takes to deliver organic growth to a particular product. That's why you need to communicate across different departments to help people understand the value of SEO and generate buy-in.
In the main part of his talk, Toon focused on what folks from product, sales, and marketing can do to directly contribute to their digital product's organic growth. By following these strategies, you can also deliver impactful results for the products you're working on, whether you’re a designer, salesperson, or marketer.
“Good SEO doesn't come from the SEO team. It comes from the entire organization.” - Phuwit (Toon) Limviphuwat
SEO and product teams: Building discoverability into every feature launch
The key to SEO for product teams is building discoverability into every feature of the product. This ensures that future users will easily be able to organically discover it. What’s the best way for product teams to do this? Optimizing product naming conventions and organic landing pages.
Product naming conventions
Various stakeholders, such as the business owner, brand and communication team, product owner, or design team, might control product naming conventions, depending on the organization. Whoever takes charge must keep in mind that there’s often a mismatch between how people talk about their products internally and how customers search for them.
For instance, if an e-commerce shop sells shoes but the marketing team refers to their products as “footwear,” customers searching for shoes won't find the company’s footwear page. The same is true when companies use overly technical names when consumers use common keywords to search. So referring to a laser as “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation” or a scuba kit as a “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus,” isn’t recommended.
In short, it's essential to align the way products and features are named internally with the way customers talk about them.
The history of Figma’s rise illustrates the importance of aligning product naming conventions with how customers search for products. From 2015 to 2018, Figma didn’t see much organic growth. But in 2019, they launched numerous pages to match how their target customers were searching for their products. They added pages for interface design, one for user experience design, and about 15 others. As a result, their traffic increased from around 200,000 to over 900,000 organic visitors.
If you have a say in the way products and features are named or the whole product itself, it's essential to consider how customers are searching for them and match that search demand. By doing so, you can build discoverability into every feature of the product to drive organic growth.
Organic landing pages
Now, consider the typical assumption that users start on a homepage. That’s not always the case, as people searching on Google often land directly on product category or detail pages, or even lead generation service pages. As a result, designers must consider how to guide users who enter the website in the middle of a user flow and help them acclimate to the brand while simultaneously improving conversions.
To accommodate these different entry points, designers should focus on three main aspects: website navigation, product category pages, and service pages. While these considerations are case-dependent, they offer a starting point for improving the user experience and SEO.
1. Website navigation: Mega menus—large dropdown menus that display many pages—are beneficial for both SEO and user experience. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, users spend an average of four seconds longer on mega menus than on traditional menus. Additionally, mega menus can boost sales by 30 percent by providing quick access to relevant products and categories.
2. Product category pages: These pages are crucial for websites, but can be challenging for SEO due to their image-heavy nature. One solution is to add descriptive text at the bottom of the page, which helps search engines understand the content better. Major brands like Best Buy, Lazada, Amazon, and Nike use this strategy to improve their organic search visibility.
3. Service pages: For service detail pages, clear headings, feature descriptions, testimonials, award badges, and FAQs are essential for building trust with both search engines and users. The best performing service landing pages, such as those on PandaDoc and Shopify, incorporate these elements for optimal SEO results.
In sum, designers should be mindful of different user entry points and work to create organic landing pages that cater to both SEO and user experience. By focusing on website navigation, product category pages, and service pages, you can create more effective websites that drive conversions and boost brand visibility.
SEO and sales teams: Turning Google’s search results into your sales assistant
For the sales team, Toon had the following question: "How can you transform Google's search results into a sales assistant rather than just a marketing chore?" The more you empathize with your prospects and demonstrate understanding of their problems, the higher your close rate will be.
So, how can you create empathy using SEO? Keyword research and SEO generally involve the SEO team using tools to identify high search volume keywords and recommend them to various teams. This traditional approach is mundane and outdated. Keyword research should involve cross-team collaboration.
To enhance sales, the SEO team can take questions from the sales team and use them to mine data from keyword research and help the sales team better empathize with customers.
If you’re in sales, this means you should treat your SEO team like ChatGPT by providing them with various prompts so they can find valuable insights for you. With your questions, the SEO team can gain insights into perceptions of your brand versus your competitors, pre-purchasing concerns, upselling opportunities, promotion opportunities, and specification interests. You can then use this information to better connect with customers before making a sales proposition.
SEO and marketing teams: cannibalization vs. incrementality
Looking at marketing teams, Toon spoke about the seldom-discussed concept of paid organic cannibalization versus incrementality. Most SEO teams concentrate on organic rankings, while paid search teams focus on bidding and ad copy optimization. Instead of working separately on this, both paid and organic search teams would achieve better results if they collaborated and maximized revenue generation.
Incrementality and cannibalization are two phenomena that occur when SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) target the same keyword.
You’ve seen the results of cannibalization if you’ve ever conducted a search and seen the same results in the sponsored links as in the top organic search results. This often happens on branded search terms, where paid search ads unnecessarily take away organic traffic, resulting in lost revenue.
Incrementality, on the other hand, refers to an increase in overall clicks when both SEO and PPC work together. For example, good organic search alone might generate 50 clicks, but that number might drop to 30 when a company buys ads for the same keywords. But if that paid ad also results in 50 clicks, the combined total of paid and organic clicks would be 80, a significant increase.
Distinguishing between incrementality and cannibalization can be challenging, as they appear similar. The only way to identify the difference is by testing scenarios with and without paid search. You can also assess the changes in search revenue versus the cost savings to determine if cannibalization is occurring. This approach can help discover money-saving and money-making opportunities.
Organic growth should be driven by everyone within an organization. Both top-down (executive level) and bottom-up (SEO team level) approaches are necessary. Organic growth isn’t just the responsibility of the SEO team, but rather the entire organization. Whether you work in product, sales, marketing, or SEO, you have a key role to play in delivering organic growth.
To help ensure the success of our clients' products, Morphosis, together with Seven Peaks Software, offers end-to-end product design, development, and growth services that consider SEO at every step of the product lifecycle.