If you believe that SEO is a commodity service best left to agencies, you need to reconsider your digital strategy. When done right, publishers that offer SEO can use the tools they already possess to win against ad agencies.
In this article, we’ll discuss how publishers can boost advertisers’ search value, the resources you’ll need to offer SEO, and the sales approach you need to consider.
Storytelling: A Hidden Weapon for Publishers That Offer SEO
Magazine and newspaper teams are master storytellers, which makes them well equipped to offer SEO services.
So, why does this matter? We’ve all seen “bad SEO” in action—webpages unnaturally packed with keywords or blog posts that fail to tell a story or relate to an audience. As a publisher, your job is to engage with your audience. As a result, you have the tools to go so much further than most digital agencies.
Charity Huff, CEO of January Spring, works with publishers everyday who offer SEO as a marketing service. She shares a great example of how magazines can go above and beyond to boost an advertiser’s performance: “One publisher sells a monthly published article that runs on their digital magazine. It drives traffic to the advertiser’s website, which increases the advertiser’s backlink authority.”
(Outside websites often back to publishers, which is referred to as “backlinking.” The more backlinks, the better the page ranks in search. Read more about why publishers have a backlink advantage here.)
How to Start Offering SEO Services
Charity’s first words of advice to a publisher considering SEO services: Don’t go into this lightly. “Your clients will see the numbers, and you have to focus on quality.”
You can either work with an agency to provide recommendations or hire a full-time SEO specialist to help your content/editorial team deliver the goods. That said, if you plan on developing a long-term digital relationship with your advertisers, it probably makes sense to hire a full-time SEO specialist to join your team.
Along with expert content recommendations, you need a plan that provides a value-add over a standard digital agency. Remember—you have an audience and your website has domain authority. How can you tie your advertisers into your magazine or newspaper’s website deliverables? Remember—your links to their website have the power to lift their website in search rankings. Native advertising, videos, and sponsored article series are all on the table here.
Finally, set expectations with your advertisers. Any SEO expert will tell you that SEO is a long game. Charity adds, “It’s an ongoing process that requires data analysis, constant tweaks, and building a strong program over time.” Every piece of content you run builds upon the last, so over time, you should start to see results.
Selling SEO to Advertising Clients
Adding digital marketing services to print and online advertising can take some adjustment. In this way, publishers have to think more like an agency. Charity explains, “Move away from issue-to-issue sales and think about overall marketing strategy. Most importantly, listen! As [an advertiser’s] problems surface, you’ll get a better idea of their service needs.”
As you listen, you can align your advertisers’ needs with digital service offerings. In some cases, this may be as simple as optimizing their online business directory listings. As you dive deeper, you can explore how sponsored content campaigns and other initiatives can boost their SEO value while bolstering your online products, too.
Charity suggests starting the conversation with a relationship reset call can also net tons of useful info about an advertiser’s existing marketing budget. “It would be awesome if you gave your sales reps permission to set up a call with each of their advertisers to re-introduce themselves and not sell. Digital budget? Social budget? Direct mail budget? Stop, slow down, and ask questions!”
Marketing Services Like SEO Are a Natural Move for Publishers
Your advertisers know your team, and they trust you. When you begin offering the digital services they need, you become their go-to resource. And, in the process, you can gain a greater share of their marketing budgets. Interested in learning more? Check out our Publishing Success video series “Expanding Into Marketing Services” today!