Multichannel Search Strategies: Creating a SEO Dynasty
Use of SEO technologies is exploding. The need to build scalable and efficient SEO programs has driven a spate of innovation in technological solutions for managing SEO programs. From keyword research to auditing and reporting technologies to proxy management environments, the use of technology is a must for maintaining and sustaining a competitive SEO advantage. Being proficient at identifying both the category-defining and long-tail terms requires the use of technology to automate everything in sight.
Most organizations are spending between 20 percent to 25 percent of their SEO budget on technologies to do reporting, data collection and overall SEO management. This number will grow to 30 percent to 40 percent in the next two years to three years as additional technologies for automation come online, and as the need to drive efficiencies grows.
Continuing to leverage SEO agencies. In a recent independent research report titled The State of Interactive Agencies, Forrester Research noted that among a panel of 84 global interactive marketers whose companies currently work with at least one agency for interactive services, 51 percent outsource SEO/organic search work to their agencies. But not all SEO agencies are created equal. Specialist SEO agencies, for example, have upped their games in managing SEO in the following key ways:
• There are a small number of agencies that have combined technology and personnel to drive scalable performance — already established as a must.
• Specialist agencies have gotten better at project management and managing SEO delivery risk. As a result, they're far more likely than they were two years ago to enter into performance deals instead of retainers, which better align incentives.
This isn't the case for web development agencies, most of which continue to view SEO as an adjunct to a web development project. Therefore, they sign limited-scope statements of work that end when a site project is completed. SEO gains then degrade within three months to six months, and the investment in SEO has to be refinanced and started over.
In short, building a SEO dynasty will continue to require use of specialist SEO agencies, as web development SEO issues are fundamental, view-of-the-world projects.
Management through centralization. Companies that have the most successful SEO programs, particularly e-commerce retailers, have centralized their programs. These programs are run from web marketing or e-commerce divisions — not IT. The program's leader is at the director- or vice president-level, and the amount of staff varies based on the scope of the site. Usually, however, there are two to three experts who work with specialists embedded in each of the business units or web properties who are responsible for dotted-line reporting to the central team and the business unit marketing team. This centralization effort has one goal: to ensure focus on SEO.
These systems are employed by the most advanced SEO marketers out there. However, this isn't enough to ensure a SEO dynasty. There are several factors that still need to be addressed.