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Improving Your SEO Performance Through Innovation

  |  September 10, 2013   |  Comments

Know your data, ask better questions of your data, align better with those who can benefit from data, and pursue new markets aggressively.

Imagine a strategic framework that'd enable your search marketing and SEO teams to address customer needs, be strategically aligned globally, and stay continually innovative and cutting-edge with your recommendations.


Our team recently read "Innovator's DNA," which addresses a methodology related to defining markets, determining unique value, developing resources and capabilities, and sustaining competitive advantage. I'll address the first, how best to define markets, in this column and others in subsequent months. Those engaged in global and mobile marketing strategies, especially where long-term plans and frequent adjustments rule, should find these valuable for your stakeholders.

The first consideration is to know your markets and align enterprise practices toward those markets. It might seem like an obvious objective, but what is not obvious is how to manage market analysis in an enterprise organization with useful insights. It all starts with data. Data that tells us what has occurred, when, and for how long. The data may be big but more importantly it illuminates global patterns and anomalies so execution plans lead to intended goals. However, accurate modeling often falls short during data analysis due to attribution bias, lack of stakeholder alignment, and not asking the right business questions. Meaning analytics and big data do not always represent buyer intention.

To effectively drive SEO and marketing innovation, market analysis should score buyer motivations and intentions. Do you really know why customers visit your site? And what they're trying to accomplish? Critical data sets to consider, beyond the typical web analysis your team likely does, include data from your support and service team, from customer surveys, and from your social team. Combining and interpreting this data, focused on customer objectives, is the first easy-to-understand, difficult-to-master task to improve how your team does SEO and delivers content and web recommendations.

Once a market is clearly understood, information and insights should then be shared across functional teams. This requires strong stakeholder alignment, led by your team if others are not integrating, so that the web strategy team sees what your paid search/media team sees and overlaps with what campaign marketing, customer support, social, and analytics teams look at. As search becomes more personalized, the critical nature of data sharing across the enterprise becomes more necessary.

SEO cannot operate in a vacuum when it comes to successful enterprise alignment. Search innovations must align in a way that limit impact on resources while providing the most efficient and effective outcomes. This means realistic pilots, reasonable scope, and starting with your easiest-to-measure KPIs so that others are on board.

So then which market opportunities do you pursue? KPIs will tell part of the story. Obvious ones like visits, leads, or revenue relative to target will tell you how you're doing. Page-level performance, time on site, or bounce rates, for example, help shape where to scale up and where to continue testing. And then panel-based data from social or support teams can narrow demographic characterizations and better reveal opportunities. The fastest developing and hardest to interpret metric, thanks to social and mobile, is feedback. Your audience will usually tell you which way to turn if you listen well. You also need to include market perspective from other teams including business units and product, localization, and content teams.

Key takeaways to improve your SEO performance:

  1. Know your data. Do you and your team have the appropriate training and time to understand and interpret the behavior of site visitors? This is the future of the industry, your stakeholders' expectations, and the most integrated way to serve customers.
  2. Ask better questions of your data. What's the story of your data? What other data sets are available in your company you may find insight from? How can data be combined and mashed together for new insights? What types of conversion or attribution analysis can help you know where to emphasize SEO with other marketing channels?
  3. Align better with those who can benefit from data. SEO performance data is an incredibly broad and informative view of customer behavior on your site. If pivoted and shared with other teams, in a way they can use, it can greatly improve your multi-channel marketing.
  4. Pursue new markets aggressively. It's not really about keywords - it's about uncovering customer needs supported by relevant content, great user experiences, and clear conversion benefits.

Often first-to-market gets traction that few others will enjoy - any SEO who is ranked number one on a term for years knows this firsthand. However, it's the marketing team with an integrated, agile approach to innovation - one that embodies an enterprise-wide strategy for SEO and search marketing - that creates a success engine to regularly gain new market share.

Image via Shutterstock.

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Dave Lloyd

Dave Lloyd is Senior Manager of Global Search Marketing at Adobe Systems where he leads a global team delivering organic and site search strategy and aligns closely with all other digital and media channels. As part of the Global Demand Generation organization, his team uses the Adobe Marketing Cloud to deliver on KPI-driven results including worldwide subscriptions, trials, sales leads, and revenue-based metrics. In his prior role at Cisco, he oversaw global SEO strategy for all products. He is Google-certified, with 14 years in digital marketing, and a Business degree from U.C. Davis. He's spoken at AdTech, SMX, Adobe Summit, BrightEdge Share, and DMA events.

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