As a search marketing team leader, I'm constantly looking for opportunities to deepen my team's impact on our corporate mission to deliver worldwide digital marketing excellence. The organizational model we follow requires team leaders across all functions to continually look for opportunities to influence the organization as a whole while optimizing assets to deliver function-area KPIs.
Opportunities in search marketing can then be maximized to help optimize enterprise architecture in a geo-focused approach. I refer to it as "ruthless prioritization" and "sharpening the saw" to cut through the noise that dilutes our ability to execute for results.
There are three areas where opportunities exist to maximize the value that SEO and search marketing bring to a geo-focused enterprise, a "globally effective" brand.
The first place to look for opportunities is within the digital architecture that serves your markets. Effective global infrastructure demands that markets are served locally, which should frame the way your domain's architecture is built. A simple example is that site infrastructure should drive visitors to geographically dispersed conversion points, so the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) provide an opportunity, if so inclined, to build out more entry points using country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and the new dot anything-you-wants.
In the case of Adobe.com, we use geo-domains (e.g. adobe.co.uk or adobe.fr) as entry pages that redirect to a more IT-friendly URL naming structure of adobe.com/xx for each country code.
Internal linking within geo-areas and across subdomains provides another opportunity to qualify visitors by creating pathways that can reveal buying authority and capacity. In particular, linking deliberately between theme-relevant and similar content areas is good for both the human and search engine visitors.
The use of micro data based on the Schema.org format is an on-page opportunity to sharpen the saw; adding markup that more clearly defines the assets and naming conventions for each indexed page to international search engines can boost brand recognition, index quantity, and earmark your most valuable digital assets for better search visibility.
Lastly, focusing your localization efforts on Search-informed keyword discovery & content creation helps your writers & translation vendors triangulate the right words based on business value, local intent, and search demand (often forgotten).
The architecture of your SEO team is just as important. Do you have a shared team strategy focused on optimizing all three vehicles of search: paid, organic, and site? Do you operate from a Center of Excellence model where all valuable stakeholders receive consulting services with different service levels and frequencies. Can you scale for success by having just-in-time access to link strategists, content creators, and analysts in conjunction with the more stable Web Strategy, Web Production, and Social teams?
Global team leaders must measure their resources against benchmarks are consistent with enterprise objectives and goals. This way they ensure their teams provide maximum value to both the regional business center and enterprise as a whole.
The next place to look at to maximize opportunities is in your budget allocations. Marketers have remained positive about budgeting for the past eight months. We're looking at better times. According to Gartner, most enterprises budget between 10 and 50 percent of their total marketing budget to digital marketing activities. At Adobe, we're fortunate to focus 75 percent of our advertising spend on digital marketing. With that kind of spending, most CMOs are under pressure to produce significant ROI and air cover to the field marketing and sales organizations.
There has to be a sharp focus on spend allocations for SEO and search marketing activities. Typically, the opportunities to maximize value come from adjustments that leverage what's working and trim what is not.
Depending on your business, you may see budgets shifting from Europe to Asia or from US to all regions. Or more SEO budget being committed to content creation, landing-page development, localization, linking and social support, or infrastructure and staffing allocation. Regardless, these are all prime examples to maximize your opportunity. Cutting through the noise means deploying resources to maximize ROI. That can mean shifting regional resource allocations to more active markets or investing more in search term lifetime value for a specific bucket in a region.
In more sophisticated marketing organizations, this also requires looking at your overall marketing attribution model-specifically how does search marketing perform when stacked up with display, email, web, social, and offline marketing vehicles. Ideally, this is done through a cross-channel analysis, not simply as multi-channel siloed efforts.
Without appropriate global spend allocations, seizing opportunities to maximize value in the marketplace can be severely hampered, and your value to the geo-focused enterprise is diminished.
The final area to maximize opportunities as a global search manager is in decision-making and workflow-your processes.
Search is work that requires, even mandates, operational excellence in order to influence stakeholders. SEO, especially, is a classic consulting discipline with a high degree of responsibility, knowledge, and autonomy, yet typically low authority to make changes independently. As you expand globally, you may be introducing automated functionality to non-native environments, integrating local and regional legacy systems, or deploying localization agencies to improve content quality and thereby boost rank. Each of these tasks provides opportunities to strengthen local presence, which returns value to your enterprise.
Global teams must have the capacity to meet changes in search environments, such as the recent merging of China's Soso and Sogou search engines, the nuanced search requirements of Baidu or Yandex, or the constantly evolving technical requirements inherent in what all search engine bots require of enterprise websites. The breakneck pace of change in the search marketing landscape produces opportunities everywhere. Therefore, the geocentric processes you put in place must be nimble enough to capitalize on changes to these evolving search environments.
At Adobe, our enterprise architecture supports regional and local innovation in processes that satisfy regional values. Our locally distributed Search teams adapt more quickly with "boots on the ground" than traditional architectures.
Challenges in scaling and structuring your CMS for optimal global performance, allowing for big-win with big-effort implementations like the recent hreflang tagging improvement, and working well with global Web production and localization teams are a few of the large challenges to account for. This sets the team up for success a level down on issues related to currency considerations, cultural norms, localized search phrases, and other region-specific digital identifiers.
You must constantly be on the lookout for ways that your team can improve workflows to address these challenges. As you do, you will identify many low-hanging fruit opportunities to deliver value within your geo-focused enterprise.
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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.
March 19, 2014