At ClickZ Live New York, one of the last sessions on the last day of the conference examined the real-life experiences and learnings from a B2B company’s e-business integration process through their enterprise/global website redesign and launch. The speakers were Motoko Hunt, president of AJPR, and David Gray, search engine marketing manager at Analog Devices. Despite’s Hunt’s valiant effort to keep the identity of the B2B company anonymous, Gray’s participation on the panel let the cat out of the bag. They were both presenting a case study about the redesign and launch of the Analog Devices website.
Hunt and Gray covered:
- Planning the Plan: The original integration plan of search, social, content, analytics, Web, and e-marketing.
- Finding the Land Mines: The challenges and road blocks and how they were overcome.
- Facing Reality: The steps, measures, and methods that worked and those that did not.
- Hindsight Is 20/20: The things we wish we thought of before the project started.
- The Future Is Bright: The next steps and maintenance of collaboration.
Planning the Plan
Hunt started by providing some background. Her firm had mapped keywords to content that satisfied a searcher’s intent. The search engine optimization (SEO) impact was dramatic: Organic traffic grew by more than 260 percent site-wide. Current site performance includes 50 million pages views and 5 million datasheet downloads.
So, she had a lot of internal credibility with her client when it came to the time to prepare for the site redesign project. From her point of view, the primary objective was to influence the purchasing decision. She shared a Corporate Executive Board Study that found 57 percent of the purchasing decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier. That meant targeting keywords and creating content that was much higher up in the sales funnel.
To get executive buy-in, Hunt created presentations on the value of SEO, the cost of “not integrating,” the resource/time benefits, and an integration plan. The plan included an SEO checklist, organization chart, and SEO score card.
All this was necessary because the project was tackling multiple languages, multiple brands and products, multiple media (forum, social, video, wiki, etc.), complete site-wide redesign, new site structure, a new URL, a new taxonomy, a new CMS, and new analytics tools. In other words, there were a lot of cats to herd.
To keep everyone on the same page, Hunt provided SEO training for stakeholders, shared best practices, created training videos, established standards, and put together a knowledge base.
She also “put everything in writing.” This included: SEO best practices and standards; site migration recommendations; an SEO module for the CMS; an optimized taxonomy plan; an SEO checklist for IT, Web, and content; a keyword glossary for localization; as well as key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and segments for analytics.
She concluded with this advice:
- Get executive buy-in by showing the benefit of SEO integration based on data.
- Provide an integration plan showing the business unit touch points.
- Create an integration and action check list to clarify the each step for all concerned parties.
- Measure the improvements and effect of integration using data.
That was the plan.
Finding the Land Mines
Gray was remarkably candid about what happened next. It started with finding the land mines, challenges, and road blocks.
For example, IT had no bandwidth, was overworked, and had little SEO knowledge. And IT had a lack of interest in SEO, had a lack of interest in training, and didn’t know how SEO could help their work.
In addition, there were issues with the web site redesign contract and scope of work. Gray said, “We thought the agency’s SEO knowledge would be applied to the project. But, it wasn’t a line item in the contract. Even though they verbally said they would create an SEO-friendly site, it wasn’t part of the scope of work. We thought SEO-friendly site would be a given. They thought that they had someone who had done some SEO work five years ago. But, in five years, there have been significant changes to the algorithms, i.e., Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.”
As a result, the project was delayed. Gray said, “We expected some delays, but the delays became more than expected.”
Gray added that there were issues with where SEO was/is placed in the company’s organizational chart. He said, “SEO doesn’t have a loud voice. We use RACI: Responsibility, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. SEO has a ‘C’ or an ‘I,’ not an ‘A.’ And, because we are placed as a part of the eMarketing Center of Excellence (COE), it was harder for our voice to reach the organization. Each COE has so much on its plate and is understaffed and not able to keep up with the schedule.”
There were other issues. Gray said, “Resources are limited both at the company and the agency. High turnover rates at agencies is a given. What was the solution? We offered the SEO team’s help wherever we could, i.e., site search project, content management system. This ensures the job will be done efficiently and well.”
And there were more issues. According to Gray, “There was confusion over who was leading some of the projects. At times there were multiple versions of the same document. Was the vendor or IT in charge of site search? What about the CMS project? Our solution was to actively request a name for the contact point for each action item, and we clarified who would do what.”
Gray then talked about facing reality and discussed the steps, measures, and methods that worked and those that didn’t.
He said the Search Engine Optimization Best Practices Guide “is an example of something that REALLY WORKED. Motoko and I collaborated to write an SEO guide. The guide convinced our director of marketing that we knew what we were talking about, that we had a sound strategy, gained his trust in us, and made him our advocate. He asked us to create an SEO checklist for the project IT group to follow. So, we created an SEO checklist for the Web, content, and IT teams to follow based on our best practices guide.”
He added, “We created a Knowledge Base SharePoint Website to house training documents, best practices, videos, etc. We created a keyword glossary for the new taxonomy and localization and worked with product marketing teams and local teams to create a set of keyword glossary in all languages.”
Hindsight Is 20/20
With 20/20 hindsight, Gray said, “In order to get alignment with corporate goals, we needed to come up with one set of KPI for all business units. Because of our analytics tools, we had to use traffic and page level performance metrics as our metrics while other units were using downloads or unique page views. We want to measure certain KPIs like data sheet downloads, so we worked with the analytics team. We worked on tag management for easier tag implementation – using Tealium tag management.”
He shared the flow chart of wireframes and said, “We got SEO involved in the process early on – wireframe review, design review, etc. We had started in the process early on, but after initial feedback, we weren’t involved in subsequent discussions/checkpoints. So, we had to chase down coders to see what was actually implemented. If there had been a communication breakdown, we asked to be consulted again. Hopefully, it wasn’t too late.”
He revealed, “We’re proposing a search council to have a bigger voice for the project. We should’ve established the search council before the project to give us bigger voice and better engagement to the project.”
The Future Is Bright
He concluded, “The future is bright. We’re looking forward to next steps and the maintenance of collaboration.”
Although the project has been delayed, there were silver linings. He revealed, “We can have more time to review the new site against our SEO checklist. The delay also gave us the chance to become more a part of more projects within the redesign, i.e., site search.”
He said, “We created an SEO score card to rate the project, i.e., whether our SEO checklist recommendations were implemented or not.”
Gray was also working on what he called “embedded SEO.” This means integrating SEO into the Web design project and ongoing maintenance process. He said, “Going forward everything should be well optimized. Communication breakdowns should be minimized.”
He concluded with this advice:
- Create SEO standards and other documents to track progress of a project.
- Get executive buy-in at the beginning of the project.
- Establish an organizational chart with SEO integrated into each part of the process.
- Make sure SEO is an “A” in the RACI chart.
In an often fragmented workplace, where various departments have varying opinions and goals, it can be challenging to get everyone on the same page and make strategy meetings productive.
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