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SEO Finds the ROI

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MediaPost Laurie Sullivan

Conductor Searchlight Screenshots

Search technology companies have finally begun to teach marketers how to quantify return on investments (ROI). Seth Besmertnik, chief executive officer at Conductor, which helps companies find the ROI for SEO campaigns, stepped away from a gathering of about 150 Fortune 500 brands in New York celebrating the launch of Searchlight to talk about what he calls “the first SEO operating system for the enterprise.”

Conductor, known for its research that compares paid search and SEO marketing budgets, has spent the past nine months testing the product aimed at helping marketers take control of their SEO campaigns to grow market share.

Conductor, founded on the premise that marketers at top retailers allocate nearly all search marketing budgets toward paid search when organic search gets most of the traffic. He says companies don’t know how to scale SEO campaigns. They don’t have the ability to measure results. So, Besmertnik spent about 2.5 years developing the product from conception, raised $10 million to fund it, and hired about 30 software engineers to build it.

The Searchlight platform lets Siemens analyze large amounts of data, providing marketers with the ability to identify challenges in their strategy and improve their search ranking across hundreds or thousands of individual keyword terms. It helps manage natural search campaigns similar to other marketing program to help marketers understand how their SEO ranks against competitors.

Aside from Siemens, Besmertnik says about roughly 30 Fortune 500 companies like Teleflora, Esurance, Travelocity and Lexis Nexis use the platform today.

Besmertnik says Searchlight gives you a global perspective of the company’s SEO performance, including budget, ROI and other metrics in its calculations. It identifies the company’s biggest challenges, market share, things to do to improve rankings, and what competitors are doing.

“Companies have begun to build out SEO teams. Besmertnik tells me Conductor supports a few customers that have between five and 25 full-time SEO professional. “So what do they do all day?” he says. “They build links, create content, do analysis, and make changes to pages. They need technology to standardize metrics to give them the proper workflow to become more efficient.”

They need to spend more time focused on strategy and less time on gathering information. The C-level office wants to see the ROI and market penetration levels.

Ironically, the biggest challenge for Conductor also creates the biggest opportunity. Every mid-market and above enterprise company will need an SEO technology platform. If you read this column daily, you know I talked about the need yesterday, providing an example from SearchIgnite.

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