How the Most Successful SEOs Achieve Success in Natural Search
This is the first in a series of posts written based on conversations with several of Conductor’s Senior Account Executives highlighting what they have learned in talking with SEO professionals about their SEO challenges and helping them achieve success in natural search with Conductor’s SEO technology solutions.
In speaking with hundreds of online marketing and SEO directors during the Searchlight sales process over the last couple years Conductor’s account executives have noticed that while most have a similar knowledge base, there is a wide variance in the success they are able to achieve in natural search. There are several themes that continuously pop up around SEOs who are consistently able to achieve success in natural search that we wanted to share with you.
In the interest of readability we broke the themes into two blog posts, the first of which is below:
- SEO process clearly defined across multiple internal teams:
The internal teams understand how they contribute to SEO and why it’s important. I’ve seen organizations that have members within the web development, public relations, content management, social media, and SEM teams for example that all understand their specific role to help natural search performance. These organizations counterparts understand that there are a lot of moving parts to performing well in natural search and that their role is just as important as their colleagues role to impacting natural search. Some of the SEO Directors I’ve found operating in this environment seem to emphasize recognition of internal teams for their work and show the results to everyone involved.
- Ability to have multiple SEO Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) consistently reported up to management:
Another theme that shows itself time and again as a strong indicator of an SEOs natural search success is the extent to which they can demonstrate ROIto management by closely tying web data to business metrics.The nuts and bolts of how to move up the SERPs is certainly important but it’s not where the SEO battle is won. Rather, the ability of the SEO professional to demonstrate the value of SEO to management is where it is won or lost (just ask any SEO who has great ideas for improving his site’s visibility but can’t get the budget/resources to implement those ideas).So how do the successful SEOs demonstrate the ROI of SEO to management? By intimately tying SEO data to business metrics in web analytics:
- Track Beyond the Basics:
E-commerce websites that track traffic, orders, and revenue metrics have an easier time with this, and are typically more adept at parsing data for ‘branded’ vs. ‘non-branded’ keywords. A red flag goes up when I talk with potential clients who are not set up to track beyond the ‘unique visitor’, where that visitor came from, and where they went on the website (yes, that still happens in 2011). Successful SEOs pay close attention to non-branded keywords that have big y/y revenue gains, they celebrate those wins internally and talk about how the team can duplicate the gains with more non-branded keywords. They are able to identify non-branded keyword opportunities that have proven successful in paid search and put together a plan to get that keyword into a more visible position for natural search.
- Define Metrics Where There Are None:
Non-ecommerce websites often don’t have classic conversions that can easily be measured, so they need to be creative about demonstrating ROI. This is where I see some of the biggest variances with the ability of an SEO to report on and measure success. Successful SEOs develop creative ways to measure conversions such as attaching an average value to a ‘download’ or ‘contact’ form completion and then report on that dollar amount up the chain. The key here is a collaborative process at the outset that results in executive buy-in on each of the ‘conversions’ and their accompanying long term value.
- Show Month Over Month Improvements on a Per Project Basis:
A reporting tactic I’ve seen some SEOs develop is to report each month on the SEO profile of a specific project. Consistently feature a different project with each month’s report or meeting by varying which ones you show. Report on not only keyword traffic/rank/conversion/revenue-value improvement, but also the amount of hours it took to complete the project and, if possible, the cost of those hours or cost of the project itself.Celebrating the wins and giving the proper recognition is the concept here. Your colleagues will be more interested in helping out if the projects are tracked over time and, when they are finally successful, they are given recognition for their contributions. It’s not too late to do this. As the new year kicks off, take a look back at everything that was accomplished in 2010. Identify some of the projects that were completed and find some success stories across the keywords that were affected by those projects. Share them in team meetings and talk about how you hope to further this success in 2011.
- Track Beyond the Basics:
In our next post in the series, we’ll continue our exploration of the habits of effective SEOs by examining how they work with management to scale their SEO effort and on how they identify and play to their SEO maturity level.