I had the priv­i­lege to sit down with one Sil­i­con Valley’s great minds in the world of Search and Social, Jim Yu, founder and CEO of Bright­Edge. Jim com­bines in-depth exper­tise in devel­op­ing and mar­ket­ing large on-demand soft­ware plat­forms with hands-on expe­ri­ence in advanced SEO prac­tice. I was fas­ci­nated to learn what he had to say about the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties for dig­i­tal mar­keters in today’s ever-changing dig­i­tal land­scape, and am pleased to be able to share his expert insights.

CP: What would you describe as some of the pri­mary SEO issues that dig­i­tal mar­keters aren’t address­ing well in their busi­ness today?

JY: To answer this ques­tion, I’ll take a step back and look at where we started and how com­pa­nies approached search. Early on, com­pa­nies couldn’t eas­ily mea­sure the impact of organic search or returns on their SEO invest­ments. Thus, orga­niz­ing organic search and under­stand­ing the busi­ness impact of SEO is where I see the great­est oppor­tu­ni­ties for brands to derive value today.  This is where Bright­Edge has focused its tech­nol­ogy so that orga­ni­za­tions can get the most out of their SEO efforts. And pro­vid­ing a tight inte­gra­tion of ana­lyt­ics with SEO enables com­pa­nies to pull in ROI mea­sure­ment and glean insights on how their efforts are per­form­ing and what actions they need to take.

CP: What oppor­tu­ni­ties do you see in SEO?

JY: I think one of the biggest oppor­tu­ni­ties in SEO is ‘pre­dic­tive search.’ In the future, I see thou­sands of brands deliv­er­ing pre­dictable, mea­sur­able con­ver­sions from organic search. In fact, we recently con­ducted a study of 2000 brands and asked what are their search pri­or­i­ties. Social search mea­sure­ment, mak­ing search more pre­dic­tive and hav­ing an enterprise-grade solu­tion for fore­cast­ing were the top responses.  I believe that com­pa­nies that take a pre­dic­tive focus on time and efforts in SEO will yield the great­est returns.

CP: You brought up social, which is cer­tainly a hot topic sur­rounded by a lot of buzz, but there is def­i­nitely value to be gained in the social tech­nol­ogy land­scape. What is the link­age between SEO and social? What should mar­keters be pay­ing atten­tion to and why?

JY: This is a great ques­tion and one that I will answer more elaborately.

One thing that has been really excit­ing is the mas­sive repos­i­tory of social sig­nals, and rank­ing data avail­able. At the begin­ning of 2011, we did some analy­sis and noticed some­thing new was dri­ving organic search rank­ings — social sig­nals. And, that there is a strong cor­re­la­tion between social sig­nals and organic search rank­ings. Social chan­nels and organic search often run in silos, but there is huge power and value in bring­ing these two together. We looked at the impact of social chan­nels, e.g., Tweets, Likes and Google +1s, on search rank­ings. The big ques­tion or chal­lenge though is: How do you make sense out of all this data and drive ROI and value?

BrightEdge’s enter­prise SEO plat­form specif­i­cally addresses this by track­ing likes and shares and mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for what social and search can do in tan­dem: ‘How can you improve search and social dis­cov­er­abil­ity?’  We have Face­book col­lab­o­ra­tion, Twit­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion, and in fact have done research specif­i­cally into how tweets impact organic search. Case in point: TinyPrints.  They increased their organic search by 40% and fol­lower engage­ment on pages and key­words grew 300% over a month long cam­paign that aligned Tweets with dig­i­tal con­tent. (Here’s more on Tiny Prints suc­cess align­ing social and SEO).

It will become very pow­er­ful for enter­prises to have teams for social and SEO that work together to look at social mes­sages and their impact on search. By tak­ing all of the search and social data, bring­ing it together into an enterprise-level work­flow, com­pa­nies can see what is trend­ing really well and make highly-informed deci­sions about what con­tent to push out in social chan­nels. They will be able to deliver a fluid cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, engage their audi­ences even bet­ter, as well as make their company’s Twit­ter page or blog even eas­ier to discover.

So in sum­mary, mar­keters should be look­ing at how social and search can work together and how they can break down the silos between their search and social teams for improved orga­ni­za­tional align­ment that will offer bet­ter deci­sion sup­port and ulti­mately drive ROI.

CP: Pretty much every com­pany has ana­lyt­ics and SEO in some form; but why in your view is it impor­tant to bring these two tech­nolo­gies together in a tightly inte­grated solu­tion?  And how do you think com­pa­nies can best orga­nize and align to gain the max­i­mum ben­e­fit from their search and ana­lyt­ics capabilities?

Cus­tomers demanded bring­ing together paid and organic search because of their need to have a com­mon work­flow. Every sin­gle cus­tomer can drive a lot of ROI and ben­e­fit from the increased capa­bil­i­ties of bring­ing these two chan­nels together. When you inform what is being done in your organic search chan­nel, and bring in busi­ness value from your ana­lyt­ics, it cas­cades through every­thing you are doing.  So hav­ing a set of tech­nolo­gies that can scale to com­bine paid and organic data and layer busi­ness infor­ma­tion together, com­pa­nies are able to take an ROI approach to their SEO efforts and apply best prac­tices that can drive lift, such as ‘this is a key­word is dri­ving this much con­ver­sion value.’

CP: As founder and CEO of Bright­Edge, you get to inter­act with mar­ket inno­va­tors and movers.  From your van­tage point, what are some of the mean­ing­ful trends you’re see­ing emerge?  What advice would you offer that you believe every dig­i­tal mar­keter should be aware of, whether they are ready to embark or not?

JY: First and fore­most, as dig­i­tal mar­keters, we are at the begin­ning of a huge trans­for­ma­tion when we look at busi­ness func­tions. Mar­ket­ing is fun­da­men­tally chang­ing, and dig­i­tal mar­keters have to stay on top of a lot. In Search you have mas­sive changes with Google mak­ing 500+ changes per year, and we have to keep up with this rapid pace, dis­till what changes impact our busi­nesses and what has to be done to stay ahead.

There is also the con­ver­gence of chan­nels, and it is crit­i­cal to have an inte­grated strat­egy across the dif­fer­ent chan­nels. It is no longer about site updates for SEO, or this is what I need to do for paid search, organic search, or in my social chan­nels. Dig­i­tal mar­keters will need an inte­grated approach.

Lastly, global (and local — which we recently announced) is huge – a lot of com­pa­nies have a great base­line domes­ti­cally that they are scal­ing out across regions and locally within regions. With the addi­tional value from new geo­gra­phies comes increased com­plex­ity for mar­keters and new, inter­est­ing dynam­ics with a cen­tral team sup­port­ing all regions and busi­ness units. And to that point, hav­ing an infra­struc­ture that allows mes­sages to be ampli­fied to a global audi­ence and one that can be tar­geted locally is also an impor­tant consideration.

Bright­Edge and Adobe launched an Adobe Gen­e­sis Accred­ited inte­gra­tion late last year and we’ve already seen some great cus­tomer suc­cesses, includ­ing  HeBS Dig­i­tal that used Adobe® Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite and Bright­Edge tech­nol­ogy to increase Loews Hotels’ online reser­va­tions by 63%, con­ver­sions by 120%, and lift key­word ROI by 44%.


More about BrightEdge

Bright­Edge is the global leader in enter­prise SEO, help­ing more than 2,000 of the world’s largest brands stay ahead in the rapidly evolv­ing Inter­net land­scape. Bright­Edge S3 har­nesses the power of ana­lyt­ics on big-data to drive rev­enue from web sites, search engines and social net­works across the globe in a mea­sur­able, pre­dictable way. Bright­Edge is based in San Mateo, CA with offices in New York City and London. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.bright​edge​.com, friend on Face­book at www​.face​book​.com/​s​e​o​p​l​a​t​f​orm or fol­low on Twit­ter at www​.twit​ter​.com/​b​r​i​g​h​t​e​dge.