The down­fall of search and SEO mar­ket­ing has been fore­cast for many years. The first time I recall an obit­u­ary being proph­e­sized was in 1997 dur­ing the hey­days of Yahoo Search, North­ern Light, Altavista, Ink­tomi, Go, Goto, and AOL—when Google was just start­ing. Then Google made adjust­ments with Google Florida in 2003, then Google Panda in 2011, not to be out­done by Google Pen­guin in 2012 in chang­ing the nature of SEO. The pro­nounce­ment of SEO’s demise has come from every cor­ner and niche of the dig­i­tal world from mar­keters to Web design­ers to blog­gers to start-ups to peo­ple who chose poorly and hired black hat­ters or peo­ple who claimed to know SEO but didn’t.

Yet the num­bers tell the story when eval­u­at­ing the online sources that peo­ple use to look for infor­ma­tion about things such as tech busi­ness pur­chases. The graphic below reveals the power of search engines and thus search mar­ket­ing and SEO in meet­ing the needs of the cus­tomer. Search remains the num­ber one source for infor­ma­tion and, because of the rel­a­tively low media invest­ment that makes SEO your most cost-effective rev­enue channel.

Search Engines

The real­ity of search marketing’s con­sis­tency as a mar­ket­ing dis­ci­pline lies in what SEO stands for in the first place: cus­tomer rel­e­vance and timely mes­sages on high-performing web­sites. That means an opti­mized user expe­ri­ence for both search robot and human vis­i­tors. Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing over­all con­tin­ues to evolve and inno­vate to meet the needs of more sophis­ti­cated mar­keters and cus­tomers. Inbound mar­ket­ing is now the de rigeur con­cept for all things search, con­tent, and social. In the search mar­ket­ing world, the aim of ser­vice providers (namely Google) is to pro­vide bet­ter and more valu­able ser­vice to those that cruise the Web, do busi­ness on the Web, or go online to buy.

In the case of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, knowl­edge is most def­i­nitely power and that power is most use­ful when applied to help­ing peo­ple find, under­stand, and use the prod­uct or ser­vice they seek. The Web is the place more and more peo­ple come in search of what they need and want. That is the rea­son search mar­ket­ing and SEO will never die. It will sim­ply evolve as peo­ple define how they want to inter­act with it. We lis­ten, we change, and we adapt.

I have been in the busi­ness of SEO and search mar­ket­ing for 12 years and in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and Web devel­op­ment for 15 years. Here at Adobe, the aim of our organic and site search mar­ket­ing group is to focus intently on cus­tomers to get them where they want to go quickly and eas­ily. We do this through ruth­less pri­or­i­ti­za­tion and pro­vid­ing strate­gic value to our busi­ness stake­hold­ers. Our inter­nal objec­tives include

  • indus­try best prac­tices in a respon­si­ble white hat approach to SEO;
  • pos­i­tive results through mea­sur­ing key per­for­mance indi­ca­tors (KPI) in response  to the needs and desires of the mar­ket; and
  • use of world-class tools, such as those in the Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud, that serve to help them man­age their busi­nesses, hob­bies, edu­ca­tion and social activ­i­ties that are shift­ing more and more to Web-based enterprises.

This post lays the ground­work for a series of arti­cles that will show you the way to suc­ceed in organic (free) search in 2013 and beyond. I will seize upon a quote from an icon of mar­ket­ing wis­dom, Peter Drucker, in demon­strat­ing the way for­ward: “Busi­ness has only two basic func­tions: mar­ket­ing and inno­va­tion.” The essence there is that as long as there are peo­ple doing busi­ness on the Web and there are peo­ple buy­ing the prod­ucts and ser­vices they offer on the Web, there will be mar­ket­ing. That includes search and SEO. Fur­ther­more, those prac­tices must inno­vate, mature, and adapt to serve the needs of those busi­nesses and customers.

The key mes­sage for this post is the six-point plan that I will use to show you how to max­i­mize your enter­prise SEO efforts. There is no magic elixir here. Com­mon sense, orga­ni­za­tion, and hard work are the ingre­di­ents of the plan.

  1. Estab­lish a clear vision.
  2. Align and engage your stakeholders.
  3. Per­form rel­e­vant SEO localization.
  4. Max­i­mize the use of the tools such as those in the Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud to see the results and trends of your efforts.
  5. Embrace Big Data, ana­lyze the data that is use­ful to you, and use the tools to develop the reports to tell you what the data means.
  6. Build scal­able plans because things change and you must have the flex­i­bil­ity and agility to change with it.

I will begin the process by giv­ing you a peek at our search vision at Adobe. Search com­prises three points of focus: paid, organic, and site.

sweet spot

My objec­tive is to con­tin­u­ally sup­port my Adobe team to cham­pion the tran­si­tion of search mar­ket­ing and SEO from a tac­ti­cal weapon in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing arse­nal to a strate­gic one. We do this by being involved early and often in the work­flow and are always customer-focused. The tools and the oppor­tu­nity are at hand to effect that change.

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