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.