In my first post in this series, I introduced the S.C.O.R.E. methodology of creating a technical environment in which an exceptional global organic and site search capability can exist. Standardizing on metrics is a crucial first step. Clear and agreed upon KPIs are the first step to success. There are questions from both the business side and the SEO technical team that must be answered; both sides have equal importance if standardization is to be achieved. On the business side, C-level, business units, Web strategists, and data analytics groups must integrate and meld with the technical side consisting of the SEO team, Web strategy and production, analytics, and IT.
Organic and site search is a data-driven enterprise. The volume, velocity, and variety of data create a challenge. The dilemma is that you definitely can’t live without data, while other times you can’t live with it unless you’re smart about it. First, you cannot manage what you can’t measure. Second, all that’s measurable should not be managed. We must standardize intelligently. Otherwise, we’ll just drive ourselves into data paralysis and put ourselves in a position of not being able to make effective decisions.
The questions you must answer as an enterprise team cover the full range of who, what, why, where, how, and when. The key issues to be addressed include standardizing via common corporate-wide processes such that resources and budget are smartly applied. Communication across the enterprise allows for continuously improving the process as lessons are learned, resulting in new best practices and capabilities to deliver a better product.
We will cover the depth and breadth of each question in subsequent posts, but as a conclusion to this article, keep in mind two things. First, the search engines want to help you manage your websites in order to show the most relevant content. Webmaster guidelines are available from Google, which (in Google’s own words) are provided to give you “Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site.”
Are you new to search marketing? Well, the search engine rules change frequently on all the search engines, so you must stay vigilant and aware. The Google search algorithm alone had over 200 changes in the second half of 2012 and even more since then as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other agencies drive change in response to public input. The most recent FTC letter dated 25 June 2013 may have some far-reaching implications on search engine algorithms. How search works is no longer an enigma. Each search engine will tell you specifically what it’s looking for. Google is clear and has a section called Inside Search that will give you explicit guidance on how search works for their search engine.
Finally, I have a word of advice on the total reliance of data to drive your search marketing process. Data is a tool and how you collect and process it is a technical operation. Gaining insight from data is a matter of using data analysis models that are as much science as they are art. The model itself is mathematical and complex to the point where your only hope of getting results in real time requires computer processing. However, the assumptions and accuracy of the model depends on the art of interpreting the intended action of your audience based on their needs, perceptions, and desires. What you may find is that customer choice is as challenging to stay abreast of as the changes to the search engine algorithms.
What questions do you have on organic and site search? My next post will begin to answer some of the questions I find important, but yours are far more relevant and worthwhile to answer. I welcome your comments.