Up Close @SMX East: What I Wish CMOs Knew About Search Marketing
Ever wish C-Level execs had a clue about search marketing? Here are the things to educate them about.
Few, if any, CMOs have a deep understanding of search marketing. That means communicating the value of your search marketing efforts is your responsibility. In this no-holds-barred discussion, our panelists will address the challenges they face working “in the trenches,” and offer advice on how to convince your CMO – and other lead executives – that a comprehensive, unified search marketing plan is the best way to keep your brand thriving and deliver business results.
Following, we’ll cover Monday’s SMX East presentations by the three speakers, as well as a bit of Q&A.
- Tom Alison, Managing Director, Vincodo
- Erin Everhart, SEO Manager, The Home Depot (@erinever)
- Hillary Glaser, SEO Manager, Lowe Campbell Ewald (@hilly293)
What should CMOs know about search marketing? They have so much on their plate and are under pressure to perform, so they need to understand that search marketing will help their efforts.
However, it’s important for them to understand that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM aka Paid Search) take time and effort. They will need to have patience, as results can take six months or more.
Three rules for CMOs to live by: Invest, Maintain and Train.
“If you have a dollar, invest it in SEO. If you have two, invest one in SEO and one in social media.”
SEO must be an integral part of your marketing plan. It’s not just a function of content and coding. It needs to work symbiotically with your whole strategy, including traditional marketing. SEO needs to have SEM behind it and you can’t have SEM without SEO checking the backend. Link building and auditing your backlinks are critical.
Offline can impact online – commercial, print ads and mailers create search inquiries and social media discussion. Coordinate your efforts so that you’re not promoting something that can’t be found or optimizing for things that you’re not promoting.
Your competitors are doing it. You can do it better.
Organic traffic doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It takes time and work to bring traffic in and it will need to grow over time.
Invest in full time staff – SEO, SEM and Social Media. This is not something to just tack onto someone else’s workload. Content writers don’t necessary know how to write stellar meta data, nor understand HTML. Likewise, the web guy isn’t qualified to write content. SEO is a full time position that requires full time focus.
You must maintain your site. You need a goal and to be constantly working toward that goal. Algorithms change constantly; your competitors continue to improve. Maintenance work is easier than fixing what’s broken. Keep things working smoothly instead of having to start and stop, and you will save yourself time, money and stress down the line.
Your team should monitor your search marketing efforts daily, looking for opportunities as well as for trouble spots. You’ll find new opportunities for content, you’ll spot places where competitors are improving and you’ll want to move to counter them. Algorithms will change, and you’ll want to stay on top of that.
Tip for agencies: make sure your scope of work is tightly bound so you don’t end up writing content for nothing.
Because algorithms change constantly, it’s important to keep skills sharp. Send your employees to conferences and training, and attend them yourself so that you know what they’re talking about. You may know marketing but that isn’t the same as knowing search marketing.
Data is essential – if your branded terms aren’t ranking in organic search and are costing you money in paid search, you need to reevaluate your content strategy.
Analyze data; apply the findings. Give your employees the best tools to do that.
When You’ve Followed The Rules It’s Time To Do The Work
Report. Analyze. Build. Repeat.
SEO requires time. You need to be working to get to the top of the search results and then spend the time to stay there.
Erin is representing the client side and is covering link building.
Sometimes, execs just don’t get it. They want to rank for something right now, right away. It isn’t their fault; SEO can be easy to understand but hard to take on. Google doesn’t make it easy — 83 big updates since 2011. That’s 83 times that you have to reevaluate your process.
We need to educate our execs about what really goes into SEO, link building, how long it’s going to take.
7 things they need to know:
- Yes, you still need links to rank. SEO is alive and well and will be as long as people use search engines, and link building will always be part of that because Google needs signals.
- But, link building has changed. The ways that links are developed change as time goes on. That doesn’t mean you can stop building links, just that you need to change the way you do it.
- No one knows how many links you need to rank. It will depend on the page, on the term, on the competition, and on how Google feels that day. Quality over quantity is better, but more quality is better than less.
- We don’t just have content lying around – “Content is King” is an overused phrase that is mistaken for the idea of quantity over quality and strategy. Good content takes time to create. It needs to be appropriate for your users. And then it needs to be promoted properly. Links are not magically drawn to content if no one knows that the content exists. Link builders still need to exist to promote the content.
- No place exists to “just get some links” – you cannot go to Link Narnia and even if you could, no one would tell you where it was. Most link builders have their own personal set of resources where they can begin, but that’s all it is, a beginning. Link building strategies are tailored to the content and users. That is what makes for natural links.
- No, you can’t just “ask for links” – that’s like asking a stranger to marry you. No one is going to do that. Links have to be earned. Sometimes, that’s just creating good content, but most of the time, it’s about building a relationship.
- This will take longer than you like – no one knows how long it will take. It takes time; it’s an investment. It has to incubate before you see any results. Set the right expectations and then remind them about expectations every single day.
- Your rankings will drop if you stop. If you stop going to the gym, you will lose your physique. Likewise, you will lose your place in the SERPs if you stop your SEO. You must stay slow and steady, constantly building links and moving forward.
It is on marketers to educate the execs about what goes into link building.
Tom is covering paid search and what CMOs need to know.
Know your audience. Some CMOs are very hands on with search, some are not.
Know why things show up. The execs don’t, so you need to know and to be able to explain about broad match, limited budgets, day parting, location, competitors bidding, etc.
- Why should I pay to be on my brand?
- Performance is relative. How are you doing in your category and industry? Not just from a global POV, but from a comparison to what your competitors are doing.
- Advertising impacts search – how is your advertising impacting your search both in brand search and non-brand terms? How does what your competitor is doing impact your search results? How is offline media impacting your search?
- Search is impacting brand – Search is advertising. Search lifts brand in aided and unaided awareness. Search impressions, not just the clicks, are important in your branding. You must be calculating it and comparing it to other advertising media
- Search can measure branding – relative brand ratio will show where your brand is strong or weak based on market presence and total advertising. This is a good way to get CEOs involved. Show them where markets can be increased by investing.
- Search’s role in multi-channel marketing — search doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Forrester estimates that half of offline sales are influenced by online. We don’t live in an online-only world, so we can’t look at an online-only view or take an online-only approach. Especially now that we are on a multi-screen world, as well. Attribution is still mostly guessing. We need to continue to get better at it and we must ensure that search doesn’t get left out, not just the clicks, but the impressions, as well.
- How is mobile impacting the business? – What does your search data tell you? Who are your mobile users and how are they different than your online users? How do you overcome tracking and measurement issues?
- Maximize profits vs. specific CPA or ROAS targets. Focus on gross profit and optimize for profit, not ROAS. Sacrifice some current margin to get more customers. In certain situations, this will really help, particularly with customers that tend to be repeat purchasers. Tom recommends focusing on customers that repeat within 90-120 days.
- Look for operational issues and opportunities.
- Key vendor partners’ performance – if vendors are performing well or poorly, that will impact search, and you need to be part of the conversations that your CMO is having.
Have your own priority list. Build a Top 5 to keep yourself focused.
Q: What’s the best way to track keywords?
Hillary: Webmaster tools is now the best place for good keyword data with impressions and click through. They then partner with other platforms.
Tim: Look at your paid search and use it as a surrogate for what’s happening in organic.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.