If you're a major company in the retail or e-commerce space looking to promote your brand online in an organic and effective way, having an answer to the "Got SEO?" question is more timely and relevant than ever for your forward-looking marketing strategy.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is increasingly becoming a must-have weapon in the marketing arsenal of companies across the online arena.
Without an SEO platform run by cutting-edge enterprise SEO technology, brands increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. More importantly, brands without an SEO platform are missing out on their ability to sustain and grow a critical revenue stream derived by natural – or "organic" – online search activity.
Many brands believe that moving up their organic search rankings is a fool's errand – thinking the effort will run up against an "iron ceiling" because it is costly and difficult.
Organic search can be one of your most profitable and important channels. But there's a catch. Having the right SEO platform and enterprise-grade SEO technology makes all the difference - potentially millions of dollars of difference.
Not all answers to the question "Got SEO?" are created equal.
Our "long-tail" web and search footprint required an SEO solution with the ability to track pages, keyword ranking, backlinks, web analytics, competitive intelligence, social media impact, and other data. With the right solution in place, our marketing team would be able to focus on analyzing the data rather than trying to gather it.
Interestingly, for us the real challenge wasn't reaching the decision that we needed a new SEO paradigm to drive better search efforts and revenue. It was sifting through the myriad choices of SEO partners in the clutter and white noise of the SEO marketplace. The quest for the right SEO technology and platform for us was just as important as the results we knew it would yield to our marketing and branding strategy.
What follows are some best practices when it comes to identifying SEO platforms and technology. Raising the bar in the organic search space amplifies its quality and effectiveness for both brands and the consumers you serve - and that yields dividends across the board for all search stakeholders.
Rule 1: It's OK to Be Greedy About the SEO Data You Need
For retail marketers, it's essential to gain insights into how SEO impacts conversions or purchases.
You may also need an SEO platform that tracks across multiple search engines.
If you have global affiliates, you may also need a solution that provides support for search engines targeted toward specific regions.
Here's a quick data checklist of some possible things you'll want your SEO partner to provide:
- Side-by-side analysis of organic web analytics and paid data in the SEO platform
- References and case studies of customers using such integration successfully
- Proof of support for SEO tracking in global markets with an operational presence
- Support for keywords in local languages
- Names of live customers of global multi-nationals
Rule 2: Automation - An Automatic Must-Have
Don't automatically assume the SEO solution put in front of you as an option does everything at the flip of a switch. Many don't deploy SEO automation. This is a serious omission.
The whole purpose of finding the right SEO partner is to lift a burden and sift through the data on "auto-pilot." By finding an SEO technology that collects data automatically, we can truly be the hunters of data, instead of just the gatherers. That's a huge competitive edge.
Rule 3: Adaptation - Choose a Chameleon, Not a Snail
Google has begun announcing no less than 50 changes to its algorithm monthly, indicating how quickly SEO can evolve. Having SEO technology that can quickly adapt to this constant change in how search engines serve results can keep you ahead of the other hunters.
An SEO technology with the ability to be agile and update quickly will fuel your company's growth. Be sure the partner offers frequent updates – don't be shy about asking for proof.
Rule 4: Look for the SEO "Guinea Pigs"
There are plenty of known, blue-chip brands out there who have faced and tackled the SEO enigma. Big companies with big dollars have invested heavily in time and resources to find the right SEO partner and platform.
On this one, it's OK to follow the leaders. Seeing the partnerships with big kahunas in the marketing ecosystem gave us the assurance we were looking for.
Rule 5: It's Not All About the Benjamins
Yes, coming under budget is imperative in tough times. But choosing your SEO tools is definitely a "you get what you pay for" exercise.
Free trials and offers of the lowest-price ticket won't get you to the distance you need in the SEO race. If you're serious about making a long-term difference for your brand in the search arena, prudent investments now are well worth it.
Every brand should have its own rules of the road when kicking off the SEO partner and technology search – because every brand is unique and different. But mapping out your SEO goals and criteria early in the process will save you time, resources, and lots of clicks.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!