Gain Efficiencies with a Global Search Center of Excellence

The most common attribute that companies with successful global search programs share is the development of a Search Council or Search Center of Excellence (COE). These companies benefit from the uniformity and collaboration of a larger team.

The central search team drives your success in search marketing and minimizes the number of search crises you encounter each day. By collaborating with the extended search team, the COE maintains proper page tagging while avoiding technology "downgrades," ill-fated navigational designs, and dozens of design and infrastructure problems that could be debilitating to your inclusion and rankings in search engines around the world.

The COE should focus on improving the content creation workflow practices, compliance levels, policies, support and awareness, and measurement across the program. It is also highly focused on building a culture of search marketing excellence that will have a measurable impact on the bottom line.

Essentially, a COE brings together varied people and skills that promote collaboration and best practice usage around a specific focus area to drive incremental business results.

Search Center of Excellence Role and Function

The COE, to be effective, needs to be an aggregation of multiple disciplines and levels of the organization to provide insight into the various stakeholders roles and how they should collaborate with each other to become more effective.

In addition to role representation, the COE needs to provide a broad base of information and guidance, and should provide the following:

  • Shared Learning: A proper COE will prevent, or minimize, the reinvention of the wheel for most business units with a base from which to start their understanding of a process or technique. These formalized and uniform roles and processes enable shared learning:
    • Aggregation and evangelizing of best practices.

    • Training and certifications.

    • Skill assessments and team building.
  • Measurements and Metrics: COEs should demonstrate that they deliver the valued results that justified their creation through the use of output metrics:
    • Uniform metrics.

    • Uniform tools and collection methods.

    • Aggregation and evangelization of the results.
  • Support: For the specific area of focus, COEs should offer support and mentoring to the business lines. The level of support will vary based on ability and resources and organization.
    • Sourcing and procurement of shares tools and resources.

    • Share subject matter experts.

    • Air cover and support with executive management.

    • Develop process and opportunity for scale in the service offering.

    • Where possible, financial and resource support.
  • Governance: Not be confused with the dictatorship or gatekeeper of a process or strategy, but an enabler, arbitrator, and motivator -- and, in some cases, the decider of what is the better of two practices.

    • Creation and arbitration of common standards, policies, and methodologies.

    • Enforcement of a consistent architecture and uniform approach across the organization.

    • A common method and set of techniques for managing information.

    • Developing and enabling well defined roles and responsibilities for team members.

Search Center of Excellence Benefits

The most effective COEs offer a variety of benefits that can be gained from centralizing a set of essential functions to support global search and social media marketing programs. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better reuse of capabilities across programs.

  • Reduced speed of delivery.

  • Cost reduction or elimination through shared infrastructure and tools.

  • Cost savings through shared skill sets and elimination of redundant or inefficient process or approach.

  • Reduction in frustration and disorganization for those just adopting search marketing or another marketing function that have no previous experience or basis to form their approach or deployment of the new activity.

While having a Search Center of Excellence doesn't guarantee success, it brings together varied best practices in program development, deployment, and measurement to achieve better speed to market, consistency, and reduced complexity that results in highly successful outcomes when executed properly. The quicker the organization adopts this centralized process for information sharing, the quicker they will see a more widespread adoption of these practices and less barriers for improving performance in their specific discipline.

Meet Bill Hunt at SES Chicago on December 7-11, 2009. Now in its 11th year, the only major Search Marketing Conference and Expo in the Midwest will be packed with 70+ sessions covering PPC management, keyword research, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, video optimization and usability, while offering high-level strategy, keynotes, an exhibit floor, networking events and more.

About the author

Bill is considered a top thought leader on global search engine marketing and social media. He is an internationally-recognized search marketing expert who has spoken at conferences in over 30 countries. Press, industry analysts, and corporate leaders frequently seek Bill's advice to effectively leverage enterprise/global search marketing and social media strategy.

Bill was previously CEO of two of the largest global search marketing firms, Global Strategies and Outrider — both of which were acquired by WPP. As CEO, Bill grew both companies, oversaw global expansion, and provided strategic search marketing services for Fortune 100 companies such as Adobe, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Nestle, P&G, and Zurich Financial.

Bill is currently on the board of directors of the SEMPO. He earned a B.A. in Asian studies/Japanese from the University of Maryland (Tokyo campus), and a B.S. in international business from California State University, Los Angeles. Bill is also a veteran of the Marine Corps.