David Lloyd, manager of global SEO for Adobe, likes to think of the software company's search team as curators of customers as they come along different channels.
The content optimization task is huge: Having acquired 17 companies in the last 10 years, Adobe comprises 30 different domains and 1.8 million pages. The 30-person search team is divided into three pillars: paid search, organic search and site optimization. The organic search team manages around 15,000 top-priority keywords, while the paid search team manages some 1.6 million.
Speaking at the BrightEdge Share12 Conference in San Francisco on wednesday, Lloyd (above) laid out the way Adobe allocates its search resources and how it uses content optimization to improve ROI across all channels.
The search optimization team spends about 30 percent of its time on external linking, 25 percent on domain health and 15 percent on content optimization and social media. But optimization goes further than analyzing keywords, URLs and links. The team organizes its content into "product stories," Lloyd said; those become a messaging kit for editorial staff.
"You want to get your search data not only into web content, but into all content," Lloyd said, including print collateral, advertising, social media and web design. "We make sure that the people doing the writing have search data to back up their stories."
Keywords and URLs are shared with the social media team, so that they can optimize blogs, video and help pages, among other content. Social teams link back to the highest-converting target pages on Adobe.com where revenue can be captured.
This strategy creates a virtuous circle in which search keywords inform some social media content. Those social conversations drive search equity and help the team make enhancements. These enhancements then improve social ranking, while social conversations inform the keyword strategy.
Adobe uses the BrightEdge search optimization platform to understand how social media drives organic search results. For example, the platform allowed Adobe to see that seven tweets improved Adobe's rank on the keyword phrase "social analytics" from twenty-eighth to second in one case. In another case, the organic search rank went from fourth to second after 28 tweets and six Facebook actions.
Adobe also can run its own digital marketing analytics suites, including Site Catalyst and Discover, and run the data through BrightEdge.
"We don't optimize for Google; we optimize for best practices," Lloyd told the audience. To that end, Adobe is working to create a search center of excellence that will inform the practice of all search team members.
Lloyd said, "We use data to tell the revenue story for our channel and for how it lines up with paid and social and other channels." The challenge with data is that it needs to tell a story not only to the analytics folks, but also to all the other stakeholders in the company. The SEO team must be prepared to answer "why" questions such as, "The trend looks up, what is that due to?" or, "Can you compare revenue from Photoshop.com and Adobe.com/Photoshop?"
Horn-tooting is always appropriate. For example, Adobe saw huge increases in page ranking when Google's Panda and Penguin updates went live. Lloyd's team made note of it in reports: "This spike is due to content optimization."
Being able to answer such questions takes more than solid SEO, Lloyd said. "It also requires product awareness. A good SEO has business skills, first."