I was pleased to be part of a great panel at SMX London on prioritizing your search marketing efforts. It included SEO veterans Mikkel deMib Svendsen of deMib.com, Julia Longdon of ContentMango and Dave Davies of Beanstalk. For me, this was an extremely useful session with a huge hidden ROI benefit for search marketers not necessarily obvious in the title of the session.
Why? The answer is very simple — it’s known as the REAL Law, which stands for “Resources for Everyone are Always Limited.” Even the largest organization must make choices about what they do with resources. Often, the larger and more global the organization, the greater the impact their decisions can have. Choices must be made carefully, as they have a potentially huge upside and/or downside impact on the bottom line.
In essence, what this means is that everyone has to make choices about what they do and where they go. Now, here’s the key point which so often gets missed: when you make choices about what you are going to do, you are deciding which are the most important tactics and strategies to deploy — you are deciding which activities will deliver the best results to your organization.
These decisions are crucial, and yet techniques to manage them tend not to be discussed as much as they should be. Ask yourself this question: “How much time do I spend evaluating what we should do, and how many times do I just jump in and hope something sticks?”
If your answer is that you don’t spend enough time evaluating, do not be embarrassed – you are not alone. If your answer is we evaluate everything completely and thoroughly – then I have some shares in a potential goldmine in the desert you might want to buy (which is British irony roughly translated in US English as “bullshit”).
Putting this another way, if I could deploy every tactic I know, I could certainly achieve very good traffic levels and performance. Would that were possible!
So, when I stick a pin into a list of potential SEO tactics or when I decide to jump for something the last consultant I spoke to suggested, I am making a key strategic decision with significant downstream impacts – even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.
The conclusion is clear. We all need more training and foresight to be able to plan the investment of resources really well, and it’s frankly not easy to do.
There were a number of approaches to this suggested by the presenters, including the matrix approach shown above. Today, I’m going to share with you three different approaches. The first one is from Mikkel deMib Svendsen and the others were my own brainchildren.
1. Create A Scorecard
Some of the words I’m going to use here are my own based on my own way of understanding the situation – I don’t believe Mikkel actually used the word “scorecard,” he described his approach as more of a system, but it’s easier for me to describe it as a scorecard.
Mikkel’s approach is, first of all, to list out all of the possible opportunities and to code them into Red, Yellow and Green. Red means something you just have to do, there’s no choice. Green means it’s a nice to have or something for the future but with no real urgency. Yellow is everything in between.
The key area where prioritization must take place is within the “yellows” – the “reds” you don’t have any choice over, and the “greens” can wait more or less indefinitely.
Then Mikkel has a series of scores that he attributes to the yellows using something like a 1-5 scale allocated for potential traffic impact, benefit, feasibility of the technique, and other factors. The “yellows” which then rank at the top of the scorecard are where you start, and you literally then work your way down.
It seemed to me like a very simple but useful approach.
2. Log & Analyse The Data
Something my company has been working on for the last three years is a way to log activities and tactics by region. Region in this sense means France::French or Belgium::French – each of those we would class as a region. Every single activity we undertake, we record that (and its cost) via an online portal.
We then also suck Google Analytics data into the portal and look for correlations between spend and result. It produces some interesting findings and new questions – but after a few months, you can generally pick out that approaches that are bringing most value.
You can then use these findings to drive future decision making. However, there is a downside, which is that it is backward-looking analysis (as everything to do with data is). You cannot necessarily predict what will happen in the future.
3. Use An Impact V Effort Matrix
I didn’t invent the matrix approach or the impact v effort version (shown above). But I find it translates well to global projects, and there are some very good reasons for this.
The matrix is pretty subjective – but what it’s really good at is capturing everyone’s opinion in a shared environment. Where this works particularly well is at getting marketing, SEO and technical people all on the same page through some sort of group workshop (which you can even do online).
You have to take account of everyone’s issues and therefore come up with a list of issues which, at the end of the workshop, everyone agrees are important. Then, obstacles to implementation just seem to fade gracefully away!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.