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Evangelizing organic search success: 5 steps to elevate performance
As an SEO professional, how can you improve your standing within an organization to achieve better results? The answer, according to columnist Jim Yu, lies in organic search evangelism.
Working in the community of over 20,000 search and content professionals that our company (BrightEdge) has built, skilled practitioners often ask me how they can best elevate themselves professionally.
Even though they get results, they often have trouble securing the buy-in they need from key stakeholders. The result is that neither the marketer nor the business is able to reach its full potential.
The solution? Organic search evangelism.
Evangelizing what you do in any organization is challenging. It can be especially difficult when organizations have complex structures and fragmented business units that are all fighting for executive leadership attention.
Organic search marketers must therefore have the ability to translate their activity into successful business outcomes. The most successful organic search marketers I know have built sophisticated skill sets that enable them to not just get results, but to effectively communicate SEO’s business value within an organization.
It is important to note that every business has different needs when it comes to building a culture that fosters the evangelism of organic search. Smaller businesses are challenged with finding the most efficient way to implement the highest-impact best practices. Larger brands may have to figure out how to scale search, social and content across business units and geographic locations.
Either way, organic search needs better internal PR to make this happen. Following are five steps to evangelize your organic search success.
Step 1: Build a solid foundation — Promote your largest channel
Building a solid foundation for professional elevation has to begin with results. Owning the organic search channel in any organization means that you have responsibility. Being successful should mean that you get the recognition that you deserve, and promoting your channel through internal education is the first step to recognition.
Points to consider:
- Organic search drives 51 percent of all visits to B2B and B2C websites.
- Organic search has no direct media cost and extremely high returns.
- Organic search touches and impacts all digital marketing channels AND offline sales.
- Organic search simultaneously builds brand awareness and drives revenue.
Step 2: Develop your skill sets — Optimize your human capital
As digital marketing channels converge , it is vital that organic search professionals look to develop skill sets to align with this change. This requires shifting mindsets and thinking outside of your channel silo.
Organic search marketers are often data-driven — analytical left-brain thinkers who view organic search as a science. However, traditional marketers are often more right-brained, focusing on creativity, intuition and visualization.
It is important to understand what drives and motivates colleagues in your organization. Learning how to communicate effectively with others — and being able to demonstrate how SEO can work in tandem with other channels to the benefit of everyone involved — is key to evangelizing organic search within an organization.
Question: When was the last time you went and sat with your sales, PR, customer service or digital marketing team to talk about how you can best work together?
- Spend time working across different departments in your organization.
- Ask your organization to “invest in talent” to teach you new skills as part of your professional development program.
- Take advantage of internal and external training and certification courses that broaden your skills throughout your organization.
- Work on cross-functional projects that allow you to learn new things while also being able to teach others new things (based on your organic search success).
Step 3: Focus on numbers and metrics — Use data as your source of truth
As you begin to build relationships with senior business leaders across your organization, it is very important to lead the conversation with metrics.
Prioritize your early wins and match your metrics to business leaders’ goals. For example, is there a leader in the company whose problem you can help solve quickly through organic search?
Showing early wins in this way can create a top-down commitment to organic search initiatives.
- Build multiple case studies and tell cross-functional stories that resonate with multiple business unit leaders. Share and showcase them.
- Share executive ROI dashboards that can easily be viewed across the whole organization.
- Implement the right analytics technology to do the heavy lifting for you, making it easier for you to do what you need to do to elevate performance.
- Know the right metrics to focus on for each department. When you talk to search colleagues, focus on key metrics such as traffic and revenue. When you talk to content marketing counterparts, talk engagement and conversion. With PR, talk reach and engagement. With sales, it’s leads and opportunities. And with CS, it’s upsell, retention and customer value. (Back this up with your case studies.)
Step 4: Talk business — Mapping CMO and CEO mindsets
Executing on steps 1–3 above will put you in a position where you are armed with the right information, skill sets and metrics that senior business leaders care about.
The key to success at this stage is how you frame, pitch and communicate your success. It is vital that you uplevel your language and speak to business outcomes that can be understood in the boardroom.
Focus on five key areas that board members want to know about:
- Channel efficiency.
- The size of the competitive landscape.
- The value of the market.
- Share of Voice in market.
- The maximum possible and actual return on investment.
It is also worth noting that time investments in organic search are the hardest to sell in the boardroom. However, once the light turns green, it is imperative that the board is regularly updated on what organic search is delivering (revenue and business impact) and how it’s driving incremental growth. After all, executive leaders want to know where to place their “finite” investments.
Step 5: Secure executive sponsorship — Integrate across multiple business units
Executive leaders care about mapping strategy to business outcomes because that’s how they win and maintain budget for their initiatives.
Securing executive sponsorship allows you to scale and integrate your organic search efforts across multiple digital disciplines and elevate your position in your organization.
You can learn more — and view case studies from leading brands such as Microsoft, Wiley and Marriott — in my presentation on maturity modeling from SMX West earlier this month.
As an organic search marketer in today’s constantly evolving landscape, you are the chief marketing officer of your projects.
When elevating professional performance to senior decision-makers, be well prepared with data points and projections that speak to the goals that matter to different stakeholders.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.