Enterprise Search: Focus On The Business Goals
Implementing a successful search program at the Enterprise level has some unique challenges. Often, web marketing staff and content creators become very concerned with making everything “SEO Friendly”. There is almost a sense of paranoia when creating web content, that every web page must be found in Google, which tends to be a major concern for large marketing programs.
For example, if you have a new site launch, or are about to start a content refresh on an existing site, think about your business goals first. For example, “ranking #1 in Google for every page on our site” is not a business goal, nor is it necessarily realistic. An example of a more defined search-related business goal would be to “increase traffic to product pages by 25% over the next 6 months”. The reason defining clear business goals is important is because, as is with everything within the Enterprise, the goal needs to be attainable and measurable.
Another reason this is important- when you think about it, not every page of your web site contains content that (A) people search on, and (B) will drive traffic and revenue to your site. A lot of your web content is for brand communication purposes or other communication goals. So, instead of focusing your search efforts on all of your web site content, focus on the revenue-driving content as being the pages that you want to rank. At the end of the day, this is what is going to contribute to the revenue goals of your organization.
As I mentioned, this scenario comes up a lot. Let’s say your site has over 1 million pages, and your new site launch will be to update 50 of those pages. Keyword research should tell you where the best opportunities are and where you can focus your content “themes”. This may only be 10 of those 25 pages. But, using the example I mentioned above, those 10 pages will help you achieve your business goal of increasing traffic by 25% over the next 6 months. Metrics can then be setup to monitor how you are performing against this goal, and your executive team will appreciate having something they can monitor.
Again, having this business goal drive what strategy and tactics you proceed with will put you in a good starting position.
The other departments and associated programs will also appreciate how these goals and search-related recommendations can help inform content decisions. For example, we know that authoritative links can help your search performance, so it should be a requirement of the Information Architecture and content to include some simple content sharing (such as AddThis) to make it easy for users to share and link to the content your organization is creating. The earlier in the process you can influence these types of decisions, the better off you will be in the long run, and the more likely you are to achieve your business goals.
It’s important to remember that typical marketing goals such as increasing brand awareness can be supported through search. You can increase perception and help drive participation of your web content through pages that are ranked high in Google. You can also influence customer mindset through careful messaging in the snippet and in paid search advertising copy. Again, these types of goals can be driven by using the right search strategy and tactics.
Enterprise programs have many hurdles. Another challenge is that even if you do have very defined business goals that your executive team supports, there can be limited resources (such as content writers, web developers, or members of your marketing team) available to implement your search-related recommendations. Most enterprise search programs are comprised of an internal Search Marketing Manager, and some are lucky enough to have a few additional staff members dedicated to the program. Other times, the Search Marketing Manager is flying solo and relies on an agency for support. Either way, it is extremely rare that an enterprise search program will have dedicated content writers, web developers, or other staff required to push forward search-related recommendations.
Keyword research and content/technical recommendations are only useful if your organization is equipped to implement the work. This is where organic differs so much from paid. Usually, with a paid search program, you select some keywords to spend money on, and then report on the results (a simplified view – there is a lot more work that goes into this, so I am not saying that paid search does not have its own unique challenges).
With organic search, someone needs to actually write the content that is based on the keyword research or content recommendations. Someone then needs to then code the pages based on the technical recommendations. These are just a few examples of the resources that are required to make this all happen. And, to make it more challenging, these resources need to implement the search recommendations within the overall production cycle and juggle other responsibilities that come with working in an enterprise organization. More often than not, search is not going to be their #1 priority. So, it is important to make sure that from an organizational standpoint, you are clearly communicating the resource requirements to run a successful search program.
By focusing on your organization’s business goals, you can ensure that your search program:
- Has something measurable and actionable (which your executive team will love)
- Is supported within the organization and has the necessary staff to support the requirements.
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