In House Forum

Mar 1, 2006 • 3:21 pm | comments (0) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2006 New York
 

Session description:

"No PowerPoint presentations here! Instead, we've got a panel of in house search marketers ready to take questions and provide answers about how they do things to get SEM done internally. We'll go to the audience for answers and discussion, as well."

This session provides insights from top in-house search marketers moderated by Michael Sack of Inceptor. Panelists include:

  • Jessica Bowman - Enterprise Rent a Car. Focuses on SEO for 7 different sites.
  • Josh Green - Time Warner Cable and Road Runner. Manages SEO and SEM. 90% of their search marketing is outsourced.
  • Bill Hunt - Global Strategies, helps big companies create search marketing programs.
  • Mike Moran - IBM.com works with technology, user experience and design. Mike and Bill wrote "Search Engine Marketing Inc."
  • Sean Smith - Citigroup and CitiCards.com. Manages organic and PPC.
  • Marshall Simmonds - NY Times, Aboujt.com, Boston Globe, International News Herald

Poll of the audience: How many handle search marketing in house. How many have 3 or less people? Most audience members want to keep search marketing in-house. Most have less than 3 people on-staff.

Audience Question: I am at SES to evaluate search marketing consultant. Looking for advice. Masrshall: First, you should be educated. Every department should have the experience of training on SEO. There should be an audit process for SEO and from a usability standpoint and also tracking. Plan to spend $150k, although that could vary depending on the size and type of site. Mike: A misconception many companies have is that they can outsource search marketing 100%. The most important thing is for the SEO consultant provides training. Jessica: Do everything you can on your own. Then have someone (SEO consultant) do an audit. $6k - $20k.

Moderator: What kind of "sniff" test can you run to see if a consultant is what they say they are. Mike: A faker will promise results. The only way they can do that is by using a trick. Josh: We tried doing everything ourselves and we found a culture fit is very important. A key thing to keep in mind is how a vendor will be able to fit within your company culture.

Audience Question: Uses an outside firm now. What processes should we try to handle inside? Bill: With IBM and others, we made sure to identify core competencies. Have the consultant do an audit. Then from the audit list you can identify each item in the audit that is a core competency. Have the consultant do things that are not part of your core competencies. Also, the company should do the keyword research. You know your business better than the vendor. Sean: The company should set the strategy, you know your product better than anyone.

Audience Question: Publisher looking for tips on workflow management. What are some prioritization tips and how do you manage it? Marshall: If you have a content management systems, get control of your templates. Embed your brand in title tags, make sure the site is crawlable. Mike: Some companies can take a bottoms up approach and optimize templates. Or you go can top down and optimize for content that will pull the best results. Bill: Make sure you consider the inclusion of your site. Next go after templates. Take it one piece at a time. Sean: Think long term. Focus on what's profitable. Doing so will allow greater budgets, support, etc.

Poll of Audience: How many people use templates? About half.

Audience Question: Beyond major search engines, what other vertical and regional engines should you pay attention to. Are there issues with any particular region? Mike: We delegate decisions on the regional level to the people in the region. The same for keywords. For gloabl/regional and industry areas we get everyone to agree on metrics and goals. Josh: We've had good luck with Yellow pages and things that tie us into a physical presence. We've had good luck with contextual options. Bill: IF you have a global website, make their life easy. Have them use a local keyword tool to create the keyword glossary. Take you search campaign and break it into two parts: language specific and language independent. Jessica: If you writing in English and having it translated into a regional language, make sure you sit down with the translator and explain SEO and why you would use phrases redundantly. Otherwise, their translation can lose your keywords.

Audience Poll: How many have an international site or are planning going into an international market? About 45%

Audience Question: How do you get the different departments to do what we want them to do? Mike: You have to communicate to each department in the way that they will respond to. Different departments are motiviated by different things. This concept is discussed in the "Search Marketing Inc" book. Sean: Talk to department heads and find out what their goals are. Then communicate your search marketing work in a way that ties into reaching their goals. Jessica: We created a marketing plan and an internal pr campaign. Josh: Be sure to thank the staff that is helping you and give them thank you tokens of appreciation. Sean: When you thank them, be sure to email them and cc their boss.

Audience Question: We're a global company that does all content generation in-house. Do you find it better to go with a pay per click vendor that does all markets or a different PPC vendor in each market? Bill: It's not a good idea to have one agency do everything, but it's also not managable to have 18 different agencies. If you work most bid management tools don't work with Asian and Russian language, so work with the search engines directly. Make sure if you hire a company that it's not Google writing the creative. It should be someone that knows the market. The fewer agencies involved, the quicker the reporting and more accurate. Sean: There is no one vendor that can take care of everything. However, you will have to accept some risk and make the best decision you can. Mike: If you're going to do it wrong, do it wrong quickly. Then keep refining until it's right. Over time you will see predictable and trustworthy trends.

Audience Question:: We work in a recently merged organization. Do you have any tips about how to deal with creating a common set of processes? Mike: Identify the processes currently in place, then add to that. Make the processes as a standard that must be complied with. Josh: Our marketing organization was tied into some other pieces and we send out overviews about what we're doing in search. Present it as a goal and focus on reaching it. Jessica: Maintain visibility and top of mind with stakeholders so that they want to work with you and help.

Audience Question: Works with economic development and consulting firm that helps manaufacturers do internet marketing. Their own web site is not search engine friendly. The CMS was developed by an outside vendor. The CMS is problematic and the vendor has ties high up in the organization. How to approach the situation. Josh: It's a tricky political; situation. Rather than say the CMS system was poorly developed, focus on the numbers. Here are some statistics on our site, room for improvement and here are some suggestions on how to make it right. If the developer takes credit, it doesn't matter, you just want it to work. Sean: Focus on the positive and give recommendations. Ask for help in taking the CMS to the next level. Jessica: Nobody likes to hear their baby is ugly. Keep that in mind when giving feedback to the developer.

Audience Question: How important is it for a SEO firm to be local? Marshall: A distributed workforce is a reality you have to deal with. For training, it should be in-person. Mike: You need to look at your own company's culture. Do they ever outsource outside the local area? You can compromise on some things, but working with someone remotely is better than not at all. Josh: It depends on the cluture. Our agency is half way accross the country. One thing about being in New York, if you hire a firm outside the area you might find yourself paying less. Jessica: We had training provided virtually and it worked out fine. Could it have been better? Maybe, but it did the job.

Audience Question: What should be the ratio of organic to pay per click? Sean: I'm tempted to say start with organic, but it's going to be easier to sell your business on PPC (convince others in your company). Jessica: If you're doing it all in house, keep in mind that you'll be managing PPC at the same time as organic optimization. PPC can get you initial results fairly quickly. Mike: It may make sense to do both at certain levels. We've found that the clickthrough when you have high rankings on both organic and PPC can be up to three times more.

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