Five Steps to Successful SEO Centers of Excellence
When managed properly, search engine optimization (SEO) can deliver enormous benefits to marketers. According to HubSpot, SEO leads tend to close at 10 times the rate of other channels. In many cases, consumers are collecting information on a company’s website before finalizing their decision and making a transaction. That’s why it’s so important for your company’s website to have good curb appeal.
On average, there are 12 billion web searches per month in the U.S., also according to HubSpot. That’s a huge number. Not only is search big, 51 percent of the tracked traffic comes in through organic search, according to BrightEdge. Generating strong organic traffic requires good content. If content isn’t drawing people to a company’s website, then it isn’t accomplishing its mission.
This is just one reason why companies need SEO Centers of Excellence (COE): to marshal the resources necessary to create content that will attract visitors to the site. Here are five steps to creating an SEO Center of Excellence.
1. Define Roles
SEO centers of excellence are teams that provide leadership, best practices, shared resources, and research that can be applied to distinct areas of SEO, including content, on-page optimization, technical optimization, and authority. The COE should focus on improving the content creation workflow practices, compliance levels, policies, support and awareness, and measurement across the program’s global reach. In response, this team should represent multiple disciplines across the organization.
2. Ask Questions
In order to resource SEO correctly, some of the questions this team must first ask include:
-How many estimated hours will we be dedicating to SEO programs?
-How many hours do we expect to need from our tech team? What is our SEO workflow?
-How much content do we need to produce on a monthly basis and who will create it? What is the cadence around content creation?
-Are there any media or SEO hard costs associated with our program? What kind of infrastructure and vendors are needed?
3. Establish Governance
COE decision-makers also must determine who is responsible for the tactical implementation of SEO. This includes technical implementation, customer engagement (including social media strategies to promote content and drive traffic to the site), and logistics.
4. Adopt Capabilities and Tools
Marketers responsible for SEO also need the ability to forecast. `If we’re going to devote X amount of resources to our SEO efforts, what kind of results can we expect?’ By understanding the resource requirements and potential returns from SEO efforts, resources can be planned accordingly to identify and target keywords with the greatest potential for results against business objectives.
5. Apply Metrics
The SEO team should use metrics to demonstrate how their efforts are adding value. Critical metrics that should be used include keyword rankings (Are you targeting the right keywords? Are keywords improving in rank over time?), backlinks for tracking authority, organic search traffic, average time on page, page load speed, conversion rates, etc. By tracking these metrics, decision-makers can monitor the improvements that are being made and identify any course-corrections that might be required.
For one client, we examined the number of keywords used (97) and the number of impressions the company created (about 4.3 million) to help determine the projected click-through rate (3 percent), the number of visits (129,000+), the conversion rate taken from Google Analytics (about 20 percent, or just under 26,000), and the average order value ($9.20) taken from Google Analytics to calculate the total revenue gained ($238,000+).
For another client, a for-profit college, we used BrightEdge’s DataCube product, a massive content repository, to determine all of the keywords that the college and its competitors rank for. We then filtered DataCube to include keyword, blended rank, search volume, and category. From there, we used formulas and pivot tables to uncover highly relevant and actionable long-tail phrases that provided us with a better understanding of the client’s audience and their probable intent.
We then helped the client develop a content schedule for its website content, press releases, the images to be used, the keywords that should be mapping to each of those pages, etc. We looked for people with high Klout scores or strong followings and the type of content they consume (i.e., infographics). Using these insights, we created content that matched multiple influencers.
For this college, which has 50-plus locations across the U.S., we also had to ensure that content was being developed for each of the regions where they operate. It’s important to know what the consumer in that market is looking at and the content that they’re interested in.
We started to reach out to some influencers for the content we’d created to help amplify the content. The results have been impressive: Universal listings grew 100 percent. Page 1 rankings rose 50 percent while Page 2 rankings have also increased.
The college has increased its page ranking, its CTR and its visibility in the market. Meanwhile, it has also been able to decrease its paid search spend by $46,000 per month while organic leads which have a higher propensity to convert to sale are up 11 percent.
SEO centers of excellence offer multiple benefits. These include cost reductions through shared resources, improved reuse of capabilities across projects, and enhanced speed of delivery through a more organized approach to SEO efforts.
Creating SEO Centers of Excellence enables marketers to consistently bring best practices to content development, on-page optimization, technical optimization, and authority. By taking an orderly approach to SEO, marketers position themselves to generate successful outcomes time after time.