Managing natural search in large organizations

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One of the major challenges facing large advertisers when integrating search marketing into the marketing mix is managing natural or "organic" search rankings. Maintaining high natural search rankings on key terms is an important lead-generation mechanism.

According to Marketing Sherpa research, the listings in the top three natural results garner 61 percent of the total clicks on natural listings for most searches. Managing natural rankings involves many points of contact within an organization. The IT department usually owns theWeb site, and the marketing departments own the content and design. The coordination of these efforts is not trivial.

Traditionally, natural search management has been outsourced to search engine optimization consultants. These consultants develop a list of key terms around which the organization's site should be optimized, designate landing pages for searchers using those terms and develop creative text for the site that drives rankings. However, once the SEO project is done, the natural rankings begin to degrade within 45-60 days because of competitive reaction, changes in the emphasis weightings applied by the search engine algorithms or uncontrolled changes to the site by the organization itself. Managing natural rankings at scale can't be done with consultants.

To solve this problem, large advertisers have started using technologies that automate the process around managing natural search rankings. An example of such technologies is SEMDirector: Organic Insight. This system, in use at a large consumer packaged goods organization, is provided to the brand managers responsible for the site by the IT department. The platform provides information for IT and marketing departments to:

  • Pinpoint changes to the site that degrade performance quickly and identify the magnitude of the performance degradation.
  • Monitor changes to the site in pre-production so issues that negatively affect natural rankings are isolated before launch.

Since automating its search marketing data management process in 2006, this CPG organization has driven 4.5 million unique incremental visitors to its site, an increase of 83 percent. The company's SEO consultants now focus on creative development rather than data gathering, auditing and reporting. Automation technology enables it to manage natural rankings efficiently and at scale.

Building an automated process for identifying SEO issues is crucial for large advertisers as it is the most effective way to manage natural search rankings.

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