The evolution of FedEx SEO

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Source: PLOS
Source: PLOS

Not all KPI strategies are created equally. Any marketer can Google or Bing every KPI tactic under the sun, Ned Kumar, FedEx Services' IM strategist, told the audience at the Conductor C3 conference, but determining which KPI metrics will help a business achieve its objectives is an entirely different feat.

“KPIs reflect not just your goals and your progress, but also your intent with various channels,” Kumar said.

To elaborate, Kumar explained the evolution of FedEX's approach to search engine optimization--from having no SEO strategy until 2008 to building an entire SEO army.

Realizing that the organization needed better visibility into organic search, the shipping giant took to measuring the only prominent metric it had at the time: traffic, Kumar said. Once FedEx acquired and analyzed its traffic data, the company attempted to decipher what exactly customers were doing on its website by measuring page views, which pages customers visited, and clicks.

With new information at its fingertips, FedEx started to question how it could improve the performance in those areas. The company implemented Conductor's Searchlight platform and began to scrutinize rankings and keyword categories while keeping in mind that each department would have different needs, Kumar said. Strategies that worked for transportation would not necessarily suit retail's requirements, for example.

After importing its data into Searchlight, FedEx built a team to analyze search as a whole--not just from an SEO perspective--and how it connects with other channels. Kumar said that the group was established earlier this year and began to look at conversions by keywords and keyword categories.

By creating a “blended strategy,” FedEX was able to determine where keywords were thriving in paid versus organic search, and where they weren't.

The company identified social signals as the company's Achilles' heel. “We were horrible in that area,” Kumar said. “You can't improve something you're not measuring.”

Kumar said that FedEx began to analyze attribution not only across channels, but also within search, to determine how non-branded key words influenced branded keywords. By comparing branded versus non-branded in terms of keywords, conversions, and interplay, FedEx resolved that different sets of keywords affected different parts of the puzzle and that, at times, only branded terms were getting credit when non-branded was responsible for driving clicks or visits.

According to Kumar, to pair the right keywords with the right intent, and then analyze effective conversions, companies need a total 360-degree approach. He recommended creating a cohesive strategy that includes a strong team, excellent content, and multiple channels to deliver first-class search outcomes.


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