No matter how much work your central search team does, every search marketing program relies on the extended search team to succeed. The extended team actually manages your Web site. The extended search team writes the page copy, codes the HTML, programs the applications, and chooses the URLs. The central search team knows what to do, but the extended search team must do it.
Who makes up the extended team? Business people (such as sales reps and marketers), writers who develop copy for your Web pages and for your advertisements, technologists (such as Webmasters and Web developers), and operations personnel who keep your Web site humming.
In a small company, the extended team is also small, but in a large company the team can be thousands of people. For medium-to-large Web sites, you will work with a daunting array of specialists. You need some of these specialists for organic search marketing, some for paid, and some for both. Not every organization has each of these specialists, and sometimes the roles go by different names, but every specialty has its own language and its own search marketing blind spots. So read the descriptions as roles rather than jobs. Someone in your organization is doing these tasks, regardless of what you call that person. Your job (er, role) is to find them and get them to do what you need.
Now that you have your proposal in hand, you need to evangelize the extended team to persuade them to approve it. If they don't believe in your proposal, it will not work well, no matter how many executives order them to execute it. Remember that your proposal has several partsbusiness cases for both your strategic search marketing program and your first campaign, plus a plan of the tasks to execute for your first campaign. Each part of your proposal is there for a reason, either to persuade people as to the value of search marketing, or to show that it is possible. Use your proposal to fuel your sales pitch to your extended search team.
Start by explaining your ideas using whatever methods seem to work in your organization. If people need you to show up in person with a PowerPoint pitch in tow, do that. If your company expects regular conference calls to answer questions and check progress to your goals, do that. If you find that you need to create an intranet Web site that lists all of the tips for search improvement, go for it. They might like an e-mail newsletter? Try it. There is nothing different about selling this idea from selling any other new concept in your organization. You work there and you probably know how to do it.
But first, a warning: Do not expect the extended team to listen. That might be the toughest lesson to learn for the central search team. You read this book, you are fired up, and you expect everyone else to be as excited about this as you are. Well, they're not.
Search marketing is your job. It's not theirs. At least they don't think it is. That is what you need to change. You must start by explaining why search engine marketing is important. Show them how your competition is doing this better than you. Explain the technical challenges to the "techies" and the business value to the marketers. Challenge them.
But when you do, remember that someone walks in every day with another new task they should add to their already jam-packed days. They are busy, just as you are. Figure out how to make it fun. Figure out how to make it easy. You can persuade them, but you must understand who they are so that you can speak to them in their language.
We show you how to do that right now. We look at several kinds of specialists on your extended team and help you reach them. Each one has a special perspective on the world, and you can learn what motivates them. After you win them over, and not before, you will be on your way to search marketing success.
Money talks. Use the search marketing opportunity information you put together in Chapter 7 to persuade the business people of the importance of search marketing. Whatever drives sales will drive the investment you need to jump-start search marketing.
Who are the "business people"? Most are sales and marketing personnel, all trying to sell your products to customers. We also discuss how to work with your legal department, whose job is to protect the business from unnecessary risk.
The business people are very important to convince, because they will make your case to the rest of your organization. Remember, marketing and sales people excel at persuading people. Get them to help you persuade your organization.
If you work at a nonprofit organization, the principle is the same, even if the particulars are different. Your "business people" might not be marketers or sales reps, but they are responsible in some way for the growth of your organization. Your Web site has some overarching goal that we identified in Chapter 5, "Identify Your Web Site's Goals," and anything that supports that goal will justify the investment that you seek. For a business, it is usually sales, but those of you working in nonprofits can use organizational goals to convince people in similar ways. We use business-oriented roles here, but you can translate "brand manager" to "campaign manager" if your Web site supports a political campaign.
Now it's time for you to learn how to talk to brand managers, sales people, public relations folks, and lawyers to persuade them to participate on your extended search marketing team.
Brand managers focus on promoting a particular set of products within your company. They have detailed knowledge of their products and are well skilled in marketing techniques, such as market segmentation, advertising, and message management. Brand managers are responsible for targeting the right people to buy your products and then reaching them with the message that causes them to take action.
In a small company, you might have only one brand (often the name of the company), and you might call this role the marketing manager. In a company the size of Honda, for example, you have a brand manager for the Civic and another for the Accord. In fact, Honda might need one brand manager for each model of Civic and Accord.
Brand managers typically review and approve all marketing activities associated with their product set, and are accustomed to dealing with their traditional marketing channels (face-to-face sales, telemarketing, retail, and others, depending on your business). They are not typically well schooled in Web marketing, although that is beginning to change. Even those that do understand Web marketing are unlikely to understand search marketing.
Your first task with a brand manager is usually one of education. You must convincingly show why search marketing is a good way to spend scarce marketing budgets. Because neither paid nor organic search marketing is ever completely free, it is critical that the brand manager be your biggest supporter. In addition, you will need his help whenever one of the other specialists does not fall into line. When the brand manager says that search marketing is a priority, everyone else will listen.
So, how do you get the brand manager behind the search marketing program? If your brand managers are Web savvy, they are already using search personally, and you merely need to show them a few queries for their products so they can see how little traffic they must be getting. If you are dealing with brand managers who do not use the Web, you must show them how many people are using the Web and cite some of the other statistics discussed in Chapter 1, "Why Search Marketing Is Important … and Difficult."
Regardless of how Web savvy they are, show them the missed opportunity reports described in Chapter 7 (Table 7-11). Brand managers tend to be swashbuckling risk takers, always on the lookout for the next opportunity to sell more, so they are usually easy to convince.
Sometimes, brand managers will object to search marketing because they do not have any budget to spend on it. In that case, show them that the cost of searchers converting to customers is lower than for other forms of marketing, such as direct mail. That usually persuades them to shift some of the budget from their other marketing activities to search. If there really is no money to spend, start with free organic search techniques and ask the brand manager to help you spread the word to the other teams that must be convinced to change how they do their jobs. Although brand managers will not get into the technical details, they will apply pressure in the right places if you convince them to.
After you have persuaded a brand manager to give search marketing a try, your first campaign is critical. It must show strong results to lead to a second campaign. Brand managers should be heavily involved in choosing the keywords to target for the campaign, but they might need your help. They often have blind spots when it comes to a customer's perception of your productbrand managers tend to expect that customers will enter only brand names ("honda accord") rather than generic ones ("family sedan"). You need to convince them to work on both kinds of queries.
Brand managers also must review and approve all paid placement advertising. As they do, educate them so they are thinking about qualifying customers as well as selling to them. They typically do not think about the cost per clickthey usually want to get everyone to click because that is their experience from offline and other online media. You need to show them how to optimize the tradeoff between clickthrough rate and sales. Teach them what every good sales rep knowsthat it is just as important to dissuade the wrong searchers from clicking (and draining your budget) as it is to persuade the right ones to click. Top sales reps do not waste their time on prospects who will not buy; you should not waste your search marketing budget on them either.
And keep selling the brand managers on search marketing even after you have campaigns in high gear. Take care to regularly report success to the brand managers as search marketing takes off, so that they are not tempted to move to another new and exciting initiative a few months down the road. If they were easy for you to convince, the next person coming along with a bright idea might persuade them to dump your project in favor of a new high flyer.
In larger companies, there might be specialists who use particular channels to pump up sales directly, or to assist in sales being made by others. Although none of these roles are as critical as the brand manager, there are ways you can get help from them:
No matter what kind of business you have, there are folks who sell things using the Web. Sales people are usually excited about any new idea that can drive sales. Find them and get them to sell search marketing throughout the organization.
Public relations people are also instrumental in obtaining links from other Web sites, which we cover in detail in Chapter 13, "Attract Links to Your Site." But the PR department can help search marketing in several other ways, too.
PR people are responsible for the press releases that are hugely important for organic search marketing. When people get wind of the news, they tend to search for the rest of the story. If your press releases are optimized to be found by search engines, and they contain links to deeper information in your site, you can turn information searchers into conversions. If your press releases are truly newsworthy, your PR folks can directly feed your stories to press release wires or online press release sites, causing search engines to highlight your stories as news. (This works especially well with product launches and other announcements.)
The PR people are also responsible for your organization's image, so Web "negative" or "hate" sites targeted at your organization (www.yourdomainsucks.com) are their problem. You can explain strategies to your PR department that minimize the impact of these hate sites when searchers are looking for your company:
PR teams are typically very open to search marketing opportunities when you explain to them what they need to do. They are just as interested in getting positive publicity as you are, so if you show them how search can provide that, they will be on board.
Lawyers are not marketers, but we talk about them among the business people because they frequently pass judgment on marketing materialthe content on each page so critical for organic search as well as paid placement advertisements. In many corporations, the legal department checks every word before it goes live on the Web site, so that errors are avoided (those "expose us to a lawsuit" kinds of errors).
In some industries, including pharmaceuticals and financial services, protracted legal reviews can significantly affect a search marketing campaign's flexibility. Lawyers are sometimes derisively known as the "business prevention people" for their "go-slow" approach that mitigates all risk, but your organization has made a policy decision about what risks they want to run, and loss of speed is a tradeoff that they are making. Rather than whining about it, it is smarter to factor legal reviews into your time lines under these circumstances. Your competitors might be laboring under similar constraints, anyway.
It is important to educate your legal team on search marketing for several reasons. First, if they understand the importance of quickly changing copy on pages, they might try to accelerate their review cycles. Another reason to train the legal team is to give your paid search program some oversight, particularly as you make decisions about other companies' trademarks. Finally, your legal team is perfectly positioned to negotiate links to your products and services from outside suppliers as part of any deal, improving your search rankings for your site.
When you work with your legal team, you will find them picky about using the best word for search optimization. For example, searchers might be looking for "hair restorer" but your lawyer knows your company cannot legally make that claim about their product. How do you work something out? Sometimes you can try some clever copy, such as in Figure 9-3, which uses your search keywords but does not run afoul of legal restrictions.
Figure 9-3. Evading the law(yer). Not every legal team will go for this, but if your lawyers understand the importance of search marketing, they might.
When your legal team sees the value of search marketing, they might occasionally take a risk to support it, rather then never taking the risk, as they do now.
Search marketing depends on having the right wordsthat is what writers do. We examine three different kinds of writers: copywriters (who develop "sales-y" descriptions of products), content writers (who create objective information about a subject), and translators (who convert content to other languages).
If you do not win over the writers, you will never excel at organic search marketing, because those keywords must be littered across your pages. In addition, you need well-written paid placement ads for maximum clickthrough. No one but the writers can perform these tasks, so pay attention to how to persuade them.
Web copywriters create marketing copy for a company's products and services. As you might expect, they write action-oriented prose that is sometimes more flowery than you would see in an encyclopedia, for example. That is what they have been taught to do, but search marketing usually requires a different style than a sales brochure.
Searchers are looking for both your product's brand name and its generic name ("tivo" and "digital video recorder"), and organic search engines want to see those words prominently and frequently on your page. Copywriters are typically unaware of what search engines need, so your first job is to teach them. Similarly, copywriters sometimes overlook the fact that customers search for generic names, not just brand names, and that they are unfamiliar with acronyms and other insider terms. You need to explain to them what search engines and customers need from their writing so that your business converts searchers to customers.
Sometimes copywriters object to changing their style of writing. They have succeeded in their careers writing as they do, and they might be reluctant to change. Some might complain that sprinkling keyword phrases throughout their copy is repetitive and poor writing, but you need to overcome their objections. Without search-friendly copy, you will be hard-pressed to attain high rankings in organic search.
Copywriters know that their job is to generate sales, so you can usually persuade them to alter their styles when they see that their pages are not found by search enginesespecially if your competitors' pages are. Show them the kinds of queries their customers enter and show them which pages show up. Let them see that their precious words are not being read.
Do not listen to their complaints about the "repetitive" style. Challenge them to integrate search requirements as just one more constraint they deal with. Tell them that you know that they are talented writers and that you are confident they can write search-friendly pages that are well written, too. Show them how they need only make a few tweaks to what they already dothat will be enough.
We distinguish content writers from copywriters, not because they have a different role to play in search marketing, but because they view themselves differently and you need to speak to them differently. Content writers create the prose for Web pages just as copywriters do, but rather than selling products, their pages convey information.
Web sites that present news, health, travel, and other information employ content writers. Content writers often have an academic or news reporting background and are skilled at taking a subject and making it simple and interesting. What they do not have is any understanding of what search engines need. That is where you come in.
Just as with copywriters, it is imperative that content writers produce pages with the keyword prominence and density needed to match the queries required. Like copywriters, they will object to your changing their styleoften decrying censorship or lack of editorial integrity. Unlike copywriters, content writers are not trying to sell anything, so you need to talk to them differently.
Luckily, content writers are just as interested in having their words read as any other writer. When you show them that their prospective readers are not finding their treatise on the best restaurants in Des Moinesthey are reading that information from a competitive sitethat will get their attention. You can appeal to their pride as writers and tell them they can make it interesting while taking search marketing into account, just as you did with copywriters.
But you have one other advantage that makes all the difference in the world. Content writers are relentless researchers, because they must constantly check their facts before they write. That means that they are searchers themselves. If anyone can put themselves in the shoes of searchers, it is content writers. When you show content writers how hard it is for searchers to find their pages, they will usually come around quickly.
You must show the translators how their work is critical to good search rankings. Just like other writers, they will object to you cramping their style; if you demonstrate how their current practices are preventing their readers from finding their pages, however, they will come around.
Technologists might be the most unapproachable specialists, because their knowledge seems so deep in areas other people do not understand. Sometimes technologists are so specialized that they intimidate each other. But that cannot stop you. Unless you train the technologists in search marketing, your organic search efforts will fall short.
It probably sounds by now that no matter what specialist we discuss, we tell you how important it is to get them on your side. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges of search engine marketing is that everything is important. Unless you convince each member of your extended team to do the job right, search marketing will not work. Webmasters, Web developers, information architects, and style guide developers are next up on your dance card.
The most important technology role for organic search marketing belongs to the Webmaster. On small sites, this role might belong to a single person, but it is not unusual to have dozens of Webmasters on large corporate sites. Webmasters make sure your site does not go down and that it responds quickly when visitors arrive, but they do a lot more, too. They set the domain names and URL names. They decide which servers display each Web page. They handle load balancingand a lot more.
Some Webmaster tasks are critical for organic search marketing, so we concentrate on those:
With so many critical search marketing tasks, you can see how important it is for Webmasters to understand the right way to perform each one. But, as you have probably guessed, many Webmasters do not understand even the basics of search marketing. Some Webmasters completely block spiders from their sites, mistakenly believing they are improving site performance by keeping those pesky spiders from wasting the time of our precious Web servers!
Because Webmasters are very technically proficient (and you might not be), it can be very intimidating to approach them, but you must do so. If you pay proper deference to their technical abilities, you will probably find that they truly have the best interests of your site in mind. They really do care that your visitors see your pages load quickly and get what they are looking for. When you explain how important search marketing is for your visitors, they will listen. Webmasters usually use search themselves, so showing them how hard it is to find your site will be convincing.
Occasionally, the Webmaster team is concerned about how many more visitors will show up at the site if your search marketing is successful. You might need to help them justify more servers to handle the additional load that you expect as you succeed.
After you have them on your side, the Webmasters can be your best ally in spreading the word to other technologists. The Webmasters work with many people in the course of their job, and they often enforce standards and evangelize best practices to others.
But don't be too concerned. If you have done your work convincing the brand managers and sales people of how important search marketing is, the Web developers should be easy to persuade. They are very knowledgeable about Web pages and will immediately understand why you need the changes you do. They are usually avid searchers themselves and will probably find your project interesting.
Training and persuading this group will pay off, because if they design pages to be search-friendly from the start, they do not have to correct problems later.
Information architects do not really consider themselves technologists, but the average person does. They decide the navigational structure of the sitehow information is divided into separate pages, which pages link where, what nomenclature is used on a link to ensure people know what it is, and many other tasks. Although not as critical to search marketing as some other technologists, they can help you simplify your site's navigation so that spiders are not blocked.
Information architects also control the primary navigation pages on your site, such as the site map or your "Products AZ" page. Because these pages are so important to getting spiders to crawl more of your site, there are specific techniques we discuss in Chapter 10 that you will want your information architects to know.
Like the other specialists, information architects have their job to do. They see the world a certain way and they do their job within that perspective. When you widen their perspective, most adjust and cooperate with you, because down deep they want the best for their site just like you do.
Style Guide Developers
Style guide developers create and maintain the rules governing the look and feel of the Web site, including page layouts, color schemes, information architecture, and many other areas. All Web sites of any size have a style guide. For small sites, this is a part-time job for one or two people, but larger sites have a full-time person or even a team that maintains the style guide. Each standard in the guide is enforced, often by reviewing projects while they are still under developmentonly after they pass the standards are they launched on your Web site.
Style guide developers require Web site design and information architecture skills, and often know HTML, too. These skills help style developers to understand and suggest changes to the standards, as well as to explain them to the people designing the pages on the site. As you might expect, however, style guide developers usually do not possess search marketing skills. Because the standards in the guide are used throughout the site, rules that inhibit search marketing can have broad implications.
Your job as a search marketer is to make sure the style guide is analyzed with organic search in mind, and to identify the rules that need to be changed. After those changes are made to the style guide, they will be enforced along with the rest of the guide, providing you with an important tool to make your entire site more search-friendly. Don't underestimate the power of the style guide to mold behavior across your organization. Make sure that your style guide motivates the behavior you want.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get developers to make the changes to the style guide that search marketing requires. People attracted to a job based in enforcing stringent rules are not always the most flexible people on Earth. And your story about why the standards should be changed to accommodate search might not sound any different to them than all other changes that have been requested. There are ways to reach theses folks, however.
The most important mission for style guide developers is to maintain the brand image and the overall consistency of the site. So, your challenge is to explain to them how your site's poor search results negatively affect the brand image. Show them how your competitors' brands are being shown in response to important informational queries, whereas your site is notably absent. When explained as a poor branding experience, style guide developers tend to be persuaded. If you cannot persuade them to do anything, enlist the brand managers, Webmasters, and other specialists to lobby for your changes, because the style guide developers are accustomed to listening to them. If you do not convince them to make all of the needed changes, take what you can get and come back for more another time.
If you thought that after you get your search marketing program going that you are home free, think again. Search marketing is not a one-time thing, and you will fail unless you engage the operational management of your site to put ongoing focus on search. (We know that you are getting sick of hearing about how many different groups you need to work with, but rest assured that we will show you how.)
For search marketing, the two most critical groups within site operations are Web metrics and Web site governance. The metrics team helps track and publicize your success, and the governance folks enforce the standards so painstakingly written into your company's style guide.
Metrics specialists are the keepers of the statisticshow many visitors come to the site, customer satisfaction survey results, the number of sales, and many more. You learned in Chapter 7 that we want to track new metrics on the success of search marketingboth organic and paid.
In some Web organizations, there is no central metrics role. The Webmaster might report traffic metrics. The marketing team might report survey results. The finance department might report sales. Regardless, you need to spread the search marketing word to your organization's metrics specialists, because you need them to help you report search marketing metrics.
Metrics specialists are already experts at collecting some of the critical search marketing metrics, but no one might have ever asked before. They know how to tease search referral statistics out of your log files using your company's traffic metrics tool. They know how to correlate sales with those referrals. They have the quantitative analysis skills to track trends and to tell you when changes are statistically significant.
It's a real coup if you can convince metrics specialists to devote some of their time to search metrics, and even better if you can incorporate a few search metrics into their regular reporting. These weekly or monthly reports tend to be reviewed by many different people working in your Web organization, including your executives. That will help you draw attention to the importance of search and to your growing success. Perhaps you could get them to include the compliance reports described in Chapter 15 that show how well each part of your Web site is adhering to best practices in search marketing.
At times, metrics specialists will object to taking on the extra work associated with search metrics, but if you can show them how important search marketing is to your overall site objectives, they will usually come around. Metrics specialists want to demonstrate their value to your organization. Any time they can trot out a new statistic and open some eyes, it makes them look good. If you can show metrics specialists that the brand managers are looking for these numbers, they will quickly figure out how to absorb the extra workload to report search metrics.
Web Site Governance Specialists
A Web site governance specialist is a clunky name for someone who enforces your site's standards. What process on your site puts teeth in your style guide? It is not enough for your style guide to be rewritten with organic search in mindyou need to police everyone to comply with those rules. Perhaps there is a single group devoted to compliance with your standards; regardless of how your site does it, however, you need to get your organization to enforce search standards.
As usual with all of these specialists, it is unlikely that governance specialists have more than a middling familiarity with search. They do not typically have every standard committed to memory, so how do they enforce compliance? Typically, they enforce the standards that they know. So your job is to help them understand why search is important and which specific standards are critical for success. If you get these specialists familiar with search marketing, they can help enforce the standards critical to your success.
Sometimes your discussion will not be welcomed, because governance specialists have too much to do as it is. This position is typically underfunded because it is hard to show the business value of the standards police, so when you come around adding more rules to enforce, it can be hard to hear. Your best approach is to make the compliance work as simple as possibleautomating everything you can. Chapter 15 shows how your checklists can simplify the gover nance specialist's job, even explaining how software tools can automatically check compliance with some standards.
Much like the Webmasters, your governance team is ideally positioned to spread the word across the organization. They work with every group that puts up a Web page, and they typically have the power to order compliance to the rules. The governance team can block a project manager trying to launch a change to the Web sitethat is the ultimate "teachable moment." That project manager will make sure the next project is designed to be search-friendly from the start.
The governance specialists are the people who make the difference between paying lip service to search standards and really "walking the talk." If you persuade the governance folks of search marketing's importance, they will help transform your site one project at a time.