Continuing my key takeaways from my day of blogging at last week’s SEMpdx SearchFest, here’s what I got out of Marshall Simmonds & Dustin Woodard’s session on Implementing Your Search Marketing Strategy:
The #1 priority: indexation & sitemaps. Working for the New York Times, Marshall Simmonds has the unenviable challenge of convincing a huge, prestigious team of journalists that they should change how they write in order to please the search engines. So, he knows something about how hard it is to instill an “SEO culture” across a large organization. He suggested a triage process, in which problems are addressed in order of urgency and ease of implementation. What is always #1? Indexation and sitemap submission. XML (and HTML, video, news, etc.) sitemaps are easy to implement, require minimal involvement from other departments, and almost always provide tangible, timely gains which can later be used to get the buy-in your need to tackle more challenging SEO fixes.
Never be afraid to ask for help. Woodward’s presentation focused on the differing tactics, ammunition and roadblocks specific to each size of small business – the one-man show with $100 in the bank obviously needs to focus on different things than the well-established small business well-funded with VC money. It struck me that almost every tier included some kind of outside involvement. Engaging an agency, whether it’s initial help getting AdWords campaigns up & running, a one-time audit of your existing efforts, or fully outsourcing your PPC management, allows you to leverage an entire team of search experts and frees you up to focus on the big picture needs of your business.
Don’t be deceived: search still dwarfs social. During Q&A, someone asked what the ideal percentage breakdown between SEO, SEM, Social & PR would be. We’re all a bit obsessed with Social Media here in 2011, but Marshall was quick to remind us: search still dwarfs social in terms of volume. So no matter how much your CEO wants to start Tweeting, make sure to keep your organization focused on “traditional” search.