Think search-first to improve business outcomes

“Consumers begin their journey with the tool that many of us use tens or hundreds of times a day,” said Craig Dunham, CEO of enterprise SEO platform Deepcrawl, at our recent MarTech conference. “Thus, the connection to revenue becomes really clear.”

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He’s talking about search engines and search engine optimization. Even though search is seen as discovery at the upper part of the funnel, marketers know it’s all connected. Better search can drive sales and loyalty further along the customer journey.

Optimal digital experiences

“The way that consumers are engaging with brands is changing, and it’s doing so rapidly,” said Dunham. “And now it’s been accelerated in such a way that there is a significantly greater focus on the need to drive optimal digital experiences for our customers.”

Search performance is driven more and more by site experience. “We’ve seen Google validate this in recent months with some algorithm changes, which puts more focus on the performance of your website and the experience that it provides the users that will be your eventual customers,” Dunham explained. 

“Core web vitals, as Google has termed them, are a subset of factors that determine a page experience score,” he said. “They determine what your page’s overall user experience is. And despite the fact that Google has highlighted this, there are very few brands that have taken the right steps to address it.”

Paid search can mislead

When looking at the number of visitors that are reaching you through search, results from paid search ads can be misleading, according to Dunham. “Marketers are often questioning the wrong thing,” he said. “They’re obsessed with short term results from paid and don’t question why it’s such a large part of their investment.”

In the long run, there’s a benefit from not having too much of your budget invested in paid advertising that is tied to the number of visitors to your site. “You almost get a multiplying effect from driving better organic traffic,” said Dunham. “Data-savvy CMOs understand that a high quality website is a critical mechanism for sustainable traffic, thus leading to sustainable growth. Investing in SEO delivers more customers at a much lower cost than pay channels provide.”

Shared responsibility for organic growth

“The website is a shared responsibility and it requires proper strategic leadership,” said Dunham. “Take some time and educate yourself, your leadership, your board and your organization more broadly.”

Make SEO-related KPIs business-wide objectives, Dunham suggests. The rest of the org should understand the efficiency of SEO as a low-cost acquisition channel. “Then expand upon that education and allocate the appropriate budget, the appropriate time and resources to support SEO-related projects,” he added.

When multiple departments are involved, this means more people are sharing responsibilities and also valuable data and insights. “Without the data to know where you are currently, you don’t really have a great way to improve and see meaningful website traffic and ultimately revenue results,” Dunham said. 

He added, “We know that businesses that are able to implement these organizational-wide search operations systems and practices that connect a range of perspectives and search activities that are happening within the different teams across departments — they are going to be the ones that will have a powerful competitive advantage.”

This increases the ability to understand data signals and take action to improve experience and search results.

The impact of code

Dunham explains, “Marketing automation is actually really well deployed within web development processes to ensure that code errors are reduced. However, one of the areas that are often overlooked is how code can directly impact those search results.”

He points out that there are additional mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure that the development team doesn’t release bad code that results in big traffic losses, which translates into lost revenue across critical web pages.

“Brands that acknowledge the search-first consumer will set themselves up for long term success,” Dunham said.

Watch the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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