Avid Technologies’ Christina Howe on Implementing SEO Recommendations
Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: 64 percent of companies that outsource search engine optimization (SEO) duties don’t bother to follow up on the recommendations of the SEO experts they contract. This according to a study conducted by Jupiter Research and commissioned by iProspect, a search engine marketing firm based in Watertown, Mass. His team wasn’t surprised at the findings, says iProspect President Robert Murray.
“Sixty-four percent is a very high number,” he says. “But the pressing question is why so many marketers fail to implement the recommendations of their outside SEO firm. There’s a lack of understanding of the costs involved, a lack of commitment by company executives, and a lack of due diligence on the part of the marketers themselves.”
To gain a better perspective as to why so many marketers fail to follow through, Target Marketing spoke with Christina Howe, director of Web strategy and development for Avid Technologies, maker of digital media creation and editing tools. In 2005, Avid hired iProspect to handle its SEO duties, and implemented iProspect’s recommendations.
Target Marketing: Why would a company spend thousands of dollars on SEO services, then fail to follow up?
Christina Howe: I think there are several factors. Marketing managers may fail to educate the executive team, clearly communicate campaign efforts, downplay instant gratification, and emphasize the long view. SEO is a gradual process, and the executive team has to understand both short and long term goals and expenditures.
Also, marketers make a mistake in not ensuring the company’s commitment to SEO success. Often, there’s one SEO advocate, and no matter how enthusiastic, eventually they run out of time and money.
TM: So how do marketing managers avoid those traps?
CH: A lot of evangelizing needs to happen. From the boardroom to the mailroom, and from the creative team to the production team, a strong commitment, or buy-in, is necessary from every aspect of your business. This is in addition to the usual research and due diligence performed before hiring a contractor or consultant. Remember that it’s still a relatively new concept, so marketing managers have to sell the idea of SEO to company executives, and focus on how it will increase the bottom line.
TM: On that subject, what specific planning strategies impact overall SEO success?
CH: From the beginning, an SEO plan must be written from a standpoint of fully understanding your industry, your clients and your company’s goals. Study your own technical advantages, disadvantages and barriers, and make sure your SEO firm understands your company’s vision.
TM: Did Avid implement all the SEO recommendations at once? Is that necessary?
CH: No, not at all. You can work with the SEO firm to establish priorities for the recommendations: which to do first, second and third; and a reasonable timetable depending on your needs and budget. We were pretty quick to put the changes into practice, but since SEO is a gradual process, you can make gradual changes to your Web site.
TM: Are Avid’s SEO efforts paying measurable dividends?
CH: In the year and a half since we’ve started making the changes to our Web presence recommended by the SEO firm, we’ve realized a 600 percent increase in site visibility, and an 89 percent increase in natural search referrals. Those are amazing numbers, and I believe they’ll remain consistently good through the coming year. It’s safe to say that our executive team is quite pleased with the results.