Creating a Search Culture in a Large Organization – Executives Share Their Experience at SMX

“Empowering Your Organization with a Search Culture” is a unique SMX East session. Executives from Verizon, Comcast and Pernod-Ricard will share some of their insights, challenges and strategies when it comes to digital marketing for massive brands.

SMX speakers on Search Culture
Courtney Goldstein, Eryck Dzotsi, Wendy Bolivar, Bill Hunt, Cory Haldeman

Absolute SEO for Absolut Vodka

Pernod-Ricard is a global organization with 300 brands in 80 countries with 101 sites. Brands include Absolut and Chivas Regal Whiskey. Two years ago, Bill Hunt (@BillHunt) started doing SEO for the company. Along with Pernod-Ricard’s Engagement Manager Wendy Bolivar (@wendybolivar), Hunt talks about Pernod-Ricard’s goals, as well as his challenges and tasks.

Pernod-Ricard’s Top Three Priorities

  • Consumer Centricity
  • Excellent Execution
  • Speed and Scale

“We wanted to have one-on-one relationships with the consumers, from social media to advertising. We wanted to personalize interactions with consumers. We wanted to make sure that the entire organization is thinking of search,” explains Bolivar.

Bill’s Tasks to Achieve Goals

  • Create a scalable framework for “findability” — not just in search, but in social media, too.
  • Increase adoption by brands and markets.
  • Increase SERP shelf space.
  • Reduce paid media and agency costs.
  • Maximize the “last three feet” by enabling partners through the optimization of product feeds.
  • Develop “Spirit Interest Journeys” by finding how people search for different drinks.

While Wendy Made Sure

  • Search is a key part of a marketing ecosystem and should never be a standalone activity.
  • Search is a portfolio play and requires collaboration with wider teams.
  • Search is about understanding consumer behaviors and interests.
  • Search has to serve one or many specific business objectives to be effective for business.

Bill’s Challenges

  • Markets have limited budgets.
  • Global brand controls websites.
  • Few understand digital and search.
  • There’s a campaign marketing culture.
  • Marketing is about the experience.
  • Decentralized management and resources.

Verizon on Achieving SEO

Head of SEO and content strategy for Verizon Communications, Cory Haldeman (@coryhaldeman), takes the stage.

“At the top level, the C-suite needs to think of SEO as a vehicle. Help them understand how the search engines work at a high level. Explain crawling, indexation, ranking and relevance. It’s not dumbing it down, but streamlining,” he says.

Haldeman recommends explaining the context: everyone uses search, and their competitors are also there. Show them how the competition is beating them, and it will light a fire among executives to fight back.

And remember: share price is the bottom line. Show them how SEO will benefit the bottom line. Use Google Trends to show the C-suite when and how people think.

Achieve IT Buy-In

“Most of the time, IT hates me,” Haldeman admits. “But sometimes they love you.”

What the IT department does is critical to your success. You must form a relationship with them. Be clear. Don’t give fluffy requirements. Be very specific. Haldeman created an SEO bible for Verizon’s IT teams and constantly encourages them to use it. He also makes sure to thank them. He reports back to the IT teams how their work is helping the company achieve success. Give them the credit that they’re due.

Establishing a Digital Center of Excellence at Comcast

Comcast’s VP of digital marketing, Courtney Goldstein, and Eryck Dzotsi (@erycked), director of SEO at Merkle, are next up. They’re going to share the struggles they had bringing Comcast up-to-speed when it comes to SEO and digital marketing.

The old media approach at Comcast was all about television. Goldstein shares a quote from founder Ralph Roberts: “The fundamental fact is that people love television and if you can provide them with more television, they’ll love it even more.”

In today’s world, with 60 percent growth in the number of homes that have absolutely no television in them, the old model of focusing on television doesn’t work anymore.

Comcast used to have disparate teams, but with Dzotsi’s help, the entire organization began to think holistically. For the past year and a half, Comcast’s entire organization has thought in terms of SEO. Even lawyers were educated on title tags.

Business goals became aligned across teams, and that made the search agency’s job a lot easier since everyone was on the same page.

Search Culture Recommendations

  1. Prove value to gain advocates from a brand. Provide data, analytics and metrics. Educate your clients.
  2. Incorporate search in cross functional digital processes.
  3. Be flexible and embrace change.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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