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Operationalizing Global Search: Improve Performance And Reduce Costs

There were many great sessions and speakers at the International Search Summit Seattle earlier this month, but the standout speaker for many of the delegates was Bill Hunt, and he was nominated the Medallion Speaker on the day. And not for the first time, as he also received the accolade at International Search Summit in San Jose earlier in the year.

Throughout his search marketing career Bill has worked with a vast range of leading global brands and understands the challenges and processes involved in achieving streamlined and efficient global campaigns better than most.

In Seattle, Bill’s session “Operationalizing Global Search” looked at how organisations can use their existing content and data more effectively to dramatically improve performance and lower costs.  Following the show, Bill answered a few questions to share some of his key tips.

Bill, What are the most common mistakes you see organisations making when it comes to managing global search activity?

The big mistakes I commonly see are:

1. Thinking that search is the same anywhere in the world.  They will often mandate change globally that won’t work or where there are not resources in the local markets to facilitate it.  This leads to a lack of communication and collaboration allowing countries to work on different paths but with the same content, which can lead to problems.
2.  Not integrating SEO best practices at the infrastructure level. They use Content Management System (CMS) templates but don’t look at the global implications.   Andy always reminds people about word length and direction and people are aware of it but they don’t apply that to search.  They don’t apply the same business rules to ensure key places are populated with the most popular, linguistically correct term.
3.  Not sharing their PPC keywords and performance trends.

How can localization processes be streamlined in order to utilize valuable content effectively?

Companies should map their localization process and find the intersections with search.  In my presentation I gave an example of a company that compared its German speaking markets.  They looked for words that were the same across all of them.  Of their top 20 keywords, 12 were the same.  They were able to share that content, keyword research and prioritized that content and pages to be edited since they would all benefit.  Just sharing the audit reports across markets cut down on costs allowing them to focus on the 8 keywords that were different.  This approach saved them $25k in potentially redundant localization costs alone.

In your session at ISS, you talked about the importance of centralized keyword management in global search campaigns. How can search teams use keyword data to maximize performance?

This is growing as an approach.  First it gives corporate a lens into the performance of the country and business unit level where they have not typically had it before.  We are not necessarily talking budget control or some power shift but the organization of data.   While all the words should be localized and not translated or used only in English, these can be used to inspire words not considered in the local language.  Also, trending words in one market might be a insight for another.   For example, in Japan we saw searches related to a new application of a product.  We started adding wider set of words to the campaign in Japan.  We then added them to other markets and this resulted in significant sales in multiple other markets.  We may not have seen this trend had we not shared data.

In addition, the global manager can see opportunities and budget needs by understanding local share of voice and opportunity, that may lead to additional budget and better alignment with global and regional activities.

When operating in multiple markets using local teams/agencies, what steps can organizations take to ensure consistency across all markets? And how can they benchmark performance?

Great question and it follows your first question.  I recommend a center of excellence.  This is where you standardize many of these issues and share the knowledge.

Communication and Guidelines – this is critical – the agency needs to follow similar process around the world.   Too many times companies use multiple agencies that don’t share templates or follow guidelines that are in place because either they don’t care or they are unaware of them.
Web and SEO Standards should be uniform and communicated globally.

As far as benchmarking – always start with a current state analysis.   The usual suspects can and should be evaluated:

1. Share of traffic from paid and organic (this is a great global benchmark to average against all countries)
2. Page Inclusion – too many times the problems start with no or few pages indexed
3. Click and Conversion metrics – paid and organic – this is a great diagnostic tool

While I like ranking reports for diagnostics they are a challenge in local markets if not generated there, since they won’t be accurate.  KPI’s and metrics should be the same for every market and use the same template.

Bill will be speaking at the next International Search Summit, at SMX East in New York on September 12th, where he’ll be on course for a hat trick of Medallion Awards.

The agenda for International Search Summit New York has just been released and other speakers include Preston Carey from Yandex, Maura Ginty from Autodesk and WebCertain’s Andy Atkins-Krüger. Check out the full agenda, and register at the Super Early Bird price, available until July 16th.

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Gemma Houghton

Director of Marketing at Webcertain
Gemma has worked in international search marketing for over 15 years and is Director of Marketing at Webcertain, overseeing all marketing activities for the Group. She also organises and programmes Webcertain’s International Search Summit and International Social Summit, Barcelona-based conferences focusing on international and multilingual digital marketing. Gemma holds a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a Diploma in Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute, and a BA joint honours degree in French and German.

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