Pursuing my project to build a new search engine maturity model, I queried Jason Healey, SEO consultant at J2H Marketing, about his thoughts on the existing model, and what advice he’d give for building a better model.
John: Do we need a new model for search marketing maturity? If so what elements should go into the maturity model, given all of the changes we've seen in the last few years?
Jason: We need a model in general, there isn’t a real search marketing model that’s relevant and that’s out there right now. We need a new model especially with some of the changes that we’ve seen since 2008, with the algorithm changes, the tools that are available today. The days of building a website simply, is just one aspect, you look at Google Armageddon on April 21st, if you aren’t mobile optimized, your search engine rankings will disappear. Now we have Apple watch, voice based search, apps, social media. And look at the continuous algorithm updates, Panda, Penguin, hummingbird etc.
Yes, the world has changed a lot, Facebook shares, and likes, things like social signals that are taken into consideration for rankings. And now you have Microsoft heavily involved in the search market with Bing, Yahoo is powered by Bing as the default search engine for Firefox replacing Google after 10 years, over 20% of the market going away from Google, we now have another big player, and those search engines all have different rules.
John: What is your organization's current search marketing maturity level?
Jason: Ours is always adapting, my approach is always testing, running on 30 day cycles, always increasing social sharing, quality link building. Determining what is making the needle move, keeping up with the Google dance, as that also is constantly changing. You have to take small steps, if I had to say from a stage level from the SEO Maturity Model, I’d have to say between stage 4 and 5. What are the factors working, we look at the competition, what are they doing, constantly iterating on the original plan so making sure you are constantly progressing.
I record the amount of social shares on content, what groups and networks would appreciate the content, use tools like Ahrefs and Moz, to determine how many shares and how many likes. It’s a good litmus test. Is the content relevant and viable, being able to put the content out into Facebook and google+, able to scrap the content and complete another iteration.
John: Sounds very agile!
Jason: Something I learned at tech startups, change scope, customers always changing their opinions, agile development is always important to every industry.
John: Is there a gap between other organizational silos in companies and SEO's? How can SEO's and the other silos bridge the gaps?
Jason: I think there has to be an education on SEO throughout the company, my days as a VP of sales for a tech start-up in Boston, SEO’s siloed the knowledge, there has to be education, it has to be all about driving relevant customers to the website, get buy-in from other departments. Too many times marketing departments like to keep information behind the curtain, their baby, if more open, there will be more adoption of the knowledge, you’d see more LinkedIn posts, more twitter, all comes down to the bottom line.
John: How would you reorganize the search marketing maturity model for today's world of search marketing?
Jason: Looking at the search engine maturity model that is very basic, could sit with anyone. Manage and measure, what are some of the attributes that you have to test and try, is it social media, on-page, how do you prepare your site for mobile search, your content marketing strategy, what type of activities are involved with each of these stages.
John: a la carte
Jason: Stage one, website on-page optimization, your website is search engine optimization; stage two, link building strategy; around increasing ranking; stage three, adding social components, to your strategy. I see these iterations within small companies, would be a good gauge, to start to know where they are and what they need to do, to build to stage 5.