Today’s spotlight is on Bill Macaitis, VP of Online Marketing & SEO/SEM, who works with some of the most interesting sites on the web such as MySpace, FoxSports, AskMen, AmericanIdol, and Ign. Bill has been with Fox Interactive Media (FIM), a division of News Corp, for two years now. Before this he headed up the online marketing and SEO / SEM department at IGN Entertainment. There he helped build IGN into the largest gaming information network in the world primarily through search marketing. IGN Entertainment was acquired by Fox Interactive Media in Aug 20 05 for $650 million.
Not many companies have a search marketing team for 15+ people, yet Bill has managed to successfully demonstrate the ROI of the medium by elevating FIM to the largest network in the US with over 46 billion page views (ComScore – Aug 07). Fox has followed the trend of companies moving SEO / SEM in-house with a centralized department that serves as an in-house agency. This week’s interview will give you insight into building an in-house department to service the different divisions of an extremely large company.
Biggest Take-Away: Getting buy-in can be a challenge, and there isn’t a strategy that works across the board. Bill reiterates this and says that “securing buy-in for SEO & SEM requires numerous strategies based on the individual you are dealing with.” This is definitely what I have seen – and, sometimes you need to change strategies mid-stream.
On to the interview…
Jessica: Where was Fox’s SEO team at when you started, and how have you grown the team?
Bill: When I was with IGN Entertainment, I had built an in-house SEO / SEM department that serviced the ten sites in the IGN Entertainment network. When Fox Interactive Media acquired us in May of 2005, I think they were impressed with the success we had and a decision was made to form a centralized FIM online marketing and SEO / SEM department.
At the time most of the other FIM sites (MySpace, FoxSports, Scout, American Idol, Fox) were either not doing any SEO / SEM or were using and outside agency. We consolidated efforts under one department and quickly began working with each of the individual sites.
The decision to centralize the department was made for several reasons. First, it just didn’t make sense to have each site have their own SEO person and SEM PPC person. This was costly and there was no sharing of knowledge. By centralizing the department we were able to leverage resources, capitalize on economies of scale, share knowledge, consolidate technology and provide endemic knowledge to each of the verticals within our network.
Jessica: You have 16 people on your search marketing team, how have you structured such a team and broken out the plethora of search marketing tasks?
Bill: The search marketing part of my team is split into three main groups: SEO, SEM PPC and Research & Reporting. As we are the online marketing department we also utilize other traffic drivers such as display, e-mail and affiliate but most of our focus has been on the search side because of the incredible ROI.
The SEO & SEM PPC teams are further split up by verticals (gaming, movies, social networking, sports, etc.). We wanted people with a passion for each of the verticals that possessed the endemic knowledge necessary to truly understand each business line. For instance we have a SEO Manager for Gaming and a SEM Manager for Sports.
The research and reporting team is an internal support department that will handle much of the ongoing traffic reporting, keyword research and ongoing ROI tracking. They deal with the web analytics that are utilized across all of the FIM sites (internal, Google Analytics, Visual Science, Omniture) as well as the panel based audience measurement companies (ComScore, Hitwise, Nielsen, Compete).
Finally we assign career levels to each of the positions: Associate, Manager, Sr. Manager, Director, and VP. This allows growth opportunity for individuals and a career path to follow. It also allows us to bring in experienced people (when we can find them) or those that have the right attributes but that we will train.