Today’s in-house spotlight is on Marcus Couch, Director of Online Marketing for Entrepreneur Media – overseeing search marketing for Entrepreneur.com and other Entrepreneur properties. Entrepreneur offers what the entrepreneur wants and needs – information, tools and resources to conquer daily challenges in businesses.
Entrepreneur Media publishes a print publication, online publication and hundreds of books. I was very surprised to find that within this massive organization, there is not one person with a full-time search marketing role. Instead, search marketing has been integrated into how they do business. Multiple roles and departments within the company take on various SEO tactics that comprise the entire strategy. This model is hard to attain and wouldn’t work for all companies, but the way SEO is built into business processes sounds like the in-house search marketer’s Utopia.
Marcus’ Advice for Sites with Many Pages: “…make SEO a common component of online workflow.” As an in-houser for five years running, I cannot agree with Marcus more. Even if you can only get the smallest SEO elements into the process, it will make an impact and you will gradually be able to weave more SEO components to make larger impacts to the bottom line.
Biggest Take-Away: Big sites cranking out loads of content struggle to keep up with optimization before the content needs to go live. Marcus’ approach is do regular “Deep Sweep,” a routinely scheduled intense audit that looks at what has gone live and retrofits SEO elements as needed (that is to say, elements outside of the article itself). It’s the best of both worlds – no SEO bottlenecks to impact go live dates and you still have the chance to optimize the page.
On to the Interview…
Jessica: Entrepreneur.com has several people doing SEO, but no one person has SEO as their primary function. How are tasks split up within the organization and how does everyone stay in sync with the direction?
Marcus: Our online and marketing staff is comprised of people with very extensive online backgrounds. A great majority have had experience with SEO in one form or another. This enables our team to oversee SEO tasks as a committee. To stay in sync, we regularly meet and discuss project goals, new SEO advancements, and coordinate timelines and action plans.
Jessica: You have a huge staff of writers that crank out copy at a fast pace, there’s no way to review all articles for optimization. To address it, you’ve integrated a periodic SEO audit; can you tell us what made you go this route and how the audit is done?
Marcus: With deadlines and time-sensitive articles, it is unrealistic to assume that every article posted is highly optimized at the time of publishing. To solve this issue we assembled a “Deep Sweep” SEO team that gathers and performs on a monthly basis. The team has the task of reviewing large quantities of articles, optimizing, and entering data straight into the content management system. We have achieved very measurable results by using this method as a follow-up to initial SEO functions.
Jessica: Entrepreneur.com is starting to embrace social media. Many companies get pushback from management, how did you get support for engaging with social media websites?
Marcus: Entrepreneur is known for having a content audience that is innovative, creative, tech savvy, and always staying on top of the latest social trends. This is the same demographic as your typical social media user. For Entrepreneur it was a natural extension to propagate our content into additional online delivery platforms for our readers and content consumers.
Jessica: What is most interesting to me about your social media involvement is that VP level management gets into Digg and Stumble Upon on behalf of Entrepreneur. How did that happen and how do they justify the time spent Stumbling and Digging?
Marcus: When one of our top bloggers Wendy Piersall made the front page of DIGG, she received over 500K page views in just a few hours. It was an undeniable example of what the social media platform can accomplish. Our entire team from top to bottom is now active in the social media community. This not only keeps us up to date on the latest innovations, but serves as another communication platform in which to engage our audience.
Jessica: Media companies often struggle to get buy-in from writers to think about SEO and begin optimizing their articles. How have you overcome those obstacles and gained SEO buy-in from writers?
Marcus: Nearly all of our online editorial staff members are active participants in social networking, blogging, podcasting, and Wiki. With this skill set already in place it was a virtually seamless transition to self-optimization. Because our editorial staff enters their own content into our CMS, SEO became a natural workflow function of the article loading process.
Jessica: We briefly chatted about keyword research. I find it interesting to understand how media companies handle keyword research for articles, is it centralized or something that authors do as a part of writing? How much training did you give and what advice do you have for a company looking to train their in-house copywriting staff?
Marcus: We are fortunate to have a lot of naturally keyword rich content in the areas that we target. For the instances that require additional training, we conduct regular SEO meetings with our online editorial staff to instruct them on the latest development and methods, best practices, and provide pre-flight lists of SEO functions.
Jessica: Now that you have been doing SEO in-house for a huge media company, what advice do you have for someone starting SEO in-house for a large site with millions of pages of content that grows at a rapid pace?
Marcus: The most important rule is to give your audience the best content possible. Listen to the content consumers of your brand and give them the content they demand. Another priority is to make SEO a common component of online workflow. With more people within the organization involved in the SEO process your online property will become much more efficient, successful, and receive exponentially greater amounts of traffic.