Global search projects deal with some challenges that are not a concern for single market projects.
This creates unique challenges for managing the projects, as well as how to manage the teams.
There are multiple ways to manage global search projects, but we will review the most common methods.
It does not matter if it’s SEM or SEO, most of the programs are set up in one of two types:
- Centrally Managed System.
- Locally Managed System.
Each of these settings comes with their own pros and cons.
I’d like to offer tips for three big challenges that most companies face with their global search projects.
Whether you have in-house teams, an agency, or a hybrid combination of both, I hope the following helps you run your projects more efficiently and generate improved results.
Challenge 1: Different Team Sizes
Typically, the search team at the global headquarters is much bigger than a team at each local (foreign country) office.
Also, the HQ team usually has closer communication with the other departments such as marketing, products, IT, and the Content team.
It means that they can understand, and better prepare for any upcoming changes to the site early enough to provide the feedback from the search point of view.
Because they have more resources, they can react better to ambitious deployment schedules.
Unfortunately, it’t common to hear that there isn’t really a search team at the local offices. They either have one or two staff or SEM/SEO is a fractional part of someone’s overall responsibilities.
These local teams are struggling to keep up with the HQ’s ambitious schedule.
It’s best if the local offices could have bigger search teams, but that probably won’t change anytime soon.
The next best solution is for the HQ to take on as much search work as possible that impacts the search performance in local markets.
For example, if all local websites use the same templates as the HQ site, let the HQ team manage all web and template related work making changes that enable scale and positively impact all markets.
Many other items, such as Hreflang and Sitemap generations, should be managed centrally by the HQ team.
Selecting and managing the SEO/SEM tools subscriptions is another one.
By centrally managing diagnostics and reporting at the HQ, it helps local teams.
In addition, the company can save the cost as the same work isn’t done multiple times at numerous locations.
Review each step and elements involved in your global and local search projects and identify the action items that must be conducted in each market.
The content edits and optimization and ad-copy writing are some of the examples that should be left to the local teams.
Challenge 2: Different Skill Levels
Managing global search means that you are working with many people who are likely to have different skill and experience levels.
Sometimes, you hire a new team member who came from a company in different industry or size of websites.
While he/she may be experienced, different industry means a different audience, and some adjustments and learning may be required.
When you look at teams in other countries, you may even notice there are different concepts, views, and expectations toward the search.
Centralized and uniform training definitely helps, but it is not possible to bring everyone’s skill to the same level.
However, understanding the skill and the experience levels of each local team helps to manage the expectations and performance of the search projects.
Regardless of the skill level, it is important to provide search training to everyone as it confirms that everyone understands your corporate best practices and the guidelines to follow.
In addition to the skill sets, it’s also good to understand how each team views the SEM/SEO, and what they expect from the projects.
If one team feels SEO isn’t as important or doesn’t expect much from it, they are not likely to participate in the project or follow the guidelines.
If you feel some teams are less interested in search projects, find out why they feel that way, and discuss how important the search performance is to the company with the potential growth in their specific market with the data.
Getting buy-in from them is not always a given, and you need to confirm that they view it as important and are willing to participate in the program.
Challenge 3: Different Business Goals
Each local office may have a different marketing focus or goals. Because of the local interests or competition, supporting these focus areas and the goals is good for the business.
However, it also creates challenges for managing global search projects. It is relatively easier to manage the SEM as a local office could run campaigns in their specific market.
The challenge occurs when they add unique content to the site or different websites for the purpose of SEO.
When the local offices start to create own content or own micro-sites, you may face some issues including:
- Duplicate/similar content
- Competing in SERPs
- Parent/child content generation with CMS
I believe having good communication between the HQ and the local teams is a critical starting point to avoid any possible problems.
Encourage local teams to speak up and inform HQ of unique content or campaigns that support their local initiatives.
Depending on the reasons they have, you may reject, support, or even to expand the target market for it.
When the local needs are understood in advance, those can be adopted into the global search planning with additional support from the HQ team to prevent foreseeable issues.
The learning from other local teams as well as the HQ team could provide some insights to help achieve the goals.
What you want to do is to support the local businesses by being flexible, but not by losing sight and complete control of the macro goals.
Having a set of best practice and guidelines for SEM and SEO helps to remove any confusion on the best practice methodology, especially at the local levels.
Create a company’s official best practice and guidelines for below topics:
- Content creation and localization process.
- URL structure and file names.
- Branding in the page title tag, ad copies, etc.
- Optimizing PDFs, videos, images, etc.
- Performance tracking, metrics, KPIs, etc.
- SEM/SEO organization chart with related departments contact info.
Most importantly, once you create them, be sure to provide the training to get the understanding and agreement by all concerned parties. Also, check in periodically to enforce them.
Having these best practices and the web guidelines is also helpful when any of the search teams work with agencies.
Go over the documents with the agency so that they understand how the search projects are conducted and managed.
You would want to listen to the agency’s feedback, but it is also important not to let them go against the guidelines without agreeing to it as a company.