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Select Your Search Marketing Tech For Now and the Future

Editor’s note: Technology is essential to content marketing success. But the complexity around tech selection and use often leaves businesses struggling to keep pace with innovation. To bring clarity and understanding, we’re sharing a series of conversations with thought leaders in this space.

Algorithm shifts leave marketers with a dim view of the search landscape. Audience and business priorities evolve constantly. No wonder B2B businesses are challenged to find tech solutions powerful enough to deliver current performance goals while remaining adaptable enough to accommodate new priorities as they emerge.

Will the content tech partnerships you forge today pay off in long-term value? Recently, I asked a search marketing expert to share his views on what it takes to future-proof both your content’s search performance and the tech solutions you select to support it.

Meet the expert

Stephan Bajaio, a search marketing technology thought leader, chief evangelist and co-founder at SEO and content technology provider Conductor.

Background: Professional services, client relationship management, search engine marketing, SEO, product management, behavioral advertising, and executive-level sales.

Productivity playlists: When he needs to focus, Stephan turns to the ambient, melodic music on Spotify’s Deep Focus playlist to put him into an inspired, productive head space. When the day calls for an adrenaline boost, his personal EDM playlist Driven by the Sound gets him pumped up and ready for action.

On maintaining optimal long-term search results

Algorithms aren’t transparent. But we actually have a lot more transparency into what search engines will be prioritizing than you might think … We have overwhelming evidence that search engines are evolving to create better and better experiences for their customers. That means connecting their customers with better answers to their search queries.

That’s why building valuable long-term content should always be at the center of every marketing strategy.

Building valuable long-term #content should always be at the center of every marketing strategy, says @stephanbajaio. @joderama @cmicontent #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

Search engines want to serve accurate, helpful, readable, fast-rendering, well-structured content to their users that solves their problems and meets their needs. That means marketers need to prioritize a couple of things:

  • Cultivate a customer-first view of content. Become obsessed with understanding the way your audience expresses its intent in search demand and meeting those needs with your content – from the topics you choose to address to the language that you use. 

Look beyond “selling” and towards “solving” by creating content that has value well beyond its rankability and directly addresses the intent behind your customers’ search behaviors. This content will be favored by users and engines alike, because it offers real meaning and value.

  • Don’t ignore your website and on-page technical fundamentals. These considerations are frequently overlooked; yet they are often the basis on which your content will be contextualized by search engines.
Don’t ignore on-page tech fundamentals – often the basis for search engine context, says @stephanbajaio. @joderama @cmicontent #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

Great content that lacks properly curated, defined, and supportive metadata elements on a page leaves too much interpretation to the engines. Those elements are there to guide search engines and contextualize the content they’re crawling. If you don’t at least try to guide them in the ways you can control, you shouldn’t be upset if the outcomes aren’t to your liking.

On future-proofing your search technology partnerships

Marketers need to carefully consider who they choose to partner with for their tech solutions. Too often, we dive into these partnerships on the basis of a headlining feature or to find a short-term solution without considering what the partner will be able to help us accomplish over the long term.

Vendors will sell you short-term solutions. But product features come and go, and your needs as a business will change, too. A true partnership means aligning and contributing to the vision of the product. I suggest asking potential partners to share their vision for the next three to five years, so you can gauge whether it aligns with your own marketing road map.

Ask potential partners to share their vision for the next 3 to 5 years, so you can gauge whether it aligns with your own #marketing road map. @stephanbajaio. @joderama @cmicontent #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

Of course, choosing a search marketing technology partner shouldn’t just involve a one-time flow of information. For example, our in-house team of content marketing technology SEOs are constantly training our customers on and providing key support and expertise for new strategies, analysis, and implementations.

Ultimately, you should invest in a solution because it both enables you to do the things you do today better and sets you up for the things you want to do in the future, allowing you to add meaningful process, measurement, and outcomes to your organization.

Invest in #tech solutions to do things better today and set you up for what you want to do in future, says @stephanbajaio. @joderama @cmicontent #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

On customizing your vendor research

It’s fundamental to define whether you are purchasing technology to enhance your current content process or are looking to build one from scratch. Your KPIs and expectations of outcomes should be vastly different in each case. You will want to ask specific questions of your potential technology partner to ensure that they have ample experience to guide you through the most appropriate process. For example:

  • To augment a current process: Define the KPIs you are looking to affect, taking into account any potential obstacles you foresee. Then, ask for opportunities to use key features so you can see how they will help you accomplish your goals. Test the product for usability and make sure elements of interest are clickable. (This may seem small; but if you multiply those flows for a year or more among multiple users, you’ll likely find you’ve wasted a lot of time.)
  • For a net new program: Develop intended use cases and evaluate the technology based on realistic expectations. Then, ask the provider if you can contact some other clients that have been through this process, so you can ask them about mistakes they have made along the way, and learn from their insights.

Since content marketing and SEO touch, support, and depend on so many parts of an organization, you should also understand how your partner plans to structure, deploy, and build/support adoption throughout your organization to help you make the most of the technology.

Above all, don’t just take the provider’s word for it. Make sure to do your own due diligence – both on and offline:

  • Check reviews on trusted sites like G2Crowd and TrustRadius.
  • Ask for reference calls with other clients.
  • Head over to Glassdoor to get the real story on who you’re thinking of partnering with (after all, nobody knows more about how a company is run and what they’re prioritizing than its employees).

On the need to unlock siloed search insights

Content marketing technology solutions are the keepers of tremendous audience insights and understanding. Unfortunately, that data is almost always siloed in content or SEO teams, when in reality those insights should be shared because they are a direct link to your customers’ needs. They should be part of the common language of all of your marketing functions and beyond, including your product development teams.

Additionally, these growing, often noisy data sets can get diluted or even lost in a disparate set of tools that make combining and correlating data costly and labor intensive. Over the next few years, I expect to see efforts to consolidate these varied technologies and data sets to reduce the noise and make insights more actionable.

To prepare for these changes, marketers need to start sharing data beyond traditional reporting structures and evangelize the customer insights drawn from that data beyond content and SEO teams.

Evangelize your data beyond content and #SEO teams, says @stephanbajaio. @joderama @cmicontent #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

Continue your journey to tech-enhanced content success

Search marketing tech solutions are not meant to replace smart marketers but rather to empower them. When considering new content marketing technology, Stephan recommends looking for a solution that will help you make the best decisions and become more effective and efficient.

Stay tuned for next month’s TechTalk interview, where we’ll explore the tech considerations of working with an accounts-based marketing model.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for guidance on selecting marketing technology, implementing it, or applying it to your specific content marketing challenges, tweet your questions to @cmicontent using #ContentTECH. We might feature your question (and provide some answers) in a future TechTalk post.

And join us for the ContentTECH Summit next April in San Diego. You can save by registering today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute