A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Components of an enterprise SEO & Content platform
In part 2 of a series on discussions about what makes an SEO and content platform an enterprise level solution, Erin discusses combining functions in one platform versus using different tools for different purposes.
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Erin: Welcome to this week’s episode of FOUND Friday, a weekly web series dedicated to search and content marketing. Last time we talked about what makes an enterprise platform truly enterprise. Is it volume of data, availability of integrations, availability of deeper data that’s local and mobile, or is it things like account management and customizations, or is it something else altogether?
We released a survey earlier this week asking you all to weigh in on what comprises an enterprise platform in your mind. We’ll be sharing those results since we’ve compiled them. But for this week’s episode, I wanted to continue the conversation around choice of platforms and how that continues to evolve.
Today’s specific discussion is around whether or not we really need a tool that does everything. And if we do, what does that look like? Who uses it?
This comes from a number of conversations that I’ve had recently that shows a divergence in enterprise platform needs overall, which really seem to breakout into the following. The first is users who want specific search data points but need them for a vast number of keywords, locations or pages, and plan to export into another platform to do analysis separately from the tool that actually gathers the data.
We talked about this a little bit last week, but this is people who just want some nuts-and-bolts information that they can analyze themselves on their own. They don’t really need the platform itself to do a lot of the analysis, they want to add it into other things.
The second is people who need deeper search and SEO data or content data across a variety of areas and want the platform to also conduct analysis, provide insights and recommendations. This would be typical or more traditional really deep SEO enterprise tools, the things that have been available in the market for a little while.
Then there’s this people who are looking for an all-in-one platform that may combine organic, paid, social, content, or some combination of all those things.
An interesting evolution is the first one and the third one. The first one is this idea of, “I need a lot of data, so I’m calling it enterprise. I want access to all of this but I don’t need you to do the analysis. I’m going to house that elsewhere or I’m going combine it with other things, so I don’t need you to do a lot of that work for me.” But the volume of data is really large. Or people who are like, “Hey, I’m going to call it enterprise because I need for it to do a ton of different things, combine data across a lot of different departments, a lot of different channels, and things like that. As well as make recommendations, have workflow options, have team interaction options, all kinds of different stuff.”
Last week we talked about some of the factors that SEOs and marketers might care about when it comes to data volume, things like keywords, sites, users, locations, exports, reports. We also discussed some of the features and integrations that might be important like search engines that are available, daily versus weekly tracking, availability of local, data across local search and things like local pack, map results, mobile data, API connections.
This week I want to address the idea of the all-in-one platform because I hear about it so frequently. I want to talk about what the expectations are around this kind of platform and who would be the target audience. By no means, this is an answer to: “Is there an all-in-one platform or what it should necessarily be?” it’s just more of an open conversation that we’re excited to participate in with our audience.
When it comes to using a single dashboard solution, there are a lot of tricky elements involved here. The first is that everybody seems to have a different idea of what should be included in an all-in-one dashboard.
Here’s an example. This is all over the course of the last two weeks – conversation with one person talking about wanting a single dashboard included organic and paid search data to be both included in the dashboard. That’s what they really cared about: the availability of both traditional organic search stuff as well as paid, and that was it. Another person mentioned wanting to replace their SEO platform, their current smaller SEO platform and social media platform, and have everything available in one place.
A lot of requests involve both search and content marketing elements, so I got that as well. Even those elements diverge a little bit. Some people are requesting search and content elements that are mostly just analytics based, so really just understanding the nuts and bolts about how the content works, how the search is performing, traffic, stats, and things like that. While others want recommendations for improvement, while still others are asking for things like editorial calendar, scheduling and being able to actually update the content from directly within the platform itself. So, some things got like a CMS integration.
In my opinion, to build a platform that does everything sometimes risks that you don’t really continue to serve the needs of your original audience or anyone really well. For example, you add in a bunch of social media engagement, capabilities and content editing options to your traditional SEO platform and the folks that are tasked with SEO may feel like they can’t actually get the things that they need to out of the platform anymore. How does having all of these capabilities at a comprehensive level actually even look inside of a single place is a really good question when you ask somebody to describe this.
Typically, what I think happens when you ask someone to describe what this kind of comprehensive platform would look like, what you’re really doing is you’re asking them what workflows work best for them and what works best for their team. What workflows and what answers are they trying to get to? How would they use the platform to answer those questions and to create those workflows?
For example, maybe what you’re trying to figure out is how your existing content is performing for your audience and what improvements can be made to existing content to boost findability. Maybe a question you’re trying to answer is what content to create next based on what your audience is looking for, currently sharing and talking about? Or maybe what you’re looking at is maybe what content that’s already out there and performing well in market for the features, products, and topics you care about, and you want to know who’s creating it and how you can actually create better content for your next campaign. That would be something like, you’re thinking about doing a new campaign and you’re doing some research beforehand to figure out what content is already out there around this, and what can you do to do it better for your stuff or beat the competition.
These are all potential workflows and things that you might be trying to accomplish. But what you’re really doing with that is, instead of trying to look at the platform, it’s like, “How do I cram all the data in here?” It’s “How do I help you answer these questions?” That’s, to me, how you get to a platform that’s actually going to serve a lot of folks’ needs.
One of the things that’s brought up at times when discussing this all-in-one platform of idea in managing is the idea that it’s managing workflow and you don’t really need all that deep data. It comes up, sometimes you’re like, “I only need to be able to do X, Y, and Z so maybe I don’t need as many data points in there. I don’t want you to clutter up the dashboard. Oh, it’s too much information.”
Here’s why I’m going to say that that’s BS. You don’t want to base important decisions like where to spend your time creating content, paying to promote it, resources to expend dealing with it on just part of the story.
For example, not understanding competitor data the way the content performs differently across locations or devices, how various campaigns and messaging strategies work best for specific types of content or audiences means you’re not making the most strategic choice you could, and I don’t believe that there is any reason to sacrifice smart decision-making for a simper platform. It’s up to us, the platform makers, to figure out a way to make these things possible for you and then to get them to you in a consumable way that actually serves your needs.
That means sometimes when we’re working on things behind the scenes to get stuff developed but with all the constant changes that you see with how content is ranked to rewarded, the evolving influence of social platforms and sharing options, the growing importance of local and mobile, there are a lot of moving parts for us to consider when we’re trying to bring something to you.
I personally believe that hacking together a quick fix that Frankensteins together a bunch of disparate data into a single place and makes assumptions or decisions that you’re going to actually have to implement and then live with without taking care to ensure accuracy and usability is both careless and, honestly, kind of dangerous. Which is why I think the workflow solution is so important.
Obviously, I’m not saying that we’ve created that at GinzaMetrics by any stretch right now. What I will say is I think that the approach to daily data updates and a focus on modular building is really important because what it means is that everything in the platform can be pulled and moved around because we give you the option to create custom dashboards. So you can move different things around and try to tell your own story in your own custom dashboards and wallets. Not an all-in-one solution right now and it’s not a workflow or storytelling solution right now, it gives us a basis to build on that, which we are doing behind the scenes to get some new stuff to you.
What we’re talking about is: how do you know what to buy if this is your goal? One way around purchasing the wrong platform just to get a single solution faster is to talk through your specific use cases internally. Then once you’ve done that, make the platform show you how they can help you get to these use cases and how it’s actually going to work for you.
To ensure you understand what data insights you’re truly using from your current providers, you need to make sure that you understand how all these tools that you want to perform as one and the people who use them can really tell you what insights they are using, what data is available in the platform that they’re not actually using at all. What could go away? Or what might you not miss? Is that critical down the road? Do you just not use it now? Should you be using it?
Create a little checklist. Then what you do once you have this checklist of stuff is you can actually create a feature parody comparison against this tool that you’re talking about combining. Because you need to understand how all of the components that everyone’s using are going to best tell a story or create a workflow that’s going to get you to the strategic decisions that you need to do.
Just saying that, it would be easier if everything was all in one place and that you would be more strategic that way. It may or may not be true, especially if you’re leaving out really important pieces of data because they couldn’t figure out a cute way to put them in your new platform. It’s like saying, “There are only four module spaces on a page. I’m just going to shove the things that I think are most important and forget the rest of the stuff that you need to make a smart decision.” We want to figure out a way to help you make a smart decision and we care about doing that in the long run more than we care about releasing something to you that may be kind of a really quick solve.
Obviously, there’s probably not a way to create a perfect platform for everyone either. But keeping in close contact with the audience and with your platform creator is a start, which is one of the reasons we do this show so we can have a conversation with you weekly about your needs and how we can best serve them.
With that, I’d really like to encourage you to fill up the survey that’s available on our website at GinzaMetrics.com. The blog post is associated with the show, the GinzaMetrics blog. It’s also on our Facebook page and our Twitter stream. It really asks about what the key components are in an enterprise platform to you to have an all-in-one platform. Is that something of interest to you, or would you rather have separate platforms that get you what you need? I’m always interested to know, would you rather have an all-in-one platform that did 70% of the job or a lot of single platforms that did 100% of the job?
Keep in touch. Let us know. Until next week, have a great Labor Day weekend. We’ll see you soon.