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Colin Woon - The bigger the business, the bigger the SEO challenge


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Marketing Festival 2016

Published in: Marketing
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Colin Woon - The bigger the business, the bigger the SEO challenge

  1. 1. SEO: In-house challenges at Telefonica Europe – ‘O2’_ Ostrava Telefonica Europe 21.10.2016 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  2. 2. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 2/61 O2 owned by Telefonica is the second largest mobile network in the UK employing over 3000 staff at the head office in Slough_ 2 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  3. 3. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 3/61 Telefonica is a large company, with equally large profit and revenue objectives with O2 entirely responsible for performance in the UK_ 3 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  4. 4. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 4/61 In 2013 O2 expands on their digital marketing expertise by bringing the strategic management of SEO in-house with new a new hire_ 4 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon Building on the existing paid search expertise, the plan was to set in motion the move from an externally run channel to an in house SEO team, not completely moving away from agencies but instead leveraging their skillset as a consultant.
  5. 5. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 5/61 An SEO specialist recently back from a year at Wunderman in Amsterdam was recruited by Telefonica to lead the O2 SEO strategy_ 5 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  6. 6. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 6 Digital strategies in search begin the customers as they define and share their needs through search activity_ Follow me on Twitter @ColinDWoon
  7. 7. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 7/61 The growth in performance at O2 over the past 4 years has proven that value to an in-house SEO function_ 95% 60% 40% 30% 2013 2014 2015 2016 95% 80% 60% 40% 2013 2014 2015 2016 7 Having an in house team gives the specialist instant access to the decision makers and internal stakeholders which can be a major blocker for external agencies. While the man hours from the external agency is reduced when the work is taken in-house, their output can be more valuable as their time is more focused on achievable tasks communicated through the internal team who are closer to the action. ‣ In-house effort and management of the strategy increases ‣ Agency hours reduce while time spend is more effective ‣ Total performance based on generic organic traffic increases Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon 5% 40% 60% 70% 2013 2014 2015 2016
  8. 8. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 8 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER Executing an SEO strategy in a large organisation is more challenging for the in-house team than it is for an external partner or agency. 8 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  9. 9. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 9/61 Making an instant impact in a large business can sometimes take longer than you plan when you move from a smaller business_ 9 Absorb SEO work to date. Meet all the teams. Learn how the business operates. Outline year 1 objectives by month. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  10. 10. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 10/61 Learning and executing needs to happen simultaneous, even 3 years later I’m meeting people for the first time_ 10 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  11. 11. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 11/61 Working at a large brand in the UK like O2 gives you a unique perspective of what is important in SEO execution_ 11 Natural Search & how its is different to other channels at O2 UK. Exploring the difference between SEO and natural search at O2 UK. How Google influences to search results affects O2 UK. How the Telco industry makes SEO extra challenging. The extra processes that are a requirement with a big business? Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  12. 12. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 12 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER Clearly identifying what SEO means to your business at the beginning will define the course your journey of developing an understood SEO function. 12 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  13. 13. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 13/61 At O2, SEO sits within the digital team alongside paid search, affiliates, display, precision with a dotted line to social media_ 13 Paid Media • Paid Search • Precision • Display • Affiliate Marketing • Paid Social Media (Content) Non-Paid Media • Natural Search • SEO • Social Media (Content) The digital team at O2 UK goes by the name of ‘Digital Excellence’ in order to promote that the specialists within that team are the best in their fields. A team split between paid and non paid in a trading focused environment is a challenge in itself when each team is given similar KPIs. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  14. 14. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 14/61 Large ecommerce websites are built on trading and conversion targets which can work better for paid channels_ Paid Channels Organic Search 14 No No No Optimise by Position / Placement Optimise by CPA Optimise by Spend Optimise by Traffic Yes Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  15. 15. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 15/61 Understanding the limitations in setting organic search trading objectives often comes as a revelation to sales teams_ 15 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  16. 16. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 16/61 When we then look at the levers that we can pull in SEO / Organic search we see the same limitations happen, but in reverse_ 16 Optimise by Content Optimise by Backlinks Optimise by Internal Links Optimise by Page Speed Paid Channels Organic Search No No No No Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  17. 17. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 17/61 Some features in digital channel management although possible in SEO, are not without complications. There are common digital media functions that are not possible with the organic search channel Non Organic Search OptionsChallenging Digital Media SEO is direct response, but being less measurable and controllable makes it stand slightly apart other channels_ 17 Retargeting Segmentation Impression Reporting CPA Targets Impression Tracking Activity by Orders Attribution Reporting Econometrics Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  18. 18. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 18 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER The specialism at O2 is identified as SEO, but when the channel is discussed, it changes to natural search. But what does that mean in practice? 18 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  19. 19. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 19/61 The revelation was that SEO should be seen as a creative function, while organic search be seen as a traffic channel_ 19 SEO Organic Search Across the business SEO and Natural Search are used always with the assumption that they are the same thing, almost in the same way that more junior people assuming paid and organic search are the same. Ensuring that individuals understood the difference between both, and when to call on their services improved execution. ‣ Understanding that SEO is the function used to improve website visibility through increased rankings in search. ‣ Understanding that SEO is not a channel and you wouldn’t refer to SEO as a traffic source in your analytics tools. ‣ Knowing that SEO is the tool that you use to drive natural search traffic ‣ Understanding that a large share of organic search traffic numbers will come without any SEO work required and will only be driven from customer loyalty and brand exposure. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  20. 20. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 20/61 Splitting the channel into it separate components worked well at O2 UK by allowing people to focus_ 20 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  21. 21. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 21/61 Recognising the difference between SEO and Organic search helped to educate the business on what is important_ 21 Organic Search Rank ClicksCTR At O2 UK, organic search is well understood by the business. Even those who do know understand the detail of SEO can grasp the simple differences between paid search and organic search with the help of Google sign posts and poor paid search ads that people avoid like the plague. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon ‣ Online Sales & trading teams are the most interested in the organic search channel due to the large traffic figures that it generates. ‣ It’s simple for everyone in the business to monitor rankings in Google search which is a common activity performed by junior and senior colleagues. ‣ Reviewing listings in the SERPs to question CTR performance for organic search as well as paid search is common among legal teams, P&L, and marketing. ‣ The fundamental understanding that organic search is free drives extra interest into individual wanting to drive uplifts through the channel.
  22. 22. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 22/61 In reality the SEO team is a lot more than a DR channel, and it is here that O2 began to understand_ 22 SEO PR ITContent However when it comes to SEO, the understanding and focus starts to trail off among the same individuals who showed the strong interest in organic search. As all SEO’s understand, organic search is the objective of SEO and therefore strong performance cannot come without a strong SEO execution. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon ‣ The User Experience team is one of the few internal teams that actively looks to understand the requirements of an SEO strategy due to the impact is has on their work. ‣ Marketing often without the understanding of optimisation, will show clear interest in the insights from SEO research in order to better create their content ‣ IT will provide the most valuable information but often the most difficult situations as they speak in highly technical language often challenging the SEO specialist to provide answers to un tested ideas.
  23. 23. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 23/61 Organic SearchSEO Understanding the split between SEO and Organic Search us to better divert resources to each of the requirements_ 23 Traffic ‣ Second largest channel after direct results in a large amount of focus on the performance of Organic Search. CTR ‣ Careful creation of page tags ensure that strong rankings drive the clicks that are intended with impelling content. Rank ‣ Visibility in Google is the primary function in SEO as an enabler for traffic. UX ‣ There are clear similarities between the work completed by the UX team and the SEO team in the effort to make a website optimised. Orders ‣ Orders through O2 branded search terms outperforms other DR channels with the exception of Paid Search. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  24. 24. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 24 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER Brand search drives the majority of traffic & sales, but brand search isn’t directly influenced by SEO. Generic traffic drives incremental search growth. 24 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  25. 25. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 25/61 Targeting brand performance as SEO leads to overinflated numbers that are based more on brand loyalty than SEO_ 25 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  26. 26. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 26/61 Our marketing budgets drive large numbers in brand search queries which are then broken down into categories_BenefitExampleSearchTerms Pure O2 Brand O2 & Generic O2 & Non O2 Brand No O2 Brand ’02’ ‘O2’ ‘Telefonica’ ‘’ - Assured Performance - High Google Rank ‘O2 Wifi’ ‘O2 Phones’ ‘O2 Network’ ‘O2 Sim Card’ - Incremental Traffic - Low Conversion Rate ‘O2 Xperia’ ‘O2 iPhone’ ‘O2 Pizza Express’ ‘O2 Samsung Galaxy’ - High Conversion Rate - High Order Volume ‘iPad Pro’ ‘iPhone 7’ ‘Android OS’ ‘Samsung Note7’ - Traffic Opportunity - High Competition Organic Search SEO 26 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  27. 27. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 27/61 Looking the search queries that drive traffic into, we identified that O2 brand terms would drive up to 75%_ O2 Brand O2 & Generic O2 & Non O2 Brand Non O2 Brand All Search Queries Split by Brand / Generic 27 ‣ The lack of keyword level data due to Google secure search adds more difficulty in reporting. ‣ Adwords paid search data and Search Console provide valuable insight to negate that issue. ‣ Strong O2 Marcomms activity drives large search numbers from branded terms ‣ SEO campaigns capitalize on this with optimised ‘Search Call To Action’ prompting customers to search using set terms. 75% 25% Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  28. 28. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 28/61 The challenge has been to reduce leakage to other websites from O2 brand search queries_ 28 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  29. 29. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 29/61 By making use of our partner websites and O2-owned subdomains, we aim to flood and control the search results_ 29 Sub- Domains Micro- Sites We get the opportunity to leverage multiple domains to: ‣Publish more content that can rank simultaneous for the same search query. ‣Utilise multiple websites to drive equity through cross linking to primary content pages. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  30. 30. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 30/61 And to capitalise on the opportunity behind generic queries by focussing on the creative optimisation ‘SEO’ element_ 30 The remaining 25% of SEO search queries represents the incremental opportunity that we can influence more directly if it is true that brand search queries are influenced more by marketing communications activity like TV advertising and out of home marketing. Workable Targets • Not impacted by brand marketing Specific SEO Impact • Effects derived from search engine optimisation Market Penetration • Generating new business from competitor customers and people new in the market Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  31. 31. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 31 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER When you look at your competitors you have to look beyond your traditional competitors and instead focus on who is taking the space you desire. 31 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  32. 32. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 32/61 In such a fiercely competitive environment, the network that gets to page 1 in the fastest time will lead in sales_ 32 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  33. 33. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER When a new product is launched, the primary objective is to get to the first page of Google in the shortest possible time as this is a highly profitable period for trading_ 33 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  34. 34. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 34/61 Research has shown that Google seemingly gives priority ranking to reviews sites during the pre-announcement to early launch stage_ 34 Pre-Order Pre-Announce Announce Launch Phase 1 Phase 2 In-Life Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5 News Websites eg. MacWorld Manufacturer Websites eg. Apple Reviews Websites eg. Tech Radar Networks eg. O2 ‣ Typically its is News & Review publications that get the initial share of organic search. Google caters to customers in the research phase of the buying cycle with the exception of the manufacturer or exclusive retailer. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  35. 35. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 35/61 Google seems to give priority ranking to reviews sites during the pre- announcement to early launch stage. It shows the intellect of the Google search algorithm when it is able to not only distinguish and identify reviews websites, but also to know the periods during new product launches when those sites will be more and then less relevant to customer searches. 33% 67% Customer Reviews Specialist Reviews Type Customer Review Average Rank 5-8 35 Type Customer Review Average Rank 6-9 Type Expert Review Average Rank 3-5 Type Expert Review Average Rank 4-6 Type Expert Review Average Rank 4-6 Type Expert Review Average Rank 2-4 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  36. 36. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER Google likes to be very with the sites it relates to search queries, to the point that being a phone network can work against us when we try to add traditional retail products to our catalogue. 36 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  37. 37. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 37/61 Tablets are an example of a product Google determines to be more of an electrical appliance than a network device_ 37 Google understands that people expect to view network devices with a network provider. However, electrical devices are then expected to be viewed at standard electrical retailer. 20% 80% Google Visibility Share – Networks Vs Retailers: Traffic Share by website type: > Reduced visibility for networks > Less specific customer search terms > High traffic driven to standard retailers Impact on Search Performance: Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  38. 38. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 38/61 Google gives preferential rankings to the known electronic retailers regardless of on page content or other SEO techniques_ 38 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon This makes entry into new markets more challenging even for brand the size of O2. The mission then changes to one of building new connections to different product categories
  39. 39. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 39/61 Being unable to gain visibility on the first page of Google can reduce CTR by over 90% placing search needs in PPC_ 39 Retailer preference in SERPs Customer • Restricted Sites Google • Controlled Results Company • Reduced Visibility Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  40. 40. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 40 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER The telco industry is a large business in the UK with only 4 main networks. Unlike other large businesses smaller product lines lead to stiff competition. 40 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  41. 41. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER The mobile network industry is heavily skewed towards pay monthly handset sales in terms of revenue drivers. In that category, the share heavily weighted between a very small amount of devices_ 41 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  42. 42. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 42/61 There are times when we maximise traffic with exclusive deals that have a lasting effect on our performance for years to come_ 42 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  43. 43. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 43/61 Being an exclusive partner enables O2 to build brand connections within search that defines us as the primary destination_ 43 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  44. 44. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 44/61 Being the official partner for the iPhone launch in 2007 has allowed O2 to compete with the Apple brand for the primary search terms_ 44    ‣ Increased visibility derived from the sole ownership of the content similar to an owned / created product. ‣ Increased visitors to the website in comparison to other products due to being the only retailer and purchase point. ‣ Guaranteed sales without the concern of competition taking a larger share of the sales. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  45. 45. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 45/61 A large share of the mobile industry is owned by Samsung and Apple which limits the profitable keywords to target_ 45 iPhone Samsung Galaxy iPad Sony Xperia ‣ Limited products with limited variations result in a fiercely competitive market where at some times of the year there are less than 10 target keywords between all competitors ‣ Restrictions from manufacturers further complicate this market where each network has to follow guidelines that result in less originality. ‣ Customers then have a harder choice to distinguish between different networks when they each have the same messaging for the same search terms. Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  46. 46. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 46/61 The importance of focussing on your niche instead of a generic objective was made clear for O2 in this example_ 46 User Journey Targeted Queries ‣ Increased focus on the customer user journey by targeting sales specific search terms specifically relevant to contract network devices to reduce irrelevant competitors and increase CTR. ‣ Preventing less relevant websites from taking up competitive ranking positions turning the SERP landscape into a more relevant space leading to improved visibility. ‣ Able to publish product page style pages with less content than other content SEO websites that might typically rank higher in more generic search term results. ‣ SERPs by Google generated without question boxes, news and images to increase CTR for search listings. What this means to O2 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  47. 47. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 47 DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER SEO is best executed when you have flexibility & control over your website management, and when you have a consistency in your processes and systems. 47 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  48. 48. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 48/61 At O2 UK, being a business of large size we get both benefits and issues that smaller companies avoid_ 48 Large Business Issues • Multiple Teams • Stacked Development Streams • Long Lead Times • High Development Costs Large Business Benefits • Fast ranking relevant content • High sharability from • High brand traffic • Large website Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  49. 49. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER When you are working with multiple stakeholders within a company, the approval process for any project can be a long battle. With SEO, due to the guesswork applied to estimations, getting support its challenging. 49 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  50. 50. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 50/61 Once multiple stakeholders across the business have given approval, development work can be moved into delivery leading to results_ 50 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  51. 51. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 51/61 Most key requirement for approvals is the expected uplift on sales volume. Each project needs to drive orders either preferably directly, but due to how organic search and SEO work, often the compromise is to have an indirect impact on sales. For example, how a content marketing initiative may contribute to increased rankings for a key product page. SEO and UX are closely connected which results in a lot of crossover which can be beneficial and challenging. UX teams at O2 sit within the Online creative team who have direct influence over navigation, page template designs and all other aspects of the information architecture. Understanding the objectives of the UX team is one absolute requirement, but it is more key to learn the UX leads style of web design. The O2 website is built from a custom made CMS which means that most of the functionality is also custom built. Custom built websites can complicate tasks elsewhere considered simple due to the capability not native to the original framework requiring additional modification. Having a team prepared for continual developments who are available to find workarounds to existing limitations is key. UX Impact IT CapabilitySales Impact Getting approval for SEO initiatives in a large business is perhaps what the majority of an in house specialists’ work requirement_ 51 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  52. 52. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER Being a large business, it is impossible to attend every meeting which ultimately leads to key information passing by. In regards to IT, this can mean years of optimisation efforts being deleted with a single IT update_ 52 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  53. 53. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 53/61 Multiple times where updates approved in one side of the business have had the opposite effect on SEO_ 53 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  54. 54. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 54/61 Multiple times where updates approved in one side of the business have had the opposite effect on SEO_ 54 SiteAI Code OnPage Removed Links Removed Content Image Text Removed Tags Changed Incorrect URLs Redirects Removed Pages Duplicated Pages Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon Being a small team, the time inevitably comes when one of the meeting you cannot attend leads to key content being removed. Having an IT team managed by an outsourced company in order to better safeguard against technical human errors leads to many precautionary unscheduled roll backs. Having a creative web team involved in multiple A/B tests where short term changes can be made that impact multiple areas.
  55. 55. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 55 55/61 Having a large development function leads to further stakeholders for development decisions. “The basic differentiator in comparison to a basic static website is that web application can provide features/functionalities. Static web page provides content only” An outsourced IT Business Analyst working for O2 gave his view on JavaScript: “If you want to make a content change in a static website you have to change the content of the page manually” “It allows you to automatically generate consistent product pages, tariff pages, etc. By just providing the key content (photos, prices and text), the web application deals with the rest” “We use it to manage functions such as stock management, contract renewal, basket management. etc” Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  56. 56. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER Internal restructures occur often in big businesses, and Telefonica is not stranger to these changes. In 3 years SEO has been involved in 2 large restructures that have has large impacts on how the channel is focused_ 56 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  57. 57. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 57/61 Shakeups can offer new opportunities and you hope that when the music stops, you’re able to sit down and work_ 57 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  58. 58. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 58/61 In 2014 O2 moved the SEO function and other digital channels from online sales in marketing communications_ 58 • Website Influence • Traffic Focus • Technical Knowledge Stay with Online • Campaign Influence • Messaging Influence • Marketing Budgets Move to Marketing Missed Opportunity Simultaneous Learning Action Taken Online Governance Meeting SEO Online Development Team Set-Up Joint Online & Marketing SEO Strategy Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  59. 59. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 59/61 The growth potential for Telefonica & O2 through SEO and Organic search remains substantial_  Speed Optimisation Project – Barry Allen Estimated impact on revenue based on website speed optimisation  > £4.9m Revenue  Content Development Project – Daily Planet Estimated revenue impact based on undisclosed content projects  > £2.7m Revenue  Technical BAU Release Project – Tony Stark Estimated revenue impact based on undisclosed technical updates  > £4.1m Revenue  External SEO & PR Project – Lois Lane Further potential gains from development of the external outreach and content marketing  > £ Revenue  External Partnerships – Flashpoint  > £ Revenue KEY FIGURES 59 Follow me on Twitter - @ColinDWoon
  60. 60. DISCOVER, DISRUPT, DELIVER 60 60/61 Colin Woon Head of SEO O2 UK / Telefonica Europe Twitter. @ColinDWoon Thank you, enjoy the rest of the festival_
  61. 61. Internal Use Only