Episode Overview: Completing a site migration can be a huge milestone, but the hard work never stops there. Site migrations provide a great boost of momentum, but it’s up to the various teams within a company to nurture it and keep it going. Join host Ben as he concludes his Site Migration Week discussion with Searchmetrics’ CMO Doug Bell about how to continue the momentum after you’ve completed a site migration.
- Once the initial website migration is completed and the website infrastructure is solid, it’s best to begin reviewing pages of content and determine which ones need to be updated or taken down.
- Doug’s advice looking back at the site migration: “Be global. Look to agencies outside of maybe your high cost region … compared to some of the agencies we would have used in the U.S., highly effective and certainly much more affordable than a U.S. based agency.”
GUESTS & RESOURCES
- Doug Bell: Website // LinkedIn
- The Voices of Search Podcast: Email // LinkedIn // Twitter
- Benjamin Shapiro: Website // LinkedIn // Twitter
Ben: Welcome back to the last episode of Site Migration Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this week we’ve been publishing episodes every day covering a case study that walks you through the steps of an enterprise grade site migration. Joining us for Site Migration Week is Doug Bell. The chief marketing officer at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions.
Ben: So far this week we’ve talked about Searchmetrics and Doug’s reason for wanting to go through a site migration, how they planned, how they did their development, executing the launch, and even how their site migration has performed. Today, we’re going to wrap up Site Migration Week by talking about how you continue some of the momentum that you’ve built internally and externally when you do a site migration. Okay, here’s the last installment of Site Migration Week with Doug Bell, CMO of Searchmetrics. Doug, welcome to the last episode of Site Migration Week on the Voices of Search podcast.
Doug: Hey there Ben.
Ben: We’re pretty close to the finish line. Have I given you a hard enough time about taking your sweet time, getting the site migration up and running?
Doug: I would not have agreed to the podcast had I known I was going to get abused so much Ben, but yes, you’re fine. You’re good.
Ben: Oh, Doug, you should have seen that one coming, but so far this week we’ve talked about why you did the site migration all the way through how it actually performed. Look, you were working with a sick puppy. You had an old website that looked like it was developed in the 1980s. You had to get your resources lined up, you had to actually do the work, you had to press the ignition button, evaluate your site migration, and in some way it went well, your visibility went up. in some ways it’s gone badly, your conversion rates are down. Part of that, probably from macro factors related to the coronavirus. But now we are having gone through the site migration, are you happy? Are you ready to roll it back? What do you do to keep the ball and the momentum moving forward?
Doug: I’m very happy Ben, actually ecstatic. Things went as smoothly as they could be expected and it’s the beginning of a process. We talked earlier about how to do your very best to think of this as a product and also understand that this is an agile implementation. So, we launched with a test plan for each of our pages. Each of those pages needs to perform against those test plans effectively A/B testing if you will. That’s going to be true for each new section of the website. But ask me that question again Ben, when we relaunched the Knowledge Center, which is the bulk of the site from a content standpoint. We’ll be adding a new solution section as well, which is going to be quite a bit of work. So for the first phase, I’m delighted there’s a lot more work to be done.
Ben: So you’ve got a beautiful new website. You still have searchmetrics.com separated from blog.searchmetrics.com which I’ll never understand, but nevertheless, it’s a beautiful website. You mentioned that you have some other things that you’re still working on. Why did you decide to break up the website and not launch all the content all at once?
Doug: A portion of it is just risks. Again, as much as I felt like the website needed to do a better job representing who we are and our expertise and our ability to help our clients. That was a big enough impetus, honestly for me at the end of the day, the way to get past what really is a fairly big website for a company our size, and manage that risk if you will is to look at the website as a product that has multiple phases to it. So that was a bit of a no brainer, right? It certainly creates a lot more complexity from a migration standpoint, well worth it. You’re not able to get the complete website that you want out there. There are portions of the website that have been updated in terms of the template but still don’t look great then and so you’ve got to live with that. You’ve got to be okay with that portion.
Doug: But what it comes down to at the end of the day also is you’ve got different disciplines that you’re deploying depending on the portion of the website you’re launching. So think about the user experience and content and necessary for a homepage versus a product page. Let’s take that even further out to how a blog is developed, or in our case to our ten-year-old Knowledge Center content. This content goes back to 2013. Can you say evergreen everybody? Content that’s there, those are very different disciplines. So as we approach the Knowledge Center portion of what we’re doing that’s more of a context, the design piece is super important. We talked about user experience and how good we were at integrating our digital strategies group on our SEO experts within that team, to make sure that the user experience and the SEO balance each other well while high performing page.
Doug: It’s going to be a much bigger challenge for the knowledge center. Not only that, but this is where we’re talking about, in our case, we have hundreds of PDF studies and tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of content that has to be reevaluated. So it’s not just a design exercise, it’s a content migration exercise. A pretty profound one. To go all the way back to the original question, why would we break it up? Well because each section of a website typically requires different skillsets and disciplines. So that’s why we’re tackling it this way. Also because I want you to be annoyed with me that there’s a separate domain for the blog.
Ben: So you basically … Of course always Doug. So you went through this process basically to build the underlying infrastructure that allowed you to evaluate your content. As you think about going through this sort of foundational piece and changing your website, being ready to move on to content, what do you think the future looks like? Are you just reformatting the existing content, making sure everything looks right on the page? Do you go through an SEO exercise and call content, and reformat, and edit content and update it all at the same time? Do you move into different mediums of content? Podcasts? Videos? What’s the next step for Searchmetrics in terms of iterating on this website?
Doug: Doing everything that we did poorly better, and I’m not trying to be glib Ben, but we could have done a much better job on the content creation editing piece. I think that we could be crisper in terms of that. So that’s going to be a big lesson going forward. We’re going to do a much better job when it comes to our ability to make sure that our forms are working in the ways that they should be. We shed a lot of things. We shed using chatbots on the site and some performance marketing capabilities. So we will do better Ben, simply because we’ve learned from what we’ve done before. But yes, we’re going to be looking primarily at this as a content optimization exercise.
Doug: We have an amazing person named Marlon Glover. I think Marlon has been on this show multiple times, right? We go get to tap Marlon’s expertise from a content migration standpoint. We also … Sorry this is a bit of a commercial for Searchmetrics, but we had this incredible thing called Content Experience Ben, which we use again and again and again to really … By the way, that was the thing that kept us from having this sick puppy kill us, if you will. Was that we were fairly constantly able to optimize page level content on the site using Content Experience to really get that through. So we’re going to deploy our own dog food yet again. We’re going to be shifting from our team full of XDL experts, they’re certainly important. We’ve got to a room full of context experts at Searchmetrics that are going to play a big part, and we’re going to get the content editing part better. So we had a competing push pull between SEO and user experience. I’m going to be adding in our content team as that third leg to that stool.
Ben: Doug as you think about how the website now that it’s in migration, you’ve done the foundation, you’re going to work on the content affects the overall business performance, visibility of the company, what do you think you stand today? How much work do you have to go? Is the work that you’ve put in valuable to this point?
Doug: I think we’re batting 220 Ben, right now. I think we got a man on base-
Ben: So for those of you who are not baseball fans, that’s 20 percent below, minimally viable.
Doug: Yeah. Which sounds really critical. I know that sounds really critical, but the first two batters are up. We’ve got a guy on base. Overall we’re batting 220. I think most people would look at it and be like, “Oh, you’re hitting 400.” I think we can do better. The reason I think we can do better is because we still don’t have a site that fully represents content efficiency or optimization in the ways that it needs to do. So we have to show the brand Ben. We have to show the brand, and our capabilities and power through this next iteration of content. So this is the scary piece for me honestly. This is the big climb. Because so much of our SEO visibility is driven by our Knowledge Center, and our blog, and our glossary.
Doug: So it was a little easy for me to be like, “Well, SEO visibility and stuff.” Ben we really didn’t touch the jewel. Right? So that’s the piece coming up. So I talked about the STOs working really well with the UX people bringing in that third leg of this tool is going to be hyper critical when it comes to the content team. So each will have an equal voice here, and that may extend the process a bit. We may well find ourselves chunking off this next release into the smaller, more discreet sections. But overall I think we’re batting 220 with a guy on base.
Ben: As you look back and give advice to the people who are considering going through a site migration, what would you have done differently and how would you advise people who are going through this process themselves?
Doug: Don’t assume you have the internal resources to do this. Again, we were able to lean on a lot of our own internal resources from an expertise standpoint, but you don’t just have great product and project managers laying around the office. We kind of presupposed that we could do that easily. That’s the first thing. Don’t find your design on your own. Don’t try to do brand iteration on your own. Go find experts guys. If you’re in a high cost city and you don’t want to spend those dollars, there are low costs there … Be global if you will. Sorry, Ben. I’ll be more concise. Be global, look to agencies outside of maybe your high cost region. Couldn’t recommend New Now and the team there and Berlin any more or any better. They weren’t low cost by any means, but compared to some of the agencies we would have used in the U.S. highly effective and certainly much more affordable than a U.S. based agency.
Ben: Well, Doug, I have to say the new website is a remarkable improvement. Astronomic improvement, infinity improvement over the sick puppy that you had @searchmetrics.com for the last four years that we’ve worked together. I think the site looks beautiful. I think the conversion rate is going to skyrocket when business goes back to normal. Congratulations on your new Ferrari.
Doug: Well Ben I didn’t build a Ferrari … I hate to say it. I talked about a lot of people who contributed to this. I’m just the snake charmer who gets to get on the Voices of Search podcast with you. But boy, it takes the team folks and I have an amazing one, I couldn’t be more proud.
Ben: All right. Congratulations to the Searchmetrics team for launching the new searchmetrics.com and Doug, thanks for coming on and giving us the honest and open look behind the curtain to tell us how the site migration went.
Doug: Let’s talk again after the Knowledge Center Ben, you’re going to hear a guy with a lot more anxiety. Maybe you should get me 10 minutes before the site launch just to truly hear somebody that’s stressed out of their mind. But Ben thank you.
Ben: All right. We’ll have to continue Site Migration another time then. So that wraps up Site Migration Week on the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Doug Bell, CMO of Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Doug, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is Market Advocate, M-A-R-K-E-T, A-D-V-O-C-A-T-E. Or you can visit his company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com. Just one more link on our show notes that I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com. We have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests, you can send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.
Ben: Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is Voices of Search on Twitter, and my personal handle is Ben J. Shap, B-E-N, J, S-H-A-P. If you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit that subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back into your feed next week. All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.