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Kevin LeeCo-Founder and ChairmanDidit
In June, the EU fined Google $2.7 billion for “unfairly” ranking some of its own services over those of rivals. Though this won’t have an immediate impact on the US, it could eventually reverberate and create new challenges for content management providers and international brands. Kevin Lee, co-founder and chairman of search engine marketing company Didit, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about the potential consequences.
eMarketer: What are some of the biggest technology challenges associated with search engine marketing?
Kevin Lee: The technology that most directly impacts search engine marketing and search engine optimization is the content management system [CMS]. It’s a big factor in page ranking, which is determined by search engines like Google. A CMS that’s not designed with SEO [search engine optimization] in mind—for example, one that doesn’t allow users to create keyword-rich URLs—will hurt performance. A recent change, however, is that user experience now also plays a big role in page ranking as well—it’s not just about keywords anymore.
eMarketer: What effect does this have on marketers and advertisers?
Lee: Some European organizations, including publishers, were getting frustrated and recently complained to the European Union about Google—they felt that there was an uneven playing field and that Google was ranking its own pages above others.
Google uses a variety of factors including load times and ad load to determine if the consumer is having a good experience on a webpage. If the experience is bad, Google doesn’t rank that page favorably. Their algorithmic changes over the years have been consumer-focused, which has hurt sites like TripAdvisor. Because that site displays a lot of ads, it might not deliver what Google has deemed to be a good “user experience.”
eMarketer: With these algorithm changes in mind, what do brands need to be cognizant of when choosing a content management system?
Lee: The challenge here isn’t choosing the right tool, but rather choosing what features to activate within that tool. For example, how many monetization and advertising modules does a brand want to add to its content, given that it might hurt the user experience by Google’s standards? If a brand is being aggressive in monetizing a page, they might need to invest more heavily in off-page ranking factors to counterbalance that. Choosing a content management system that provides flexibility is important.
eMarketer: Do you anticipate Google changing its algorithms further? What might those changes mean for marketers and advertisers?
Lee: The global brands that complained to the EU because they felt like they weren’t getting their fair share of visibility within Google may see some unintended consequences. In the past, Google’s best practices for SEO were fairly consistent across countries, but Google will have to now tweak its algorithm to keep the EU happy, meaning there will be different SEO tactics for different countries that global brands advertise in. That complicates things from a technological standpoint.
eMarketer: How so?
Lee: Content management systems will potentially have to become more dynamic [in order to enable SEO based on different countries’ algorithms.] CMS providers that work with international brands will have to think about how their clients are communicating their data to Google, given the changes that the EU ruling may set in motion. It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens and how content management providers respond.
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