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5 Stages of the Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model
Friday, October 30, 2009
Over recent weeks we have been discussing the fact that we have been working on a new organic search marketing maturity model. Search marketing has grown up, been transformed and developed over the the past decade.  While it is still in its infancy, search marketing in a relatively short time has become a "real" practice for many organizations.  Yet there are still a number of companies that are just now getting involved with Search and organic search marketing.  Quite often, sponsored or PPC receives all of the attention of marketing budgets, but with increasing advertising costs and tougher competition in the online real estate that is the search engine results pages, organic search is gaining more attention and more of the focus with organizations looking to build their brands and attempt to intercept their target demographic.  The question becomes where does your organization fit into the Search Marketing Maturity Model?

Enter the need for an organic search marketing maturity model.  As a subset to the Search Marketing Maturity Model, we felt that there was a need to create an Organic search maturity model to help organizations map out where they are in the grand scheme of their search marketing efforts.  One thing that we wanted to be clear on is:
“With the organic search marketing maturity model that we have developed, we wanted it to be more than just an SEO maturity model.  It consists of more than just optimization in an attempt to gain rankings in the search engines.  Our organic search marketing maturity model encompasses strategy, tactics, performance and measurement.”

With inspiration from Scott Brinker at ion Interactive, who created one of the earliest Search Marketing Maturity Models, we have established our own Search Marketing Maturity Model specific to Organic Search.  Before proceeding, we wanted to share our definition of a maturity model.

Definition of a Maturity Model: a series of steps or an accumulation of elements that help define growth patterns or maturity in an organization measured from beginning to full maturity.

Prior to releasing our Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model, we wanted to review the five stages of the maturity model.

Five Stages of the Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model

1.    Intermittent

Organizations have:
  • Limited knowledge of SEO and organic search marketing
  • No strategies as SEO is not a priority with little or no direction 
  • No processes in place for organic search marketing practices and keyword research
  • Random, reactive “optimizing” of online resources
  • No attention paid to management, budget or regular optimization efforts.
2.    Engaged

Organizations are:
  • Aware of the value of organic search marketing but don’t have complete buy-in from management and other departments 
  • Using basic tactics (some fundamental on-page optimization, titles, meta data etc.)
  • Switching from a reactive manner to a more proactive state in optimization efforts
  • Educating management (usually a single champion – IT manager or online marketing manager with limited resources) and has limited resources to do so. 
  • Engaging with a third party SEO to help establish a strategy and address SEO needs 
  • Allocating a small undefined budget
3.    Structured

Organizations have:
  • A dedicated team involved in organic search and SEO efforts with weekly input from management 
  • Creation and implementation of best practices beginning
  • Buy in from management to grow an online presence
  • Budget allocated for  Organic Search Marketing/SEO
4.    Managed

Organizations have:
  • Organic Search and SEO as the nucleus of online marketing efforts  
  • Focused on SEO for years
  • Metrics to prove success of using SEO 
  • Substantial and dedicated budgets set aside for SEO/Organic Search 
  • A dedicated Organic Search Team and/or Search Agency with clear defined goals and objectives 
  • Understanding throughout the organization of the fundamentals of SEO and how it impacts their team directly
  • Regular content development and linking strategies leveraged for targeted markets
  • Organic Search practices are set and are regularly enforced
5.    Optimized

Organizations have:
  • Complete company buy-in of organic search
  • Full integration of organic search into marketing strategies with online and offline efforts working together 
  • Significant budget with dedicated teams working together internally and externally
  • Full digital asset management as blended search strategies are enhanced and fully leveraged 
  • Effective utilization of social media channels
  • Proactivity, flexiblity and quick implementation to maintain their competitive advantage
In addition, common practices at each of the five stages can be seen in the following table.

In our next post we will be unveiling version 1 of the Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model.

Special Thanks:

Thanks to Scott Brinker for sharing his version of the Search Marketing Maturity Model.
Thanks to Laura Hanon from Enquiro for her assistance with this post .

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posted by Jody @ Friday, October 30, 2009  
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About Me
Name: Jody
Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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