In Chapter 10, you can learn about managing your global search program. Over the past 20 years Bill has helped implement over 100 major Search Centers of Excellence. Some have died a fast death when the search program was taken over by a incompetent manger or outsourced to an agency, while others have thrived. The most common attribute that highly successful global search programs share is an active Search Council, or Search Center of Excellence (COE). These programs benefit from the uniformity and collaboration of a larger team.

The central search team drives your success in search marketing and minimizes the number of search crises you encounter each day. By collaborating with the extended search team, the COE maintains proper page tagging while avoiding technology “downgrades,” ill-fated navigational designs, and dozens of design and infrastructure problems debilitating to your inclusion and rankings in search engines around the world.

The COE should focus on improving the content creation workflow practices, compliance levels, policies, support and awareness, and measurement across the program. It is also highly focused on building a culture of search marketing excellence that will have a measurable impact on the bottom line.

Essentially, a COE brings together varied people and skills that promote collaboration and best practice usage around a specific focus area to drive incremental business results.

Search Center of Excellence Role and Function

The COE, to be effective, needs to be an aggregation of multiple disciplines and levels of the organization to provide insight into the various stakeholders roles and how they should collaborate with each other to become more effective.

In addition to role representation, the COE needs to provide a broad base of information and guidance, and should provide the following:

Shared Learning
A proper COE provides training in basic processes and techniques so that your organization does not constantly reinvent the wheel. These formalized and uniform roles and processes enable shared learning:

  • Aggregation and evangelizing of best practices
  • Training and certifications
  • Skill assessments and team building

Measurements and Metrics
COEs must employ metrics to demonstrate that they deliver the business results that justified their creation:

  • Uniform metrics
  • Uniform tools and collection methods
  • Aggregation and evangelization of the results

Mentoring and Support

For the specific area of focus, COEs should offer support and mentoring to the business lines. The level of support will vary based on ability and resources and organization, but often includes:

  • Sourcing and procurement of shared tools and resources
  • Sharing subject matter experts
  • Air cover and support with executive management
  • Developing a process to scale the improvement program
  • Financial and resource support for the extended teams


Governance is often misunderstood as dictatorship–or and annoying gatekeeper against progress, but good governance is an enabler, arbitrator, motivator, and, in some cases, the decider of what is the better of two practices. Governance ought to include:

  • Creation and arbitration of common standards, policies, and methodologies
  • Enforcement of a consistent architecture and uniform approach across the organization
  • A common method and set of techniques for managing information
  • Developing and enabling well-defined roles and responsibilities for team members

Search Center of Excellence Benefits

The most effective COEs provide a variety of benefits from centralizing a set of essential functions to support global search and social media marketing programs. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better reuse of capabilities across programs
  • Increased speed of delivery
  • Cost reduction or elimination through shared infrastructure and tools
  • Cost savings through shared skill sets and elimination of redundant or inefficient process or approach
  • Reduction in frustration and disorganization for those just adopting search marketing

While having a Search Center of Excellence doesn’t guarantee success, it brings together varied best practices in program development, deployment, and measurement to achieve better speed to market, consistency, and reduced complexity that results in highly successful outcomes when executed properly. The quicker the organization adopts this centralized process for information sharing, the quicker they will see a more widespread adoption of these practices and less barriers for improving performance in their specific discipline.