Shelly Towns is the Senior Manager of e-commerce for Angie’s List, the nation’s premier provider of trusted consumer reviews on contractors and doctors.
I remember the very first meeting I had with our CEO about SEO three years ago. It had become a big priority of the marketing team and everyone was anxious to get started and see results, especially me. I’m one of those people that ascribe to the “ask for forgiveness not permission” mentality and always want to move fast. So the first word out of my mouth surprised even me – “wait.”
Setting appropriate expectations at the top level from day one would prove to be key to our long-term SEO strategy at Angie’s List.
I was pretty new to the whole world of SEO, and one thing I’d heard from some pretty smart people rang loud in my ears as I walked into his office – this is not a game of immediate wins. It takes time. Setting appropriate SEO goals and expectations at the top level from day one would prove to be key to our long-term SEO strategy at Angie’s List.
Listen more, talk less
It’s 2011 and we’ve heard – SEO is important. It’s also important to understand that an effective SEO strategy is not owned by a single group of a few experts, it’s owned by everyone in the organization.
You have colleagues who make your company great by delivering terrific customer service, designing standout web pages or getting your brand out in front of the press. These teams naturally hit the sweet spots of your target keywords.
In fact, they’re producing content every day. And you need content. Regularly listen to what they have to say. Have meetings. Take them to lunch. Outline your ideas and get theirs on how their work can help the organization’s online visibility.
Make a priority list of ongoing and special SEO projects. Give other teams or departments the opportunity to tackle items they’re particularly capable of knocking out. At Angie’s List, we regularly engage and even incentivize our outbound sales teams to encourage service providers to add web badges to their sites. The sales reps love having a reason to call the service providers. The service providers like having a visible way to align themselves with Angie’s List. And my SEO team loves all the back links!
When you do talk, talk like a person
Nothing gets me fired up more than hearing things like, “We set link bait with our new infograph and it moved up our average SERP ranking.” I’m sure you feel the same way. But I’m pretty sure the folks in other departments do not.
There’s still a general feeling among non-SEO practitioners that it’s some sort of black magic that involves binary incantations and Matt Cutts voodoo dolls. A great way to dispel this is by educating others about SEO and online marketing with as little lingo as possible.
Go light on the jargon. There’s still a general feeling among non-SEO practitioners that it’s some sort of black magic that involves binary incantations and Matt Cutts voodoo dolls. A great way to dispel this is by educating others about SEO and online marketing with as little lingo as possible.
Show ‘n’ tell
There’s definite satisfaction in seeing the results of your work. Luckily, in the world of SEO, metrics are the name of the game. In addition to sending reports to the C-suite, take some extra time to track the contributions of other teams. If your PR department submitted a release on the wire that was picked up by 178 sites that added backlinks to your home page, tell them. And tell them about the ripple effects of that.
When you connect the dots, you’ll give the entire organization the satisfaction of knowing their work is making a difference and teach them a little more about SEO – further dispelling the black magic myth.