Throughout the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet really amazing SEOs. One of things I dig about our community is that we SEOs love talking shop. And in talking shop, we often discuss roadblocks we face within our organizations. Two of the most consistent challenges I hear are:
- Difficulty implementing recommendations
- Lack of enterprise support for the SEO program
These two challenges exist both on the agency and corporate side of the business.
On the agency side:
It happens in the larger full-service digital houses where teams work in silos and account leads attempt to be the conduit between the search team and client. And I’ve seen it occur at search agencies where deliverables are thrown over the fence, leaving it incumbent upon the client to socialize and implement.
On the client side:
I’ve seen my SEO friends struggle with gaining stakeholder acceptance. Creative doesn’t like the “SEO” modifications to the content. UX disagrees with taxonomy recommendations. IT doesn’t have the time or resources to make the structural site changes. I’ve even had an in-house SEO friend tell me that a line-of-business chief felt like they were doing fine without any SEO.
Overcoming Communication Challenges for SEO Success
So how do SEOs overcome these types of enterprise challenges? I posed this question to my good friend and colleague, Mike Toner (@MikeToner), CSC’s SEO champion. He shared with me what’s made him successful in his organization:
“Being the internal champion of SEO at a very large enterprise means communicating with everyone, from digital newcomers to seasoned marketing experts.
Having the ability to translate technology for non-technologists is an important part of an in-house SEO’s job. I have to paint the SEO picture at a 50,000 ft. view while not losing the attention of those marketers who want the more granular technical advice.
Being able to move businesses conversations from HTML elements to design and user experience while maintaining focus on keyword data that generates leads and meets the larger SEO goals – in a nutshell – is how in-house SEOs engage the larger enterprise; they talk about the big picture while understanding and navigating the details.
If you only know the technical piece of the puzzle, you are probably losing the attention of the less techy, non-SEOs who need to know the ‘why’ before they’ll even care about the ‘how.’”
“SEO tactics can be easily lost upon our less-search-inclined colleagues and can muddy your requests, which ultimately puts your goals at risk”
Tim Carroll, Vice-President of eCommerce at Deluxe says:
“The best SEOs have the ability to influence and teach the entire organization – from content producers to UX designers to developers. When all of the players understand and appreciate SEO, then we produce the right content, the right way, upfront. This takes a special mix of “collaboration” and “authority”. Collaboration allows the SEO to be welcomed into discussions across a breadth of business lines. Authority allows the SEO to earn the trust and resources they need to execute their vision. It’s a rare gift to find someone who can do both well.”
Don't Just Talk About SEO, Engage With It
Essentially, Michael, Josh and Tim are saying the same thing: It’s vital that your SEOs are able to engage non-SEOs. Not just talk to — but engage.
In an industry that is everchanging, sometimes too fast for its own good, we've got to make an effort to connect with those whose native language is not SEO.
To quote the great Bruce Springsteen, “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time”. In an industry that is ever-changing — sometimes too fast for its own good, we’ve got to make an effort to connect with those whose native language is not SEO. If we can do that, to paraphrase Timbuk 3: the future’s so bright, we’ve gotta wear shades.
Please note: All guest posts are the opinion of the author and may not reflect the views of Conductor.