This is the first in a two-part series on Keys to Success for In-House SEO by Ambar Shrivastava. Read part 2 here.
In-house SEO practitioners face many challenges within their organizations, ranging from limited budgets to lack of buy-in or understanding of how SEO works.
How do you ensure your SEO team succeeds within a corporate environment?
Bake SEO into the Development Process:
SEO is most effective when it’s an early, proactive stage in creating a site. Reactive SEO tacked on after the site is built wastes cycles of design and development fixing SEO shortcomings that could have worked right at launch.
The SEO team should have a seat at the table when Product and User Experience teams are coming up with concepts. This is the optimal time for SEO experts to weigh in on page titles, headlines, copy and URL structure. Based on their research of keywords employed by customers, the SEO team can also provide valuable, unique insight about these users’ pain points.
What if SEO Is Not Included in the Development Process?
Even if SEO isn’t included in construction at the ground floor, the SEO team should at least request that creative teams show them wireframes and mockups before they’re handed off to developers. After new pages are built, make sure the SEO team reviews the code in the QA environment before they go live.
Build a Well-Rounded SEO Team
Field an SEO team that can respond to any type of challenge that comes up. SEO involves a range of disciplines, and they should all be represented. A technical member is important to interface with the technology team on implementing code changes and solving issues with site architecture. A strong analyst is important to manage large data sets, conduct forward-thinking analysis, and help answer questions on performance of past SEO projects. A creative writer who can create interesting, user-friendly yet keyword-rich copy that visitors want to share is a valuable asset who can set your team apart. And, don’t limit your team to members familiar only with old-school link building; as SEO and social merge even more, it helps to have someone who can create meaningful relationships with online influencers via social media in addition to traditional outreach.
Document SEO Best Practices, and Conduct Cross-Department Training
Does your SEO team hold regular SEO training sessions as new designers, developers, and writers join the company? A one-off training session won’t suffice; the SEO team must update their training materials as ranking signals change and new players join the organization.
Document SEO best practices as a reference for designers and developers. If your User Experience team has a style guide, ask if you can incorporate SEO guidelines for internal linking, ALT text, and headlines.
Beyond providing training in its own best practices, the SEO team must also understand the goals of other departments. Don’t simply demand that colleagues meet your SEO goals; instead, find out how they are measured and look for ways SEO can help them meet their goals. For example, if the editorial team is asked to create X number of articles per month, help them fill their editorial calendar with topics generated from keyword research.
Don’t Conduct SEO in a Silo
Help your PPC team by targeting terms that are unprofitable from a paid perspective. Then let PPC return the favor by informing your SEO team about which ad copy drives the highest CTRs and which keywords convert the best.
Other marketing channels besides PPC could use information from the SEO team. If your company runs banner ads, look at the top rankers for your main keywords and filter that list by removing your direct competitors. Identify these cases, and give the list to your marketing team so they can reach out to them for potential advertising opportunities. These are great ways for the SEO team to show value to the company by going beyond traditional SEO tactics and helping other groups improve their performance.
In part 2 of the series we’ll explore how to align projects with business goals, reporting on the right metrics to the right audience, communicating success and staying informed about industry changes.