This article is an excerpt from Brian McDowell’s white paper Building a Web Presence Team from the Ground Up. Get the full resource for free on the Conductor learning center.
Is this article TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)? Watch the video.
An SEO team VS a Web Presence Team
“Your digital presence today is probably the most important thing you manage. Having that organic presence managed well is not easy… It gives you real advantage in the marketplace…” –Louis Cohen, Head of Search, Affiliate Marketing & Lead Generation, Citi
Your digital presence is an incredibly significant factor in the future of your company. It’s a pillar of your business, and makes the difference between growth and stagnation.
These days, your web presence is how your customers find you, interact with you, and communicate their desires. It’s the web presence team’s job to be able to pick up on those desires.
These desires are both explicit–someone communicating with your social team, for example–and implicit–your SEO team figuring out how your customers are searching for you. You need to make sure those teams are talking to one another and your earned media strategy is an integrated one.
As Mike Walker, the lead SEO at Brooks Brothers, wrote recently, we’ve evolved beyond only SEO in the industry. We are much more than that. In today’s market, we frankly must be. Now, we’re arbiters of content, community, and user experience as well as search.
So, if you’ve come here to learn about building an SEO team, I would urge you to push your organization to more forward-thinking. The SEO team is critical, and I’ll cover the candidates you’ll need and how to discern who the right man or woman is for the job in this article. But the SEO team is part of a larger whole. The idea of a web presence team captures that shift in our industry.
If you’ve come here to learn about building an SEO team, I would urge you to push your organization to more forward-thinking. The SEO team is critical…but it’s part of a larger whole.
Who do I need on my Web Presence team?
When you’re building a web presence team, start by identifying what your company needs. For example, if you are new to SEO, you will want someone with technical aptitude.
That’s because the very first thing you need to do is establish a good infrastructure and website in order for your marketing tactics, citations and authority building to have a good foundation. In order for them to carry relevance and to really give you the boost, you need a good clean crawl and a good environment for those bots to come through.
The very first thing you need to do is establish a good infrastructure and website in order for your marketing tactics, citations and authority building to have a good foundation.
To have a completely functional team, you’re also going to want people with great marketing proficiencies like writing, salesmanship, communication, and data analysis. Ideally this person will actually understand a little bit about HTML and back end (server headers and micro-data formats for example).
I’ve created the outline for some of the areas of expertise that you need for a web presence team. Each of these should evolve into their own team, with distinct roles within them.
The Web Presence Content Team
You must have people who are responsible for building content. It’s a more complicated job than just producing high quality, relevant content, though. This team must understand your customer personas and the buyer’s journey. Their content must fill in those gaps so that you’re seamlessly and effectively guiding consumers towards a conversion.
They’re also responsible for ensuring that the content they create is effective — measuring their content and finding and fixing pages that are not found organically or creating an impact. They need to be able to do this efficiently, and at scale.
You also need a content team that creates and optimizes content for both types of users that come to your website. What two types of users are those? There’s the human user, who wants to consume high quality and relevant content, yes, but there’s also the autonomous user, which we often ignore.
Autonomous users or bots must be able to view and understand our site. The site should clearly communicate what it means and how to handle duplicate content issues. We need to be focused on providing the autonomous user with as much relevancy as possible with code/body content that is not broken or extraneous. The content team should be skillful at creating and optimizing content for both people and search bots.
The content team should be skillful at creating and optimizing content for both people and search bots.
The Web Presence Community Team
It’s vital to have members on your web presence team focused on disseminating content and building online communities and relationships. Social is often one of the first impressions customers have of your brands, and it’s where they go to praise you and critique you. Someone needs to be there to address problems and create value.
SEO also has close ties to social; natural links and authority are often borne out of relationship building. Social results also rank in the search, and your G+ updates (and follower count) are featured prominently in the brand box on the SERP.
Your community team can also create a lot of value for you by nurturing offline relationships that strengthen your web presence online. People that follow you on social media platforms are already advocates of your brand and should be engaged with at a personal level to help generate natural buzz and positive referrals. These types of interactions harvest natural links: exactly what Google looks for.
Your community team can create a lot of value for you by nurturing offline relationships that strengthen your web presence online.
The Web Presence Technical Team
Ideally, you’ll have people on your team who are building tools internally. I’m not talking about tools for just reporting, I’m talking about tools to allow you to manage your 404 reports with 301 redirects. Building little things internally helps you succeed and gives you better access to your content management system.
What you’re able to do with a developer dedicated to your team is speed up the time to market for your strategies, prove educated hypotheses, and provide access to areas of the CMS that were previously inaccessible. Most importantly, you’ll be able to create standardized custom reporting and forensics views via API integrations from 3rd party applications like your WPM platform. You name it; you can build it. The opportunities are endless.
What you’re able to do with a developer dedicated to your team is speed up the time to market for your strategies, prove educated hypotheses, and provide access to areas of the CMS that were previously inaccessible.
A lot of people overlook the importance of this. They try to get things pushed through the IT team with a higher priority. I have never met a single company or single client of ours who has an overabundance of engineers that would say, “Hey, can you give us something to do?”
Trying to get WPM priorities put into the IT pipeline is very, very difficult. You have to prove ROI; you have put a dollar value behind your request. It’s a marathon. It’s a lot of little tasks that all accumulate together for the big win. So trying to prioritize the small optimization tasks can be a little bit difficult. This is why having some technical knowledge on your team is critical.
The Web Presence Evangelist
You may or may not have an entire team dedicated to this skillset, but it’s really crucial to have someone focused on internal evangelism on your web presence team. This person has some salesmanship abilities or has mastered the “Tony Robbins approach.”
Their job is to get your organization on board with WPM: educating them with the benefits, consistently sharing metrics in a way that matters to them and your business by teaching them best practices and industry standards. Keep in mind that both of these need to be backed up by data when available. This person will significantly impact your digital success. In fact, 63% of best-in-class respondents in a digital marketing survey cited evangelism as critical factor to their search success.
Most people coming straight from college don’t have these skills. Many professionals who have been building websites for the last 15 years don’t have these skills. Make sure you know who your internal champions are, who can train and continually communicate with other departments and roles.
63% of best-in-class respondents in a digital marketing survey cited evangelism as critical factor to their search success.
The Web Presence Data Team
Data entry and analyst positions are often overlooked. But data managers are the gatekeepers of information. They monitor your web presence’s health and performance. They do competitive analysis on back links, and they build back links for you. They manage the bulk of the optimizations and recommendations.
You need people who are not afraid to look at spreadsheets. You will need people who can manage your WPM technology and can extract important information to act on and share internally. Ideally, someone on this team has experience working in a technology platform, like Searchlight.
You need people who are not afraid to look at spreadsheets. You will need people who can manage your WPM technology and can extract important information to act on and share internally.
You’ll also want to look for candidates who are familiar with Excel and SQL (pivot tables, basic script queries, and script kitty queries mainly). The best candidates can learn on the job, as long as they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. People who are learning to build data relationships and find the task exciting will amaze you with some data views that have immense value while ‘educating themselves.’