If you run a company that has a web presence, you are going to be thinking about search engine optimisation at some point. Whether you have managed to pull together a search engine optimisation campaign strategy that has brought results or not, some changes in SEO culture are afoot. Any company interested in making progress needs to bear these changes in mind.
Many companies have in-house SEO departments. This is something that is easy to relate to, because every company has at least heard of the benefits of SEO. It can bring in massive results, and if it is handled in-house you can save a lot of money while adding to overall revenue figures.
However, there could be a massive amount of effort expended by a company, all to no avail. This is worrying, because some companies do put a lot into their SEO, only to find that they don’t get the results they want. A common response to this means essentially giving up, and convincing yourself that SEO ‘doesn’t work’. But it does.
Evolving is key if you are going to make a success out of your SEO efforts in-house. If the in-house team does the same thing year in year out, or even month in, month out, you are not going to get the results that you need. And as time goes on, and search engine optimisation becomes even more sophisticated, you’ll find that your team is responsible for holding you back. Failing at SEO is no joke, as you’ll find out when it comes to looking at revenue.
The dilemma for many companies is whether not to actually have an in-house SEO team, or to outsource it to a professional team that contracts out services. There are pros and cons to both sides of this particular coin, and in this article we will look at the benefits of both. However, if you want to undertake SEO in house, we need to look at the dynamics.
To understand how this new world of SEO looks, you need to go back to how things are the moment. We are going to take a quick look at what the average in-house SEO team looks like. By identifying its characteristics, we should then be able to look forward to a model for SEO that fits in with the new way of doing things.
Generally speaking, if a company has an in-house SEO team, the activities and the focus this team has are quite easy to recognise.
What is wrong with my team now?
A part of the team will be focused entirely on link building. There is nothing wrong with this obviously, and link building has proven to be very successful for many companies over the last decade. A link building team works hard to create links from reputable sources, which in turn will drive traffic and authority for your website.
But many in-house link builders simply aren’t creating relationships. They are not seeking out the influencers in their industry and pulling links from them. Instead, they are commenting on blogs that are sometimes irrelevant, hoping for links to come back.
The SEO writer
These guys may work very hard, but they aren’t producing results. Instead, they are stuffing articles with keywords that make the work incredibly difficult to enjoy. They are writing for search engines, not human beings, and the search engines, paradoxically don’t like this.
The new SEO
It is fair to say that there is a brand-new way of doing search engine optimisation, one that adapts traditional, tested methods such as on page work, and then brings in two new main strands.
The first of the strands is content marketing. If an SEO team in the company is not actively creating fresh and relevant content for the audience, it is not only part of the ‘old’ SEO way, but it is also very likely going to be responsible for a failure to meet business goals.
Content is incredibly important right now. Some companies are investing in massive amounts in content creation, and quite rightly so. Unless companies decide to give their audience content on a regular basis there’ll be nothing but stagnation.
So the new in-house SEO team must have members that actively create content. This will allow them to fit into the new way that the Internet works. Search engines are valuing content right now, so SEO has to include content.
- Articles and blog posts written for human beings that are engaging and relevant to the audience
- Infographics that provide visually arresting content that fits into themes that are important to the audience
- White papers that show industry expertise
Alongside that, the massive growth in recent years of social media is an indicator that companies need to harness such power. Certain companies, who jumped on the social media bandwagon and then failed spectacularly, have done this terribly badly in the past.
Social media not only contains traditional SEO elements such as keywords, but it is also directly responsible for traffic to a website. And the best thing about social media is that it can be updated on an incredibly frequent basis.
Therefore, social media is another kind of content. This means that an in-house SEO team must use social media as a content outlet as part of its search engine optimisation efforts. So the new team has to have someone, or a group of people who are able to work with social media accounts and build out content as part of SEO efforts.
Social media means:
- Using Twitter effectively to build up a fanbase
- Using Facebook as a marketing tool that brings in ROI
- Blogging regularly, and sharing the posts on other social media platforms like Twitter
- Where relevant, utilising other platforms such as LinkedIn and Pinterest to spread the company presence
That, alongside other aspects outlined below, is the new in-house SEO. And many companies just don’t have this.
So what does my new team look like? An explanation
If you are using in-house SEO, we propose that the new build-out of your team looks something like what we outline below. Obviously, you know your team the best, but if you focus on creating new positions like these, you should be well on your way to having a team that takes advantage of what SEO is going to look like in 2015.
A content writer
Obviously, content is going to be of a major concern. We’ve explained why. But you need to also consider the size of your company. The content writer should be there and churning out high quality content on a consistent basis. But if you have a small company, it is fair to say that you should aim to have no more than 1-3 content writers as full time staff. They should be good though, and that is the important bit.
Hire them if you need to. Find a content writer or two that is creative, and knows how online content works. Put them through as many hoops and tests as you need to before you find the right writers for the job. These guys are your base, and everything else comes from them.
The important thing here is to remember that the new SEO wants content that matters. It has to be readable by humans, not crawler bots. If this happens, and the content is of a suitable and consistent quality, it will make a valid contribution to SEO.
These are next up in the hierarchy, in that they tie everything together. The link builder has to be incredibly well organised. This is a given when it comes to getting those high quality links from link wheels, other bloggers and so on, but then being able to organise the strategy so that it all works together. If you are hiring for this position, be sure to ascertain the organisational skills of the person you take on. If they are not able to pull together a wide variety of input over a long period, they are no good for link building.
For example, they may have to spend a large chunk of their time submitting the articles that the content creators bring to them. Alongside this, they will have to keep a track on where the articles are, what kind of response they have received and what happens with that new link wheel they have just discovered. All of this requires a ton of experience with organisation. And if they get it wrong and cannot organise for toffee, you will have a situation where your company has no SEO to speak of.
A good level of HTML experience has to be there in a link builder. They need to know their way around coding and the Web. But we cannot emphasise enough that your link builder has to know how to handle a lot of data, and how to ensure a workflow is managed well. This is the real engine behind long-term success at SEO, so choose your link builder wisely. They make a big difference to the end result.
But perhaps the biggest aspect of a link builder’s work is building relationships. This is key, and needs to be addressed by this member of staff. If link building is going well, it means the staff member is building relationships with key influencers, and links are flying back to your site.
This person oversees all the SEO efforts that the team is coming up with. He or she has to be fully au fait with all things SEO, and this means going to conferences, reading industry updates and attending seminars on SEO. It also means steering the team competently and with a business head.
The manager needs to be excellent at communicating too. They will have to report to the head of the company on SEO, and be able to filter down data so that the important metrics are explained to the leaders with clarity and simplicity. No leadership team wants a report that is full of data and stuff they don’t understand, so the manager has to be able to report in plain English.
This communication spreads further, so that they are able to talk to the content writers and the link builders beneath them. Considerable managerial skill needs to be present, so that they can deal with these employees in a sensitive and focused way. The results are important, but having a manager who knows how to deal with people is perhaps even more important in the long run.
And when it comes to the nitty gritty, the manager is the one who plans out the strategy for SEO for the years to come. We’re not talking a ten year plan here, but the manager has to be able to say to the leaders that he or she has looked ahead for three years, and knows what to do when it comes to SEO.