Developing In-House SEO Functionality
My last Search Engine Land post, In-house SEO Functionality resonated with many in-house SEOs. “Eletitor” commented on the necessity of getting the entire management team on board for in-house SEO success. Kevin Cheng mentioned the need for preparations prior to hiring any in-house SEO, as well as the bureaucratic red tape that can hinder its progress. I’d like to further elaborate on these issues, as they certainly must be dealt with to achieve optimum in-house SEO functionality.
The SEO’s vital role in internet marketing
Most companies realize the importance of SEO to their Internet marketing strategy. While SEMPO’s State of Search Marketing 2007 tells us SEO is still a small percentage of the search dollars spent (10.5%) compared to PPC advertising (87.4%), it is more important than ever, as shown in the data.
- Nine out of ten advertisers (89%) use SEO
- Over half (56%) said they expect to spend more on SEO in 2008 vs. last year
- 54% of advertisers will manage natural search entirely in-house this year
When it comes to in-house SEO, it’s important to get the program working right to achieve the best possible results. Attaining in-house SEO functionality is a complex process that takes time; not only that, progress is dynamic and planar rather than static and linear.
1. Get the management team on board
To develop SEO successfully in-house, the entire management team must be involved and in agreement. One way to do this is to show people the research behind the facts. SEO is the most popular search tactic, hands down. Here’s some ammunition for getting non-believers on board for SEO success.
a) Start off with the most recent SEMPO data showing 89% of advertisers use SEO. An earlier report (Ad Age 2007 Fact Pack) shows organic SEO was the most popular form of search marketing: 75% of advertisers used SEO, while 71% used paid search. With over half of North American advertisers increasing spending on SEO this year, marketers realize the tremendous power of SEO to generate and increase conversions and provide excellent ROI. Not only that, when you combine SEO with paid search or display ads, you may get a lift.
b) SEO is the mainstay for Internet marketing. Why? Perhaps because SEO links are preferred over sponsored links. B2B users clicked on organic results 75% of the time (Marketing to a B2B Technical Buyer, Enquiro, 2007).
c) Search gives you brand lift. A Google-commissioned study found significant correlation between companies in the top organic/sponsored links and lift in consumer brand affinity, brand recall, and purchase intent (The Brand Lift of Search, Enquiro, 2007).
d) SEO and paid search are top tactics for lead generation. Organic search led the way in lead generating tactics for UK firms (78%), with paid search and email coming in second (72%) in a study performed by E-consultancy.com and commissioned by Clash Media, 2007.
2. Prepare prior to hiring the in-house SEO manager
Challenges and departmental turfs should be explained so the new SEO manager knows what battles he or she may be facing. This kind of preparation can help anticipate cooperation or resistance when determining what assets will be useful from various departments.
a) Announce hiring of the new SEO manager beforehand.
b) Publish the accomplishments of the new SEO manager so he or she will be well received.
c) Arrange for the new SEO manager to meet with various departments beforehand to gain perspective on how SEO can enhance various departmental objectives.
SEO might be a part of marketing, or it can be a department of its own. At any rate, a new SEO manager must leverage any enthusiasm to build the types of lasting relationships with other departments that will serve well in implementing vital changes in site structure and content. Get this buy-in from the very start.
3. Eliminate red tape
Kevin Cheng made a point regarding the role of bureaucratic red tape that can hinder SEO progress. How do you eliminate the red tape to execute needed changes? Again, the answer is early education and pre-selling ideas to stakeholders.
Upper management must have a clear picture of how SEO can help the company achieve its goals and why SEO trumps all other Internet marketing tactics. The SEO manager must identify potential roadblocks and get upper management to support him or her when there’s resistance.
Hire an SEO consultant to work with your SEO manager to get the team started in the right direction. With top management backing you up, you can implement the changes and track progress toward achieving goals.
a) Start with small projects and the low-hanging fruit, working up to more complex projects after recording a few successes.
b) Top management must give the SEO manager the authority to get changes made, tracked, and then reported on as progress is made.
c) The SEO manager should sit in on meetings in various departments to be aware of customer needs and product trends.
Basically, the new SEO manager needs to win hearts and minds over to the overarching SEO philosophy while getting to know the company and its short- and long-term planning goals, as these factors must be taken into consideration in planning the SEO strategy.
Success is the result of communication between management and the SEO manager on overall business goals and long-term company planning. Knowing the business goals, the SEO manager can develop a useful plan and strategy. This is critical because SEO executions will require consistent reporting progress to prove positive direction on a day-by-day basis.
Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and in-house consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for the strategic implementation of search engine marketing activities within Red Door’s Internet Presence Management (IPM) services. John Faris, who co-authored this article, is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Analyst at Red Door Interactive. The In House column appears on Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
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