I’ve been at companies large and small, fat and lean. Whether the company is two people trying to build a business out of their home, or 10K+ employees at companies like PayPal and Yahoo, no matter what the size of the company, there are always going to be resource constraints.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person you’ll see constantly asking about project statuses and bubbling it up. But in the meantime, you’ll need to find out how you can deal with those resource constraints, while still remaining productive and not failing at your job.
Internal partnerships are always a big part of SEO. It is such a holistic process that you need to get everyone on your side when you’re starting a new InHouse SEO job. Just like selling the company on why it is important, you need to sell to individual teams how they are important to the holistic process.
List out all the partners that you need to make in the organization: PR/Marketing communications and how to leverage PR, Biz Dev and how they structure partnerships, engineering and how they architect the site, and the list goes on and on. Spend the down time to build and solidify those relationships and go on coffee/lunch breaks, plan happy hours, and do other intangibles that will help win people over and get things moving in the right direction.
External partnerships & business development
Sales efforts, creating partnerships, and finding business development opportunities is so important within SEO. It’s crucial to make deals with others in areas like link building and content distribution. Take a step back and look at the opportunities out there and the companies that you can parter with. Find the in’s, ask yourself “what they are lacking?”, and find a way to make it mutually beneficial for both organizations.
Getting the connections to is a big part of it, so, find out where those people are in your industry and/or vertical. What you can offer and start making those deals? What is your key value proposition? Do you have content they don’t have?
Get external partnerships headed in the right direction during resource constraints. Obviously you need to make sure that the internal resource constraints don’t affect your deals. Do this by padding estimates for deals to keep the partnership moving forward. It is better to deliver on projects early and often than late and sparsely.
Analytics and data
Something that I like to do when there is a break in the schedule is to take time to look at your InHouse SEO reporting, so you can do a little bit of an impact analysis. It gives you the opportunity to assess where you are at in your efforts and creates opportunity to reassess your overall SEO strategy.
Take the time out to do impact analysis on rankings, traffic, and conversion. Find out what you have done that is working and what isn’t. A lot of the time, it’s impossible to figure out because you have made so many changes, but, you can often bulk things together and a conclusion could be that the holistic process was the catalyst to success. That said, it would also be a good time to look at sections where you made minor changes vs. completing entire strategies and using that as a business case to move projects forward.
Roadmaps and SEO resources
Roadmap planning and project management is a place that doesn’t always get enough attention. Admittedly, I get some engrained in the tactical details sometimes, that I forget to take a step back. But, when you do have a few moments (or sometimes weeks of lag) you can leverage your assessments and find out where you are in your strategies, projects, etc. and can adjust your roadmap accordingly. Then, feel free to circulate those changes to the right people within the company, giving them an opportunity to see what is on hold and why. Furthermore, you can take the opportunity to create processes that will help your daily life when you are in full swing and you are too busy.
Along with processes that save you time and energy, you can use this as an opportunity to create SEO resources for the organization like a Wiki and/or Intranet. Putting together SEO guidelines for engineering, content, business development, PR, etc. Other things that you can do during down time, is put together presentations on trends, competitive reports, and so forth. And finally, you can distribute these resources to the teams responsible or the whole company for that matter to increase the knowledge and awareness of SEO.
Editorial and content production
While resources are constrained on the development side, you can work on other things to get those moving. For example, if you have “Product” pages on your website and you need product summaries for that. Start getting those hammered out through internal and external resources. This was a specific situation that I ran into once while waiting for a development project to start. So rather than just sit around, I reached out and had content production increased so those would be ready and just a matter of popping in.
Also, with that, blogging is a big part of SEO; start thinking of ways that you can pick up your blogging through link bait and more evergreen content throughout the site. Spend time working on an editorial and/or content production calendar that will encompass the year. Finally, you can even spend time creating a calendar of trends/etc. that is on your roadmap for content for the year.
Bottom line, from a content production standpoint, there is always something that you can do to get things moving.
Social Media marketing
If you haven’t started doing this as an SEO, it’s pretty much your best opportunity to add Social Media to the mix. Do a little research, find Social Media monitoring tools, start listening and monitoring your brand, and find out your contents reach across the social web. Find out what relevant Social Media News sites and Social Networks are out that for your company to participate in.
From there, if you have even more time, start throwing an idea or two around, maybe put together a presentation and start talking to people in the company and get a feel for how it will go over. Then, if you find a partner or two to start moving things forward, create a little internal “Social Media Team” where you can share ideas, create some business cases and even just start getting into it and deal with getting yelled at later. (You’re an SEO, you’re always getting yelled at, why stop now?!)
At the end of the day, most companies have adopted Social Media as a full on Marketing strategy, but, that doesn’t mean they are all doing it right. If you haven’t fully participated as an SEO, you better start now, so leverage free time for those activities. I don’t just mean setup a twitter account and Facebook fan page with an RSS feed. I mean get active, engaged, and start putting together actual ways the company can achieve success from an impact and reach standpoint.
Think Outside of the Box:
Get outside of your little SEO box and learn something different!
Isn’t that how we all ended up doing SEO anyway? I can’t think of a single person that I know that woke up and said, “I want to be an SEO.”
Start experimenting with something else that you might find fun and exciting. Try doing things like I mentioned above and learn a new skill set that will not only benefit your company, but will ultimately benefit you in the long run.
But, that said, Social Media is not the “end-all be-all” of new marketing tactics. There are way more things like viral marketing, buzz marketing, etc. that will get you thinking outside the box. The truth is, there is way more to viral and buzz marketing than getting a story hot on Digg and a trending topic on Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great thing to have, and I strive for achieving that every single day, but, what you want is something that will get people talking about your Brand or Product not just online, but offline as well.
Try a few things out, learn about what others are doing, start thinking outside the box and start doing something that you never thought you would be, you never know, maybe that is your next calling, just like SEO was!
Keep Moving Forward:
At the end of the day, you need to keep moving forward. These are all little things that I’ve picked up and learned how to do while I’m waiting for engineering resources to free up so I can get my strategies moving up and to the right. Trust me, I get it, the lack of resources to get projects done are painful. I’ve had to deal with MANY resource constraints, each and every time, I used it as an opportunity to better the organization and it helped increase my knowledge, skill sets, and visibility within the organization.
What are some of the things that you do when you have a pause in your strategy because of resource constraints? I’d love to hear what other InHouse SEOs do when this comes up!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.