On a panel at a recent conference, I had the pleasure of moderating a great discussion on building and managing in-house SEO teams. What made this panel superb was that it wasn’t just about in-house SEO teams.There was quite a bit of content around hiring, working with third parties, and the interaction between marketing and IT departments. My kind of panel – Industrial Strength!
Hiring Search Marketers
Josh Gampel kicked off the panel with a fine presentation on hiring for search. Josh and his teams were the first folks to build a company (Onward Search) around staffing for search engine marketers. They have since evolved and now cover so much more – developers, writers, UX experts – but Josh and his folks clearly still have a soft spot for search marketers.
They even published a salary survey that pinpoints salary ranges for six different types of search marketing functions across 20 US cities – very impressive!
You can find it here.
Josh also had some terrific tips for managers who are hiring. For example, he said it’s imperative that the hiring manager writes the job description. Human resources, while both capable and critical, simply lacks the specific knowledge to build a job description that will pique a search marketer’s interest and get them excited about the job.
He also emphasized the importance of behaviorally-based interviewing, and pointed out that right now, the highest demand for search marketers is in the mid-range salary positions.
In House Teambuilding & Tools
Tony Adam focused on how he built in-house SEO teams and what he did to engage and motivate his team members. I loved his suggestions not only because of their innovative and clever nature, but also because the obviously have implications beyond SEO. In fact, his primary message to the audience was that building SEO teams is about people, not SEO.
Tony emphasized follow-up and salesmanship in the recruiting process, but really hit his stride when talking about how to handle teams once they’re in place. He talked about mentoring and training, as well as ways to keep teams energized. He likes team lunches, and in fact advocates the ‘inappropriate lunch’ in some cases – though you’ll have to ask Tony what that’s all about!
Tony thinks highly of ways to empower teams by giving them ownership of their business, and even favors other ‘teambuilding’ techniques like happy hours, nerf wars, remote controlled helicopters, and the like.
Peter Leshaw had some interesting things to say about team building, but really got me going when he started showing dashboards and talking about bringing in consultants and vendors to work with your in-house team. Now that’s right up my alley!
First, the dashboards. Peter believes, as do I, that dashboards are a great way track your business and hold folks accountable to the plan. They (hopefully) provide a simple way to look at performance over time.
Here’s an example of a dashboard Peter uses:
I really liked when Peter talked about bringing third parties in to support in-house teams. This is a very tricky thing to do, so to have any success at it, you have to be really careful.
What’s the single most important thing to keep in mind if you’re bringing in an SEO expert to give an extra boost to your team? Peter says that it’s to make sure they have the same seo approach, strategically, as the in-house lead. This helps ensure that there is no ‘stepping on toes’.
It’s also critical that the consultant is comfortable with his/her role as such, and that he/she understands and accepts the chain of command and communication in the organization. Follow that recipe and you’re headed for SEO success.
Bridging The IT-Marketing Gap
Elmer Boutin is a very experienced webmaster, and he gave us a really fresh perspective on the relationship between marketing and IT, particularly as it relates to SEO. He boiled it all down for us, into what he calls the three C’s:
1. Contact. Marketing and IT are separate entities, both physically and functionally. Learn about their pain points. Try to find ways to connect, and understand how to make their lives better
2. Communicate. Someone on the marketing side needs to know how to ‘geek speak’. Put them in charge of communication with IT. Then, find the most marketing-savvy IT guy (or gal) and make him/her marketing’s main point of contact in IT. And when you do communicate with IT, be specific – be direct, be exact. Leave nothing to interpretation. If marketing is making requests of IT, ideally boil it down to providing code for them to copy/paste.
3. ‘Carpe Scientiam’. Sieze the knowledge of your Web technologies. Elmer points out that the more marketers know about their Web technology, the more success they will have with IT. He reminded us that IT isn’t always the problem, sometimes it’s marketers not having sufficient knowledge that’s the problem.
One of the most useful things about Elmer’s presentation was that he pointed all of us to various resources on this topic. He like’s Ian Lurie’s Conversation Marketing blog. Also check out Scott Brinker’s work at www.chiefmartec.com , and Elmer’s own work at www.crossingmarketingandit.com. Enjoy!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.