As I have written in earlier columns, SEO is not rocket science. What the industry has labeled “Enterprise SEO” is more project management and compliance work than it is the algorithm-chasing or link-whoring that smaller institutions have to take on in order to compete in the search marketplace.
In our Enterprise SEO work, we have had the good fortune of working alongside the executives and in-house teams at many of the world’s biggest brands and most prolific publishers of content.
Like many smaller businesses, one person is usually tasked to set the strategy and assemble the experts who can execute on the necessary tactics underlying that strategy.
These are the 10 people that person has on speed-dial (or more likely email and IM) to get the job done.
1. The C-Level Executive
If there is not some sort of top level advocate for SEO, good night now! SEO is a tough, continuous process in which the results do not manifest themselves in completely evident or attributable ways.
Even worse, if the teams at the search engines turn a knob too hard, much of your hard work can be wiped out and that search market share sent to your competitors. In many ways, it is a huge leap of faith and you will have to educate those you rightfully fear it to be a boondoggle.
Some C-Level Executive (hopefully, more than one) is going to have to step forward and lead the charge. If SEO is not baked into the DNA and soul of a business, it is probably going to be an exercise in futility.
The SEO Leader, in-house or enterprise SEO consultants need to be in constant communication with the leadership to keep them apprised of the campaign. Good or bad. Your credibility is your only currency with the leadership.
2. The Google
Much like how every guy at a bar will tell women he was a door gunner on the Space Shuttle, the running joke is that every SEO has a secret source inside of Google to call upon.
While you may not be able to text Matt Cutts at 3 a.m., you should make sure you have some line of communication into Google should something ever go awry. While everyone is chasing Matt around the Web and at conferences, nobody is paying attention to the numerous product leads or other engineers who are actually quite approachable themselves.
For example, it is our experience that the Google News team is generally easy to get ahold of and looking to improve their product. If you can show them that Google News is mishandling something or the error is on their end, they are pretty happy to take that information and go fix their product.
Even though it is not the lovable startup it was when it was pre-IPO, generally Googlers are excited to solve real problems and use all that IQ between their ears.
Whatever you do, do not be That Guy (or That Gal, as it may be) who burns that line of communication because you don’t like how your site ranks after an update. Know the difference between an anomaly and a new reality.
For what it is worth, this is 100% applicable to Bing, too.
3. The Product/Design Manager(s)
Just like a motorcycle rider should assume every car or truck on the road is trying to kill them, every SEO campaign should assume Product and Design are trying to kill them on every update.
If I had a dollar for every client who had a “Hey, we are going to re-do the whole site in Ajax” or a “We accidentally NoIndex’d the whole site on that last update” thrown at them, I would be retired by now.
Make sure there is an SEO voice in all relevant Product, Design, or QA meetings. Unwinding the mistakes after they are released is going to destroy all your credibility and may not even be an option.
A good relationship with Product and Design will result in things getting done quicker, the site performing better, and the happy place known as “SEO/UX coordination”.
4. The SEO Consultants
No matter what industry you are in, there are a few “Hired Gun” SEO consultants out there for you to leverage. We work with a lot of incredibly talented in-house teams and it would be a mistake to think we are being brought in because the internal team lacks talent. We are not there to take their jobs, undermine them, or steal their budget.
In many instances, it is the opposite. After we leave, quite often the internal teams have external validation, forward-looking enthusiasm with the executives, and the benefit of our broader market visibility to impute into their campaigns.
Having been in in-house guy before, I would have had to consider myself negligent if I did not solicit the viewpoints of other available experts. The ability to combine your experience in navigating the organization and understanding the institutional knowledge of your business with the broader market experience of a top notch external consulting team is a tremendous competitive advantage.
5. The Social Media Manager
Every SEO leader should have a great relationship with the Social Media Manager. If you have not spoken to yours, I’d suggest, “Hey, can I have some of your budget?” as an ice breaker.
SEO and Social Media working together is more than the ability to leverage Social Media to shake out some links. With the engines getting better at determining relevance of social signals and branding signals being a desired profile to search algorithms, social media activity is having an effect either directly or indirectly on your SEO campaigns.
The really smart organizations understand this and coordinate the messaging to optimize those effects. When SEO and Social Media are isolated in their own walled gardens, both suffer unnecessarily.
6. The PR Manager
Much like Social Media, utilizing Public Relations to yield positive signals to the search engines should be a no-brainer for any Enterprise SEO. Why work at a big brand if you are not interested in leveraging it?
Many times, Public Relations departments have no idea how their activities can drive Web Search, News Search, Mobile Search or even Local Search. It would not be the worst idea in the world to grab the Social Media Manager, head down to the PR office, and start talking about Influencer Marketing and Management.
7. The Tech Manager
The first thing an SEO lead should ask for is a designated technical/developer resource.
If your campaigns have to sit in the queue and wait on a broader tech team between iterations, you are effectively dead in the water. Make your Tech resource(s) feel pretty and watch how quickly things get done.
Pro tip: Caffeine. Supply it.
8. The Analytics Manager
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. The Analytics (or Business Intelligence) Manager is basically keeping the lights on at your own personal gold mine.
Whether it is compiling reports to various departments to convey successes and challenges or combing through user data to help you assign your effort to monetary goals, the Analytics Team can quickly help you translate art into science.
I have seen many businesses in the same industry get killed by another simply due to one business being able to communicate their successes better. That communication led to quicker and more budgeting and that led to market share.
9. The Business Development Manager
I am a Link Guy. As such, I am extremely fond of the Business Development function in our clients’ businesses. Business Development organizations are the single most underutilized opportunity to build links in big brands.
Whether it is content/product syndication, co-branding with partners, or even sponsoring local events, I love me some Business Development. An SEO who can leverage their Business Development department can control more of their future. Teach these guys deal terms and how to hunt deals that reinforce all those niche market signals inherent of TrustRank in your industry.
10. The Sales Manager
At the end of the day, rankings are a hollow victory unless they somehow translate into revenue. Having a good working relationship with your Sales group will save you a lot of time in understanding where to allocate your efforts. The really smart SEO teams also understand the concept of a Sales Cycle and how it affects internal planning.
Protip: Sales guys have more budget than you. Don’t be afraid to have these discussions over a steak or on the golf course.
Bonus Round: The Deity Of Your Choice
While house odds are still largely in your favor as a big brand, stuff happens when algorithms are left to sort the Web. At least a dozen times in your career as a big-brand in-house SEO, you will wake up and find that one or more of the hundreds of algorithm changes each year has cost your business some real money.
We have all been there. Sometimes you are the bug. Sometimes you are the windshield. Hopefully, all the communication and credibility you have built from it affords you the time to let it sort itself out. If not, hang a chicken somewhere and pray to Jobu.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.