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Training: Heart & Soul Of In-House SEO/SEM
I must admit, I wasn’t very perceptive when I received my first in-house SEO prospect call back in 2000. The caller recognized the value of his organic search results and the business need for integrating SEO functionality internally. I did not. That’s because in those days, I thought it made much more sense to outsource.
Rewind to salad days
We were green in those days. As Shakespeare once said, “my salad days,/When I was green in judgment, cold in blood…” In the late 1990s, we were at the height of the cloaking controversy; white and black hat didn’t exist yet. We didn’t have any proven guidelines for natural search optimization in those days, and all practitioners were going in different directions; many were shooting from the hip.
Maybe I blew it when I told the caller, “You’ve got to be kidding…salaries and expenses to operate an in-house team will cost you double compared to vendor service pricing…you’ll play catch-up for months and years.”
It seemed like good reasoning at the time. As optimization vendors and practitioners, we could produce volumes of redundant tasks across hundreds of clients and dozens of categories based on wins or losses from month to month. The search engine environment was unstable; we’d wake up one day (about every 45-60 days) to find all of our optimization work gone and no longer visible in the search engines. We’d change our method or script, and within a week, we’d be back up and running with great results. There was value in our vendor/client relationships, offering quick wins in a system of monitoring and adjustments as needed.
As natural search began to stabilize and brands continued flocking online, the high-demand for reliable, compliant SEO and improved natural search results grew. As this growth continued, several practitioners popped up under the radar in the reliable, compliant SEO space. Pretty soon, they weren’t under the radar any more, and eventually, most practitioners saw the value of wearing a white hat.
Fast forward to 2007
Today, we have ten years of tested and proven, reliable, and compliant SEO methodologies, documented and ready for transfer to online businesses. Although two-thirds of American businesses currently perform SEO tasks in-house, much of the knowledge base is in the hands of a few dozen experienced practitioners on the outside.
In today’s marketplace, it’s smart for mid-to-large company SEO/SEM in-house teams and managers to seek the most current, reliable information when it comes to improving natural search results on a daily basis. In fact, my big clients won’t let me publicize who they are for fear their competitors will follow suit. They know that SEO/SEM training puts them ahead of the game. Tapping into the resources of experienced practitioners willing to transfer SEO/SEM knowledge is both wise and valuable, especially when the in-house trainer brings in additional experts, adding to the buildup of resources and networking opportunities.
It’s all in the training
In case you’re not convinced that SEO/SEM training can give you an edge, the stats from MarketingSherpa’s Search Marketing Benchmark Guide are telling:
- Outsourcing gets marketers an average 110% lift in overall site traffic
- In-house search marketers get a mere 75% overall traffic lift
I continue to advise CEOs and senior managers that the reason for this dismal statistic is the lack of reliable, compliant SEO training for in-house teams. It really doesn’t matter how much experience or lack of experience you have; we all continue to need training throughout our careers, and success is all about lifelong learning.
- According to Wikipedia, lifelong learning “is the concept that ‘It’s never too soon or too late for learning,’ a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organizations.”
- According to WorldBank.org: “The latest knowledge and successful practices of planning and implementing education for lifelong learning suggest that lifelong learning is more than just education and training beyond formal schooling. A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life cycle, from birth to grave and in different learning environments, formal, non-formal and informal.”
- Terence Burton, president of The Center for Excellence in Operations, wrote an article still worth reading in Intelligent Manufacturing, July 1995, titled: Are You Afraid of Change?
Juliette Love, author and motivational speaker, said it best: “You are only as good as the latest information and your ability to adapt to it.” That is especially true, and remarkably so, for most of us in SEO/SEM.
In-house SEO/SEM teams have much to gain by reaching outside their scope of influence to find additional input that will improve their day-to-day activities. It’s as simple as that.
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. The In House column appears on Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.