One the best things you can do for successful SEO is equip the development team with SEO knowledge, and this requires more than a 30 minute presentation. Unfortunately, IT often pushes back saying there isn’t time. Here are six tactics for getting IT into your training sessions when they say, “We don’t have time for SEO training.”
Proper SEO training takes time, but for IT departments it costs more than X man hours. Almost every hour of a developer’s day is allocated to project work, and a half-day or full-day of SEO training will put project timelines at risk, causing IT to put up the stop sign for your SEO training initiative.
When this happens, the best approach to take is to not fight it, and instead figure out a way to get IT managers to want to their team to attend SEO training. Here are a few of creative strategies I recommend when clients are ready to move forward with SEO training, but IT brings the effort to a grinding halt.
- Pitch for SEO Training to happen far in advance. This first step is necessary so that IT can schedule the training to occur in between projects. Sometimes I work with clients who pitch one to two days of SEO training, get the business sponsors and marketing managers on board and expect IT to be able to fit it in their schedules within 2-4 weeks. Nope, not likely to happen. Anticipate this and pitch for it to happen well before you need it for that large redesign.
- Do training via lunch-and-learn sessions. Developers are curious about SEO and we have never given a lunch-and-learn or one hour intro to SEO training that wasn’t standing-room-only. If you are concerned, offer lunch to entice developers to attend. This will often spawn more questions and you can tell them that they’re learning less than 1% of what SEO entails, which will pique their curiosity. Often times the developers will bring it up to their managers as a topic of interest for training.
- Present at IT team meetings quarterly or monthly. Include a brief update on SEO numbers and successes followed by education on a few aspects of SEO. Most likely this will be enough of a teaser that the team (and possibly their manager) will ask for more information and training. The main reason I recommend team meetings is that they tend to be smaller and invite more conversational interaction. If department meetings work better for your company go for it, but don’t underestimate the power of intimate discussions on SEO.
- Incorporate a quick SEO update as part of project kickoffs. This way you can address the issues anticipated with a given project.
- Create a knowledge center. Load it with tutorials and documentation on SEO so that IT can access it as needed.
- Train in every interaction with IT. If you’re talking to IT about a specific issue, take 3-5 minutes of that time to back up and give the SEO 101 on that issue in the same fashion they would have seen it in a training class.
- Bring in search marketing celebrities to give the SEO training, and attract the audience. Let’s face it, external consultants have clout at many companies, and people want to hear from interesting and compelling speakers. We’re starting to see companies bringing in SEO consultants for training sessions, marketing them in advance to their employees as industry celebrities and getting employees excited to learn from their case studies, hear specific industry experiences and benefit from their technical or creative expertise. To get developers to attend, companies are promoting SEO training in the same way they promote a major author or motivational speaker coming in: email marketing to employees and signs hung around the office. When working with this type of engagement, usually the in-house SEO gives their list of challenges and topics to address, and identifies the goals and desired outcomes – we’re merely brought in as a tool for making the desired outcomes happen.
The recommendation isn’t to pick just one of the tactics above, but instead use a combination in your approach to getting SEO buy-in and training. Just like the end result of SEO, there isn’t just one thing that produces results, but rather the culmination of many different tactics which will get you higher in the priority list of IT.
Jessica Bowman is a free agent SEO strategist available for SEO site audits, SEO training and helping in-house SEO programs become a well-oiled machine that cranks out profits. The In House column appears weekly at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.