Building an in-house search marketing team — Part 2
When building an in-house search team, don’t just think about the initial build, think about how to keep the team engaged. Contributor Simon Heseltine outlines an organizational structure that will give teams the best possible chance to succeed.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, I talked about building, growing and maintaining an in-house search marketing team and also outlined different organizational structures.
In Part 2, I will continue to talk about each of those issues plus outline an appropriate organizational structure that will give an in-house team the best possible chance to succeed.
Now that you have the organizational and hierarchical structure in place for your new in-house search marketing team, the next thing is to determine the roles and fill them. The appropriate size of the team is really going to depend on your business, the number of sites you operate and the size and scope of the sites.
Determine the current and potential revenue for search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media production. Examine whether the opportunity cost of not having dedicated people and resources focused on these things means you may lose money or market share.
You may be a multinational company with one site that requires several SEOs and SEMs to manage groups of product lines or a national company with multiple sites that require one SEO or SEM per site. Or a mix of in-house and external agencies might be a better option. However you set up your staff, their first task should be assessing the needs of the team.
Hiring the team
If you have team members already performing the functions in the old organizational structure, then all you’re doing is a reorganization. A new, fresh structure will help everyone from a knowledge-sharing and career path perspective.
Before you can hire anyone, you need to create the job description. If these are new roles within your organization, look at job sites for similar positions to get an idea of what you should be looking for and how to write the description.
Don’t be hemmed in by looking for a particular background; instead, look for a particular mindset.
You want problem solvers, people who will voraciously devour news about what’s going on in the search and social world on sites like Google, Bing and Facebook.
You want curious people who are willing to try new things and not be discouraged when they sometimes fail. Not all solutions work for all situations.
You want a mix of people: some who may have more of a technical bent, some who may have more of a content bent. This will really depend on the focus of your business.
Make sure the human resources (HR) department has a set of questions and expected responses to look for when they do initial phone screenings. This way, they can winnow out those who only know how to spell SEO and not how to actually apply it.
You may want to have a project for candidates to complete as part of the hiring process. Tasks such as performing keyword research and identifying known issues on a site would show the potential hire has some SEO knowledge.
However, don’t go overboard with the ask, as some qualified candidates may walk away if asked to perform a full site audit.
Now that you have your team in place, how do you keep them happy and productive?
The rate of change in the world of search and social can be maddening. Whether it’s the constant Google updates, the redefinition of match types or Facebook changing its algorithm, your team needs to be on top of it all.
Giving your team tools to do this is important. Consider providing them multiple opportunities to keep on top of the latest changes by giving them time to read SearchEngineLand, giving them the opportunity to listen to webinars or podcasts or paying for them to attend conferences. It will all enhance their knowledge and potentially increase their productivity.
Conferences are handy in that they allow staffers to visit trade shows and identify new tools and services and increase their personal networks, which can help your business overall.
One concern companies may have about providing expensive training is that their employees will take the training and then use it to find a different job.
This is always a possibility, but if you don’t train your employees, you will get stuck with a team working with old data and strategies, which is not conducive to a successful team.
Think about providing opportunities for cross-training. Not only does that broaden the knowledge base and skill set of the individual employees, it also gives you the potential for internally backfilling roles, or simply having a backup person when needed.
In order to retain the team members you want to retain, and in order to grow your team as the company grows, you need to offer a path for team growth.
If your teams are all-low level, with a single manager, and nothing in between, then you should expect turnover, as the team will not see an opportunity for advancement.
When building an in-house search team, don’t just think about the initial build, also think about how to keep that team engaged and fresh. If you do, both your team and business will continue to grow.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.