Wondering how best to invest in your SEO talent? Columnist Bobby Lyons shares his management philosophy based on his experience as an in-house SEO director at a major brand.
The complexity of working an SEO program has grown exponentially over the years, creating both challenges and opportunities for search marketers.
SEO professionals today cannot simply rely on their marketing skills to drive a program. User experience, front-end development and data analysis skills are essential for success today. Honing these skills as part of your professional development can pay dividends, both for yourself and your employer.
Managing SEO programs requires that we not only drive SEO results, but we must also drive growth opportunities for our teams. Growth opportunities and career progression are core concerns for employees. Investing in the growth of our personnel allows for driving significantly more impact across the organization.
Laura Dillon, a senior analyst on our Walgreens team, is a prime example of how SEO expertise can be leveraged to build stronger relationships with internal customers while driving value for the company. In addition to her SEO responsibilities, Laura owns the SEO contribution to site internal search.
Internal search for many websites is a key interaction and discovery tool for the consumer, but it requires management. SEO professionals understand at a deep level how a term search creates an experience path for the customer — and that path can be enhanced.
Laura works with the product, merchandising and IT teams to improve the search experience by providing trend analysis, developing strategies for holidays, working null results and improving site messaging.
Exposing partners in the organization to the value of our SEO teams builds support for our SEO initiatives. In addition, the exposure reinforces the strategy of driving SEO through experience gap analysis and an understanding of the customer’s intent.
Seek out opportunities for your team members to participate more broadly across the organization, but remember that this requires a commitment as a manager as well. The commitment we have as managers is to grow our personnel, maximize their potential, expose them to areas where their expertise can drive value and take a vested interest in their career path.
Areas where you may want to broaden the growth of your personnel to create opportunities to expand organizational impact are as follows:
Content strategy. SEO professionals have access to tools and data that can help drive content decisions with a meaningful impact: analyzing the engagement metrics of existing content, determining content that resonates on the site and analyzing off-site content impact at a social level.
Internal search. As explained above, we in SEO live in the world of terms and intent. Assisting in the site search analysis to determine improvements can be extremely helpful in helping other teams to achieve their internal search goals.
User experience. Identifying the various intents a consumer may have based on the term or phrase searched allows us to analyze the path against the outcome of each intent. Through this analysis, we can uncover barriers or areas of friction in the journey and partner with our user experience and web design teams to eliminate experience gaps.
Front-end development. Many web developers and front-end coders absolutely love learning about how they can amplify their impact by embedding SEO best practices in the code. Conduct routine training sessions, and partner with the department managers to supplement guidelines to include SEO best practices for coding.
Partnering well within the organization and driving impact external to SEO are primary tenets to building a best-in-class SEO program. Investing in your personnel and providing them ownership in areas where they can realize the impact of their work while growing as professionals will drive retention goals.
With every team member, I stress that SEO is not about what you know or what you can do — it is what you can get done. Partner well internally, leverage your team to their potential, and you will be amazed at how much you can actually get done.