SEO (search engine optimization) is like finding, inviting and pointing users to your party. Once your guests show up, click around, and mingle, CRO (conversion rate optimization) is figuring out why they aren’t having a good time, and then fixing it. They work together and they are not mutually exclusive. It’s important to consider best practice SEO as a complement to your CRO strategies and other marketing efforts.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if no one showed up to the party? That’s your website without SEO. Take away the traffic part. Subtract attention, popularity and authority. You’re left with a website that no one clicks on. (Who’s showing up, clicking around at your party? Are you anywhere the 20 -30% CTR benchmark?) Your site may be optimized and have juicy content, but it’s not enough to continually attract new traffic, encourage engagement and increase conversion rates.
Bury the mentality that a healthy, good-looking just takes care of itself. There’s no such thing as build it and they will come. You’ve got to include a long-term strategy in your marketing efforts.
Related Article: SEO Checklist for Small Business
Again, SEO specialists supplement your existing team. (Nobody has to get fired.) As their efforts gain traction, about 90 days, depending on the objectives, expect movement across marketing channels, visibility across search engines and the generation of leads. The more people at the more party, the higher the fun factor. (Conversion is fun!)
A strong SEO team is communicable and transparent about your business objectives. Often, these individuals share a lot of the same skills but their responsibilities within the team are very specialized.
Director. Team leader. Project Manager. You’ve got goals. The SEO team leader is going to assess them and take control of the campaign in line with them. This person should have a bird’s eye view of everything and ensures tasks are delegated. You’re 110% confident of their relevant industry knowledge, management experience and motivational attitude. This person will monitor individual and collective results and track performance in line with SEO metrics and your business goals. They acknowledge the negatives- search engine penalties and black-hat, risky tactics and are up front about their team’s ability to manage, overhaul and think ahead of them. You trust them.
PPC/AdWords specialist. There’s always space for paid marketing campaigns. AdWords certification is a good starting point for finding qualified PPC specialists. If you’re hiring a team, though, this person should come with the package. A lot goes into building a stellar PPC campaign. This person will build a campaign based on smart organization of researched keywords and ad groups. The PPC specialize will optimize your landing pages. Naturally, this person should be familiar with auctions and bidding wars and should be a shark for clicks.
Content Creator. Content creation is a no-brainer component of any digital strategy. A writer who produces solid, engaging content that gets shared and liked, has limitless power to spread your company’s message. Consider multiple writers, with different areas of expertise. Often, other members of the SEO team (or your company’s team) may want to contribute content. Having someone with a copywriting background is a huge asset. This is your “curationist.” Other creationists include graphic designers, photographers, and video production specialists.
Link builder. Expect good link builders to perform tactical research, generate back links and map internal link structure on-site. They’ll track link quality, perform link audits and remove low quality links that are potentially harmful to your overall site rankings. Beyond that, look for link-builders that think outside the box and will try new (white hat) things to match your SEO needs.
Social media strategist. There’s a lot to strategize. Among the monitoring and responding to customer needs, your person must demonstrate success in boosting your reputation across social media platforms. Innovative campaigns go hand in hand with strong content. Sometimes, social media people become interchangeable with PR people but this SEO individual must not ignore back-end processes of social activity. For example, responding to reviews, addressing concerns and monitoring mentions about your company.
Sales and marketing developer. Someone’s got to write the invitations and mail them! Email marketing and other digital outreach tactics used to acquire new customers are important and should be tasked to a competent individual. Good lead generation and a quality email list can really boost sales results. Increasing delivery of engaging outreach correspondence yields an increase in conversion rates. If this person is reliable and consistent, their results can easily surpass your other online marketing strategies.
IT/Web specialist(s). Your web team is vitally important to keeping everything running smoothly. They should regularly test for broken links, monitor your site’s performance on various platforms, and be ready to address any technical issues your SEO team faces. They’ll also stay current with SEO industry standards and make sure that your site is up to date with best practices.
Smaller organizations may not have a need for the specialization of every single one of these roles. Perhaps there’s a team member capable of multiple tasks that the roles perform. Overall, if you’re missing any of those components, be aware that this can weaken your overall SEO strategy. For instance, if there’s no social media strategist don’t expect overwhelming attention to social media marketing.
Outsourcing an online marketing agency is a safe bet if it’s within your budget. Another approach is to train existing employees. This approach may be cost effective up front but there are disadvantages. Existing employees have to make time for SEO in addition to all of their other duties. Since SEO is a fast-changing, you’ll have to factor in the long terms costs for ongoing training and development.
Get used to remote relationships. Many SEO players are virtual. “Face-to-face interaction (electronically) is vitally important to developing a solid relationship and rapport with your team that ensures alignment on objectives and milestones,” says Patrick Rice, CEO of Lumidatum.
There’s a lot of trust involved. Prepare to share information and access to accounts and data immediately. Prepare to be told what to do about accounts and data. A capable SEO team will recommend changes but should never cross agreed upon boundaries such as acting on behalf of company without permission.
Teamwork is More Than a Sum of its Parts
If you have reservations about hiring an agency or outsourced team to target SEO, you must take a fair look at the numbers understand the profitability in line with the rate of results from SEO in line with and against the profitably of CRO. There’s value behind each team individually; together the results are exponential. SEO + CRO = more than a sum of its parts.
A huge benefit of having an outsourced team or agency is their ability to penetrate greater markets and earn visibility on a global scale. For example, your teams should have diversified expertise across different channels – from hyper local to specific nations worldwide. Finding niche opportunities for promoting your company in, say China, may be very relevant for your business. An SEO analyst should get familiar with the relevant opportunities and other keywords, appropriate to other audiences.
Tracking metrics is key. Your SEO team should present what’s working or not working on a regular basis. Using industry benchmarks, these presentations will be about trends and positive growth over time. Algorithms change, industries change and best practices evolve. Members of your SEO team will collaborate and adjust priorities in line with all of these changes.
SEO helps your business remain competitive and keep growing. It’s very important to understand that absolute success in this arena isn’t delivered overnight. Building a strong SEO team has a huge payoff over time. As tracking and implementation improve, you’ll be able to spend your marketing budget more effectively for better results and improved customer outreach.
Author: Courtney Capellan is a digital analyst with Hotel Marketing Works and a freelance writer based in San Diego, California. Twitter @courtcapellan.