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February 17, 2011

Implementing In-House SEO: What You Need to Succeed

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Bruce Clay recently gave a talk on “Tools of the Trade” at the Online Marketing Summit (OMS) in San Diego on February 7. I got a hold of his presentation slides and one in particular stood out to me with some great talking points that I’d like to expand upon.

You may or may not know we just launched our newest version of the SEOToolSet. The talk Bruce gave discussed the other, maybe lesser-known tools that businesses must have in order to be successful in SEO – prior to any subscription-based services are even needed.

This includes things like:

  • Management support and organization-wide commitment.
  • Training and education for all involved.
  • Access to expert knowledge base.
  • Reasonable expectations and willingness to adapt.

Disclaimer: I used some of Bruce’s talking points as a starter for this entry. The content of Bruce’s talk for OMS differed somewhat.

Tool No. 1: Organization-Wide Commitment to SEO Success

Implementing SEO into your organization is the equivalent of adding a full-blown marketing and business strategy to your company. You can’t “sort of” do SEO or pick and choose some SEO tactics while ignoring others.

box wrenches

This is why you first need management buy-in. The decision makers need to see the SEO strategy as a high-level function. Whether the company designates an in-house SEO or partners with an agency, that role also needs to be looked at as an executive position.

The right SEO pro will be making sophisticated, complex decisions about your online marketing strategy that can and should directly affect the bottom line.

Once management is on board and understands the importance of SEO as part of the business model, the commitment to the vision should trickle down from the top.

Tool No. 2: SEO Education and Training

How do you get management on board in the first place? It all starts with education on why SEO is a functional part of the business and how it can generate revenue, brand awareness and so much more.

If you’re in a position where you’re trying to convince management that SEO is a critical component of today’s marketing, it’s a big job – but luckily there are a ton of resources out there to help support your case for SEO.

Once you have buy-in from the organization, building company-wide support starts with SEO training that will ensure your practices are consistent and that the team has a collective knowledge to work together as a well-oiled machine.

Tool No. 3: Access to an Expert SEO Knowledge Base

If your business is just starting out with SEO, sometimes the knowledge transfer to management is smoother when you involve the experts like outside consultants or agencies.

Macro-box screwdriver

These professionals can help you to understand the breadth of what’s involved, can look at your Web properties to give specific recommendations on strategy and can serve as a sounding board for specific questions or problems.

These professionals can also help implement organization-wide SEO strategies, to setup your business for long-term success. These people can be the teachers and trainers for your organization if you decide not to enroll in SEO training elsewhere.

Tool No. 4: Reasonable SEO Expectations and Willingness to Adapt

A healthy SEO strategy takes time. Understanding this is part of the education process before the SEO plan is even implemented. Sure, spammy SEO techniques exist that can show immediate results, but the programs that create long-term value are like a fine wine – they get better with age.

Often, businesses expect immediate rankings, traffic and conversions, and they think SEOs are doing something wrong when they don’t see it. Sometimes improvements to a site can show immediate results in some areas, other times, the really impactful results don’t show for months.

It’s all about building momentum and results, and progress depends on the health of the site prior to the SEO implementation. SEO is not meant to be a quick-fix strategy. It’s like building a business from the ground up. But once things start rolling, the ROI can be incredible.

The other part of this is a willingness on the organization’s part to adapt to these new online marketing techniques. It can be hard for some businesses that rely solely on more traditional marketing tactics to embrace SEO.

It can also be hard for business owners to essentially let go of their site and trust it in the hands of others. This is common when resources have been deeply invested in the development of the sites thus far.

with the hammer

The thing to remember is that if you’re in good hands with your SEOs, then you need to learn to trust that they’re the experts.

And yes, it may take time to rebuild your site from an SEO perspective. It may also mean that much of what you’ve done with your site thus far needs to be reworked.

But it’s all part of diving into online marketing. Just as we’ve had to adapt to other progressions throughout our lifetimes, this is one development in marketing that you won’t regret doing for your business.

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5 responses to “Implementing In-House SEO: What You Need to Succeed”

  1. Derek Jansen writes:

    Great post Jessica. I think the point about reasonable expectations is particularly important. In my experience of in-house SEO, top level management seems to think that it’s something of a setting – just switch it on and the site ranks number one. This is where managing expectations is critical.

  2. Jessica Lee writes:

    Thanks, Derek! You’re so right. And that’s something for businesses to watch out for as well — when SEOs promise top rankings quickly. When that happens, it should always raise a red flag. Thanks for reading!

  3. Zunaira Karim writes:

    I agree 100% with Derek in regards to handling expectations. For the most part you’re rarely dealing with top level management in a company as they’re usually just the ‘money’ at the end of the day. But if you’re dealing with other members of a company more as opposed to top level management, I think it’s necessary as an SEO to request that you deal with them more frequently and they need to be kept in the loop constantly.

    I’d like to add one more thing…although having an SEO knowledge base is important, it’s also crucial that every SEO is up to date with current SEO news and that should be part of your daily routine. If you get to that point where you’re working too hard and miss out on doing your daily reading, it’ll hurt you in the future.

  4. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hi, Zunaira! You’re right, SEO is fast-moving, even more so than some other tech jobs, so education daily/weekly should be a part of an SEO’s job. And with regards to keeping top-level management in the loop, it’s a must. If they don’t understand the value in SEO, your operations could be shut down at any time or not given the chance to gain the momentum it deserves.

  5. Harsh writes:

    Hey a great Post Jess..

    Seriously the top level management seriously needs to consider SEO as an important part in there stratgey for marketing.



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