The truth is, many companies are just now starting to wake up to the benefit of optimizing and marketing their websites online. Therefore, as a new in-house SEO, you should keep in mind that although your industry may be extremely exciting to you, not many (if any) in your new company will feel the same way at first. To eventually be considered as an integral part of the team should be one of your main goals though, and you definitely won’t accomplish this without hitting some obstacles along the way.
Seeing as there was no SEO department to speak of when I started in-house with Statusfirm, I was feeling somewhat lonely and out of place. To top it off, my first few weeks were spent not optimizing or marketing anything but meeting with various key players within the company in order to explain just who I was and what I was even doing there!
Having survived (and made some stellar progress too) during my first year I’ve created a handy reference list with a few tips to help other in-houser’s feel comfortable, get focused, gain respect and ease the transition during those first few months on the job.
Information is your friend. Spend some time researching and compiling information about the SEO/SEM industry for your coworkers. Along with some juicy SEO tidbits I revealed to my new employer about their sites, I also took the time to produce a comprehensive (yet newbie friendly) document entitled “What Is SEO/SEM”. I have a stack of hard copies on my desk where anyone who’s interested can have a look.
Come up with an easy one sentence paragraph that sums up what you do. I know this is easier said than done. Your going to be asked a lot though and giving the usual, boring “techie” explanation will simply cause the listeners eyes to glaze over. Make your job sound fun, exciting and most of all, necessary. Basically avoid: “I’m involved in the process of ranking websites and gaining popularity through the use of methodical blah, blah, blah”. Instead opt for something like “It’s my job to get traffic and promote the site(s) online”. As people get more comfortable with you and you begin to produce some results, they’re curiosity will peak and they’ll begin to ask questions about how you do what you do. It’s then that you can dazzle them with your search engine prowess.
Involve yourself. Stay up to date on any new company projects and try to involve yourself in them from the get go. A few times I have just been handed a new site and told to ‘optimize’ it when it would have been ideal to be involved in the planning from the very beginning. Remember, until they know precisely what it is you can do, you most likely won’t be asked for your opinions.
Conduct a Q & A session. As you begin to produce results and openly share your accomplishments (see below), your coworkers will naturally become more interested in what you’re doing. This would be a great opportunity to really fill them in by conducting a brief lunch time seminar. Offer to review and give suggestions on a few of their personal sites to get the ball rolling. Use slides and humor for maximum impact.
Before you request any changes, do up a “proposal”. If you’re not authorized to implement changes on the fly, it may be necessary to first ‘propose’ them. Remember that business owners and executives rely on numbers and timelines. Let them know what you’d like to change, why the changes will benefit the SE presence of the company, how long the changes will take and when they can expect results. This will probably eat up the majority of your time at first. The upside is, if they’re not on board with the changes, it’s at least been documented that you suggested/recommended them.
Be openly proud of accomplishments. Just knocked a competitor out of top spot? Scored a juicy authority link? Went front page on a social media site? Let everyone know! Send out a company wide email once in awhile detailing all the recent SEO and SEM accomplishments. If you show excitement when reaching your goals, your co-workers will too.
Give credit where it’s due. It’s important to make your in-house SEO job a company wide ‘team effort’. If a sudden jump in rankings can be attributed to a change in design or programming (even if you recommended it), give public kudos to the team responsible. Getting everybody on board with what you do is crucial to your success.
Melanie Nathan is the Director of SEO,SEM and SMM for a popular Edmonton web development company; STATUSfirm. She has posted before on this site with the incredibly popular Link Request Strategies for Blogs, Edu’s & .Gov’s: Respect My Authoritah!
You can follow Melanie on Twitter to learn more about her.