It's important for an in-house SEO to recognize that your job is not to do or handle SEO for the entire organization. Taking the view that SEO is your responsibility and yours alone will mean you stay siloed, away from the rest of the organization - which ultimately will impact your ability to be effective. Instead, as in-house SEOs its our job to make sure that search engine marketing happens - whether its done by us or by other people in the company.
To accomplish this we need to incorporate SEO into the day-to-day business of the company. Unless you can be everywhere at once, sooner or later a big project is going to come along that gets way too far in the development process before you even find out about it - and that's when SEO-unfriendly site changes get implemented before your very eyes. Only by operationalizing SEO, by making it part of the way everyone who touches the website goes about their business, can we ensure success. In this model, you grow from being the person who does SEO to a subject-matter expert and the curator of a company-wide effort toward better digital marketing. Here are 6 ways to operationalize SEO:
1. Make SEO Goals Part of the Annual Review/Goal-Setting Process for Relevant Staff.
Work with your team members to get SEO initiatives included in the goal-setting process. This might be something like increasing inbound links for your PR team, or lowering site load time for your dev team. People are much more likely to work toward SEO goals if they're common goals that are fully incorporated into their job tasks, rather than favours you ask them to do in addition to their regular duties.
2. Update Your Processes and Documentation to Include SEO Tasks.
Whenever possible, you should be trying to make SEO-related tasks as repeatable, scalable and template-driven as possible. That means working to integrate SEO considerations into existing processes whenever you can, rather than adding another set of processes on top. To make sure changes last, update documentation as well.
3. Add SEO Targets to Statements of Work.
Just like with internal staff, vendors and consultants are much more likely to follow through on SEO tasks if they're tied to how performance is measured. Spell your deliverables out in statements of work so everyone's clear on what's expected.
4. Add SEO KPIs to Team Reports.
Anyone who's been on a diet can tell you that what gets measured, gets improved. Making other teams responsible for relevant SEO metrics " and getting those metrics included in their regular reports - gives teams clear goals to shoot for, consistent reminders of what were trying to accomplish, and a sense of ownership of the SEO KPIs they touch. For the dev team, these metrics might be something like page speed or number of errors. For the copywriting team it might be percentage of pages with unique content.
5. Educate, Educate, Educate!
Its your job to be the voice of SEO during project planning, to make sure important elements aren't overlooked. Like I said earlier, though, you cant be everywhere. Regular education empowers other team members to consider the SEO impact of projects that get introduced when you're not around. You don't have to teach every team everything about SEO. Instead, hold regular meetings (it's nice if you can throw in some free lunch) and present team-specific training around the SEO best practices that are most likely to affect that team. Keep everyone updated on the latest search engine trends and the state of your site's SEO overall. Over time, the entire team will be better equipped to make SEO-friendly decisions around the site.
6. Become an Honorary Member of the IT/Development Team(s).
An in-house SEO usually sits on the Marketing team, and that's appropriate. But the IT and Development teams have an absolutely huge impact on the website. Become an honorary member of the teams. You don't have to go to all their meetings, but drop in to a planning or prioritization meeting once a month or so. Its the best way to get the inside scoop on what they're up to and provide an SEO-focused perspective; its also the best way to gain insight into their goals and struggles. Helping your co-workers achieve their goals is the best way to get them to help you achieve yours (a well-placed round of drinks or two doesn't hurt either).
The more you can get your entire organization working toward SEO perfection, the more successful you'll be. Doesn't that sound better than trying to do it all by yourself?
If you liked this, you'll love The Importance of SEO Education Within a Company