How to Stop Being an SEO Avoider
SEO is unlike any discipline in your company. It influences your content, designs, and UX. At companies that are extremely focused on search optimization, it also influences public relations and social media activities. However, according to Jessica Bowman, owner of SEO In-House, other teams within the company often don’t know how or when to work with the SEO team. This results in that team spending a big portion of their time chasing projects, and search optimization opportunities are lost.
During her MarTech East presentation, “SEO Framework for Marketing Operations Leaders,” Bowman explained that while your company’s SEO might be growing, it is indeed stunted by mistakes. "SEO growth is stunted by SEO mistakes ... more bluntly, SEO avoidance," Bowman explained. To keep from leaving money on the table, the entire company should be mobilized around search, with more than just the SEO team being responsible for it. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
Bowman explained that while corporate leadership often understands the necessity and importance of implementing a strong search strategy, most don't go beyond the "rah-rah" speech. This is a problem. Instead, Bowman stated that executives must hold everyone accountable for implementing a search optimization strategy, including themselves.
Evaluating Your SEO Operations and Making Changes
To determine whether your organization is either an SEO Avoider or SEO Pacesetter, Bowman offered up these questions to ask:
- Is the search optimization team spending most of its time chasing projects instead of being invited to them at the appropriate time?
- Is your organization dancing the "SEO Two-Step," taking a couple steps forward, then a couple steps back, often within the same release?
- Do teams intentionally skip search optimization without involving the SEO team to review impacts or risks to projects?
- Are there a lot of small search optimization mistakes being made that seem to be not a big deal, but in aggregate are negatively affecting your program?
- Is only the SEO team handling search optimization?
- Are non-SEO teams acting on the 20% of SEO that makes 80% of the impact for their roles?
According to Bowman, answering "yes" to these questions makes you an Avoider ... but not all is lost. The following are five steps to take to shift your organization from being an Avoider into being a Pacesetter:
1. Get SEO into the workflow: Once search optimization is baked into the workflow it becomes an unquestioned activity, which sets up the following steps.
2. Set up accountability. According to Bowman, each role within the company should do their 20% of SEO that makes for 80% of its impact. This should not be just on the shoulders of the search optimization team.
3. Link SEO activities to performance. When you make everyone responsible for their share of search optimization duties throughout the company by assigning specific KPIs, you show teams just how important the initiative is. This ensures everyone understands what their role is and how it affects their overall performance review.
4. Offer training. If you want people to support the search optimization strategy, they need to be trained, and moreso, you need to provide role-based training. How a member of the editorial team engages in SEO is different than a member of the dev team. By making training role-specific, you can break it into multiple, smaller sessions catered to each group, instead of pulling the entire company away from their daily tasks to attend one large, longer training.
5. Do research. Completing research can help your company determine strategic planning, forecast revenue opportunities and risks, and decide specifically what needs to go on what pages.
Organizations need their operations leaders to put these practices into action if they want to take advantage of every SEO opportunity available. The sooner this process is begun, the sooner the benefits will arrive.