Technical vs. Creative: Who Should Manage On-Page SEO?
"Good fences make good neighbors."
That is a line from Robert Frost's early 20th century poem "The Mending Wall," and it's also a relevant philosophy when determining who's responsible for your on-page SEO.
Whoa — sounds like quite the leap, right? Not really. Frost's poem is about two neighbors who, despite having no livestock or overhanging trees, meet each year to repair a stone wall that separates their properties. One neighbor implores the other to give up their annual ritual, while the other simply repeats,
"Good fences make good neighbors."
The full meaning of Frost's poem is up for interpretation. The neighbors carry out their task of reinforcing the barrier between them. But in doing so, they collaborate and work together. They meet at an agreed upon boundary and debate without conflict. Then they go on, maintaining their separate lives, one as a pine tree grower and the other as an apple farmer.
How does this apply to your website's on-page SEO? Read on, and I'll explain.
SEOs and Content Creators: Farmers of Different Crops
Farming isn't just a career path — it's a lifestyle choice. You can draw many general similarities between farmers, such as they love working outdoors, they enjoy living in the country and they like to work with their hands. They appreciate the cycles of growth and harvests. They are experts at monitoring, analyzing and adapting to produce the most bountiful crops.
Similar things can be said about people who work in SEO. They're tech savvy and prefer constantly evolving, fast-paced environments. They enjoy the rush of earning high-ranking search results. They tend to be balanced creatively and analytically; they don't shy away from complex data, yet they're artistic enough to understand how websites, social media pages and other online assets could be made more engaging for visitors.
Look closer, though — especially at SEO marketers and webpage content creators — and they are far from mirror images.
Traditional SEOs are more analytical than creative. They often come from performance-marketing backgrounds with skills in PPC advertising, Web design and user experience. They're capable writers — skilled enough for meta tags and page headers — but mind-blowing content isn't usually their bread and butter.
Then you've got the artistically leaning content creators. They can whip out edgy blog entries, craft eye-popping infographics and produce entertaining or informative videos. They're not as in touch with search data, but they're in tune with the needs of consumers. When people post links to your website, it's often because a content creator made something worth sharing.
Just like farmers, SEOs and content creators share a lot in common. But pine tree growers aren't apple farmers, and apple farmers aren't pine tree growers. Each expert brings something different to the table. And each set of skills is necessary for on-page SEO to reach its full potential.
Good Boundaries Make Good Collaborators
"Too many cooks spoil the broth."
If there's a counter to "Good fences make good neighbors," then that would be it. Frost's famous line depicts two neighbors with markedly different personalities coming together, as planned, to achieve a common goal. Compare that with the imagery of competing chefs — each with subjective, personal opinions of how broth should taste — all trying to season the same bubbling pot.
SEOs and content creators each have something the other needs. SEO marketers analyze search queries, website analytics and other sets of data to determine where on-page SEO needs to be strengthened. Content creators churn out slogans, articles, blog posts, images and videos that connect with visitors and cultivate brands. SEOs can't fully do their jobs without the content that Web users love; meanwhile, content creators can't do much with that grade-A meat without keyword optimization and other ingredients from SEOs.
That's why SEOs and content creators should work together. The key is acknowledging that while collaboration is essential, each must stay on his side of the wall!
Don't get me wrong — crossover skills are important. Content creators can shape messages more effectively when they understand the data-driven logic of what they need to communicate. Likewise, SEO marketers can work more efficiently with content creators when they understand the limitations of deadlines, platforms and technology.
The On-Page SEO Workflow
Our preferred workflow for on-page SEO is simple. The SEO marketer should meet with the content creator and review all relevant data. Is their website failing to rank for certain target keywords? Is it missing out on low-competition queries? Do specific webpages have high bounce rates? Does the website need more content that can be shared on social media?
Next, the content creator recommends approaches to meet the SEO's needs. Sometimes, only minor revisions are needed to make big impacts with optimization. Other times, the content creator might recommend entirely new topics to attract and captivate visitors.
The big question here was who should manage on-page SEO. So far, we've teased the answer as a complete collaboration — which brings us to our third and final quote, "If everyone is responsible, no one is responsible."
The buck must stop with someone, and that person is the SEO marketer. The content creator's job is creating the best-possible content that meets the needs of his company. Ultimately, it’s the SEO marketer’s responsibility to ensure that the content ranks high and drives relevant traffic from Google.
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Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.