During a recent webinar, Page One Power's Cody Cahill stated: "Managing a team of SEOs is very difficult."
This statement caused me to recall my first experiences with search marketing at Search Engine Strategies 2005. The conference was coming to Chicago, and back then it attracted thousands of people.
I reached out to Danny Sullivan to ask if I could get involved in Search Engine Strategies, and he volunteered me to hold microphones during the question and answer sessions.
Danny asked me to pick the sessions of highest interest to me, which was hard because the session descriptions had search marketing concepts that I did not yet understand.
Once I got there, it was fun, educational, interesting and exciting. I talked to many people attending the conference, and heard a common problem over and over again:
"I have all these new SEO skills and I am frustrated. Nobody in upper management knows how to manage me."
I remember walking out of that 2005 conference thinking, "This is going to be easy to change."
The Challenges of Managing SEO Teams
Over a decade later, we are still at the starting line. The SEO and link building community has not been well integrated into organizations. These challenges and opportunities include:
- Large advertising agencies, for the most part, ignore SEO.
- Organizations typically overpay for paid search, while under-budgeting SEO.
- New website launches often destroy previous SEO work, and everyday activities can detract from SEO efforts.
- Chief Financial Officers and Chief Executive Officers commonly have an unhealthy obsession with ROI metrics.
- Executives preach the value of data, yet don't understand that web analytics is an incomplete data set.
- The perception that SEO is taking place with endless and infinite reporting. Reporting alone does not lead to new results.
- Change management practitioners who are experts in psychology, but not knowledgeable about business, digital marketing or SEO.
- Procurement departments that buy business services are often managed to purchase the lowest bidder instead of the optimal solution. This is true for SEO, business strategy, and many other disciplines.
- Businesses that are unclear on their business, customer model, and culture.
To be clear, this is not unique to SEO. There are many niche disciplines that are often undermanaged within organizations. Examples include: event marketing, organizational design, and recruiting and procurement. Worse, some large professional services firms have business models that are not in the best interest of their clients.
I have seen many situations where SEO and other niche specialties were undermanaged. These experiences made me consider different ways to manage niche disciplines like SEO. These events and other related trends have led me to launch Fearless Revival.
Upper management needs awareness and understanding of these concerns. They need help defining the right changes to make, so they can focus scarce resources on the right priorities and execute at a high level. They need advisors that care about creating actual positive outcomes.
SEO done wrong is a life or death issue for a business. In 2010, I wrote about a company that went out of business after 153 years. In my personal opinion, this was primarily due to not using unbranded keywords on the website.
Search marketing is about connecting with the right customers so they take action. Many conversations in the SEO community skip over this basic concept. While SEO is changing, the majority of SEO concepts revolve around classical basics. The focus needs to go beyond technical SEO, and focus on customer outcomes.
Rising Above the Noise
With the massive increases in web content, quality keywords are no longer enough. This concept is simple to understand, but paradigm shifts of this type often go undetected by the human mind. The pace is slow, too slow for it to automatically move from our subliminal mind to the conscious mind.
You need to build high quality links to overcome the infinite noise on the Internet.
This is the value of the boutique service provider. High quality boutique service providers bring unique external perspective, expertise, and execution.
With both business strategy and SEO, quality matters. Strategy and corporate culture of a business need to be clear. You need advisors and people that put the customer first in all actions, and this needs to be done before marketing activities start.
So what can we do to create awareness of these issues? How can we create an effective business strategy that builds a foundation for quality SEO?
Join Us for A Webinar
UPDATE: David presented his webinar on 4/19 and you can now access both the SlideShare deck and YouTube recording. Both the deck and video recording are also embedded at the end of this post.