To make a valuable impact, SEO has to be understood by more than just an organisation’s search marketers. This post suggests how to explain the concepts, and get buy-in, from different people within an organisation.
I’ve chosen some of the standard roles that you may find in a company or organisation with a web-presence and for each one have listed:
- Their role: a description of their position within the company and their responsibilities.
- Persuade them: once you’ve described SEO, this gives something extra to get them excited about the possibilities of SEO for them / their department, to help get them on side.
- Ask them: I’ve tried to list one particular request you can make to people in each role to benefit the SEO process within your organisation.
In addition, you should remember to give back to each of these stakeholders. There’ll be some metric, data or graphs that will demonstrate to them the ongoing effect they are having on the project, how it has benefited the organisation as a whole, and (for bonus points) how their role has benefited from SEO success. Inspiring people in this way leads to their ongoing commitment, and a successful organisation full of motivated, happy people.
- Their role: Responsible for the whole company; interested in the ‘big picture’ and needs to be able to justify decisions and costs to the board and shareholders.
- Persuade them: SEO gives a competitive advantage in attracting visitors and customers. Though it requires an initial push of effort, and ongoing resource, the work will show a demonstrable ROI, they’ll be provided with regular figures for the board about the profit generated by SEO efforts.
- Ask them: if there are any questions or objections they have, so that you can answer / resolve them. It can be important to get senior management to understand and appreciate online marketing, both so that they can approve investment in it and so that they will enthuse about & promote the project internally.
- Their role: Responsible for developing technology within the organisation and we’ll assume in this case responsible for the organisation’s website and online development.
- Persuade them: There is a large technical aspect to optimising a website for search engines – lots of information is available (both officially from the search engines, and recommendations from third parties) but there is work to be done in adapting this best-practice advice to the organisation’s unique needs. However, it’s not an entirely technical process, and much of the ongoing work will be done ‘off-site’, by those in the advertising / promotions teams.
- Ask them: to assign a proportion of their team’s time to SEO – ideally including members from both web development and R&D departments.
- Their role: Designing the look and branding of the organisation’s website
- Persuade them: Designing websites that will adhere to SEO principles need not be a significant constraint. There’s a significant overlap between designing human-usable and SEO-friendly sites, and many of the most well designed & stylish sites follow the appropriate guidelines.
- Ask them: to spend time talking to developers and SEOs about design practices that may harm or hamper SEO, and use this knowledge in their online design work.
- Their role: To turn designs for web pages into code which can be published online.
- Persuade them: By following some relatively straight forward (and typically common-sense) practices when writing code, developers have a vital role in creating pages that can be easily read and understood by search engines. They’ll see the impact of their work very visibly, as pages from the site get indexed and returned in appropriate search results.
- Ask them: to read lots! They can start with SEOmoz’s guides and blog posts (espec. pages from the technical issues category) and should print out the web developer’s SEO cheat sheet. Also, remind them that as easy at this basic best-practice stuff is, lots of people do get it wrong, so they should be prepared to get mad-props from their SEO colleagues for not fouling up this stuff as much as some of the competitors.
- Their role: In commercial organisations, they’re responsible for the journey through the funnel from enquiry to sale.
- Persuade them: We can use data from the website and experience from the SEO community to target phrases which will generate visits & enquiries from the people most likely to convert into a sale. Their feedback about new enquiries and leads, combined with analytics data, will help tailor the products/services and marketing messages to minimise poor lead for the team and maximise sales profit.
- Ask them: to help with keyword research by giving you the words and phrases that potential customers use to describe their problems or to ask for product types.
- Their role: Responsibilities can include product development, advertising, press and promotion.
- Persuade them: Highly ethical SEO can be undertaken by following all the marketing best practices they’re familiar with. Giving a positive experience before and after purchase, creating and fostering conversations around the brand, getting coverage on trusted websites, etc can all contribute to improved rankings. In addition, search engine marketing produces very clear returns in terms of number of visitors, their activity on the site and purchases made / revenue generated – so they’ll be able to demonstrate value and justify ongoing investment in this activity.
- Ask them: to get up to speed on the importance of inbound links, and discover ways that their teams’ activities can help to generate links.
- Their role: Responsibilities may include any of creating, commissioning, editing and publishing content on the site.
- Persuade them: As well as being able to attract more visitors to your content, we can use SEO insights to help generate ideas for new site content that could be particularly successful. We can produce guidelines for your writers to help their content be more successful in search engines, and we can provide statistics that show how successful different pieces of content or different writers have been, to help inspire them to create more great content.
- Ask them: to review analytics and link data with you, to look at what has been particularly successful (in terms of total traffic, links and search traffic) and to try creating copy and content that is more SEO targeted. In addition, talk to them about writing great headlines and about linkbait’ show how their team can create content that goes wild on social networks and gets loads of links.
Community / Outreach Manager
- Their role: Responsible for the organisation’s relationships with individuals on and/or off the site, often with a view to generating conversation about the brand.
- Persuade them: By reaching out to people elsewhere online and encouraging them to mention us & link to the site, you / your team will increase the strength and trust of the site – this increases its ability to receive traffic for relevant search terms. Using tools such as Linkscape, we can show the value of every link you create and help you find new opportunities for outreach and linkbuilding.
- Ask them: to try requesting links from a few people they have close relationships with. Demonstrate how to find new places and people to reach out to and reasons to contact them (such as sharing content, offering resources, writing guest content, offering prizes etc.)
Every organisation has different roles, and the roles may have different responsibilities, but this gives some idea of the ways you might persuade different people that they can contribute to and benefit from SEO.