For most businesses, SEO is the second biggest driver of traffic to their website and, depending on the brand, SEO can be THE biggest traffic driver. However, even in companies that understand how important SEO is for generating traffic, the SEOs themselves are often poorly integrated into the organization and they work in very small teams. Sometimes the SEO team consists of just a single person, who may also be splitting their own limited resources across the management of multiple domains. In this post, I’d like to share five tips (based on my own experience), which will help you gain more influence within your organization as an in-house SEO.
If you’re looking for support with your in-house SEO activities or trying to reorganise your SEO structures, then our Digital Strategies Group consultants will be happy to lend a hand:
One of the major challenges of increasing your influence as a SEO is getting noticed in your organization. To make a difference, you have to be part of everything that affects the website and its online performance. Often, search engine optimization is treated as something reactive, rather than proactive. This means waiting for things to break and asking the SEOs to fix everything afterwards. Wouldn’t it be better if SEOs were involved in setting things up correctly and sustainably, so that they didn’t break in the first place? Here are my five tips for how you can be involved in the processes that matter and build your influence as an in-house SEO.
1. Do a weekly 1:1 with your product owners
In most companies, you have product owners who are responsible for certain parts of the website. There might be one for the homepage, another one for category pages and search pages, and another one for the product detail pages etc. These are all pages, where it is very much in your interest as an SEO to influence how they are built or appear to users and search engines.
My recommendation is to set up a weekly 1:1 with the product owner responsible for the part(s) of the website you are focused on. Here, you can go review the roadmap for new features or changes, and discuss next steps, challenges, goals etc. This not only helps you to be on top of things and make the product owner aware of anything that needs special SEO attention. It also gives you the opportunity to introduce projects you are working on or ideas that you have, and ensure that these are aligned with the roadmap. Use these 1:1 meetings to explain how your ideas would positively impact the business and the roadmap. In most cases, if your ideas are good, they will be added to the roadmap and the product owner will own them for you.
2. Jump on the marketing campaign calendar
If you work with a professional marketing team, they’ll normally be developing a marketing calendar for every campaign they are planning for the current year, with campaigns designed to boost sales of certain categories and products.
For example, imagine you work for an eCommerce company which sells garden furniture. The marketing team will start as early as March with their planning for all important categories and products, setting up homepage campaigns, newsletter shots, social media campaigns or even TV ads and out-of-home campaigns. The same goes for camping stuff in Q2, autumn fashion collections in Q3 or skiing apparel in Q4.
This is your opportunity to jump on the campaigns and plan to optimize those category, product and magazine pages, with fresh content, internal links, speed and image optimization etc. Because these campaigns are important for your CMO, they’ll be open to making personnel or financial resources available, if needed, because you’re supporting the success of their campaigns. Just make sure you are jumping on the KPI reporting to prove your success.
3. Stand up in team/department/MOMA meetings
You’re an SEO and you’re doing amazing things that have a big positive impact on the overall business! Share it with the business at regular intervals!
In most companies, there will be weekly or monthly meetings with the entire department. Let’s take marketing again as an example. Here, the PPC/SEA team shares how the last campaigns went, the graphics team shares the new visuals for the next campaign, the Head of Department shares how you’re doing in terms of numbers, provides a look at goals etc. If you’re not already involved, ask your Head of Department for a slot to share your KPIs (Visibility, Clicks, Traffic etc.) Make the team aware how SEO is performing against the goals, what is planned and what you have done since the last meeting.
4. Join grooming sessions!
Based on your sprint cycles, your development team and product owners will do a regular grooming session. They use these sessions to looking at the backlog of Jira tickets and estimate ticket sizes and scopes. Based on the grooming, decisions will be made which tickets to put into the next sprint and which not to, depending how much free space is left. I’ve had the experience that, even though you’ve already described a ticket very well, it helps to give your verbal input on the specific ticket before it’s evaluated. It also helps you to get a better overview of what else is planned and where you might want to intervene.
Also, I once found out by joining a grooming session that that server-side rendering wasn’t planned for a website relaunch using React. But I could intervene immediately and early enough to make sure that they implemented it with the relaunch. This helped us to avoid a massive loss in visibility, rankings and therefore traffic.
5. Share results with your developers
In SEO, it’s important to measure everything and constantly communicate developments with your stakeholders. A developer, for example, will be more willing to continue supporting you if you can show what impact their contribution is having on the business.
It not only helps to hang up a screen near your department with KPI dashboards, but to send regular updates after a deployment to your developers. This makes them aware of the impact and increases the quality and willingness to implement your requests.
And this doesn’t just apply to developers. Communicating impact also helps when you are working with content creators and/or journalists. As soon as they understand how users behave on their articles, how many visits they are getting, how many links, how long users stay on the page, how many comments and shares the posts are getting etc., then they’ll understand the power of SEO and it won’t be long before they’re back at your desk asking for your support.