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How Do Mid-Size Business Leaders Manage SEO?

March 20, 2020


seo management for business

What Does SEO Management Within a Mid-Size Business Look Like? 

Management and business are not words you typically hear when having a discussion about search engine optimization? 

But why not? 

In every business you have management and oversight that’s present within your accounting, IT, product development etc. But why isn’t there any organizational management in your digital marketing operation, including your SEO operation? 

You do not have to be an actual SEO professional to understand the need for SEO management.  The kind of SEO management I’m referring to is the business of managing SEO within your organization. 

So what does “SEO Management” actually look like? It has to start with the most senior executive in charge of marketing for the business. That might be the Chief Marketing Officer, it might be the SVP of Digital Marketing, or it could even be the marketing manager. 

Regardless of the title or level of the individual that person, and maybe that’s you, needs to instill some management and oversight within the SEO program or, IT. WILL. FAIL. 

SEO management includes the following: 

  • Process
  • People
  • Technology

The process includes things like how the activities are being done. 

  1. When there’s a new product being developed does your SEO person or team get involved early and often? 

  2. Anytime someone develops new content for the website is there an SEO checklist or list of best practice considerations they adhere to so they don’t overlook anything? 

  3. Is there a method of reporting out the KPIs SEO is responsible for achieving? 

  4. Who owns the SEO strategy for the business? (and has it been shared across every business unit?) 

When you consider the people involved in the overall operation of your digital marketing this requires a level understanding as to how SEO operates from person to person in your business. 

We get into that more in the next section of what your digital marketing team looks like. 

Finally, what technology do you have in place to make all this work? That could be an SEO tool like SEMrush or a larger enterprise platform like Conductor Searchlight to manage your larger site. 

Your technology should be carefully considered. There were many times in my career when I’d be in charge of the digital marketing budget. What software and tools do you need to run an effective SEO program, and which could you do without? 

Making a business case for Conductor Searchlight, and letting go of some of the unnecessary tools was a regular occurrence as Executive Director of Ecommerce or Lead SEO for the global organization. 

When all these necessary pieces fit together you will have a well connected and fully operational SEO machine in your business.

The SEO Process Step By Step

Your SEO program should not look like this …

Half a person responsible for SEO. That person also has another job in your business, meaning, SEO is not what they do full time. They do some keyword research on Monday and Tuesday they check their rankings against those keywords. 

They decide that they need another keyword ranking tool so they watch a few YouTube videos and decide to subscribe to some less than valuable tool to do something less than valuable. 

Next, that same person isn’t aware of how to set up Google Search Console, or that they really should have that setup and therefore doesn’t know how to submit an XML sitemap so that Google has a way to crawl all the pages within the site. They also don’t realize that Search Console is an absolute MUST in every SEO program. 

And on and on I could go, but you get the idea. You must have someone tending to SEO full time in your business. If you do not hire them as a full time employee you should hire them as a full time consultant or look to a digital agency that specializes in SEO to manage this. 

A fully formed SEO process consists of, what we call, a three tiered approach. 

TIER 1

The Technical analysis and assessment. This is a full diagnostic of the site, which includes an in depth view of all the crawling errors, broken links, and misappropriated redirects as well as determining page speed and the user experience, user interface and accessibility of the site.

TIER 2 

A full Content Auditing and Understanding of the buyer persona. A content audit will show you what type of content exists, or does not exist in your site for your prospective new customer at the time they are searching. Do you have very specific answers to your customers problems or questions? Does your site provide the right kind of information your ideal customer or client is seeking at the beginning of their research, at the consideration phase or when they are ready to buy or inquire more information from a sales person?

TIER 3

Trust and Authority through Link Acquisition. Since Google and Bing are link based search engines, acquisition of good, quality, trustworthy, relevant links are integral to the overall health of the site. Do not ever buy links, as this does against Google’s quality guidelines. We help our clients through manual outreach and development of quality content that naturally attracts quality links to the site. 

Additionally, having a site wiki internally is a good place to house SEO best practices, and process or checklists to share across the business so that there is no misunderstanding as to how SEO should operate in your business.

What Does A Digital Marketing Team Within a Medium Sized Business Look Like? 

You might be an executive who oversees all marketing for the business, or you might be a 

Large businesses need an SEO champion responsible for garnering buy-in from the top to the bottom of the organization.  Here’s what I mean by getting executive buy in ...

"The chairman of the board called a company meeting. He announced that search engine optimization was a key strategic initiative for the company. Everybody needed to be on board … or, essentially, they could find another place to work"...

Bruce Clay CMO Directive : Think SEO or Work Somewhere Else

and what happens from that is nothing short of what's to be expected when you do practice such oversight..

 "After implementing the SEO program, then came the results: a 900 percent increase in traffic within the first week. And the site’s prominence continues to this day. "  SEO is forever...

You or someone in your team, needs to become the SEO Champion.  The SEO champion can help guide SEO initiatives, maintain realistic expectations, and keep momentum moving forward. 

The SEO buck stops with that person. 

Any buy in, or progress, or lack of progress in the SEO program will sit on that person’s shoulders. 

It’s incumbent upon that person to make sure they own the process, the SEO operation must move forward and there must be at least one individual in your business that owns that. 

They need to become the SEO advocate, who believes that beyond a shadow of a doubt SEO does work, and not only does it work when it becomes a focus in the business, it brings in the largest amount of sales and revenue for a business. 

There are likely many others who touch SEO in one way or another. Many aren’t even aware they are. Those people might look like some of the following: 

  1. 1
    IT/Engineering or Developer Team
  2. 2
    PR
  3. 3
    Product Marketing
  4. 4
    Business Development
  5. 5
    Sales
  6. 6
    Customer Journey Team

Each of those people, in many cases, does not know how to fit into the SEO cycle of things. 

Now because so much has evolved in SEO, so too has the size and skills of those people involved in the SEO team. There are very specific people The SEO team may consist of the following very common SEO roles:  

  • VP of SEO 
  • Technical SEO 
  • Project Manager
  • Content Marketer (This person knows SEO, and is not just a “content creator”)
  • Data Scientist 
  • SEO Engineers 
  • Client Situation: Typical Enterprise business of more than 1,000 employees, or with a multinational corporate size business: 
  • SEO Global Team Lead
  •  Content -Focused SEO Team
  • Technical-SEO Team 
  • International SEO Team 

Each of these people requires regular and consistent SEO education. 

That can be in the form of a monthly knowledge exchange meeting (online if that’s easiest and in light of COVID-19, just makes sense). 

That monthly SEO knowledge exchange meeting should be geared to help educate these teams on their involvement and how they can contribute from an SEO standpoint. This does not mean they should be taught how to become an SEO, but rather, the fundamentals and how what they do impacts the visibility of the pages within the site. 

Ideally this should be led and run by the lead SEO within your business. If you're working with an outside agency or consultant, you could ask them to host one of your monthly meetings, or ask them to provide you with something to share with your team. 

This should be scheduled. Meaning, you must make this a consistent part of your business behavior. Every month, or every 6 weeks, something more often than once or twice a year would be ideal. 

It should be fun, engaging and interactive. You do NOT want to drone on about the technicalities of JavaScript and SEO or that FCP means first contentful paint and what that has to do with page speed. 

This should be a learning and sharing type of activity. The content should not be so difficult that it goes over the heads of most of your audience. Keep it to what matters most to your business, and what can you as an organization do that differentiates your business from those of your competitors. 

Be as creative in this process as you can. Remember, everything is optimizable. Your infographic, your white paper, the case studies, or your demo videos

Avoid Siloing Your SEO Team

One of the MOST common problems within most sized businesses is a siloing of the SEO. I don’t care if you’re a 200,000 person business or a 1,000 person business ignoring or leaving SEO as the afterthought just happens. 

This is also, not too surprisingly, a very big way you’ll find your SEO to not gain traction and just not work. You’ll know this because if you walk into any business and they either do not pay enough attention to SEO as a serious revenue generating marketing channel, or if they do have an SEO in-house, you’ll find that person off alone on their own. You’ll also hear many within that business say “Yeah, not sure this whole SEO thing really works, I haven’t seen it work at all.” 

Wake up! That’s because there is no leadership who will get behind that SEO and become their advocate. That’s also because no one in the business even understands what SEO stands for, let alone realize there’s an actual strategy that lone SEO has developed. 

OK. So what should you do if you find yourself siloing out your SEO program? 

Step 1, read above, make sure you get leadership involved. 

The project management team should become acquainted with the SEO team as well. When there’s a new product launch or website redesign, or platform migration or any number of very large changes that occur in the life of a website, the SEO should not be out of that team collaboration. 

I’ve witnessed some really smart SEOs within many of my client’s businesses, and they aren’t born leaders or managers, but they are really whip smart when it comes to SEO. 

Leadership and management of SEO is not a thing you easily acquire.

In fact, many of my fellow SEO professionals come from all kinds of backgrounds including IT, medicine, legal and many without any business management background. Teaching these people to think strategically or with consideration as to the business strategy is not something that comes very easy to many who are thinking solely about the tactical activities of SEO. 

They need senior leadership support. Bring them into your executive team meetings and allow them time during the QBRs and end of year review. They will adopt a business mindset and help build a plan that bridges what you need to accomplish in the form of objectives and key results i.e. increase percentage of revenue through a set of products or services, launching a new product or service, etc. 

What Kind of Technology Resources Would a Mid-Size Business Require to Efficiently Run SEO? 

There’s lots of really good SEO technology and many of those platforms are helpful, but it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and who is actually operating SEO within your business. 

The short list of what I would recommend for a mid-size business with an internal SEO full time

  • Conductor Searchlight - which is an SEO platform, not a tool. That simply means that incorporates things like analytics, customer insight, etc. It gives you the big picture of SEO, rather than the granular level some of the smaller tools provide. 

  • Google Search Console - A MUST! This is free and absolutely must be set up in order to learn what Google sees or identifies as difficulty in crawling, indexation, etc. This is also where you upload your XML sitemap, and robots.txt. If you acquire nothing at all in this list, this is one that you absolutely must get setup

The other tools below would be recommended if you do NOT have Conductor Searchlight. 

  • Ahrefs - Typically this is a tool I would highly recommend for your agency or consultant managing your program. I would caution just getting this tool if you or your SEO does not know how to make the most use out of it, because it would not be a good use of your marketing budget

  • Screaming Frog - (Assuming you do not have Conductor, which has DeepCrawl already part of its platform, which does the same thing this tool does) 

There are a few others I’d probably recommend, but I’ll assume you don’t have a massive budget, and you’d prefer to stick with those that you can get started with right away. 

Why Should Businesses Use SEO Consultants or Agencies?

There are many reasons you would employ an SEO agency or consultant to assist you with your SEO program. At The Bartoli Consulting Group, we assist with execution of and participate in the development of SEO strategy within your digital marketing team. 

As search professionals we run testing, experimentation, sharing industry insights and learnings, reporting and monitoring and can also assist your internal digital marketing team or internal SEO champion to enforce all SEO best practices and project manage your SEO program. 

It can be difficult to find and hire just the right SEO professional. You may not have the ability to find and source the right talent. I’ve been part of many clients hiring and search process of finding and acquiring the right SEO to become part of the operation.

IN SUMMARY

  • Make sure you start with a process

  • Consider the people involved in your SEO program  

  • Think through the right type of technology best suited for your organization and situation 

When considering what your SEO program should look like, and if you need any help at all navigating the process we’d like to extend to you a no fee 60 minute SEO strategy session, which you can book here. 

We’ll help walk you through your current situation and work with you on identifying what you should focus on. We can also provide you with some expertise to help guide you in the right SEO direction. 

if you have any others you think should be listed, let me know! 

 

About the author 

Janet Bartoli

Founder and Strategist-in-Chief With over 16 years experience creating and managing SEO, and digital marketing programs for some of the world’s most iconic brands (Verizon, Fiat, Payless Shoes, Bank of Montreal, etc)

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