Traditionally, search engine optimisation was the remit of the technical web team and activity was concentrated around tagging and HTML elements of the site. Whilst this is still important, the algorithms that search engines operate have become much more complex and businesses wanting to achieve the greatest return on investment must treat SEO as an integrated discipline.
If you don’t offer quality content, relevant to the reader, your visibility in rankings will be non-existent, so the website copywriter and wider marketing team must have appropriate insight. Social media signals are also increasingly important to search bots, so you must be sure to educate the people managing your social network profiles so they know how to correctly optimise posts. Speak to your PR team too about how they can help to create valuable links to your website from relevant sources and ensure they are creating internal links from your on-site blog.
In my experience, people across a range of departments say they understand search and what they need to do, but they don’t deliver when it comes to planning and undertaking optimised activity. The technical aspects can be a barrier as can confidence in their actions, but more often than not it’s just a matter of them not being able to put the required thought and effort in. This is because, understandably, it’s not really within their remit and therefore not their priority. Therefore, it’s crucial to get buy in from all department heads and use a top down approach so that SEO becomes a priority for everyone that has the ability to add value.
I would suggest a single team or individual continues to manage your efforts from a central position, but almost all departments should be educated on the benefits, and pitfalls, of SEO. One way of tackling this is to create a training manual that first introduces the concept of SEO and best practice in a basic way and then details your own strategy, keywords and processes. This should be supplemented with the exact requirements placed on teams or individuals along with instances. For example, the social media team must schedule a post every two weeks that incorporates a keyword and a link and they must then monitor the engagement, click through numbers and keyword position in the local search engine. Or, the PR team must request a link to the website from every piece of online coverage, aiming for a certain percentage success rate.
Sharing case studies is a great way of motivating people, so try to explain activity in terms of what another brand has achieved. This can also be positioned in relation to your own objectives and what the benefit could be if these are reached; you want to rank on the first page of Google for a certain term and because X number of people search for this term on a monthly basis, you hope to see an increase in traffic of X. Such clear targets and messages of big ambition could give an early boost your integrated SEO activities.
Using your own reporting data is also key. Share the real-life benefits achieved, including positions in search engine rankings, visitors to the site, telephone enquiries that originated with a search and sales conversions. Most people like to know that they are making a difference so it’s important to use such insight to continue motivating. What I also find helpful is to map activities against others, rankings and traffic data in order to find correlations. Using the annotation function in Google Analytics is one helpful way to record activity, but monitoring and reporting should be considered from the start and specified at the strategy stage.
Whether the business is relatively small, meaning some people look after more than one area, or it’s a global corporation that utilises significant agency support, an integrated SEO approach is the same. Buy-in from the whole company, central strategic thought, clear departmental requirements and organisation is required. The resource required is far from small, but the returns gained by being at the top of search engine results pages can be enormous.