Back in 2007 I was working, from my bedroom, as a freelance SEO for a number of small businesses. At the time I was running an internet marketing blog which provided me with these contracts, but I really wanted to work with some bigger clients. Towards the end of the year, my chance came when I was offered a job in South Africa to head up the social media department for a company over there.
I had been making a name for myself in the social media space due to the amount of traffic I was able to send my own sites and to my clients, and was headhunted for my work. They had an impressive range of Fortune 500 clients and other big companies I wanted to work with, so I accepted the offer.
Despite not working in the SEO team directly, I did work with them very closely. I should also say right now that I was privileged to work in Cape Town with some of the best SEO’s in the world and it showed me that most of the SEO rockstars are really people who you don’t know, working hard behind the scenes.
In the 18 months I was there, I learned a lot about how to organise a team for maximum efficiency, without compromising relationships or working people like slaves. Before I share these lessons, I want to make it clear that I understand everybody has their own way of doing things and some suggestions here won’t be for you.
As you should do with anything you read online: take what looks interesting, see what works for you, and discard what doesn’t.
1. Have One Email Address for the Whole Team
Depending on the size of the team that you’re working with, this can range from a slight help to a massive time-saver. As SEO is constantly changing and people are releasing new tools on an almost daily basis, it’s always good to share new discoveries and methods with a group of people very quickly.
Another benefit of this kind of interaction is that there will be a history of news and updates across an organisation that can be filtered into one view. From there it’s easy to see how the industry has changed over the last few months and which recommendations have helped with client strategy.
And finally, if you’re bring in new staff, you could send them an archive of all emails so that they’re up to date with what your company uses, very quickly.
2. Make Important Files Easy To Access
When I was working in South Africa, our team had checklists and documents for things like:
- How to format end-of-month reports
- Top sources of backlinks
- Previous reports and data on each client
And anything else that is important for day-to-day operations. As this information is so important, our own setup was to keep the files on a server which we ran from the office, rather than storing such sensitive information online or sending it around via email.
It’s going to be hard for any staff member to stay productive if they don’t have the files that they need. If you can set-up some kind of login for various checklists to run through and allow people to share documents with others, it will enable them to know what they need to do without waiting on other people (or files) to get started.
3. Dedicate People to Certain Tasks
I believe that it’s important for everyone in your team to know about as many SEO related processes as possible but once they do, decide whether it’s best to have everyone doing the same thing, or one person that can quickly do it for everyone. As an example, my old company would have one person that was dedicated to producing all ranking reports for clients at the end of the month.
They would then send this to the staff member who is dealing with that client, and let them work through the results. Everyone knows how to do these reports, but it doesn’t mean everyone has to. Are there things in your organisation that you could just delegate to one person that would save time for everyone?
If so, try it out for a few weeks and see how that helps your team.
4. Make It Clear Who’s Working on What
If people don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing each day then a) you won’t be getting the most out of your staff and b) important tasks might be forgotten. I like seeing set-ups where there is an area (either computer based or on a whiteboard) which lists each client and the tasks to do for each during the month.
Then, each team member can be assigned multiple clients throughout the month and through the whiteboard or computer interface, see exactly what they have to do for each of their clients. Of course, some tasks will be much larger than others (like link building) but this will keep everyone in order.
5. Recognise Good Work
The four items above can each have a drastic impact on productivity if used properly. However, nothing is going to be better at increasing the productivity of your workforce compared to when they are highly self-motivated to do good things for their clients. One thing I want every Account manager, Executive or SEO out there to do is actually track the clients your staff are working on and praise the people who are getting great results.
All too often in other organisations I hear about people saying how they just wished they would receive some credit for the work they are doing. If your colleagues are doing things that make your clients happy, then thank them for their effort. Too much praise will become unrewarding and repetitive, but if given when deserved, it can really help to motivate your team.
Now that I’ve shared my tips, I would love to read some of yours in the comments!