While I know that the realities of budget shortfalls and departmental cut-backs make the thought of hiring an SEO dream team seem unrealistic for most people, it’s still a good idea to keep this future vision in the back of your mind. That way, even if you aren’t able to hire as many staff members as you’d like to handle your company’s SEO needs, you can still fill in as many gaps as possible with the right people.
The following are all the skill sets and positions that I believe are required for any SEO dream team:
Any SEO team worth its salt needs a competent, inspiring director to lead the department to success. However, hiring for this position isn’t as simple as just picking the candidate with the best track record of SEO success. Although having in-depth, up-to-date industry knowledge is a crucial part of being able to set an appropriate strategy for the department, it’s just as important that your SEO director have past experience managing and motivating subordinate employees.
For these reasons, it’s important to look for all of the following skills or experiences when hiring a new SEO director:
- In-depth SEO knowledge needed to determine overall departmental strategy
- Past experience with successfully increasing customer rankings and conversions
- Management experience needed to direct team members
- Past experience managing search engine penalties and algorithm changes
- The ability to communicate strategy to upper management and other departments
- Prior experience working closely with paid search teams (if your organization advertises via PPC ads)
- The ability to communicate effectively with developers using appropriate technical terminology
In addition to hiring a competent director, one of your next biggest priorities should be to staff your team with experienced link builders. The process of building inbound links to your company’s website is a hugely important SEO priority, but when handled inappropriately, the use of devalued or low quality link building techniques by inexperienced workers can lead to search engine penalties.
Here’s what to look for in your next link building hire:
- Knowledgeable about competitive analysis techniques (that is, the ability to identify link sources based on competitors’ backlink profiles)
- Able to effectively acquire white hat links using currently established best practices
- Skilled in scaling up link building campaigns to match SEO needs and website circumstances
Since your link building staff will likely need high quality content in order to carry out their campaigns, bringing a content creation onto your staff may eventually make better financial sense than outsourcing all of your materials needs.
When hiring content creator, the sky’s the limit! If you have the budget, you could bring on separate writers, graphic designers, video production specialists and more. On the other hand, if you’re looking to make a single hire, try to identify a content creator with the following strengths:
- Highly-skilled communicator who can effectively convey both informative and persuasive points
- Experience creating content across a wide variety of mediums (hiring specialists is fine if you have the money, but there are talented generalists out there as well)
- Past experience creating viral campaigns
Every good SEO team needs someone who can crunch the numbers needed to drive a campaign. It isn’t a glamorous job, but having a person on staff that’s experienced with keyword and market research is an integral part of ensuring campaign success.
Here’s what your data/analytics processing team member will be responsible, so be sure to look for someone with experience in the following areas:
- Monitors web analytics in order to draw conclusions about campaign effectiveness
- Runs split tests to improve conversion rates
- Carries out keyword and market research
Another key member of any SEO dream team is the SEO Analyst – the “down in the trenches” person responsible for analyzing a site’s current level of optimization and implementing any necessary changes that are uncovered.
Because the SEO Analyst has his hands on many different aspects of the website optimization process, it’s important to look for candidates who can handle any of the following tasks:
- Analyzing on-page factors to make sure every area of the site optimized
- Providing direction to content creator to improve the site’s content quality
- Working closely with the team’s data/analytics person to focus on enhancing areas of high traffic and improving areas of low traffic
- Launching on-site split tests to measure improvements in conversion rates based on website changes
- Working with developers to be sure the site’s backend is optimized (including making improvements to load times, adding “rel=” tags and rich snippets, etc.)
- Carrying out effective internal linking campaigns
- Making improvements to the website’s overall structure (typically only an issue on large site SEO)
Social Media Marketer
Given how much of an impact social media presence has – and is expected to have – on a website’s SEO, bringing a team member on board exclusively to manage a company’s social networking profiles can be a worthwhile investment.
When hiring for this position, look for candidates who have past experience with the following tasks:
- Maintains presence on popular social networking websites
- Interacts with customers on these platforms to build brand awareness and referral traffic
Account Manager/Customer Support
Finally, if you operate an SEO agency, having competent Account Managers and Customer Support personnel on staff is an absolute “must.” Really, it doesn’t matter how good your SEO techniques are – if you aren’t able to work effectively with customers in a positive manner, you aren’t going to be in business for long!
For this reason, finding administrative personnel who can handle the following responsibilities should be a major priority for your SEO agency dream team:
- Acts as the “face” of your SEO agency
- Interacts with customers to identify campaign priorities
- Reports progress to customers and manages issues that arise
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that these recommendations are based on a “no holds barred,” imaginary SEO dream team. Since you likely aren’t working in a no-expenses-spared environment, here are a few tips on how to put together a winning team amidst budget or hiring constraints:
- Leverage skills that already exist within your organization. If you’re building up your SEO team as a new department within an existing company, you may be able to tap current employees whose skills translate well to SEO work. For example, if you have a talented writer in your company’s Marketing department, he or she may be able to pull double duty and create content for your SEO campaigns as well.
- Hire employees to handle multiple roles. On the other hand, if you’re able to hire new SEO employees from scratch, look for candidates with experience filling several of these positions. As an example, at Single Grain, we teach our SEO Analysts to communicate with clients, eliminating the need to hire separate Account Managers or Customer Support personnel.
- Look into contracting arrangements. If you aren’t able to bring on as many of these different positions as you’d like as new, full-time employees, consider bringing independent contractors or freelancers into the mix. Doing so will help you to identify the positions that result in the most substantial benefits for your organization before committing the resources necessary to bring new employees on full-time.
And finally, even if you aren’t able to bring on employees to fill each of these roles right away, it’s important to keep the guidelines in mind. Being aware of each of the different positions needed for optimal SEO will help you to identify the best possible candidates for your organization – no matter what stage of growth your team is in.