Advice for the Newbie In-House SEO

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Congratulations! You’re hired…

It’s a huge step in your SEO career to be hired for an in-house SEO department.

Now it’s time to plan your in-house SEO strategy carefully, so you can secure your position and give your company what they’re looking for: tangible results from your SEO expertise.

What your average workday will look like will depend on several factors:

  • Are you a one-person team, or are you part of a team?
  • Do you work for an average-sized company or a big brand?

If you are a one-person team you will likely find yourself with a huge workload as you struggle to get results that will be noticed in the shortest time possible. Unfortunately for many businesses SEO still has to ‘prove’ itself.  If you’re part of a team your workload will be lighter, but possibly not any easier.

It’s a fact that for most companies SEO has to prove itself in order to earn the right to stay. Sadly, too many half-baked SEOs who mistake what they do for Blackhat have created enough doubt and double standards that we are still not considered as important as we should be in many circles.

For now we’ll assume that you’re a one-person team and that you’re working for the average business.

Let’s take a quick look at all the tasks that will fall to you:

  • Keyword research: do this properly. Monitor where your pages stand for all presently used keywords and keep a record, together with your record of all new keywords you introduce
  • Competitive analysis: you need to know exactly who you’re up against and what kind of steps you need to take to get ahead of them in search
  • Correcting canonicalization: make sure that as far as Google is concerned, there is only one version of each page of your company website.
  • Correcting site structure (excellent article on the subject by Dave Snyder)
  • Creating an internal linking structure
  • Creating an incoming-links strategy
  • Optimizing HTML
  • Make sure you use a good meta-description tag for each page plus a carefully crafted page title (must be different for each page of your site)
  • Checking site navigation
  • Arranging for appropriate quality content that matches chosen keywords for each page
  • Scanning for any issues that might be perceived as black hat by the search engines (such as inadvertent hidden text and so on)
  • Monitoring pagerank and pagerank flow

Your Initial In-House SEO Strategy…

The best thing you can do off the bat is make friends with the people in the IT or web development department, and if there are in-house copywriters  get to know them too. The structure will differ from company to company, but basically you need to be on very good terms with anyone who will have anything to do with your end of the job.  Your task will be so much easier if they are your friends instead of enemies. This is especially so if, as is normally the case, you will need to ask for changes to be made in what they do.

If you build enough bridges you may even be able to delegate some of your huge workload to them.

After making friends and influencing people, the next most important thing is to get your web tracking applications in place, assuming they aren’t already there. In order to prove your own worth you need to be able to prove where the company was in terms of search engine estimation, and where it is going as a result of your expertise.

In all likelihood you will be responsible for the social media strategy as well as SEO. What you do in this regard is especially important if your company has any reputation management issues.

For a quick rundown on why you need a social media strategy, I can’t do better than refer to this excellent post on Mashable

When General Motors put together their social media strategy, they had some specific objectives they wanted to accomplish. Christopher Barger, director of global social media at General Motors, outlined the following:

A. Become more responsive to people/consumer audiences

B. Incorporate audience/consumer feedback into your organization more quickly and effectively than has happened traditionally

C. Make your brand a little more “human” to the outside world, and show people the smarts, personality and passion of the people behind your logo

D. Increase awareness of the strength of your current product lineup, and provide perspective/accurate information about your company

You’ll be asking ‘isn’t this for the PR people or a social media person?’ Technically speaking, yes it is. But a good social media strategy is simply one of the finest things you can do to get your SEO strategy showing gains in the shortest time–if you do it right.  The points outlined above should give you ammo for when someone above you asks ‘whaddya think you’re doing…’

Patricia Skinner is an SEO consultant, social media coach & reputation management expert. She is also community leader at the nascent SEO Self Regulation Community. She can be reached any time through her SEO website. Why not follow her on Twitter & her LinkedIn profile.

Patricia Skinner
Patricia Skinner is co-founder and Search and Social Director at Mideast SEO, and spends her days doing what she loves best; cooking up winning strategies... Read Full Bio
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