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Enterprise SEO: Communication Within Your SEO Teams

Learn best practices for establishing effective communication lines and coordination between SEO teams in an enterprise setting.

Enterprise SEO: Communication Within Your SEO Teams

Communication in any organization is extremely important.

With enterprise SEO, communication is even more imperative to success.

A struggle that most enterprise organizations have is communicating across multiple teams, whether it be several SEO teams across a larger global organization or communicating SEO to verticals or other teams that don’t necessarily see SEO as a priority.

Coordinating SEO Teams for a Strong Foundation

Larger corporations will often have multiple offices spanning the globe with SEOs for each vertical or line of business.

Yet most of those platforms rely on the same central technology.

SEO teams will tend to work in silos which:

  • Result to issues with overlap.
  • Provide conflicting requirements across other teams.
  • Cause struggles to get buy-in from key stakeholders.

To avoid issues, it’s best to establish a plan for communication with all of the organization’s SEOs.

Recurring Meetings for SEO Teams

The first step in opening communication is to set up a recurring meeting with a clear agenda.

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Weekly or biweekly in which everyone can hop on a video call and share updates on:

  • What their team is working on.
  • Recent issues they might have found.
  • Wins they would like to share.
  • Industry news they would like to discuss.

These agenda topics can help open the lines of communications.

The team might need a little push to keep communication open, so I tend to follow-up with an email prior to remind them all to be ready with something to share.

At times, I will also reach out to individuals personally to encourage them to share something during the meeting.

Chats, Channels & Distribution Lists

If your company encourages the use of Slack, Skype, Hangouts, or other forms of chat communications a group channel or chat comes in handy to discuss SEO-related topics throughout the week.

If your company supports it, a distribution list for the larger SEO team (or anyone interested in SEO) is also a great way to keep discussions going on a regular basis.

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When the team needs encouragement, I send out:

  • Articles from some industry blogs or publications.
  • Videos of Google representatives.
  • Whiteboards from various SEO trusted sources.
  • Issues that pertain to the organization to get ideas flowing.

Appoint a Lead

Every group needs a lead to help them stay focused and organized.

When dealing with multiple teams across an organization, the SEOs will most likely already have bosses they report to for goal setting and to get direction from.

To avoid taking away from that hierarchy, the best strategy is to identify the stronger individual of the group that has the experience and personality a team leader exhibits.

Someone who:

  • Encourages communication.
  • Guides meetings to stay on topic.
  • Helps to resolve conflict effectively.
  • Has naturally gained respect from the group.
  • Is organized will be that lead that the group needs.

In some cases, I have seen that the lead may not know a lot about SEO, but exhibits enough of the qualities and respect for the group that they can be just as effective as someone who knows SEO well.

Whether the SEOs are in one team that works across the organization, a few teams in different lines of business, or a few individual contributors that represent verticals, encouraging communication and a group dynamic will result in a stronger, more consistent SEO for the organization.

This will ultimately present solid results in growth for SEO as a whole.

SEO Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

In many cases, verticals and lines of businesses will have different priorities set when it comes to SEO.

  • Some may have entire SEO teams.
  • Others may have an individual contributor SEO manager type role.
  • Some may have an individual that does not have SEO in their title but tasked with SEO as a part of their role.

Those who are tasked with SEO as a part of their role are generally called a Subject Matter Expert or SME.

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Coordinating communication across SMEs can be a bit trickier than when working with SEOs.

Most SMEs will know enough to understand a little of what an SEO might be talking about or maybe enough to work with an agency or consultant, but might lack the confidence or experience to make an informed decision.

If not managed properly, they can damage a site’s SEO without realizing it.

Depending on how your organization is set up and what role your SEO SMEs might play, it’s good to have a plan on how the SMEs communicate with your broader SEO team, your individual SEO contributor, or any agency or consultant your company might have hired.

Educating SEO SMEs

The foundation for a SMEs success is knowledge.

The more these individuals know about SEO, the more successful they will be in this role.

Providing them with proper training is key.

Agencies that have experience working with enterprise clients understand how important the role education plays in the success of an organization’s SEO.

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Bruce Clay talked about this in a post on Linkedin:

“We are under what seems to be a flood of frequent algorithm changes. They make our website rankings jump up and down like puppets and a respected site’s organic SEO results are uncertain. This ‘new Google dance’ forces us all to up our game and not just sit and prey. Take a classroom training course, read everything, pay attention to trusted sources, do your own research to understand how it works, attend a conference, absolutely follow leaders… but do something or be left behind!”

When I spoke with Clay about his experience working with enterprise SEOs he added:

“Nobody can sit through an online course without a distraction… the bright shiny object to take our eyes off of the ball. A comprehensive in-person course that engages, and even entertains, is the only way to keep student attention and assure that you learn.

We teach a 4.5 day course on SEO. When we start, people think they will learn it all and finish early. When done, they asking for another course. That is how enterprises need to have their SEOs… trained deeply and to a point of excitement.”

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By providing education as a part of each contract and requiring attendance to workshops for SMEs, agencies have found it beneficial for the organization in the long run.

Recurring Meetings

I highly recommend setting up recurring meetings for your SEO SMEs to keep communication flowing.

You can either set up the same communication plan that is recommended for the larger SEO group prior or set up regular meetings with an SEO Manager/Director or an agency/consultant to work with the SEO SMEs.

Setting recurring meetings with a rotating agenda will keep the lines of communication open and hold everyone accountable.

An example of a rotating agenda would look something like this:

  • Report on SEO success from prior action items.
  • Discuss priorities for the business for upcoming time period.
  • Discuss recommendations for priorities.
  • Action items going forward.

By beginning each meeting with a report on success from the action items agreed to in the previous meeting, the SEO and the SEO SMEs can discuss what is working and what isn’t.

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They can also learn from the work they are doing and make smarter decisions going forward.

Additionally, since the SMEs are usually tasked with a larger role (marketing, writing copy, design, engineering, etc.), they have priorities set for them by key stakeholders and the business.

The priorities are usually communicated based on seasonal trends, quarterly goals or any other type of timeline set by the business.

If the team can come to an agreement on what work they can do to help SEO based on the priorities for the business, they should have some agreed-upon action items to start with.

When recommendations do not surface in the meeting itself, having the understanding that the SEO expert they are meeting with will come back with recommendations in a timely manner is the best alternative.

These meetings can be fairly straightforward and set up on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or longer cadence.

It all depends on how quickly your organization moves with getting work completed for SEO and how often priorities are communicated.

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Leveraging SEO Champions

The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to communicating through enterprise SEO is working with your SEOs and SEO SMEs to champion work through.

When I think of a “champion,” I envision Rocky at the top of the stairs jumping up and down with a feeling of euphoria over him.

Getting buy-in from other parts of the business in a larger organization is the biggest struggle any SEO has ever faced.

Finding those individuals who understand SEO and seem to have that spark of passion us full-time SEOs have is key to driving the work through.

Get to know the key stakeholders and the teams that your SEOs work with the most.

Identify those individuals who have a voice and aren’t afraid to speak up.

You can turn them into SMEs or encourage your dedicated SME on that team to support them.

This is the only time I won’t recommend recurring meetings because I have experienced burn out resulting in your champion being annoyed or tired from over-communication.

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When it comes to communicating with your champions, just know who they are and work with them when you need them.

In addition, have your team (and yourself) stay open to supporting them when a need arises.

By keeping the support flowing in both directions, you will find that your champion list will grow and the asks your team(s) will have for SEO will be completed efficiently.

Enterprises that keep their communication open for SEO will see a significant impact on revenue in the long run.

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Jenn Mathews

SEO Manager at Github

Jenn Mathews is the thought industry expert in Enterprise SEO. Also know as the SEOGoddess since 2004, Jenn is currently ... [Read full bio]

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