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Knowing When & How to Hire an Enterprise SEO Expert

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Knowing When & How to Hire an Enterprise SEO Expert
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In my over 15 years working as an enterprise SEO for many companies, I have come to be able to navigate the complexities of enterprise SEO.

I have found the support of a good quality enterprise SEO agency and the addition of a consultant is the best combination for success.

Recognizing When You’re in an Enterprise SEO Environment

In some cases larger organizations may feel like enterprise level, but oftentimes are lean and agile enough that they don’t have the complexities an enterprise site has.

I have consulted for organizations with over 50,000 employees and roughly $500 million in yearly revenue but manage to run a successful SEO strategy with one SEO Manager, no problem.

Some need an SEO agency and an SEO consultant, but it’s tough to know when that extra help is needed.

What Is Enterprise SEO?

A typical enterprise website consists of several complex databases connected uniformly into one interface including multi-millions of dynamic pages and navigation with auto-generated content.

In some larger organizations, there may be multiple sites involved with one common core structure or many different infrastructures.

An enterprise SEO expert works for larger companies with websites that support complex systems, teams, and often have specific roles and responsibilities.

If you’re in a scenario in which you find an issue with SEO that needs to be addressed but you’re not sure who is responsible for the fix.

In addition, if the conversations you’re having include roadblocks because of business decisions, prioritization, confusion on SEO best practices, or you’re having trouble getting your point across, there is a good chance it’s time to hire an enterprise SEO expert.

Hiring an Enterprise SEO Expert

There are two types of enterprise SEO experts that can work within the complex environment of larger organizations:

  • The enterprise SEO agency.
  • The enterprise SEO consultant.

The Enterprise SEO Agency

Finding the right agency for your enterprise SEO can be a daunting task since SEO agencies are a dime a dozen.

It can be difficult to identify the agency that:

  • Has the capacity to manage a large amount of work.
  • Understands the complexities an enterprise site will have.
  • Knows how to navigate the corporate framework that is required to champion the work to completion.

There are a couple of different ways to find a good agency:

  • Word of mouth: If you know other SEOs that work in a similar environment then word of mouth is a great way to get in touch with a good agency.
  • SEO conferences and events: Attending conferences, where agency representatives speak on more complex topics that relate to an enterprise SEO expert, is a great way to find a good agency.

No matter where you find your agency, it’s good to get a few to review and have a clear understanding of what you’ll be using your agency for after hiring.

Have each agency spend some time looking over the site. They should present their services and findings as an open discussion to get a feel for:

  • How they follow directions.
  • The types of issues they will be able to find (do they find the obvious or go into a deeper dive?).
  • How well they take feedback during the presentation.

I like my agency to know more than me, be very easy to work with, and ardent when it comes to following-up with recommendations.

They shouldn’t be demeaning towards my team or the engineers we work with.

The Enterprise SEO Consultant

While I am often on the hiring and management side of the agency topic, I have been hired as a consultant and have hired consultants for various needs.

Having experienced both sides of the consultant scenario, it has helped me while working with clients with clear expectations and the right amount of communication.

The experience also comes in handy when hiring an enterprise SEO consultant.

I have connections and know which consultants are stronger for the needs that I am hiring for.

While agencies are great for monthly engagement as support for the team, consultants are usually great for one time projects that last a month or a few months.

There are few places to find a good consultant:

  • Known bloggers and authors: Getting to know bloggers and authors is a great way to get to know what strengths a consultant has and how they will work with your team.
  • Speakers at conferences and events: Well-known consultants will be asked to speak at events and, at times, will even be asked to keynote. You can also get to know other in-house SEOs that are speakers who might be willing to consult on the side.
  • LinkedIn: Get a feel for who is out there in the SEO world. LinkedIn not only connects you through the people you get to know in the industry, but you can also review their experience.

Before hiring an enterprise SEO consultant, it’s good to have a clear understanding of what you will need them for.

Remember they are one person with limited availability so be clear on:

  • How much time you will need them.
  • The scope of work.
  • What the expected outcome is.

At the enterprise level, payment is usually in a flat fee for a predetermined duration of time.

If a consultant is offering services only to be paid when an expected outcome is met (i.e., rankings for x terms, x links to site, x revenue increase), then they most likely aren’t familiar with the complexities and professionalism of an enterprise organization.

Most clients will hire me with the understanding that I am there to establish an overall strategy to execute.

The work will generally last a few months.

I work closely with teams to understand where they are, ideas they have, and what the business expects from SEO.

The contract is clear.

  • The statement of work outlines the process and hours each task takes.
  • Engagement is professional.
  • Projections are realistic.
  • The outcome is an actionable plan the team can productively execute.

I have hired consultants for anything from an SEO audit on a part of the business that needs an expert, a comprehensive linking strategy, or even data analysis specifically for SEO.

Regardless of whether you hire an agency, a consultant or both, the added benefit an enterprise SEO expert can have in addition to the team is an obvious distinction than trying to work without them.

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Jenn Mathews

Contract Consultant Sr SEO Manager at Groupon

Jenn Mathews has been optimizing websites successfully for 20 years. Currently Groupon's Senior Manager, SEO and previously Nordstrom's SEO Manager ... [Read full bio]

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