This week for Ask An SEO, we have a question from Brandon in Woodstock. He asks:
“I’ve been struggling with SEO team structure for a while and was wondering if I could pick your brain on a topic. I’ve been trying to get SEO to be a focus on our marketing team for the last 5 years. I’m finally starting to make some progress but working with the content team and communications manager has proven to be difficult.
They want keyword research upfront but I hesitate to do this. I’ve received some “SEO optimized” content from the content team but it’s either over done, too board or just off base. Is it best for them to focus on creating and writing their own content while the SEO team takes the content that they write and optimizes it? Also, should the SEO content person write his/her own content or should the content person work with the content team to create content around specific terms?”
There’s really a number of questions here, Brandon.
Let me see if I can answer a few of them.
Moving a Company to an SEO Focus
It seems like you have accomplished the first step in moving a company’s focus toward SEO.
The first step is to take the SEO, as well as anything else that has to do with the website, away from your IT folks.
IT folks are usually not marketing folks.
IT will always prioritize tasks that affect “critical systems” over SEO items.
And this makes sense.
You won’t hear screaming from your users if a meta tag isn’t placed in the right place.
You will hear screaming if email isn’t working.
The problem is, if your job is to put out fires, planting the garden won’t be your focus – especially if the fires keep flaring up.
For years, most companies left their website, and consequently, their SEO, as the responsibility of the IT department.
This is a mistake.
In my opinion, it’s a mistake to have your IT department involved in any part of your digital marketing efforts.
The tools and technologies available today work in just about every environment – including enterprise-level.
We no longer need to worry that our SEO tools are going to destroy the informational ecosystem that is lovingly guarded by IT professionals.
So congratulations on getting past step 1.
It’s a tough hurdle for many.
Keyword Research & Content Creator
Merely providing a traditional content creator with a list of keywords is going to cause problems.
It’s important to train traditional copywriters on how to write search engine-friendly copy.
Without proper instruction, copywriters tend to either stuff content with too many instances of specific keywords – making the content hard to read – or ignore the keyword requests altogether.
It’s rare that a copywriter who hasn’t been trained on how to write search engine-friendly copy will be able to a list of keywords and create effective and coherent content.
The first step in training copywriters is to make sure they know that there is no exact formula for how the keywords are used.
When training copywriters, avoid using jargon like “keyword density” or “latent semantic indexing”.
It’s important that the copywriter understands that the relevancy of the copy, as well as the end-user effectiveness, is more important than a robot’s interpretation of it.
There are tons of great tutorials out there on how to write search engine-friendly copy.
I suggest you create a training regimen for your content creators and go from there.
Who Does What?
When it comes to content, the SEO team should have final (or near-final) say on what is actually pushed out to the public.
The SEO team should understand the big picture of what is trying to be accomplished.
Content creators should have carte-blanche to create the assigned content – but the SEO team needs to make sure that the finished product is working toward the overall goals of the site.
Every organization is different.
But when it comes to SEO, content is a big part of what engenders success.
So those responsible for the end result need to make sure that they have the power to create that success.