As a relatively new introduction to the corporate world, SEOs often have trouble finding their place and building allies within traditional businesses. Really, unless coworkers happen to have a passing familiarity with SEO (or the team’s mission is explicitly stated by upper management), SEO workers are often subject to confusion or even suspicion by colleagues who don’t understand the purpose of search engine optimization.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an excuse for allowing internal relationships to suffer, as weaknesses in these corporate ties can prevent you from obtaining the support needed to ensure campaign success. To prevent this from occurring, take a look at how to strengthen the relationships you share with various corporate departments, according to the following advice:
SEOs and Upper Management
The SEOs first concern when it comes to strengthening internal relationships should be to establish strong working ties with their organization’s upper management team. Having the enthusiastic support of a CEO, CMO, or CTO will go a long way towards ensuring that budget requests are met and that adequate resources are directed to support your objectives.
So, with this in mind, what do you need to know about working closely with upper management teams?
In fact, these top professionals have two sometimes-conflicting priorities, both of which you must address with your SEO program. Interestingly, upper management team members must be both “big picture” and bottom line-driven. As a result, you must tailor your SEO proposals and updates to accommodate these differing interests.
Because upper management must drive the company forward, they’re always attuned to the “big picture” outlook surrounding the company’s forward momentum. Consequently, your updates shouldn’t just be tuned to your organization’s latest SERPs rankings changes, you must also prepare upper management for major changes that could affect the SEO field in the future. Making sure your CEO is mentally ready for the next big Panda or Penguin update will ensure that you have the resources necessary to handle these industry shifts at your disposal.
At the same time, CEOs must be informed of the impact your SEO efforts are having on the company’s bottom line, as they’re the ones who will be held accountable for your expenditures to their board members or shareholders. As such, it’s important that you get in the habit of measuring your SEO campaign ROI, as well as extrapolating how your efforts are poised to improve both your company’s financial results and its position over your competitors.
SEO and Marketing
Beyond coordinating with upper management, you’ll likely need to work closely with your company’s marketing team in order to develop the online collateral needed to achieve your SEO aims.
In particular, you may rely on your marketing team for Web banners, webpage designs, product photography, Web video, Web content articles or other pieces of copy. In some situations, it may even be your marketing department that’s responsible for updating your company’s social media profiles—a practice which plays a tremendous role in your overall SEO performance.
Because so many of the materials used in your SEO campaigns will come from this department, it’s crucial that you develop good working relationships with its members. To do this, you’ll need to understand that marketers aren’t usually trained to work with SEOs when developing their materials.
Throughout their educations, the integrity and value of their creative concepts have been of primary importance. As a result, you can expect some resistance when you ask marketing personnel to change their seemingly-brilliant concepts to accommodate target keywords and other SEO priorities.
To strengthen these relationships, focus on educating marketing personnel on SEO principles, while still appreciating the inherent creativity they bring to the process. Don’t railroad their ideas with your own. Remember, there’s still plenty of value to a well-executed marketing campaign, even if it isn’t technically correct according to SEO best practices.
In the long run, you’ll need these people on your side for your SEO campaigns to be effective, so learn to practice a little “give and take” when it comes to creative control.
SEO and IT
Another department that you may have limited interactions with as an SEO is your company’s information technology team. Depending on how your company’s website is handled, you may rely on these employees to make changes on everything from your site’s underlying platform to the content on specific pages.
Again, it’s important to be aware that most IT professionals working today haven’t had a significant amount of SEO training (if they’ve had any at all). Because of this, they may not understand how changes to elements that control your site’s speed and performance can play a significant role in how well your website ranks in the natural search results.
In this case, the best thing you can do is to learn to speak like a developer. While you don’t need to go out and pick up a programming degree, it’s helpful to at least understand the basics of the language that powers your website, as well as any SEO concerns that exist within your language’s construction.
Keep in mind that IT professionals are all too often used to wasting days answering inane questions and simple requests. As a result, when they encounter someone who’s clearly made an effort to understand what they do and how they work, they’ll be much more likely to accommodate your SEO-related programming change requests.
SEO and Research and Development (R&D)
One final department you may need to work closely with as an SEO is an R&D or product development team. Obviously, if you’re working for a smaller company, you may not encounter a defined team handling this need. However, in most organizations, you’ll find at least one person whose responsibilities entail planning and launching new products, if not more.
From an SEO standpoint, these team members can play a crucial role in helping you to understand the terminology buyers will use to find your company’s products in the natural search results, as well as the specific benefits that can be used in future digital marketing campaigns.
For instance, say, your company releases a new product. You analyze its features in order to determine which specific benefits you’ll feature in future social media marketing, guest posting, or SEO campaigns. However, if you weren’t involved in the market research that went into bringing this product into fruition, you may not be aware of all the different benefits it offers to various audiences.
By extrapolating feature points based on your own experiences—and not based off the recommendations of your company’s R&D team—you risk missing out on potentially lucrative opportunities to pitch your new products in different ways.
Communicating with R&D teams doesn’t require much in the way of special preparation, though if your industry is highly technical, you may need to enlist the support of your colleagues in translating new product features into benefits that will be more accessible to consumers. In many cases, R&D specialists will be happy to show off the benefits of their newest developments, making it easy to translate this department’s unique knowledge into specific SEO benefits.
Now, clearly these aren’t the only departments you’ll interact with as an SEO. In most traditional corporations, you’ll work alongside customer service personnel, accounting teams, logistics workers, and plenty of other types of professionals, depending on your company.
The work of these departments may have less of an influence on your SEO campaigns, but you never know what insights these teams can provide. In any case, being polite, professional, and helpful will go a long way towards helping you to secure the information you need to be successful.