I've always been an in-house SEO and after years of being in-house, it's become clear that an in-house SEO startup has a life cycle similar to marriage:
- A company searches for the best person to start its in-house team, whether it's an internal or external hire.
- You're courted.
- You're proposed to.
- You set a date.
- You have your big start day.
And then honeymoon begins... People want to meet you and are open to working with you. SEO is new and cool; it piques the interest of everyone. During this phase, you have minimal resistance. Things seem possible. SEO is a novelty and captures the interest of everyone you talk to. There's potential for change and people reflect on your ideas – IT will even make suggestions.
Then something changes... It starts getting frustrating. You begin to face more opposition. Communication seems off. The team doesn't seem to be playing fair in the sandbox, and you're starting to wonder what happened.
It's all a part of the in-house SEO life cycle, which looks like an upside down bell curve. Life in-house is wonderful in the early days, and then it gets progressively worse as the novelty wears off. Over time, it improves as things start to get implemented and you have figured out how to navigate through the personalities, politics, and red tape of your organization.When the Honeymoon Ends, Reality Sets In
If you pay attention after you begin to start up a new SEO team in-house, after three to six months, you'll begin to feel that the honeymoon has ended and reality has set in.
SEO changes will become difficult to schedule and IT doesn't seem as interested in SEO. Once you finally get changes prioritized and scheduled, you pray that they won't get cut to make time for other enhancements. At this time, frustration peaks.
This is what people in the industry speak about when complaining about the challenges of getting SEO stuff done. Once the honeymoon ends you need to focus on the soft side of the SEO, the human side. I'll talk about that in the next article, but for now, walk in the door of your new in-house 'gig, knowing this will happen and use it to your advantage.Make the Most of Your Honeymoon, Before It Ends
My recommendation is that you take this knowledge about the in-house life cycle and run with it, meaning make the most of your honeymoon phase by using it very wisely.
During this phase, you have management's attention. This is the time to network and build relationships. Once the honeymoon ends, you may find it difficult to get their time and attention.
At this phase, IT will be most open to talking to you about architecture changes and they are more apt to come back with suggestions. Programmers have your attention; they know little about SEO and often want to absorb as much information as you will pass on to them.
Don't waste all of this interest and priority on the easy stuff. While there may be a lot of low hanging fruit and easy changes, you may be better served by having IT focus on the big stuff and leave page copy, page title and meta data changes to much later in the in-house SEO life cycle (when they only have time for the easy stuff).Moral of the Story
Make the most of your honeymoon phase and if they're open to bigger changes, take them all the way to home plate as fast as possible. As time goes on, start to watch for the honeymoon phase to end, and get as many bigger efforts out the door as you can before it's officially over. Then, focus on the small, easier changes. You will likely have larger changes that still need to be completed; however, if you leverage your honeymoon to its fullest potential, there will fewer big things, allowing you to choose your battles more wisely.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!