Infusing search engine optimization into a company's day-to-day culture is a long-term strategy and doesn't happen overnight. It's not a one shot deal. It takes time, repetition, patience – and even empathy.
In today's digital world, most companies get a huge amount of their traffic (and subsequently business) from search engines, especially Google and Bing. And yet, most of the people that work in these companies don't have any visibility into how important search is to their company's bottom line. Furthermore, they are completely unaware how their own activities play an important role in their company's SEO performance or what they can do to augment that performance.
How do you correct problems like these? SEO needs to become part of a company’s culture. For that to happen, a lot of effort needs to be made on an ongoing and consistent basis to establish effective communication within the organization for all things SEO.
Lack of Communication
The biggest obstacle for large companies around SEO is internal communication. If you want people to do something, you have to explain the value of the activity to them.
It's very common in large companies to hear things like, "IT doesn't care about SEO," "That's not a priority for us right now, we just have too much to do," "Our managers don't get SEO," and the list goes on (and on, and on...).
What that usually tells me is that not enough time and effort has been spent communicating the current state of SEO to all company stakeholders or the opportunity that SEO has to drive incremental revenue. It's essential that people understand the role that search is playing in their company revenue stream so that they can properly prioritize their own activities.
Companywide sharing of macro level statistics like "organic search drove 60% of all Web visitors last month" or "25% of our total revenue came from organic search" really opens people's eyes to the value that SEO brings to the table and why it should always be top of mind.
Keywords Are "User Research"
One important concept that needs to be communicated throughout an organization is that SEO isn’t for search engines. The byproduct is that your site's content can be found more easily and hopefully – based on the strength of your content and your brand (via link connectivity and social media) – that you rank well for your most important keywords.
Ultimately, the goal of SEO is to better align your content and all of your digital assets with the language that people use to describe your products and services. Doing so helps you rank better in search and provides a better user experience, which leads to deep customer engagement and ultimately higher conversions and more revenue.
Explaining this philosophy to everyone within your organization, especially those whose job activities directly affect SEO, will help you get more buy-in from those folks (and will help to justify any extra work that is required on their behalf to produce better SEO results).
Success Breeds Success
Another cornerstone of effective communication as it relates to SEO is to acknowledge success, especially for people and teams whose work has directly lead to SEO improvements. This is especially important for IT.
Information Technology folks have a big and oftentimes thankless job. Something is always broken and they have to fix it.
Many of these individuals have no visibility into sales and marketing performance. Tasking them with SEO recommendations just adds more work on top of an already big list. Often, they don't see the value in the work.
Instead, IT should be educated on the impact that SEO is having to the bottom line of the company (or the potential that it could have). Any SEO campaign successes should be communicated to the IT team and they should share in the credit. Not only will it validate the work they have already done, but it will also motivate them to continue to prioritize SEO activities in the future.
Teach SEO Best Practices
Besides communicating the need for SEO, the impact that it’s having for the company, and how well the campaign is performing, a fundamental challenge is communicating SEO best practices across the organization.
SEO training, and all the different flavors that it can take depending on which group of folks is being trained, is the cornerstone of successful SEO campaigns. SEO training on an ongoing basis for IT teams, product managers, content writers, PR teams, marketing teams, and social media managers is a critical part of making SEO part of your company's DNA.
Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
Everyone is busy. Don't expect everyone within the company to immediately appreciate SEO. Use data as much as possible to show people the value of what you’re asking them to do.
Also, experiment with different presentation types to get the message across: internal newsletters, internal facing webinars, company presentations, department specific training sessions, etc.
Try a number of these types of activities and do them on a consistent basis in accordance with an overall strategic plan of getting everyone in your company onboard the SEO bus. If you succeed, the results could dramatically increase your company’s revenue.
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!