One interesting thing about doing search engine optimization (SEO) for large companies is the realization that if the campaign is going to be successful over the long term, certain SEO skill sets need to become part of the company culture.
Effective SEO training that educates internal team members about specific skills as it relates to their job function is a core part of turning SEO activities into part of the company DNA. Let's take a look at which team members need training and what that training should cover in order to scale SEO across an enterprise level organization.
Product Managers & Content Writers
These team members should be intimately familiar with the keywords that are being targeted by the campaign and ideally would have collaborated in the initial identification of those keywords. They should be able to do small amounts of keyword research on an ad hoc basis in order to fully optimize new content segments as they are created.
Also, they should be familiar with best practices around writing content from an SEO perspective. Additionally, it's helpful if these folks are educated on how important links are to search rankings, in order to motivate them to produce link worthy content (unique resources, infographics, etc.) and create internal links within their documents that help you drive toward your larger business goals.
IT and SEO always seem to have a love/hate relationship. SEOs love IT team members when they correctly implement SEO recommendations and hate it when they don't. IT team members love it when SEO professionals recommend changes that are easy to implement. They hate it when they add a ton of extra, difficult work that they don't see value in.
The key to IT training is to not only cover the technical specifics of SEO best practices (e.g., canonical tags, other duplicate content prevention techniques, and 301 redirects), but also to illustrate the value and potential impact these changes have to the business along with expected outcomes.
The trick here is to create an atmosphere where everyone is on the same team with the primary goal of overall company success. Sharing the results of the campaign with IT on an ongoing basis and giving them some of the credit for successfully implementing SEO recommendations should go hand in hand with any training they receive.
Bloggers & Social Media Practitioners
Bloggers, like product managers need to understand campaign keywords and best practices for optimizing content. In addition, bloggers can have a much greater impact on link acquisition.
Whether it's leveraging relationships with other bloggers to produce links (guest blogging, blog rolls), creating content that resonates in social media circles (like an opinion piece on the latest controversial subject or a well done resource post), or marketing blog itself (blog directories, content syndication), there are number of opportunities for creative bloggers to create links that aren't available to other team members.
Bloggers need to understand the value of links to the overall SEO program, especially the value of their own internal links to core content segments on the main site. Having this perspective will motivate those individuals to be creative and spend the extra effort to create and acquire links, which is one of the hardest SEO activities to execute.
PR teams should be familiar with press release optimization best practices, especially as it relates to creating keyword focused links back to the main site.
Additionally they should also be extremely familiar with the keywords that the campaign is targeting. That keyword set should serve as the basis for creating some of the press release content.
From an SEO perspective, press releases for large organizations can be effective link building tools. That's because that content is often of interest to a lot of different people and has a much better chance of being widely published. Creating press releases that are focused on certain niches that are relevant to high priority keywords is an important part of the overall SEO strategy for an enterprise-level campaign.
Some of the best link building is done in conjunction with marketing. SEO should be tightly aligned with all other marketing activities, especially as it relates to keyword usage and link building best practices.
Whether it's a keyword focused alt tag on an image that lives on a conference website that the company is sponsoring, an embedded link in a PDF resource that's being marketed or syndicated to partners, or a link asset kit that's given to vendors or a number of other implementations of link building best practices, marketing teams have a critical role to play in effective link building. The marketing team should be trained on link building best practices and the value of those links.
Management ideally will already understand the value of SEO as it relates to achieving company goals. Further training should be done with management on SEO analytics and understanding what the key metrics mean.
Understanding brand versus non-brand keywords, how month-to-month traffic fluctuations are affected by seasonality, how search engine rankings are just a snapshot in time and the effects that localization and personalization have on those rankings, and a number of other details concerning success metrics that allow management teams to understand the implications of what those metrics really mean. This aligns goals and expectations for all team members and sets a foundation for understanding campaign success.
SEO Focused Company Culture
All of these groups of people should also be trained (educated) on how important search is to the overall revenue of the company. If each of these groups recognizes the role that organic search plays in driving traffic and ultimately leads or sales to the website, SEO activities begin to be prioritized accordingly.
Those team members will begin to understand how important their role is in the success of the company. That's the type of necessary motivation for internal teams in large organizations to transform into an SEO focused company culture.