In-house SEO Roles Grow Among Internet Retailer Top 500

Following up on an annual data analysis evaluating the SEO effectiveness of the top 500 internet retailers, Conductor reported that over the 7 months between April 2010 to November 2010, the Top 500 'big box' stores with at least one in-house SEO professional had increased by 24%.

Conductor were approached by Internet Retailer Magazine in Q1 of 2010 and asked to develop a methodology to evaluate SEO effectiveness, in order to create a benchmark score for stores featuring in the Internet Retailer Magazine's Top 500 Guide.

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Understandably companies are not always willing to be forthright with information that might reveal their true competitibe strengths, so Conductor took a holistic view of publicly available external data sources. They measured keyword visibility, analytics provisions and human resources, which combined gave a sense of each companies' commitment to SEO success.

Particularly interesting was the methodology to guage the company commitment to SEO. Conductor used Linkedin to find employees within the Internet Retailer Top 500 who listed SEO in their job title.

From April 2010 to November 2010. Conductor found that overall 48% of the companies listed had increased the size of the SEO team.

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Whilst it is possible that the Linkedin data only reflects the number of employees declaring their job position, it is nonetheless a useful indicator of commitment to SEO.

It is noteworthy that Q4 2010 was the biggest online shopping event ever, with shoppers looking for deals online ahead of Black Friday sales and record breaking online spending on Cyber Monday.

The Conductor study underlines reports that many retailers realized that getting the right SEO team in place ahead of the holiday shopping season could make the difference between breaking out of the recession and going under. Consequently the SEO industry witnessed some of the most aggressive tactics yet, culminating in the JCPenney link-buying scandal.

So, it's worth considering this methodology in your next competitive analysis, in order to report beyond ranking wins and losses and make strategic assessments to determine wider competitive factors such as commitment to SEO, size of SEO team and even SEO expertise.