SEO for a corporate Web site is not always as simple as following Best Practice principles – there’s a buffer between your perfectly optimized site. When the panel at an SES Site Clinic riddles off a dozen different improvements for your company Web site, you’ll probably smile and nod while wondering what the management will say to these changes.
Freelancers and SMEs have the oblivious delight of not having to comply with internal company structure and politics. It is a difficult and valuable talent to maneuver around these obstacles. Making the wrong move could alienate your SEO team and the strategy you have set forth.
Choose Battles Carefully
The most important part of managing your relationship with the Head of Marketing and other departments is to choose your battles carefully. Something you may see as a simple Web site change may be viewed by others as damaging the brand or negatively affecting other revenue streams. Before strongly defending the move, listen to the concerns of your colleagues and brainstorm alternative options that would satisfy both parties. You’d be surprised how many times a solution can be found that would not have been thought of before the obstacle was put in place.
Before the battles have even started, justifying the time and resources necessary for SEO can be a fight on its own. With the industry still relatively young and metrics hard to quantify, it’s important to show your company just how powerful search traffic is. The data is already out there and freely available, you just need to use it in the right way.
Mine Search Traffic Data
The Center For Media Research and comScore both release regular updates on the current status of the Internet consumer base – what those users are doing and which search engines they’re using. This data may not be an exact science, although it shows your potential market reach and where to go in order to obtain business from those users.
Arguably less precise are the search numbers used by keyword research tools, although this data can still be used to highlight conversion rate issues within your site. If you’re in the top three results for a search term and your traffic from that term is significantly lower than the numbers estimated by a keyword tool, you’ve got data showing poor conversion, most probably the result of page titles and Meta Tag descriptions that need improving.
On the other hand, if you’re on page two of the search results and still getting high search-to-click conversions for a term, it stands to reason that your competitors are providing an inferior product (or site) – a valuable insight for the whole marketing team.
There is data to explain and predict most scenarios; you just need to find a way of applying it to your situation. Most other marketing fields suffer similar issues, and many will use even more disputable data. As long as you can prove your reasoning using a mix of Web site logs and third-party data, your Head of Marketing will be happy.
Be Everybody’s Friend
The most important advice I could give any in-house SEO is to be everybody’s friend. I know it’s cool to be the geeks in the corner of the office with your Star Wars posters and USB Missile Launcher, but don’t get edgy or protective when an unclean general marketer comes wandering over. You may smirk at his/her inferior online knowledge and incorrect terminology, although standing in front of you is a future SEO.
Not only should you spend time answering even the most basic of questions for them, you should also venture into the part of the office that doesn’t smell of week-old socks and find out what they’re doing.
That multi-million dollar TV sponsorship campaign the offline team are about to sign could have required text links from the broadcaster’s Web site back to yours. The monthly press releases that get sent out could have been uploaded to the online newswires and have links embedded into them. The micro site being built for a new marketing campaign could have been built with SEO in mind, and the list goes on. Every marketing team outside of SEO can likely benefit you in some way, so put down your lightsaber and go talk to your new link-building minions!