How to Build an SEO Team for Cross-Department Results

A modern SEO strategy requires more than one star player: you need to build a dream team. The good news is, most (if not all) of those people are already on your payroll. Discover why SEO is everyone's job, and learn how to build an SEO team that can drive real results—even at the enterprise level.
July 19, 2016

Company org charts seem to indicate that certain functions “live” in certain places: HR is HR’s job. Accounting is Accounting’s job.

But that doesn’t generally work with good marketing, and least of all with effective SEO.

build seo team

We need delineation to know “the buck stops here,” and “I’m in charge of this,” but SEO is one function that doesn’t fit in a box because good SEO can’t happen in a vacuum. SEO starts cutting teeth when a variety of departments contribute:

  • Without sales and marketing input, content creators may not know what language real customers are using and what questions they’re asking.
  • Without support from the web development team, SEO will be hindered by unresolved technical needs.
  • Without a steady stream of good content, SEO efforts will stall out.
  • Without a strong social media arm, SEO will miss out on key social signals.

SEO that drives revenue-building results requires a modern framework. It needs a new kind of team and a new level of awareness and buy-in, because effective SEO impacts and supports almost every team and position in the company as well.

Build an SEO Dream Team

Effective SEO will rely on, impact, and coordinate with just about every department in your organization. Some key players include:

  • Content production and publication: It’s difficult to separate modern SEO from content in the current marketplace. A steady stream of high-quality content is a vital  component for good SEO.

  • Web development/IT: The IT team will help SEO by making sure the site navigation is well structured, and mobile-friendly—both factors affect your site’s placement in various searches. URLs and image alt text should be created with SEO in mind, and vanity URLs can be set up to improve branding on social channels.

  • PR: Media mentions present a halo of third-party credibility that serve as a testimonial. Links earned from credible sites that have covered your company, and links back to them, improve your site’s authority with search engines.

  • Social media: Social signals don’t have much direct SEO value, but a savvy social media team can identify what content is being shared by your audience. Those insights should direct content creation and clarify some SEO strategies. (They will also be instrumental in promoting your content to drive traffic and broaden its impact.)

  • Product marketing: In some organizations, the PM team already controls a lot of the content marketing strategy. Where they don’t, these people still interact with potential customers at every stage of the funnel, and will have information and insight about their questions, concerns, buzzwords, etc. to guide content creation and keyword strategies.

An impactful SEO strategy may not necessarily make huge demands on all of these departments, but coordination is crucial.

Create Cross-Company Buy-In

If everyone is going to take time out of their already-packed schedules to help with SEO, they all need to see the benefit. Tear down some silos and make SEO a team sport:

  • Get buy-in from the top. Meet with the C-suite to present your case for why SEO needs to improve. Show them how competitors are ranking for your key terms compared to your brand, and stats or studies that demonstrate the impact of SEO on the bottom line. If your execs aren’t on board, it’s hard to get the funding or participation you need.

  • Educate the team on SEO. Send out a series of brief emails (or host a couple coffee breaks) explaining what SEO does and why it’s important to the brand—and to individual departments specifically. Customize your messaging for each team, and highlight how an effective SEO strategy can support their work and help to solve their problems.

  • Celebrate wins. Share credit for SEO wins. Maybe Product Marketing helped develop a blog post with great insights on customer concerns, and traffic is soaring. Or the web team cleaned up titles and metas on old landing pages, which helped them leap up to a higher ranking in search results. Communicating successes of other departments can lead everyone to be more SEO-focused.

Buy-in isn’t a one-time task on your To Do list, though, so remember to keep re-engaging. Make sure you’re showing the executive team how SEO wins are driving revenue. Keep offering SEO updates to interested parties, and keep sharing wins.

But Someone DOES Have to Own It

It’s also true that something that is everyone’s job becomes no one’s job. Whether you lead SEO in-house, or you choose to outsource to an agency, someone at your organization needs to own it. Think about:

  • Who monitors industry updates, customer needs and requests, and other pertinent information that will keep your SEO moving forward?
  • Who is curating content?
  • Who is handling social media posting?

Most companies determine that the best person to “own” SEO—assuming you don’t have an active SEO expert in-house—might be the content developer: someone who is tasked with consistently producing high-quality, effective content. He or she probably gets routine input across the organization already—working with marketing, product development, sales, and web support—and  can be in the sweet spot to coordinate all those efforts.

Collaboration Creates Successful SEO

Modern SEO needs a new level of internal alignment and collaboration to really succeed. One person can (and should) be in charge of coordinating and monitoring the strategy, but that one person will be leaning heavily on the insights and expertise of a wide range of co-workers.

If you’re ready to get serious about your brand’s SEO, or you’re overhauling a failing system, start by identifying that one point-person (or accepting that it’s you). As you build a support team and earn company-wide buy-in, your SEO strategy will hit the ground running.

Nate Dame
CEO and Founder
Nate is the founder and CEO of Profound Strategy, a results-oriented SEO consultancy trusted by forward-thinking companies, including a few of the world's largest B2B and technology brands. Profound Strategy builds holistic SEO strategies, supports internal teams, and offers full-service execution to create an organic search presence that generates significant revenue.

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