Integrated SEO for Mid-Sized Businesses: All Aboard!

Gone are the days when Search Engine Optimization (SEO) fit neatly into an IT department’s purview. More recently, SEO was considered purely a marketing function and not relevant or influenced by any other department. Ignorance was bliss, wasn’t it?

The truth is that effectively optimizing and promoting a website is too complex and too important to be left to just one team. There is simply too much at stake and too many moving parts for one team or one person to handle independently of other business functions.

In fact, if your sales teams, customer service reps, PR gurus, analysts and subject matter experts are not in sync and actively contributing to your SEO strategy, your company may be missing a huge opportunity to improve your website’s visibility across a wide variety of search engines, social media sites and vertical search engines.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your teams without taking away from their ability to do their own jobs.

Pick a Destination, Lay the Tracks

Before even mentioning (and trying to explain) SEO to your non-marketing teams, pick a common goal and get people excited about achieving it. Want to increase sales leads? Need more e-commerce revenue? Want to improve customer experience and lower call-center overhead by reducing customer complaints?

Sometimes uniting a team against a common enemy is an effective motivator. Are your competitors getting more than their fair share of top rankings in Google, video views on YouTube or mentions in local media? Get your team fired up about elevating your game to compete more effectively.

Get Everybody to the Station

Once you have their attention, explain how an integrated SEO strategy can help the company achieve its overall business objectives.

Explain the benefits of greater visibility in search engines in terms they understand. More leads. More sales. Better customer service. Whatever their incentives are, tie them to the SEO strategy so they can see how their contributions will matter to their own personal and professional success.

All Aboard!

Now you’ve got your expanded SEO team mobilized. How do you get the most out of it?

The basic blocking and tackling should be handled by the marketing and IT teams. Build (or update) your website to align with Google’s SEO best practices to serve as a solid foundation for your efforts.

Next, align your experts. Interview your internal subject matter experts for a series of blog posts, white papers or videos that explain what your business does or its products. No matter how you choose to do it, create content that your customers can use and relate to.

Even if it seems like common sense to people in your industry, there are plenty of potential customers out there that are researching their options and putting their trust in companies that can explain their products or services clearly. This is where you have a chance to become a trusted advisor as they work their way through the decision-making process. Not to mention it will create lots of keyword-rich and credible content on your site!

Update your PR team on SEO best practices to insure that their press releases and messaging include links back to your site to get maximum exposure. Inform them of the targeted keywords in your SEO strategy so they can incorporate them into their outgoing communications. This can help your external content rank well for valuable keywords in news search engines, general web search engines, and social media sites.

Task your sales people and customer service reps (or any customer-facing employees) to solicit feedback and testimonials for your company on your site or third party reviews sites. A few positive endorsements can go a long way towards building your brand’s credibility and displacing any negative comments that may be floating around.

Don’t Derail Your Efforts!

There are a lot of moving parts in an active SEO campaign. You’ll undoubtedly get a lot of advice (solicited or otherwise) from vendors, marketing firms, your CMO’s “SEO guru” nephew and online communities. Make sure you separate fact from fiction and realize that there are no guarantees or easy wins in SEO.

If you do choose to hire an SEO consultant or outsource any part of your strategy, be sure to read Google’s recommendations for hiring a search engine optimization company. It will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. SEO is an ongoing effort, not a one-time task.

Don’t be afraid to take the long view and allocate resources to insure your strategies are successful and your goals are accomplished. With a holistic approach, SEO can become an integrated part of your internal processes that constantly builds on previous successes and engages (and enriches) every part of your company.

 Andrew Miller is a Search Engine Marketing Consultant based in Richmond, Virginia, and a frequent contributor to our clients’ success online and offline with SEO, PPC, web analytics and conversion rate optimization strategies.

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