Managing an SEO team can be challenging. Hell, managing any marketing team is challenging. But I’ll be the first to admit that leading people that are just as technical as they are creative (aka SEO specialists) is no cake walk. Luckily, with the correct skills and strategies, you can optimize your SEO department the same way they can optimize a web page – smoothly and efficiently. As long as you have these tips in mind when overseeing your SEO department, you will surely be headed towards success:
Select The Right People For Your Organic Search Team
First things first – in order to properly manage an SEO team, you want to make sure that you have the best people for the job in place. SEO is a complex process with multiple components. As a result, time spent interviewing and prospecting people for specific positions is not time wasted. If you successfully select the right people for the right jobs, build a cohesive team, and align employees with departmental goals, you are already on track for SEO management victory.
Have A Unified Approach
Before you dive into any projects, it is crucial that everyone on your SEO team is on the same page regarding goals, objectives, and processes. In many ways, search engine optimization is one of the most cross-departmental channels in a company – with inputs and outputs affecting departments like content, social media, paid media, and web development. With so many people involved, it can be difficult making sure that everyone understands what needs to be done. Holding regular meetings to ensure cohesiveness is key to building a unified approach to SEO strategy.
Piggy-backing off of the unified approach is the importance of frequent communication among team members. After building your SEO dream team, I recommend having a little pow-wow with all employees to discuss how each team member understands how their colleagues contribute to the overall SEO marketing efforts.
SEO is interdependent. The content marketing department can’t start generating content until the SEO team has discovered the correct keywords to target. The web developers can’t work on a site until SEO has identified existing problem areas and opportunities for on-site optimization. It’s a lot to keep track of, which is why communication is key!
Define And Execute Goals
One management tactic that we at Power Digital have found extremely successful is setting goals around our digital marketing objectives. Not only do we set yearly and monthly goals for each department, but we also highly encourage individual employees to define weekly goals. Setting short-term, attainable goals creates a sense of direction and motives employees to achieve them. What’s more, we also display these goals on public whiteboards in the office. Having them publicly displayed holds each team member responsible and also fosters a sense of teamwork if the entire department executes on all of their goals.
Provide Them With The Right Tools
All business departments rely on certain tools to get their work done. However, SEO in particular requires certain tools like seoClarity and Google Analytics to make their job a whole lot easier. Make sure that you are spending your department’s budget wisely and investing in software that your SEO managers can use to perform their duties as quickly and efficiently as possible.
It is also wise to invest in other tools that aren’t SEO-specific, such as project management and communication systems. At Power Digital, we like to use Asana as our primary project management system as it allows us to easily share status updates, project files, and expected due dates. It is also helpful to have an internal chat tool such as Brosix or Slack to streamline communication around various marketing strategies.
Have A Game Plan
I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this the same thing as setting goals? Not quite. This tactic pertains solely to you as a manager. When building, developing, and managing your ideal SEO team, you should always have a master plan for the future of your department.
Do you want to hire more employees eventually? Outsource certain duties? Set aside some time at the beginning of each quarter to answer these questions and create a blueprint for what you would like your department to look like in the upcoming months. This will help you prioritize your own goals and ensure that your department is performing SEO services to its full potential.
Give Praise Where Praise Is Due
Recognizing someone for their efforts is huge! Especially in an SEO company where results usually aren’t apparent for a few months. Everyone loves receiving praise – even if they don’t act like it when you’re giving it to them. (You know that once you walked away they secretly sent a quick text to their significant other/best friend/parents to tell them all about it.)
Recognizing employees for their hard work reinforces the value on their individual capacities and usually results in an increased commitment to their work. In addition, it proves to other employees that you perceive this individual as a person of value – motivating them to seek the same sort of recognition.
Delegate – Don’t Micromanage!
As I mentioned before, SEO specialists are just as technical as they are creative. They take pride in their work and like to take ownership of their individual processes. If you are guilty of micromanaging employees in the past – it is time to make a few changes in your management style.
SEOs are smart and, despite the interdependent nature of their work, are usually pretty independent people. Therefore, they are likely not going to respond well if you are commenting on their every move. Be conscious of this and know when your staff can run things to avoid any tension.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
This one is easy to justify. If you take significant steps to encourage your employees to separate their personal life from their professional life, they will reward you with hard work time and time again. It seems counterintuitive to think that letting the team out two hours early on Friday would lead to more work being done. But it works and many companies (including Power Digital) can prove it! Rewarding our team members for their hard work with catered lunches and company-wide vacations has been our best decision yet in an effort to keeping employees driven and engaged.
Lead By Example
Easily one of the most important techniques for properly managing your SEO team is leading by example. If you expect your SEO team to remain loyal to deadlines, handle conflict effectively, and respect company rules, you better be on your best behavior as well. “Monkey see, monkey do” still applies beyond the kindergarten playground. Don’t think you’re off the hook just because you are managing a team of adults.
When it really comes down to it, managing an SEO team is not much different than managing any other marketing team. But there are idiosyncrasies that are specific to SEO managers in particular. Being aware of these differences and employing these techniques can be the difference between a sub-par SEO team and your SEO dream team.