The value of an in-house SEO
Does your business really need an in-house search professional? Columnist Eugene Feygin explains what an in-house SEO can bring to the table, and why it's worth the investment for many organizations.
Over the last decade, SEO has morphed into a complex field encroaching on UX, content marketing, and even web development. At the same time, a wide range of organizations are now running full force on to the web; yet they often fail to consider the possibility of bringing an SEO specialist in-house.
Based on conversations with colleagues, it really comes down to the fact that organizations lack commitment from the C-suite and/or proper resources to find the right candidate.
One then must beg the question: Is it worth bringing someone in?
I decided to reach out to several SEO leaders in the industry to get their points of view, while closely examining my past experience.
I have had the privilege over the last decade to primarily work as an in-house SEO manager for several e-commerce organizations. Even early on in my career, I recognized the value of SEO to the entire organization — from a merchant researching products to onboard, to a content team researching valuable topics to address, I was always there to provide strategic insight on potential growth.
But what else can an in-house SEO really do?
Political landscape negotiator
Every organization will have teams that focus on different goals, perspectives and responsibilities. As SEOs, it is our job to achieve true collaboration. We can drive all the traffic you want, but that’s not very valuable if the customer doesn’t convert!
Whether it’s a company picnic or a department outing, we need to focus on establishing personal company-wide rapport.
I wanted to figure out how to improve customer experience on a page template without having to go through a code change. I noticed a prominent section that our team does not have access to and decided to reach out to all my key contacts companywide to find out who manages it. After a couple of discussions, I quickly learned that the process for updating this content area was manual, but possible.
I soon realized the additional untapped potential that we could now leverage to influence customer behavior. At the same time, I can now work with that team to streamline the process — all thanks to the fact that I regularly focus my time on looking for areas of improvement and cross-company communication.
User experience has quickly taken off as a huge factor for SEO, and I find the field fascinating. I began meeting with our talented UX team regularly to better understand how they develop wireframes that dictate usability. This led to having the opportunity to visit several customers to observe their browsing behavior, and I even got to try my hand at wire-framing.
These efforts have yielded a shift in which the UX and SEO teams work hand-in-hand to develop a truly optimized experience.
Initiating change from within
Many organizations migrating to the web often overlook what a monumental change it is for the entire company. Existing companywide processes — even those that have nothing to do with the web — often need to be overhauled to encompass the new digital strategy.
An organization needs to bring in a seasoned SEO who not only understands the current search landscape but also understands how search will impact their overall industry five or more years from now. This is how they can help their company stay ahead instead of just playing catch-up — innovation is key!
Modern SEOs are no longer just keyword optimizers — we are ingrained into content strategy, UX and web development, as well as social.
A decisive content strategy that infuses best SEO/customer-centric practices is instrumental for every organization. When I first joined my current company, I quickly discovered many parts of the organization were developing and launching content sporadically, but there didn’t seem to be a consistent direction or measurement strategy in place.