Wednesday, June 6, 2007

In-House SEO isn't Just Optimizing...

Having been an in-house SEO for a few years I have come to the realization that optimizing a company's website from within the company itself isn't all about knowing the technology and algorithms of search engine optimization. I must say that I am glad I understand how a bot indexes a site, how targeting the right keywords on specific pages at the correct densities, and how a dynamic website can encourage rankings through initiatives that target specific traffic and generate conversions. But what I am most thankful for is the ability to communicate and work with other individuals within the company. While my main responsibilities may be to not only increase traffic to the website but increase the conversions that come from the site through natural and paid search marketing, my success stems from the success of others. If I notice a page or section of the site that includes a large amount of content that could be great fodder for the search engines that isn't getting indexed I target the issue, and collaborate with those responsible for correcting it. If the content within those pages could be written to include the website's main key terms then I work with the copywriters or those responsible for those pages in order to get the terms within the content and in the correct densities so that they rank properly and aren't confusing to the users that read the content. The Search Marketing industry has not only grown over the past several years, but is changing in such a way that it takes more than just analyzing a site and telling a webmaster to make some simple corrections. Nowadays you have to coordinate with several different departments from IT to the copywriters, the user interface designers, the database developers, the analytics departments and so on in order to get the work you need done so that you can be successful in your job as a search marketer.

My advice to the consulting companies out there is simply this: 

If you can get inside the walls of the company you are trying to help, then by all means take that opportunity and run with it. Ask for introductions with as many people that are involved with the website you are working on as much as possible and develop strong working relationships with those individuals. They will not only help you understand the site you are optimizing better, but they can help leverage the work you need completed in order to drive the optimization. And by all means - don't ever stop communicating with those individuals. There is always something more you can do, and clients tend to start shopping elsewhere when they feel the work isn't being done for the money they are spending.


To the SEO consultants that are looking to make the transition in-house my advice is this: 

in the first month you are there, make sure your analytics are in place and you can grab a footprint of where the site is before doing any work. Also use that time to build relationships with the individuals that can help you in your success (i.e. the copywriters, developers, designers, product managers, and so on). Once you have successfully grabbed the data you need to show how natural search is driving traffic and conversions and you have developed the relationships you need in order to be successful then start optimizing and keep those lines of communication open as you continue to optimize the site. These are exciting times for us search marketers and for those of us that are crazy passionate about what we do there are bright futures in this technology. Just remember to be a successful optimizer you not only need to know design, development, analytics, etc. But you also need to know how to work well and rely upon others.