More and more companies are considering bringing their SEO activities in-house to better integrate SEO into the digital marketing flow rather than to keep it siloed as completely separate projects. It is a welcomed trend, considering the fact that the SEO has many touch points and often times depends on many other departments. However, is far from seamless and never comes easy. I have worked with number of companies as they have went through the process, and nearly all have struggled to make the transformation. Here are three of the top reasons why the companies have failed to integrate the SEO into the digital marketing process.
1. Lack of Understanding
If the other departments do not clearly understand how their work impacts SEO, and how SEO helps their performance, it is likely that they do not want to work with the SEO team as it only seems to create additional work for them.
The fact is by incorporating the SEO into their workflow from early on, it would prevent them from having to make changes to what they created, and would actually reduce their workload especially for IT and web design/operation teams. For the digital marketing teams including social media, they could improve their campaign performance by sharing the messaging, landing page testing results, customer behavior data, etc. with the SEO team. To be successful, the SEO team must conduct their outreach program to the other departments to gain the trust, understanding, and cooperation by educating them about the relationship between the SEO and their specific responsible areas. By taking a role based knowledge transfer each area can easily understand how they impact SEO performance rather than trying to learn all things SEO.
2. Outdated Corporate Policies and Standards
Let’s face it, while SEO has evolved so much over the years, but many companies are still using the best practices and corporate policies from the Bronze Age of the Internet. IT’s responsibilities are focused on the sites uptime, security, web design and in most cases the operation team’s responsibilities end when a page shows up on browser. The crawlability, relevance detection and visibilities of the web site to the search engines are not their concerns.
You need to find a way to update the policies and standards used for other department to include SEO related items. The 21st century IT and Web operations teams should include “the SEO Engine Friendliness” such as server error handing, redirect setting, and web site crawlability in their requirements. Talk to people in charge of those policies and standards and ask to be included in the update discussions. While the IT way may work it may not be the best way for search and educating them on the differences goes a long way to changing process for the better.
3. No Motivations and Incentives
Traditionally, many companies have the siloed organizational and evaluation system that create a competitive environment within the company among the departments, which does not encourage cross over work among them. Furthermore, during the budget discussion, these departments have to fight over their budget for tools, marketing, and other resources. As mentioned previously, they are responsible for web operational performance and not necessarily revenue generation or SEO performance.
Create a project based reporting mechanism and marketing budget rather than to set the budget per department. Include the organic SEO performance KPI’s in other departments’ reports such as IT, Web, and Content. By making them share in the outcomes they will be more inclined to work with you.
Changing existing routines is difficult. Further, changing the process alone will not accomplish effective SEO integration. Get the buy-in from other departments and executive by educating about how SEO performance is important to them is one of the keys to the successful SEO integration. Also, work with the IT side to help them achieve their goals as well is a great way to reciprocate. Find out what they are struggling to get funded or approved and identify a way you can leverage Search to help them move the project forward.
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