By Kaitlyn Smeland Dhanaliwala
May 20, 2010
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Today, I attended a webinar from Bruce Clay at SMN entitled “SEO in Large Organizations- Managing Expectations, Defining Success.“ From the title alone, I expected much of the focus of the presentation to be on setting the right expectations with different stakeholders of an organization and being clear about which metrics will be used to measure progress.
In general, these are important discussions to have in the beginning of a relationship with any client. But large organizations in particular come with special circumstances. They may have a strong pre-existing brand equity, and there are often many inter-related departments with different interests with which you’ll need to coordinate efforts.
The presentation was targeted more toward the in-house audience, but any good SEO agency should also be able to deliver and execute a program in line with the critical factors Clay outlined. Clay identified a number of factors which must be considered in an SEO project for a large organization. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Champion. An SEO project in a large organization needs a champion who will drive the project’s momentum, educate about SEO, and continually sell the program’s benefits to everyone involved.
In-house: If you are the SEO lead, then you’re probably in the best position to be the champion. You must be online and available to every department contact that may have questions. You may need help from an agency or consultant if you’re not truly an SEO expert.
Agency: If you’re called in to help on an SEO project, you will most likely be called upon to help champion the program throughout the organization.
Education. Of course, you’ll need upper management to buy into SEO as a program. Those executives will need to understand the basics of SEO and how it can pay off in terms of ROI. But each department of the organization will need education on different elements of the SEO process- and in more detail. As an SEO expert, you will need to keep yourself abreast of the latest algorithm changes and developments in the industry.
Prove the Benefits. It’s all comes down to ROI. Be careful to highlight the specific ways in which SEO can help each individual department or organization function. Through this process, you may also gain some insight into how to develop your SEO tactics. You will understand which metrics are important to which groups of people in the organization.
Get expert help- Enhance your team. If you are not truly an SEO expert (or if you are lacking an expert staff or supportive upper management), you may want to enlist outside help in educating the key stakeholders in your organization. But be careful about hiring an agency or consultant. An agency should be able to explain exactly why its recommendations affect the optimization of a page or site in search engine results.
Be a subject matter expert. This not only applies to expertise in SEO, but in your company’s core competency. Positioning yourself online as a subject-matter expert in any industry requires the creation of quality content that your target audience will find compelling. It requires that you make that content available – on a blog, through whitepapers or webinars, via engagement in social media. It requires networking with others in your industry and generating interest in your knowledge and your company. All these activities either directly or indirectly affect SEO.