Finding the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) lead for your business is critical.
Organic Search is the number one digital driver of revenue, and it’s far and away the most cost efficient. Even if you have a strong Brand, odds are, most of your web traffic is coming through organic search. This makes your SEO lead the most important person in your digital strategy; the hub through which other pieces of the digital practice (i.e. paid search, retargeting, display, etc) run.
The person you choose as your SEO lead is going to be the digital face of your company. Here are five (5) things you should look for in your SEO(L)mate:
Here’s your no-brainer. You need an SEO person who understands SEO. If he/she doesn’t know what a Meta description is or the value of a social signal, then you need to ask yourself how their resume made it to your desk. However, SEO changes all of the time. The algorithm changes. The social landscape changes. Your internal and external stakeholders change. Google takes over the world. You get the idea.
Your SEO lead needs to understand and implement the basics, but at the hiring stage he or she doesn’t need to be an SEO “expert”.
Remember how I said that at the hiring stage your candidate doesn’t need to be an SEO “expert”? You should. It was one sentence ago. Or are you skimming this blog post like most internet readers? (That’s a post for another time.) Do you remember when I said SEO changes all the time? Well, it does. So you need an SEO lead who is constantly trying to learn and stay ahead of the curve. It’s easy to come in as an expert and rest on your laurels (what the heck is a “laurel” anyway?) and that works in some positions, but NOT in the world of SEO.
NOTE: As a manager it’s important you understand this. It’ll be your job to support this education. If you’re a company with billable hours, you need to include this time within those hours. You need to allow for travel to conferences and for subscriptions to various SEO tools. If you’re employees have year-end goals, while it might be hard to quantify, a goal of “learning” needs to be included.
Marketing / IT / Advertising
In the nebulous space between IT/Development and Marketing lies this ever-growing and ever-changing practice known as SEO. If you’re under the belief that your SEO lead needs to be a coder who lives in his parent’s basement, then you’re missing it. Search engines are a MARKETING channel. Your Search Engine Optimization lead needs to be a marketer. He or she needs to understand marketing and advertising and consumer behavior.
The SEO lead needs to know how to read source code and extract the relevant data, but more importantly what can he or she bring to the overall digital marketing strategy?
The key to being an effective Search Engine Optimization lead is relationship building. This is hard to evaluate in a one hour interview, but this is probably the single largest determinant of a successful SEO lead.
In most cases the SEO lead doesn’t own the webpages, neither does he or she own the technical development. Nor, should he or she. What this means though is that for the SEO lead to get what he or she wants he or she needs to go through both marketing and IT. Often, the recommendations from the SEO lead mean more work or require more budget from someone else. The only way to navigate those waters is to be an adept builder of relationships.
Related to all of the above, you need someone who can and will follow-through. Making recommendations to the marketing team or to the technical team is a major part of the game, but to get “the win”, thing have to get done; results tallied. This follow-through is what distinguishes a dominant SEO practice from a mediocre one.
With all of these tips on finding the right SEO lead there is only one question left: Can your operations side keep up with the increased demand you’re about to have?