Ever wonder what a winning SEO team looks like? Go online and you can see a lot of SEOs writing, commenting, tweeting and communicating in the public spheres like peacocks spreading their feathers in mating season. Conferences are full of SEOs looking for their next delicious nugget of information to turn around and implement on their next SEO project. But none of this really allows you to understand what a true SEO team does or should look like.

While not all SEOs work in teams - there are successful solo SEOs - you'll find that having an SEO team at your disposal provides some pretty significant advantages. Let's go on a journey, looking at what an effective SEO team might look like. As you will see, there is more to SEO than meets the eye, and many roles necessary to make SEO effective.

  • The Project Manager: Every team needs a leader, and every client needs one person that they can hold responsible. The role of the project manager is to ensure that all aspects of the online marketing campaign work together. It's easy to have different team members focused on different aspects, but ultimately, the client has goals, and the entire team must work together to achieve those goals. If the team fails to achieve those goals, the project manager is responsible.
  • Search Engine Optimization Strategist: Every SEO project needs at least one person who understands the ins and outs of search engine optimization. The SEO must have a good understanding of how search algorithms work and keep up to date on the latest algorithmic trends. However, they must maintain an eye for solid marketing practices to ensure the "SEO" doesn't get in the way of the site's ability to convert visitors into customers. Each project can have more than one SEO and each can have a particular focus. Some of the SEO jobs are keyword research, site architecture, on-page optimization and reviewing pages for performance while performing necessary tweaks.
  • Content Strategist: The content strategist (a copywriter, editor and publisher all rolled into one) is one of the most important positions in an SEO pack. As search engines continue to look for ways to discount or even penalize sites with poor content or a lack of good content, the content strategist must make sure that all optimization efforts are implemented with an eye toward sales and conversions. While rankings are important, if the visitors don't engage with the site or convert into customers, all the SEO is wasted. The content strategist integrates the SEO's ranking strategies with the sales message needed to succeed.
  • Link Strategist: SEO without links is like a wildlife safari without entrance roads. The link strategist is responsible for marketing the site to other webmasters and business owners, making the case as to why they would benefit by providing a link to your site. They can also provide research for engagement with bloggers and site owners for the purposes of writing guest posts, interact on blogs with quality commenting and even provide submissions to worthwhile directories.
  • Social Media Strategist: Social and link strategists can work very closely together, as there are areas of overlap between the two. However the social strategist is responsible for developing and possibly implementing your social media strategy. They make sure you're doing the things necessary to build up your online reputation, writing and promoting your content properly and engaging with your target market online.
  • Analytic Strategist: You can never know if your SEO efforts are successful unless you look to see what's happening. Rankings only tell you part of the story. While you can get a sense of the sales that come in from ranking increases, without analytics you'll never know which keywords are really delivering and which are a waste of efforts. Analytics will uncover problems with your site and seek to improve your site's conversion rates.
  • Pay-per-click Strategist: PPC can play a vital role in your SEO campaign, let alone the value PPC can bring on it's own. Using PPC for SEO allows you to set up short-run keyword testing campaigns to test the impact certain keywords have on your ROI. When the SEO says to go for Keyword A, the PPC may tell you that, based on testing, Keyword B is a more effective strategy and better for business profits. Using PPC to guide SEO strategy allows you to prevent spending time and money on a path that ultimately won't pan out.
Whoever told you SEO was easy may not have lied, but they sure were not telling the whole truth. The reality is that SEO is rarely something that one person can do as effectively as a team. Each of the roles noted above take a significant investment in order to ensure your online marketing efforts are successful with today's search engine algorithms.

Do you have to hire an SEO company with one person in each of these roles? No, but any time there is doubling up, you can be sure that someone isn't able to invest all they need to in each area. It also diminishes the ability for that person to keep up on current trends and important information that may be crucial to your online efforts.

Regardless if you have a one-man SEO "team" or a true team of Web marketing professionals, it's clear that SEO is a lot of work and takes many hours to make and keep your site competitive. And if you're not competing for traffic, leads and conversions, you don't really have a business, you have a hobby.

September 18, 2012

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Great blog post Stoney!

Interestingly enough this is not only how my SEO team looks, but my online marketing team. Years ago, SEO was a one man band (technical) but the areas mentioned above are all required bot only for a winning SEO team, but a winning online marketing team!

I would perhaps add conversion rate strategist though. Having all that organic traffic arrive at your website is one thing, but turning them into customer by having an easy to use website is another.

It's true that this team would have won you the "virtual" SEO contest. However, only larger companies really have the resources to be able to hire such a team.

"if you're not competing for traffic, leads and conversions, you don't really have a business, you have a hobby."

Great point! I read an article on SEOMoz a few weeks back echoing the same sentiment--so you don't have time for SEO? You don't have time to help your business grow and make money? Yes, SEO is a lot of time and effort but it is essential to long term online success.

Good point about the conversion optimization strategist Steven. We generally roll that into Analytics as they work closely together. As far as SEO vs. web marketing... I use those interchangeably. I get SEO is a sub-set of web marketing, but it's still a vernacular that we all use even though we mean much more than "just" SEO.

Donovan, this isn't about how large or small an SEO company is... it's about what is required to do great SEO. Unfortunately, no single person can be great at all of these things.

We live this structure every day, this is spot on and a great read. I like it because a lot of our competitors PROMISE 250 different things that they are going to do on a regular basis and never "get" to all of them. We PROMISE about 15 things that we guarantee that are done and done properly every month with a weekly update to keep them posted on their work logs. It would be nearly impossible without this structure.

Thanks for posting and I look forward to seeing more from you in the future.


Michael Donovan
CEO Visible Dealer/Search Engines MD

This is a great post that I have read – magic happens when team members understand their roles clearly and then own those responsibilities.

Thank you, Stoney, for very interesting article, it was pleasure to readm even I don't know how I can use it in practice. I'm totally agree, that SEO team have to be company of professionals, the same like in any other field as well.

Great information, I was planning to have my own SEO team as well. This could prove to be helpful for me. Thanks!

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