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The Current State of SEO
One of the most exciting things about the current SEO market is how vital SEO has become to businesses across the board, from startups to enterprise companies. Recent studies have shown that over 70% of business owners, marketers, and digital agencies have made SEO the most important channel of their business, and nearly 60% of the world’s web traffic is now coming from organic search. However, not as many businesses have embraced SEO education as an active initiative to ensure success in SEO.
The amount of resources devoted to SEO shows that it has clearly gained recognition as a primary channel for all types of businesses looking to drive search traffic. Increased demand and a desire for a higher degree of SEO utilization are there, but what has been lacking for many companies is a clear game plan for mobilizing teams to make SEO a more active channel rather than a passive one. This ambiguity on how to use SEO effectively to accomplish clearly defined goals across multiple teams is why SEO education is so important and why it is poised to become one of the core tenets of the market.
One of the biggest questions facing businesses looking to implement a broader SEO strategy is how much or how often to invest dollars and resources in SEO. Studies have shown that companies with fewer than 250 employees spend an average of $300k annually on SEO, and enterprise businesses with over 250 employees spend an average of almost $700k annually on SEO. With more and more businesses making a conscious investment in SEO, there is a demand for a heightened level of understanding regarding the value and efficiency of those investments.
While the efficacy of different SEO strategies can be debated from a variety of angles, what has become evident is that SEO does not exist in a box. SEO permeates nearly every facet of business. Rather than occupying one channel on its own, it is woven into the ecosystem of an enterprise. This is why the pursuit of SEO education programming is so crucial to its success. Because it affects nearly every team in a company, every team should be conscious of those repercussions in order to implement a successful SEO strategy.
Why SEO Education is Essential to Integrating SEO Throughout your Business
Now that we have discussed how important and interwoven SEO has become throughout businesses, how do we create tools and a curriculum to guide teams toward a broader understanding and a more successful strategy?
Right now, the extent of SEO education tends to lean towards introductory material. There are a number of resources that cover the basics from an “SEO 101” standpoint and are helpful for those wanting to gain a beginner’s understanding of SEO basics. However, beyond these cursory resources, there isn’t a lot out there that addresses more in-depth questions. For instance, how to manage an SEO program, evangelize SEO within a business, or address overall SEO awareness, as well as some of the dependencies they may have within an organization.
How does SEO successfully interact with other cross-functional teams within your enterprise?
A good place to start in the realm of SEO education gaps that need filling is integration. As we’ve already touched on, SEO does not exist in a vacuum as a form of marketing. The outdated notion that a company’s SEO department is comprised of a single nerd in a closet performing dark web hacks and tricks to boost search volume is long gone.
Businesses are realizing that the future of SEO is cross-functional. An effective SEO team has a broad grasp of things like public relations, paid search, product and affiliate channels. They also understand how to prioritize and leverage these channels to create an overall search demand for their company’s brand/products/services. And just as critical as it is to have an SEO with an analytical skillset paired with a broad scope of knowledge across channels, it is also critical to have a solid SEO knowledge base ingrained in those channels. This interdependency is key to gaining a deeper and more productive execution of SEO initiatives.
The best SEOs in the business are those that can excel at complex data analysis, speak the business language, and bring strategies to life with clear initiatives, especially at the enterprise level. SEO thrives best when it works actively with IT teams, engineers, content producers, marketing teams, independent contractors, and other channels and stakeholders.
What is the Role of the Executive When it Comes to SEO Education?
Now that SEO is seeing a more significant budget and resource allocation within most companies, the next question for executives and managers is how to guide the channel to be as effective as possible, and executive SEO education should play a big part in that.
One of the first priorities, from an executive level, is gearing the whole culture of the business toward recognizing and embracing SEO. Teams need to view SEO both as a useful tool that can make their channel more effective, as well as something to be contributed to and integrated throughout the organization. And while this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to learn the nuts and bolts of SEO, it does mean that pertinent SEO information and materials are shared and implemented across channels so that SEO becomes a core part of everything the enterprise undertakes.
What executives and managers should think about when approaching SEO integration can be summed up in an acronym: RICM.
Roadblocks and roadmaps – how to create both short term and long term plans around SEO, how to get around obstacles
Investment – how to invest in SEO, where to put dollars and resources, what tools to use, and what consultants to hire
Coaching – how do I bring out the best in my SEO team, how do I set up these analytical talents for success
Management – how to talk about these strategies with your team, with the board, and with investors
These are the components that executives need to learn and understand when it comes to scaling and securing an effective SEO program.