My experience has impressed on me the need for projectised team structure for successful SEO workflow rather than departmental or hierarchical organisation. Digital marketing requires resource collaboration between strategist/planners, campaign/media managers, PR/Communications, web development and designers. SEO bridges R&D, campaign strategy, technical development and front-end design, all contributing to consumption analysis and experience optimization. This all sounds good in theory, but it is blue-sky thinking for the most-part when the reality is quite different.
Essentially what I advocate is for buy-in of digital consultancy (inc. SEO) at management level. Search expertise is all about understanding the consumer through research, analytics and testing. SEO is an organic iterative process rather than a stop-start project. If SEO is employed post-production, it’s impact is severely limited. By then, the business proposition, the market positioning, messaging and communication, and delivery mechanic has all been finalised and implemented. Instead, design and development, branding, communication and content production should be driven by the consumer. It is the job of the SEO professional to know the customer and ensure development, design, PR and marketing complements market demand. SEO is an architectural role rather than that of a tradesman.
In the driving seat, a webmaster should have a keen understanding of content marketing, that is how to leverage existing assets and optimize pipeline production. The webmaster is far more than a maintenance role. This role should be instructive to development, design, copywriters, social media managers, press relations.The webmaster should be at executive level working with management to define campaign plans and goals. Much like a newspaper editor, a webmaster shapes the structure, content and context of a website rather than simply proofs and prints the final edit.
There is a growing trend toward in-house digital marketing resources, esp SEO. This makes sense based on what I’ve just written about the continuous, integrated nature of search engine marketing. It doesn’t work however if the resource is syphoned off into a sub-set of marketing or the development department. Much as Starbucks has done, organisations need to move away from disparate CIO, CMO and Head of Creative working independently of one-another, instead empowering a Chief Digital Officer to synchronise cross-department or project-ised activity. The CDOs of tomorrow are the SEO folk of today, as SEO rebrands itself as customer (or website) experience management.
In a nutshell, if we are to assume 4 components to every web project (download Digital Marketing Team Matrix pdf slide); Digital strategy, design, development and marketing – Successful SEO initiatives are best achieved with the expert guidance of experienced digital performance specialists empowered at strategic level to map delivery flight path from air traffic control and coordinate activity across design, development and marketing.