In a recent post I talked about the challenges and opportunities inherent in in-house SEO, particularly enterprise-level SEO managers. I promised to follow up with a list of traits that can contribute to success at the individual and team levels.
At the enterprise level, SEO managers typically aren’t the ones responsible for writing copy or making changes to the website but they have to work with the teams that do. Look for these characteristics if you are hiring an in-house SEO manager or work on developing these if you are seeking a job with a medium or large company.
“Big Picture” Perspective
A good SEO manager has to balance the company’s needs and objectives with those of the teams of specialists (copywriters, designers, developers, etc) and the SEO program. He or she must understand and promote SEO’s role in the big picture without disrupting the flow of progress.
Attention to Detail
SEO is all about the little things. One misplaced character in a site’s code or a subtle copy bug can have major consequences. An in-house SEO can’t ignore or overlook the details and expect to be kept around very long.
Mediator and Negotiator
Many times there are competing objectives between SEO and other functions that seem inextricably at odds with each other. A smart SEO can work with other teams to find a mutually agreeable solution that serves both needs.
Persuasive and Motivational
Since SEO often requires going above and beyond what is necessary to “get it right”, team members must be convinced that the extra effort is worth it. This can be done in a variety of ways, but an effective SEO manager can usually get the desired results without resorting to unsavory tactics.
Tenacious and Persistent
Sometimes other people aren’t willing or able to incorporate SEO into their day-to-day work. A good SEO manager can identify the situations where using force is necessary. I’m not advocating violence or being a tattle-tale, but there are times when it may be necessary to go over somebody’s head and inform a manager or project manager of the lack of cooperation and/or the consequences of doing something wrong or not at all.
It’s nice to be the resident SEO expert, but sharing that knowledge to create an entire team of experts is essential. Once the team has a working knowledge of SEO fundamentals, everybody becomes an advocate and potential source for suggestions and recommendations.
Good Business Sense
Of course, nothing gets done internally without building a business case first. Developing success metrics and proving ROI can be difficult for something as unpredictable as SEO, but a good in-house SEO manager should set realistic goals based on company or website objectives and be accountable for the results.