Once upon a time the internet consisted of spun content with manipulated anchor text, irrelevant forum comments, and directory after directory with no real value. Fast forward ten years and the digital world is almost unrecognisable, the line between SEO and traditional marketing is blurred and now the pair go together like gin and tonic.
Since I was appointed as tombola’s head of marketing, SEO has evolved hugely, and whilst on-site technical issues are as important as ever, there is now much more emphasis on building high-quality external links with genuine, valuable content.
Whilst all our technical work and game development is completed in house, SEO remains an external project. Myself and the marketing team have been working alongside Ascent Group for the past year and a half to boost our company’s rankings and it has very much been a collaborative effort. Whether you choose to keep your SEO efforts in-house, or enlist the help of a specialist agency, there will always be a learning curve. So, without further ado, here are my tips for smooth and efficient collaboration between SEO & Marketing teams:
When employing a new tactic in any aspect of business, being open to education is essential. It is easy to become ‘stuck in your ways’ when you have a specialty role, but when collaborating with another internal, or external team, you should learn from their expertise.
Having worked with other SEO companies, prior to Ascent group, I was not an SEO novice, but it was equally important that I listened and adapted to their methods, as they did to ours. As mentioned, collaboration is a learning curve, and it takes time to come up with a solution that both parties can work with in terms of meeting arrangements and communications.
Education isn’t one-sided. SEO agencies need to take time to learn about their clients, their brand message, and their expertise, so they can amplify outreach opportunities. Marketers need to take note of what works and what doesn’t and should trust in their SEO practitioner’s know-how.
2/ Define targets
All marketing initiatives start with a goal, so why should SEO be any different? By outlining exactly what you want to achieve and your expectations of the campaign, you will be able to adopt a harmonious approach to your digital strategy. For us, the end goal is to expand our customer base, and to do this we need to improve rankings, either overall, or for a specific keyword. As this is measurable, you should define these expectations, by marking where you are now and where you want to be 3 months, 6 months, 12 months down the line etc.
Of course, not all your company’s goals will be SEO focused. When working collaboratively, you should make sure all team members are aware of the bigger picture, as well as the specific goal for their individual project. Regardless of what the end goal is, working towards a shared target and keeping everyone involved and up to date will help keep the team motivated.
Monthly reports on key findings and target progression allows individuals to determine the success or failure of each activity. This will help to ensure that you maximise your team’s productivity.
3/ Make a plan
Devising a joint strategy for SEO and marketing activity helps ensure our brand message is aligned and consistent and that opportunities do not slip through the cracks. The outreach team at our SEO agency support our traditional marketing activity, by ensuring links are included in media activity, or, even by expanding upon our PR mailing lists.
By sharing our marketing activity, we can work better together as a team. My background means that I like having a strategic workflow of the coming month’s activity, however, I have learned that when working with SEO teams, flexibility matters! Often opportunities have tight deadlines we must meet and so this means working sporadically across different projects. Whilst a plan is all well and good, being able to adapt it to fit what’s newsworthy is just as significant.
4/ Maximise opportunities
Traditional & digital marketing activities are becoming more closely linked, by adopting a cohesive approach across all platforms you will portray a unified brand message and reach a wider audience base. It’s all about maximizing every opportunity. For example, our recent sponsorship campaign with ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here’ was fluid across all platforms. We supported the television indent with social media, online content and outreach opportunities. This all angle attack helped us to secure more exposure than ever before.
Quality of communication can make or break a collaborative project, especially when it comes to working with external agencies. As a marketer, effective communication skills are essential to ensure that everyone working on a project is well briefed and working towards a common goal. Weekly catch-up calls are ideal for reviewing day to day actions, whereas bi-annual meetings are better suited to review campaign milestones and progression.
Managing interactions between the external SEO agency and in-house SEO teams can be challenging. There needs to be a mutual respect between the in-house and external team, to ensure they are responsive to requests. The SEO team is working to improve the site rankings, and therefore business acquisition, so it’s vital to ensure issues are dealt with in a timely manner to prevent any adverse effects.