Pop Quiz: What is the definition of “SEO culture” in a company?
Sorry, your response to “Another meeting, email, or team bonding event that requires me to fake a smile and has no chance of succeeding” is incorrect.
I’m looking for “That warm, cozy feeling you get when the laundry first comes out of the dryer that makes you feel safe, comfortable and confident.”
It’s okay, I’m here to enlighten you.
See, SEO in a business is fun.
Except for the part where you have to learn a dozen different brands and learn about internal jargon like “BU” and “QBR”. And that doesn’t even include the fact that you have more than one (sometimes 10 or 20) different business, resulting in you needing to sell and convince with your SEO strategy.
Fact: If you want to gain the respect and trust of your peers for your SEO strategy in an enterprise company, you have to devote 50% of your time to education and culture.
If you’re thinking “why” then you’re doing it wrong.
Too often the idea of ”SEO culture” is to over promise and under deliver, which is why I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
After 12 years of working on SEO in large companies, I’m collecting some golden nuggets of knowledge I’ve learned to help build an “SEO culture”. Ahead are a few of my favorites.
“Office hours” for corporate SEO professionals is more than a meeting—it’s a culture shift
The idea of ”office hours” began to flourish in the tech world when Jason Fried, CEO of 37Signals, announced that he would be hosting CEO office hours in 2009.
Read that sentence again – 2009 folks.
It’s safe to say that the “office hours” needs an overhaul.
Let me be clear: I don’t mean this level of revision.
Within my first 3 months with a company, I try to set up SEO consultation hours.
It’s about taking the initiative that SEO is part of a broader movement – and promoting it across the business and across different marketing channels.
Even John Mueller from Google organizes SEO consultation hours.
The key to being successful with your SEO consultations in a huge company employing thousands of people is a thorough plan and schedule ahead of time.
While I set the schedule and agenda for the SEO consultation in month 3, I don’t start it until month 6.
I then moderate the event bi-weekly and leave it open to people with questions. If nobody has any questions, I’ll use the time as an educational opportunity to share a new update.
The most important lesson I learned from actively listening and learning during these consultation hours is the importance of building trust. Think of your SEO office hours as an open door for people to share their grievances with the SEO team.
I’ve heard about possible concerns from the editorial team about SEO delaying the work. I’ve listened to the product marketing team complain that our keywords don’t align with the brand vision. I needed to hear what the web development team thought of some of the technical SEO recommendations.
At first glance, it may seem like you’re a punching bag. But the reality is, when you bring SEO to a company that has been around for years, you bring change.
People are afraid of change.
Eventually you will settle in. Conversations will flow. There is laughter.
You’ll learn things about your co-workers that you probably wish you didn’t have (how that person dates that person). At this point, you should grab a frosted donut and pour that bourbon you saved for a special moment into your lukewarm coffee.
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Lunch-and-learns help build SEO into corporate culture
First agenda: Let’s remove “lunch” from Lunch-and-Learns.
Nobody wants to scoop 63 burritos into their mouths in less than 10 minutes like Joey Chestnut does at a hot dog eating contest to pretend to enter.
The most important part of Lunch and Learns is the “learn” part.
Use this as an opportunity to review something related to your plan for the next quarter.
For example, if I manage more than 1,000 domains and want to start implementing best practices for all domains in the first quarter, I would review schema markup best practices that will help set the stage for the next quarter.
It helps generate buy-in for your quarterly plan, and if there are any questions that are pushing back, it opens the space for a larger conversation.
Creating a culture around enterprise SEO is more than Friday drinks
It’s difficult to define how you create an SEO culture in a company.
As an SEO Lead, Director or VP, you set the tone. Delivering solid SEO results requires a culture and mindset of trust in you and your SEO accomplishments.
If you can align your corporate SEO strategy and leadership, a strong SEO culture embedded within the organization will produce positive outcomes for all teams.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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