Beyond SEO: Managing the management

Beyond SEO: Managing the management

As search marketers, we face many challenges as part of our job. We’re tasked with bringing in more traffic, more leads, higher rankings, better links and improved sales. Reaching these goals is challenging, but it’s the reason people pay us money in the first place.

However, there is another challenge we face that is just as difficult to address, if not more: people. And it turns out, even after 13 years in the industry and 35 on earth, I still haven’t figured them out. I thought it would be easier!

What I have figured out is that there are certain challenges that arise more frequently than others, including things like employee turnover, management changes, executive requests and more. These types of things can have a drastic impact on any program, especially for agencies, and without being properly prepared to address them, you increase your risk of losing the client.

To help ensure you’re prepared the next time one of these “people” challenges arise, I’ve put together a few tips on managing management and how you can best deal with some common issues:

As an account manager, you likely deal with Marketing Directors and VPs. Their goals tend to be focused on traffic, leads, sales and general site improvement. They have a solid understanding of program goals and knowledge of the existing programs, and they understand the nuances of keywords and content marketing.

Enter the VP of Product, who does a search and suddenly wants to know why the site isn’t ranking for a specific keyword. Or at a larger scale, the CEO who realizes there’s a pretty big line item in the marketing budget and starts asking about results.

The way you address these questions must be based on the understanding that their goals may not be the same as yours, but it doesn’t make them less important.

In the case of the VP of Product, we can show them why they aren’t ranking and what they can do to help. For the CEO, we need to be able to tie our program back to sales. For many organizations, the attribution issue is still a major challenge, but money talks, and it’s important to be able to prove you are worth the cost.

In the past few years, I’ve been really lucky to work with marketing managers, VPs and directors who have a solid understanding of SEO and content marketing. However, that hasn’t always been the case and likely won’t be the case for all future clients.

In fact, while I’ve been fortunate to work with some highly knowledgeable people, I’ve also worked with a number of folks who simply don’t understand how SEO works or have the wrong information. It doesn’t always end well.

As marketers, it’s our job to ensure clients understand the program, the goals of the program, and why it isn’t okay to just go buy 100 directory links (yes, we still get that question).

Let’s look at an example:

At Client A, the existing marketing manager leaves and a new person is hired to take their place. The new person has no existing knowledge of the program and outdated knowledge of SEO. They start questioning what you are doing and why you are doing it that particular way.

While it can be frustrating to have to justify your work again and again, the new manager is just doing their job, and as such, we must do ours: proving value and educating them in the process. So, whether it’s the on-boarding of a new client or a new contact at an existing client, keep these questions in mind:

Additionally, if a new program manager starts or internal changes are made, make sure your contact has the following:

As I noted at the beginning of the post, we get paid to drive results and, well… we need to be able to show them. Specifically, we need to be able to show recent results.

The marketing space is very much a game of “What you have you done for me lately?” Just because you increased traffic 100 percent last year doesn’t mean you get to rest on your laurels.

Always have something positive ready.

Even if it’s something small, the ability to showcase something positive each time you speak can go a long way. For example, if you know the VP of Product is making an effort to improve on a particular keyword, make sure you show them how their efforts are paying off. If there’s one lead that turns into a big sale, you better be ready to take credit.

There are any number of challenges to running an SEO program, but people can often be the toughest. By understanding these common issues and being prepared to face them, you increase your likelihood for success. You also might just learn a lesson in patience and understanding.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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