There’s an overlooked problem in many of today’s companies and their marketing departments: a lack of education and leadership in search marketing.
It’s something that could be improved and has caused me a bit of angst when working at a new company for the first time.
Addressing this issue can improve search marketers’ job satisfaction and career growth for search marketers and drive growth in marketing teams, ultimately benefiting the company’s or clients’ success.
In this article, I’ll explain why there needs to be more education about search marketing within companies today and how to make it happen.
Why we need more executive education and leadership in today’s companies
I’ve worked as an SEO professional in-house and at several agencies. I also ran my own digital marketing consultancy for several years, where I did SEO, analytics and reporting, web development, Google Ads, and email marketing.
In the last 13 years, I’ve experienced various work environments and had my fair share of bosses.
Some companies are better than others at training, teaching and mentoring – that’s to be expected.
However, one issue has been consistently apparent throughout my career: the urgent need for enhanced education and leadership in search marketing.
Here are a couple of reasons why enhancing education and leadership across your organization can profoundly impact search marketing in today’s corporate world:
You’re killing your search marketing team’s morale (and retention)
No search marketer wants to work in a place where their efforts are constantly undermined and their presence is a source of annoyance. Your search marketing team’s morale can get lost quickly if you don’t have the leadership to move things along.
In agency life, account managers can easily become bottlenecks if they don’t align with the search marketing team’s goals.
I once worked at an advertising agency that ran each account through an account manager who managed the client relationship. If the account director didn’t want to do something, they didn’t – especially when sharing the relationship with the client. And with that goes the growth of that account for PPC or SEO.
When working in-house, it can be difficult to get other teams on your side or to help you achieve your goals unless you have a higher-up who can help bridge that gap.
Due to more bureaucracy, unless it’s coming from the top, a lot of what you might want to accomplish is going to fall on deaf ears or is going to be met with heavy pushback leading to a standstill or going back to business as usual.
You’re slowing down company growth by making SEO an afterthought
You know what can lead to suboptimal results?
- Inefficient processes.
- Lack of communication.
- Low buy-in.
The company growth you’re trying hard to achieve might not be a lack of competence and skill but rather a lack of communication, process development and cross-departmental training.
Search marketing isn’t going away anytime soon.
It’s time to stop thinking of SEO as an afterthought and give it the attention it deserves, which is just as much as paid search or any other marketing channel, for that matter.
We still find ourselves arguing with web development teams and other marketing/web teams to secure a seat at the table and fight for the budget, especially for SEO given its volatile and slow-moving nature.
While some degree of conflict between teams or team members within organizations is inevitable, I’ve observed recurring issues. Typically, one or more of the following problems emerge:
- The SEO team is left out of key web dev-related meetings.
- The web team usually finds the SEO team annoying.
- The SEO team usually finds the web team annoying.
- PPC usually always gets more budget.
- The SEO team needs more budget.
Many organizations also do not meet this unique specialization’s hiring and management needs.
In my experience, while there have been very well-meaning and capable people managing search marketing, the question remains whether they should be the ones doing so.
Search marketing shouldn’t just be put under public relations or a web developer/operation director’s job. It’s an established enough profession.
Would you want a general practitioner doing your brain surgery? I don’t think so.
While not as life-threatening as brain surgery, it’s essentially what you’re gambling, but with your company’s money.
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How to champion SEO education and leadership within your organization
The following solutions can help:
Invest in executive education programs and ongoing training in search marketing
Companies need to set aside budget and time to train their employees when it comes to search marketing and where it fits into the bigger picture.
Doing so will pay dividends and help with your retention.
This should also include executives, account managers, and anyone that leads teams so they don’t become the bottleneck for lack of progress and hitting company goals.
Improve recruiting and hiring choices
Let’s stop making other departments run the search marketing department.
There are plenty of SEO and PPC professionals with a ton of experience to run your search marketing team.
Invest in them like you would any other department.
Give search marketers a real seat at the table
Ensure your search marketing team has a voice in decision-making processes, strategy development, and resource allocation.
Though we have work ahead of us, addressing the problems and implementing the solutions in this article can pioneer a brighter future for this exciting profession.
Dig deeper: How to use SEO education for stakeholder management
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.