“Love is the most powerful four-letter word.”

“It takes 10 hands to make a basket.”

“The Carrot is mightier than the stick.”

“Make greatness attainable by all.”

John Wooden

How a Team-first Attitude Leads to Success

The SEO team has a golden chance to work with at least one person in almost every single department in the entire company. For big multi-national brands, SEO is a member of global Centers of Excellence, in which they collaborate with other SEO, digital marketing and e-commerce teams. The opportunity to learn about the business, to grow as a professional, and to drive significant change is limitless.

In most companies, SEOs are part of multiple teams: the SEO team, the digital marketing team, the e-commerce team. Even better, they can empower other cross-functional units to step up and be a part of the team. The mistake most organizations make with SEO is that they try to evangelize it. Leadership tries to cram it down the throats of folks in other departments, forgetting that it’s not their everyday duty to think SEO, do SEO. It’s an added role, a thankless role, and so it’s important to appreciate any extra effort any other person offers you. Earn the partnership, by making it go both ways.

Questions Worth Asking

The SEO team, e-commerce department, and cross-functional partners

What work is done by the SEO team, and what work is delegated: to outside contractors or agencies, to internal copywriters or IT developers, etc.?

Which reports should the team pull manually, and which reports should be automated?

What should the daily schedule look like for the SEO team?

How much time should the SEO team spend in meetings?

Which meetings are daily, (bi) weekly, and monthly for all marketing channel managers and teams?

What intel should the SEO manager offer during e-commerce / digital marketing scorecard, aka business review, meetings?

Which tools should be used on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to do SEO work?

Does your internal SEO CMS tool allow the team to make mass updates to the site? Example: optimizing 10, 20, 50, 100 or more pages via bulk spreadsheet.

What site-wide projects should SEO focus on to make big revenue gains?

Tip: don’t overvalue content marketing and link building because they get all the headlines in the search industry; small, boring, technical changes lead to big gains.

Which category-specific projects should SEO work on because of high volume keywords?

Which projects should SEO work on to support major business initiatives and company annual goals?

Which time-consuming business processes should you create standard workflows for to improve productivity?

How should SEO support ad-hoc task requests from cross-functional teams?

Tip: create a help desk ticketing system, like the one IT uses, so that keyword research, 301 redirect, category naming, and other one-off requests can be managed efficiently. Unlike your primary team projects, these tasks may not drive significant revenue, and they do take time to complete, but you have to do them, because 1) it’s the job, and 2) it builds trust with others.

404s, URL changes, and products going out of stock are constants in e-commerce SEO. What processes should SEO create in a joint effort with merchandising and IT teams, to handle product and category redirects?

Whether done by an external link builders, or internal team, what’s the approach on outreach: one-by-one personalized emails for quality, or mass email blasts for quantity?

One of the most important questions on productivity: how do you tie it all back to business KPIs? How do you quantify link building, on-page optimizations, and technical SEO projects?


Be the best teammate you can be, whether you’re a manager or a direct report. Managers, don’t get too caught up in your job title. Trust others to help you carry out the work, trust that they can be as good at it as you if they learn the game and apply themselves.  When leadership sees cross-functional collaborations, your projects will earn the buy in naturally, they’ll get priority in the pipelines, and the results will follow. If things don’t go right, take the fault. If they don’t, share the kudos. Shy away from gossip, corporate politics, and fake compliments.

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