“Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.”

Neil Gaiman

When working in an enterprise company, you’ll work with dozens and dozens of cross-functional partners. You’ll have to teach them the basics, intermediate, and sometimes advanced parts of your job. The truth is none of them really care about SEO, it’s not their job to. They already have a job which requires full-time effort of at least 40 hours a week. So, when executives from the C-Suite and SEO managers start to incorporate training sessions, SEO copywriting guidelines, and battling business partners over IT resources, in order to “evangelize” SEO, without first taking the time to learn about and empathize with their colleagues, and their true roles and challenges, it’s like they shoot air balls, and wonder why they’re so off.

Before you start jacking up shots in games, you need to warm up and practice beforehand. That’s the role empathy plays in the enterprise. SEO managers can’t keep making the mistake of going into companies where others before them have worked there for 5, 10, 20 years or more, and act as if their work is more important. Even if you’re a seasoned SEO veteran at the top of his game, remember the words of Joe Biden’s mother, “nobody’s better than you, but you’re better than nobody.”

If you want to educate others so you can involve them in your work, get out of your shoes, and step into theirs, and really understand their work. Then together, think of ways you can join forces.

Questions Worth Asking

Which mindset, predominantly, do you want the SEO team to work with? Does leadership hire and build the team, accordingly?

SEO touches almost every business unit in one way or another. How will you make a positive impact or at least a positive impression on the many colleagues and partners you’ll interact with?

In enterprise companies, 3 things are constant: bottlenecks, changes and meetings.

In general, how should you communicate clearly so that you’re not always preaching SEO industry vocabulary?

When is it better to listen, and when is it better to speak up?

How should you earn trust and interest in the work the SEO team does?

What is the team’s stance on empathy towards business partners: IT developers, copywriters, data analysts, link builders, business and site merchandisers, agency partners, and folks within the SEO team?

How should you use the power of empathy to understand the roles and responsibilities of those you work with in order to help them understand what you’re aiming to achieve?

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

Daniel Pink

The purpose of SEO education presentations is maximum resonance. How should you organize introductory, intermediate, and advanced SEO teaching sessions? How can you tailor your messaging to the target audience?

What business examples can you provide to the particular audience so that they better engage with the content of your presentations?

What examples can you use to explain keyword research, on-page optimization, site structure, taxonomy naming conventions, rich snippets, URL redirects, SEO copywriting techniques, link juice distribution, etc.?

How should merchandisers and copywriters find and use the correct keywords in taxonomies, titles, descriptions, image/video metadata, etc.?

How should merchandisers or executives use tools such as Keyword Explorer to identify new business (category, product, content) opportunities?

What are the most important data points for data analysts to remain mindful of when producing your reports?

How should your own team remain educated on what’s popping in the industry? How should they differentiate between noise and signals?

How can you get Google Webmaster updates and recommendations alerts on time?

How should you question case studies, surveys, and other industry “best practices” content and decide what techniques are worth testing for your business, or a waste of time?

What industry buzzwords are signals, and which ones are noise?

How should your team process the ideas of industry thought leaders?

How much should you believe in everything you read in the blogs? In other words, how do individuals on the team remain as objective as humanly possible?

Does your company pay for conferences?

If so, what are some company policies on conferences and events?

How should you maximize the value of your all-expense paid conference trips so that the lessons you learned, the people you connected with, and the overall experience you had can positively influence your team and your work?

How can you share the lessons learned with your team, your partners, and your execs?

How can the SEO team draw inspiration from other business and non-business fields so that they can get better at connecting dots, and seeing patterns?


The more you remain educated, the more you sharpen your skills, and the greater your appreciation of your craft. Keep learning, keep teaching. Stop training, stop preaching.

Be a student of the game who remains curious, focuses on kaizen, and challenges popular advice, and over time with deeper experience, you’ll go from being an enterprise SEO professional to an enterprise SEO leader. Be that team, and you’ll go from being Good to being Great.

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