With pressure to support a business’s overall marketing initiatives, it’s easy to lose sight of the actions needed to improve organic search performance.
Most of the marketing team in an ecommerce company is focused on campaigns and creative. Search-engine-optimization professionals have to translate those initiatives into the actions that matter to search engines and consumers alike. However, SEO improvement tends to rely more on unique strategies and small details that live outside of the campaigns that drive the rest of the team.
Especially for small or one-person SEO teams, supporting both the campaign-driven side of the business and the continuous improvement side can be difficult to manage concurrently.
… supporting both the campaign-driven side of the business and the continuous improvement side can be difficult to manage concurrently.
Think of it as two separate work streams with separate goals and strategies that share some common aspects and actions.
2 Separate Work Streams
The marketing team will have separate work streams for, say, content creation and development, email marketing, paid search, display advertising, and offline integration, among other initiatives. Similarly, the SEO team should have different work streams to support the business’s initiatives and campaigns, and to continually improve the site’s organic search performance.
For example, Mother’s Day is coming up in a couple of months. If your ecommerce site sells products that could be positioned as gift items for women, Mother’s Day may be an event that you’d develop a campaign around.
These SEO tasks should absolutely be a part of that campaign:
- Use keyword analysis into the strategy phase for use as customer research;
- Optimize the placement of the content within the site’s navigation and cross-linking structures;
- Recommend optimal ways of handling content that needs to be deleted, moved, or added;
- Ensure that the design and development of textual content enables search engine bots to access it and contains links that establish relevance and authority;
- Optimize the content itself;
- Test the resulting campaign launch to ensure that it is as optimal in production as planned.
But that process of supporting the creation of new content for campaigns is just one work stream. It’s the work stream that tends to get the most visibility because it’s what your peers are most focused on. But in some ways it can be less important than the other work stream: improving SEO performance.
SEO: Site-wide Improvements
SEO improvement tends to focus at a site-wide level, making changes that will impact the performance of many pages at once. For example, while an SEO professional would write title tags for the new pages, to support the Mother’s Day campaign, an SEO improvement project might focus on updating the structure of title tags across the entire site.
It’s similar to the difference between the web-development work streams for supporting promotions, and the work streams that support managing and maintaining the site overall.
SEO improvement tends to focus at a site-wide level, making changes that will impact the performance of many pages at once.
Separate the SEO work into unique work streams. If you have multiple people on the SEO team, assign one to campaigns and the other to improvements. Each work stream should then plan upcoming months — the goals and strategies, as well as the projects and tasks required to complete them. Look across work streams for areas where there could be overlap to reduce rework and increase efficiencies for your team as well as for development and other teams.
Support, but Don’t Defer
If it’s just you, make two separate to-do lists or otherwise plan the time you’ll spend on the different pieces of work that need to be done. Campaigns and promotions have timeframes and due dates; those items provide the framework around the other the improvements you need to make.
If you don’t actively plan time for SEO improvement, it will consistently be swept to the backburner by more “urgent” requests around the work that the rest of the marketing team is doing. Your SEO program would become a passive supporter of the rest of the organization instead of an active driver of traffic.
Deferring continuous improvement activities to the more time-sensitive promotional activities is a common challenge for in-house SEO teams. Yes, it’s necessary to support campaigns and other promotional efforts. But take care that it doesn’t become the SEO team’s only charter. Your organic search traffic will suffer in the long run.