30-second summary:SEO holds the keys to digital success. Managing SEO across large enterprises or multiple sites requires many skills. SEO can be time-consuming and gets increasingly harder by the day. A combination of talent and technology is needed for Enterprise SEO success.
From a global pandemic to the continuing economic, environmental, and leadership crises we’ve seen throughout 2020, brands are being challenged now to rise up and rethink ‘business as usual’. Unprecedented shifts in consumer expectations and behavior, placing digital convenience and personalization at the top of the must-have list, present an opportunity unseen to date for those who can master enterprise SEO skills to deliver for increasingly demanding consumers and clients.
As we head into 2021, the importance of SEO as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy cannot be understated. SEO holds the keys to digital success; from the insights and context, it delivers to the content it optimizes and the results it facilitates. SEO is the most viable and cost-effective channel for enterprises today.
One quick note on the term ‘enterprise SEO’ before we dig in. Enterprise SEO pertains to large companies with complex organizational structures and various lines of business and products, and that is the most common definition of it. Yet enterprise SEO may be practiced by smaller companies and agencies, as well—particularly those managing large or multiple sites. It’s a common misconception that size is a prerequisite for enterprise SEO success. At its core, enterprise SEO is the management of digital campaigns (search and content) holistically. A platform of integrated tools and features, including monetary, productivity and customer relationship management, enterprise SEO platforms take digital strategy from the page to the personal – and what business couldn’t benefit from that?
Organizations of all sizes can leverage enterprise SEO to deliver meaningful, personalized experiences to their customers in real-time. Managing SEO across large enterprises or multiple sites requires many skills, and for those new to the world of enterprise SEO deciding which skills to focus on first can seem a daunting task. But an innovative, technologically-savvy SEO knows there’s always room to grow.
As the ongoing evolution of SEO fuels careers (and creativity), this developing industry presents endless learning opportunities. Here are seven essential skills for SEO success in 2021.
1. Industry and market-specific knowledge
Whether your agency-side or in-house, the depth, and breadth of your knowledge about the industry determine how you interpret the data SEO and analytics tools provide. In short, enterprise SEO strategies are only as good as the thinking behind them.
AI-powered technology can help deepen your knowledge and understanding of the company’s place in the market, particularly its place in SERPs. But truly keeping ahead of the curve means understanding what your customers need and want, then translating that industry and market-specific knowledge into action supported by SEO. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach. The more you know about your industry and target market, the better equipped you’ll be to leverage searcher intent as the driving force behind your SEO strategy, delivering the right resources to satisfy consumer curiosities and secure sales.
2. Data-driven digital awareness
SEOs must understand the comprehensive digital marketing ecosystem and where SEO fits in. Data-driven digital awareness enables you to collaborate and strategize with the wider marketing and communications teams including paid search, social media and community managers, copywriters, and producers, and provide real value. How you continually support one another from insight sharing to process optimization is the key to holistic digital marketing.
Data-driven digital awareness can support ongoing ideation and optimization, allowing businesses to maximize spend and execute pivots to plans in real-time. Once we understand that set-and-forget strategies simply no longer meet the need, the question becomes simply where to start.
Consider for a moment your content marketing strategy. Designed to engage consumers and answer questions at each stage of the buying process, ultimately earning the consumers business, it’s only as good as the insights behind it. With the right collaboration and reporting support, the types of content your team develops can evolve to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. What’s more, AI can help drive dynamic content optimizations that meet each customer’s needs in real-time.
Keen awareness combined with the right data and analysis can help you to connect and remain engaged with prospects, saving time, and directing resources more efficiently.
3. Multi-tasking and big picture thinking
SEOs wear a number of hats. It’s important that you understand what’s going on at other points of the customer journey and have that big picture view of what each person and channel is doing to support content discoverability, engagement, and conversion.
Take a step back and think about cross-departmental collaboration, from sales to service and everything in between—how often are you coming together (virtually or otherwise) to ideate and strategize? As consumers are increasingly demanding more from the companies they choose to do business with, seamless experience is key, and that demands collaboration across teams. Your ability to see the bigger picture and map the customer journey, understanding pain points, and optimizing experience along the way, will set you apart from the pack.
Be curious, ask questions of your colleagues, and think outside the box in terms of the sorts of solutions SEO can help to support. You’re only limited by your imagination.
4. Technical proficiency
Knowing how, why, and when to utilize technology and automation is key. Technology isn’t just about automating certain tasks; it has the power to dramatically impact the customer experience.
More than simply moving consumers through a generic funnel approach, for example, once equipped with the right knowledge—from demographics to buyer traits and behaviors—and the right technical expertise, a savvy enterprise SEO can leverage the technology to deliver on market opportunities by triggering meaningful real-time personalized experiences for consumers. Technical proficiency alone isn’t enough but combining your skills with strategic thinking and the right vision can provide incredible value.
5. Management skills
How skilled are you at inspiring, motivating, and building up those around you?
As an enterprise SEO, you’re dealing with multiple stakeholders at every level. It is critical that you understand and play well within the organizational hierarchy so you’re able to advocate for SEO, win buy-in for SEO initiatives, defend budgets, and generally communicate the importance of this incredible tool.
Being a leader means cross-functional collaboration. Now more than ever before, SEO has an opportunity to step in and lead by providing insights and analysis to inform the customer, and indeed employee, experience.
6. Excellent communication skills
Throughout the enterprise, communication skills are key. You need to be just as comfortable in the boardroom as in conversations with engineers and developers. Strong communication skills, and an understanding of your audiences and their priorities, are critical to delivering engaging presentations, market research, and background data.
From brand reputation to pay-per-click monitoring and management, SEOs who keep optimization of results top of mind and provide insightful and easy to understand reporting are communicators to learn from. Keep it simple, harness the data and insights SEO provides, and share your knowledge with the wider organization every chance you get.
7. Multimedia skills
You don’t have to be a writer by day and a video editor by night, but a top enterprise SEO needs to know how great content comes together whether that’s in video, graphic, text or another format. You may be responsible for managing teams of creatives or outsourcing content creation, so you need to know what you’re asking of people, how much it should cost, and how to evaluate and improve upon it.
Combining your data and insights with an understanding of each of the components of the digital marketing mix – and the creative that supports them – goes a long way in managing workflows and resource allocation. Once you have a multimedia foundation, your insights can help to ensure that your creative team is driving prospective clients to your website, and engaging those prospects in conversation, in the most efficient way.
Talent + Technology = Winning SEO Strategy
As the world continues to adapt and shift consumers will increasingly prioritize convenience while craving seamless and personalized experiences from the companies they choose to have relationships with. Ultimately, it’s about leveraging the right data to serve up the right offers to the right people, in the right places, at the right time.
SEO is time-consuming and gets increasingly harder by the day. SEO’s can use an average of 6 tools cobbled together and 4 hours a day on research, reporting, and analysis.
Smart SEOs look to platforms that can save them time on research, reporting, and analysis. This makes it easier for them to find the time to actually make the most important SEO changes and drive strategy.
Enterprise SEO is the best way to deliver the digital experience consumers now demand, and with these seven essential enterprise SEO skills in your toolbox, you’ll be well-positioned to identify opportunities and deliver business results for your clients.
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.