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SEO in 2007: Organizational & Cultural Challenges of SEO
Thursday, August 02, 2007
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is and continues to be a tough sell for many B2B marketers and marketing departments in general. One of the main reasons for this is that there are a number of organizational and cultural challenges with regards to SEO. The most difficult challenge that online marketers face with SEO is the management and organization of people. In fact in an excellent Webinar from Search Marketing Now with Chris Sherman senior editor of Search Engine Land, Chris stated that "...the biggest challenge with SEO for big business is the managing and orchestrating of people..." From education of staff to getting the buy-in from management, SEO for B2B marketers in 2007 is faced with a number of organizational challenges.

So what are some of these organizational challenges faced by B2B marketers?
  • Obtaining Buy-in from Management - this is a tough one. Especially in the B2B arena where management has taken its time to realize the value of SEO. Many of the other challenges mentioned below are a direct result of not having management's buy-in on SEO. Management, and rightly so, tend to look at the bottom line first. So when it comes to getting buy-in from management on SEO there is an education process that needs to take place. Matching up SEO ROI numbers is not an easy task. In fact some might even say that it is impossible. As a result online marketers need to illustrate value in other ways. For example point out the fact that a competitor is ranking well for a specific term while your company is no where to be found in the organic search results. Communicate the effect this has on traffic to your site and relate this to missed lead generation opportunities.

  • Getting Budget for SEO - many business to business (B2B) companies still insist on putting the majority of their marketing budget into traditional marketing channels such as print, and TV, when a number of studies have shown that the return of SEO is unmatched by these traditional marketing mediums.

  • Education about the Importance of SEO - as B2B marketers, SEO education of your marketing team can be difficult; additionally the education of the sales team, your IT team, your management team and C-Suite executives presents a whole other level of organizational challenge with regards to SEO.

  • The Complexity Issue - as Chris mentioned in his presentation "Managing SEO for Big Sites, Big Brands", there are a number of complexities that affect SEO. These complexities include issues such as applying SEO to multiple products, multiple brands and multiple audiences with many teams from within the organization's hierarchy. The size of your organization can have a direct impact on the complexity of your SEO endeavor. I can attest to this having experienced this with a number of my own clients in the past.

  • Providing Concrete ROI Numbers for SEO - there are too many factors that affect SEO that allow a specific ROI number to be associated with SEO. This metric is affected by factors such as the industry that you are in, the ever-changing search engine results, and identification of improper key performance indicators.

  • Outsourcing vs. In-House SEO - determining whether to do SEO yourself or to bring in a third party presents a number of organizational and cultural challenges. With outsourcing there may be issues with security of having an outsider work on your website(s). Having strictly in-house SEO may mean more education for your team which quite often is difficult to find additional budget for.
SEO in 2007 means dealing with a number of organizational challenges. Overcoming these challenges will help your organization's online presence and in turn will have a positive impact on lead generation for your business. Improving the lead generation process and the number of qualified leads that you receive online is something that both your marketing team and your management teams will surely appreciate. In the end, an effective SEO campaign can be so rewarding that it in fact pays for itself and then some... I have seen this on numerous occasions with our clients. SEO in 2007 is a tough sell, but it doesn't have to be. The key is education and understanding of SEO and how it needs to be an active part of your marketing mix.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, August 02, 2007  
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