You’ve done it! You’ve gone through the job search, nail biting interviews, endless days of waiting, the reference checks and perhaps a little soul searching as you sort through offers. You’re excited, nervous and hoping that your new SEO career shift will provide a fresh start.
Then the first day arrives, you have a chance to get under the hood and see what everyone hid from you during the interview. You get the litany of requests, problems and wish lists sent to your brand new email address. The bright shiny job might start losing a little bit of its glow. Before you bolt for the doors, do yourself a favor and use these strategies to make your job transition a little bit easier.
Give the New SEO Job at Least Three to Six Months
Many in-house SEOs stress themselves out, because they put too much pressure on themselves to get that site ranking day one. No one should expect you to fix their SEO problems overnight. If they are, then you need to do some quick talking to get more reasonable expectations.
Whatever you do, do not overpromise. Sure, you want to impress the new brass. However, when you start missing deadlines, those empty promises will get you out the door before your 90 days are up. Pushing too hard, too fast could cause you to make mistakes that will just complicate the situation. Take the time to assess the situation and create a reasonable plan that’s achievable.
Focus on a Few Quick SEO Wins
During your first 90 days, make sure that your plan of attack has a few low hanging fruit or actions items that are easy to achieve and will impact their bottom line. These early wins are important to gain credibility, build momentum for your long term plans and establish your place within company structure.
Make sure you understand what a ‘win’ means for the company. Rankings are empty unless they cause a positive impact to the bottom line. More SEO leads are great, unless they’re not converting into revenue for the company. Sometimes a ‘win’ can be something as simple as getting your marketing department talking with IT. Your goals should be tailored to the new environment and be important to your boss.
Learn Who’s Who within the Company
If you’re lucky, you’ll have one boss to report to. However, many in-house SEOs find themselves getting input from marketing, public relations, web development and IT. Make sure you understand who all the players are in the company, and who can help you achieve your SEO plans. If they’ve had a bad experience in the past with the previous SEO, you may have to repair their negative view on SEO or dispel any misconceptions.
If you’re working for a medium to large corporation, start with your immediate team and then work your way out. Figure out who your allies are and more importantly who are going to put roadblocks in your path. Then figure out how much influence they have on the company culture.
Try to Find Your Niche within the Company Culture
Above all, don’t isolate yourself. SEO can not be done in a vacuum. Eventually your job is going to cross paths with other people’s responsibilities. If you understand how you and SEO fit into the current culture, the sooner you can figure out how to start making positive changes. Remember, no one is above office politics. It doesn’t matter how talented, smart or gifted you are, if you push for changes too soon or alienate your team, then your SEO goals will move at a snail’s pace.
Get a feel if you need to unveil your master plan for the next year or if your top brass doesn’t plan for more than a quarter at a time and you need to break up your plan into small, digestible pieces. Make your goals align with others. If you explain ‘what’s in it for them,’ they’ll be less likely to push back on the changes that you need.
Questions to Ask Yourself;
If you’re still not sure how to approach your new SEO job, here’s a few questions that you can ask yourself to focus your efforts and make sure that you have a productive 90 days:
- What did they hire me for? – Believe it or not, rankings isn’t the answer. They hired you to improve their bottom line. If their SEO isn’t profitable, you aren’t going to have longevity at this company.
- How long do I have before they expect results? – Having clear expectations is important. Be honest, have measurable data to back up your answers, and don’t use vague platitudes or call your plan the ‘secret sauce’. Come on, SEOs really done our best to get past that.
- What’s my budget? – SEO may not have an ad spend, but it does take time and resources to get accomplished. Faster results may mean that you need to increase the budget. If you have less money, then set an expectation that things may move slower if you’re doing everything yourself.
- Who can help me? – If at all possible, avoid putting everything on yourself. Don’t be afraid to suggest outsourcing…just don’t outsource everything or they might wonder why they hired you in the first place.
- What is the best possible way to approach them? – Different personalities respond to different stimuli. Know your audience before you try to persuade others. Communicating SEO is just as important as planning the optimization. The wrong words can cause anger and resentment, making your job ten times harder.
- Is my plan realistic and achievable? – You may know the best practices of SEO, but rarely do you have an environment that fully embraces it. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Get a few early successes, and then set long term goals with continuing milestones that build on each success.