I speak to many SEOs off the record, be they inhouse or agency side SEOs. Each have a number of priorities, with the most common one overlapping is really good results. However, in m experience, the journey for these two very individual roles are quite different in my opinion. Of course, the very basic SEO skills are a must have, but the routes to success are dependent on the nature of organizations.
Example 1 – Second Opinions
Take for example the inhouse team – this is usually quite small, and often a one or two man operation, with if they are lucky, access to an agency for some outsourced work such as content or link building, however these situations are rare. On the other hand, the agency side teams have a large resource base and are usually made up of at least 2-3 experts who serve as a port of call, with other individuals with micro specialisms for further reference.
Spot the issue? The inhouse specialist doesn’t have a secondary call of comfort, or the second opinion. Often they have to make the crux decision based on instinct. If they are unsure of the decision they need to make, they will often rely on their research skills and send ages looking for a semblance of an answer online, in their favourite points of reference such as webmaster world and other SEO blogs.
Once again, the inhouse peeps lose out that shared discussion.
Example 2 – Education
It is up to the inhouse specialist to keep him/herself current by trawling through literally hundreds of SEO blogs. There aren’t any ready-made digestible education resources – the information is spread in the search blogosphere. Although the Agency SEO has to perform a similar self education task, I think that the job is easier – there are resources that are shared within the team – one person picking up a really good idea or post, will most probably share with the team.
The team will commonly discuss the merits of the concept (or should!!!), thus improving the output of any strategy that grew from that idea. This makes the agenc team a much stronger proposition.
Example 3 – Cross Industry Experience
An inhouse team would have a very narrow focus, typically on their specific subject matter. Although this may make them experts in their specific industry, they may lose out developments in other parts of the websphere.
Conversely, agency teams work across a number of accounts, cross industries, which means that they may be able to share their learnings and try and implement these across clients. This gives them a competitive advantage over their inhouse compatriots.
The three examples above highlight some of the differences between the two similar yet different SEO roles that on could take up. I have played on both sides of the pond, with much more on the inhouse angle than the agency.
So what advice would I give the inhouse SEO?
Build your network. Get your own “associates”. Create a horde of resources in terms of contacts with two simple tricks I use:
Attend Any SEO / related network events.
I love chatting to people at various informal SEO events, for example I recently attended the Search Pro event kindly organized by Dave Reynolds.There I met Up with Jane Copland, Jaamit , Annabel , Richard Shove , Samuel Crocker, Rob Nicholson, Tatiana amongst others. As usual the drinks flowed, and so did the conversation. Although it seems like that these ar massive piss ups (they are!) many ideas are discussed, and a number of inhouse and agency SEOs share tips and ideas that you may not find being blogged.
You also get a chance to bond with other SEOs, which may enable you to get second opinions when you are stuck – I often get asked by people what I think of an idea, or when I find an idea worth their time I shoot it across to them. Similarly, I often email others I have hung out with for tips and advice, and always get a response back. This is because I have built a “real” relationship with these people. And it helps.
Speak to People on Twitter
Twitter to me is a great way to connect with people. So many contacts I have had have come through this route, including job offers, ideas, tips and tricks. Learn to connect with people. Find people whose streams match yours – just because a person doesn’t have 100’s of followers doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth following. And dont forget, a lot of ocnversation on Twitter isnt on the public domain – the DM is a great way to have bite sized conversations.
Speak out – talk to people – don’t feel that because they don’t know you, they won’t respond. I do it all the time. (Stephen Fry never replies to me ).
The more you connect with someone, the more chance you have of being able to connect better with the in real life.
Build Lists. OK, so you don’t want to follow a million people. That’s fine. Neither do I. Build a bloody list. Lists are great way to segment conversations and types of people. I don’t want to follow 100+ UK SEOs, but my UK SEO list is one of the highest followed SEO lists. I listen to these people.
Finally – don’t leave an online interaction online – make a point to meet up, either at one of the events I suggested, or over a coffee!
Some of the UK events worth attending:
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile