When a company starts to think about establishing an online presence, it’s often the first thought of managers to make do with the resources they already have. By spreading the work around various different departments, the project can get done without having to hire extra staff. On the surface it seems like a good idea, but what starts out as a cost-cutting measure can actually end up costing more than anticipated.
The Nature of the Problem
In many companies, online marketing is an afterthought, and it shows: the responsibility for creating and maintaining websites, and performing other online tasks, are spread throughout the company, with multiple departments involved. Within the scope of one project, half a dozen departments might be involved, including IT, marketing, HR, sales, and support, plus managers in each department. If the company doesn’t have a leader tasked with tying all of these different threads together, the negative impact can be significant. The company’s online presence suffers, and in those departments where workers are forced to fit the work into existing schedules, productivity can suffer too. In short, the project itself is not completed as quickly or as well as it should be.
The crux of the problem is that when web-related tasks are split up in this way, they’re taking a back seat to the primary function of each department. Worse yet, these tasks are being performed by people who know a little about what they’re doing, but not enough to do the job as well as it needs to be done. In these cases, what tends to happen is that establishing an online presence doesn’t do for the company what was initially hoped or expected. The company’s newly-created website or social media profile is allowed to languish, or at best is updated sporadically. The effort that went into development is wasted, and the company’s management becomes convinced that the internet “doesn’t work” for their company.
SEO-Oriented Company Culture is the Solution
This is a complicated problem with an obvious solution, but in a company culture where the internet isn’t considered a priority, it’s easy to overlook. The solution is simply to treat a company’s online presence as an extension of its brand persona. This puts the responsibility for web-related tasks right where it needs to be: in the marketing department.
Instead of treating the company’s online presence as a secondary consideration, the entire company needs to, in effect, become more SEO-friendly, meaning that internal barriers that hurt the organisation’s online presence need to be removed. These internal barriers come in a wide range of forms, including but certainly not limited to the following examples.
Web Hosting and Development
If company culture isn’t SEO-friendly it might seem natural that the IT department might be tasked with web hosting for the company website. But the thing is, office-oriented IT skills aren’t directly transferable to web-oriented IT skills. Instead, arranging web hosting should be the purview of the marketing department. This puts web hosting in the hands of the department that is (or should be) concerned with creating and maintaining the company site.
Similarly, the development and maintenance of the company’s website should be managed within the marketing department, (or at least overseen) by someone who is experienced in using the company’s chosen content management system. Large or small companies may yet still elect to outsource SEO Project management, by way of consulting with specialist SEO companies that can guide and assist staff in strategic planning and deployment.
Creating Website Content
Developing website content and adding it to the company’s site is another tasks that seems like it might function best when the work is split between the company’s various product teams. The typical problem that arises in these situations is that it takes too long to get new content onto the site, and new content is not constructed with SEO in mind.
These problems tend to occur when writing web content that it’s a job that’s just added on to existing workloads: the solution is to turn compelling web content creation into an organised project with dedicated work time for a small team of people, instead of something that someone does if and when they have time.
The overall responsibility for creating web content should be the domain of a small interdepartmental team of people who create content for their respective departments, headed by one person who has the authority and ability to approve and implement additions and changes to the website. Similarly, any blogs run by the company should be managed in much the same way: under the direction of the web content developer, with designated people creating and optimising content.
Using Social Media
A compelling tool in the hands of a company that understands how to leverage its power, social media can easily become yet another pointless time-waster if it’s not used correctly. Again, this job is best done by a single person, under the purview of the marketing department. Depending on the size of the company, the community manager and web content developer might be the same person, but if the budget allows, these two specialised roles should be fulfilled by two full-time employees.
The ideal scenario is to have one official account for each social media platform the company uses, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, with a “community manager” responsible for maintaining and updating them. The community manager should be someone who’s familiar with using social medial to build audiences, and should be fed with relevant company information, from blog posts to media mentions, new products, public appearances, and other events.
Analysing Online Traffic
This is a subject that most small organisations don’t even consider, but regardless of the size of the company, it’s a mistake to ignore analytics, simply because tracking website traffic is the only way a company has of knowing whether each page of its site is performing as desired.
In simple terms, each page of a website needs its own unique tracking code; this allows the analyst to determine where website users are coming from, what pages they’re looking at, and at what point they leave the website. This data allows the analyst to assess how well each page is performing, and pinpoint any problems that are causing the site to lose traffic and therefore potential customers.
The Big Picture
Companies that venture online must meet high customer expectations in order to succeed, and that requires prioritising web-related projects and tasks, and providing the resources and skilled employees needed to do the work well. Creating a new synergy between departments that is content led, yet SEO-Centric is the surest path to establishing an effective online presence.
You can connect with Jay, Managing Director , Vertical Consulting on linkedin or via this site