fbpx

How to Map, Create, and Optimize an SEO Team Structure

How to Write Content Briefs: 17 Key Elements and 5 Tips - Outranking
How to create a comprehensive content brief
May 18, 2022
Strategist – Outranking V8 Release
June 13, 2022
Show all
SEO team structure

SEO is not easy to accomplish alone. It can be strenuous and time-consuming. That’s why having a team to help optimize your organization’s work and get you up high in the search engine results is essential. You need to know how to map and create an SEO team structure that is best for your organization.

You don’t want just anyone on your team. You should be able to identify the right people, know where to find them, and be able to bring them aboard. So, in this article, we’ll cover the basics of mapping out an SEO team that works best for your organization. You need both internal and external resources to take your company to page 1 of the Google results. So, let’s see how it’s done.

First, what is an SEO team?

An SEO team is a collection of individuals who work together to improve the visibility and organic search traffic of a website. The team is often made up of members from other teams within an organization, such as the web team, digital marketing team, and content team. While it’s important for all teams to be on the same page when it comes to working with SEO, it’s especially crucial for the SEO team to have good communication with the web development and content teams.

The web team is important because much of SEO (such as optimizing titles and meta descriptions or adding schema markup) needs to be implemented during website development. Content teams help with the editorial work, management, and production of content based on an SEO manager’s suggestions.

The makeup of an SEO team can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of an SEO campaign. If everyone isn’t rowing in the same direction, this can lead to confusion and conflicting goals. That’s why it’s important for companies to embrace a holistic approach to SEO to create a structure that reflects a coherent philosophy for their SEO team.

While each member of a typical SEO team has valuable skills and an important role to play, they also have limitations. That’s why effective project management is key in order for teams to be productive. By creating SEO project workflows that account for everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and using guidelines for project execution, you can help ensure that everyone is working together towards common goals for business outcomes, brand awareness, and reach.

SEO team structure greatly depends on the size of the organization

The structure of an SEO team is most times a reflection of the company’s philosophy on SEO. Some organizations, mainly smaller ones, have a more traditional approach, where everyone does everything. But in larger companies and agencies, there are specialists for each aspect of SEO: on-page optimization, link building, technical auditing, and content creation.

There is no golden rule for this; every company can use the structure that works best for them, depending on their philosophy and how they define success.

Structuring an SEO team helps with data visibility and ownership

A well-defined SEO team often meets on a scrum call and discusses priorities with other stakeholders. This can also be the place where the digital marketing or web team reports traffic, leads, and other KPIs related to content.

These meetings allow them to discuss strategies, successes, and failures with each other to make sure that no one is working in a silo and that everyone on the team understands where the core priorities are.

SEO team structure greatly depends on in-house marketing team structure as well

While companies set up different structures based on their needs, a good team is often built around the in-house marketing team’s structure.

When the SEO and marketing teams work closely together, the content strategy is properly communicated between the two. This allows each team to effectively achieve their OKRs. 

Therefore, to achieve the best result possible, your SEO team and your content or marketing team must work hand in hand. These two are “partners in crime” to help you achieve success. 

Responsibilities of an SEO team

The team’s goals define the overall structure, the kind of people on the team, and what role each member plays. Your team structure should have people responsible for different aspects of SEO, including specialists for:

  1. Competitive research
  2. Technical SEO
  3. On-page SEO
  4. Off-page SEO
  5. Project management
  6. Content strategy
  7. Content promotion
  8. Data analysis
  9. Content creation
  10. Copy editing
  11. Creating media assets

Who are the members that make up an SEO team’s structure?

So, let’s take a quick look at the people on an SEO team, as well as their roles and duties.

content briefs for SEO teams

#1 Director of SEO

The director is the overarching SEO team leader. Besides the general qualities for the role of a director, a director of SEO has some of these distinct qualities and skills:

  • Understands content strategy and the bigger picture
  • Acts as a liaison within the company on behalf of the SEO team
  • Prioritizes projects to execute
  • Understands all aspects of SEO to be able to guide the team
  • Sets OKRs or KPIs to measure the team’s performance

#2 SEO manager

The SEO manager is responsible for forming the roadmap so goals can be met. They work closely with other teams within the company, as well as outside vendors, to track progress and ensure that initiatives are being carried out successfully. This person has great people skills and values relationships both internal and external. A great SEO manager:

  • Has strong communication skills
  • Is experienced in all disciplines of SEO
  • Has project management skills (and accountability)
  • Is deeply analytical
  • Understands and can use tools like SEMrush, Outranking, Ahrefs, and other analytical tools

An SEO manager usually executes all sorts of projects, such as:

  • Content brief creation
  • Existing content optimization
  • Technical audits
  • Reporting on traffic data
  • Acquiring backlinks
  • Competitive analysis

#3 Technical SEO manager

This technical lead is responsible for the overall strategy and execution of technical SEO projects (often those requiring web development). They work with other teams within the company to make sure that technical aspects of marketing efforts are in line with the larger company goals. This includes managing:

  1. Page speed optimization
  2. “Txt” and “rel canonical” strategies
  3. Sitemap implementation
  4. Website code audit

A technical SEO manager should have some of the following skills:

  1. Familiarity with the software languages involved in website development, such as HTML, XML, PHP, JavaScript, CSS, Python, and Java, as well as WordPress, Drupal, Headless, and other technologies that your website is built on
  2. Ability to use technical tools to monitor website performance and make recommendations for improvements

#4 On-page SEO manager or expert

While this role is not distinct in most places, this can be an important role at a larger company. An on-page optimization expert will craft a content plan or briefs, do the research, and give guidance to the content team. They focus on making sure all the on-page elements are properly used. An on-page SEO expert should possess the following skills:

  1. Content brief planning (potentially using tools like Outranking)
  2. Keyword research and topic clusters
  3. Content strategy creation
  4. Industry-specific knowledge (since they will be assisting in the creation of new content)
  5. Understanding of on-page SEO tricks and familiarity with tools like Outranking to help with the optimization projects

#5 Link-building specialist

A link builder is someone who specializes in creating links from other websites back to their own website. This is an important part of SEO, as it helps to improve the site’s ranking on search engines. The goal of link building is to grow a website’s reach by promoting its content and quality pages through multiple partnerships.

The link builder must have a strong business sense and maintain contact with multiple partners. Professionals they work with include content marketing managers, internet marketers, and search marketing directors. The job is all about persistence; the link builder must not give up easily!

Link builders are in charge of contacting websites and organizations, following up with them, and then reaching out again as needed. They usually have excellent writing skills and an undergraduate degree in marketing or a similar field.

#6 Team leader or project manager

The project manager is the team quarterback and does a lot of managing. They make sure all tasks are completed on a given schedule. The PM needs technical knowledge or at least the ability to understand and relay technical concepts. They are also responsible for running scrum meetings to get everyone up to speed, helping remove roadblocks in the project, and communicating with external and internal teams and partners.

Project managers have A++ people skills!

#7 Content writer

A content writer is primarily responsible for creating high-quality, engaging content for a website. This can include writing articles, producing blog posts, and crafting copy for landing pages and other marketing materials.

Sometimes “content” extends to more than just writing – it can be the creation of material such as infographics or videos. The primary job of your content writer is to make use of content briefs created by SEO managers.

Content writers play an important role in SEO teams but consider keeping them in a separate team to ensure their creativity can flourish. They can help write catchy headlines and craft persuasive copy that will convince people to take action on your site (such as clicking through to another page or filling out a form).

#8 SEO analyst

An SEO analyst monitors KPIs to track the success of your SEO efforts. The SEO analyst also performs keyword research and works on keeping track of SERP positions and finding ranking opportunities.

However, the SEO analyst may not be the only analyst on an SEO team. A search marketing analyst is responsible for analyzing and optimizing the company’s online presence.

#9 Web developer or designer

Web developers or designers are also often part of SEO teams. They are responsible for making sure that the content is coded properly so that both humans and search engines can read it. They make sure that all of the images, videos, and other multimedia elements on your website are properly tagged and optimized for search engines. They can also help with adding internal links.

Web developers and designers can also help with the creation of landing pages, which are specific pages on your website that you want to rank for certain keywords. They are often essentially publishing gatekeepers within an organization.

SEO managers and project managers usually work closely with the web team to optimize on-page SEO for existing content without having to involve content teams.

#10 Conversion rate optimizer

Conversion rate optimization specialists are a crucial part of an SEO team. They work to increase conversions by creating landing pages that match the intent of user searches.

Their job is to test different versions of a page and see which one gets more conversions from the same audience. They use A/B testing software to determine which version performs better.

How do you map and create an SEO team structure? Organization of SEO team structure and strategy

SEO team structure

Step 1: Define the goals of your SEO team

The first step in creating an SEO team structure is to define the goals of your SEO team. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s important to remember that without defined goals, it is difficult to measure the success or failure of your team.

Evaluate whether or not the team’s goals have been met

A great way to start setting goals is by evaluating whether or not the past SEO goals have been met. If they haven’t, ask yourself why? What prevented the goal from being achieved? And what can be done to ensure that the new team is successful in the future?

Define your team’s goals

Once you’ve determined why past goals failed, it’s time to set some new ones! Be sure to make them specific and actionable so you and your team can easily measure progress. For example, “increase organic traffic by X% in Q3” is a much more achievable goal than “improve website traffic.”

Set measurable goals that are achievable and relevant to the business

In addition to making sure your SEO goals are specific and actionable, you’ll also want to make sure they’re relevant and achievable for your business. After all, if they’re too challenging (or not challenging enough), they may not be useful for your team.

Use vanity metrics sparingly, if at all

It’s also important to be mindful of the type of goals you set for your SEO team. Vanity metrics, such as the number of backlinks or website visits, can be tempting to track, but they don’t always provide an accurate measure of success or failure. Instead, try to focus on goals that are more indicative of business growth, such as increased revenue or conversions.

Make sure your goals are specific and actionable

Get inspiration from the competitor analysis, and use the EAT (expertise, authority, trust) guidelines when creating your SEO goals.

In order to create attainable goals for your SEO team, it can be helpful to look at what your competitors are doing well and emulate their successes. Additionally, using the EAT guidelines can help you create holistic goals that take into account all aspects of SEO success.

Step 2: Map your content needs to SEO and business goals

Now that you have a good understanding of your site’s goals and the needs of your audience, it’s time to start mapping out your content. This will help you make technology decisions based on what will best serve your visitors and support your business goals.

It also helps you create a shared vision for how your site will grow and evolve over time. And finally, content mapping is important for content development – it helps you focus on site goals and the types of content you need to produce in order to achieve them.

But most importantly, a good content map can help spot gaps in your current content development strategy – so make sure to revisit yours often!

Step 3: Establish a budget around funding and business objectives

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s important to budget for funding and business objectives. This will help ensure your team has the resources they need to be successful.

Some things you may want to consider include:

How many people do you need to accomplish your writing tasks (if this budget falls under web or SEO teams)? If this falls under the content team, don’t worry about this one.

How many people will you need to create content briefs?

Will you need a technical SEO person?

Can you outsource off-page SEO?

Will you need someone to help manage SEO projects?

What experience level do you need for each of these individuals?

How much do you need for tools? Invest in tools like Outranking for content and optimization brief automation to help manage the SEO workflow.

Step 4: Get the right mix of people and skills

It is hard to find one person who excels at all the skills you need for success. So, get the right mix of people and skills and build your team structure from there. To build an SEO team, start by filling key positions. Search for people that can perform essential roles and deal with the optional roles later.

When putting together your team structure, start by filling key positions such as the project manager or head of search engine optimization. From there, build out the rest of your team by hiring individuals with complementary skill sets. This will help ensure that everyone on your team has the ability to contribute and work cohesively towards common objectives.

Make sure objectives are clear from the outset and set weekly meetings so everyone can be kept up to date on progress. Finally, invest in tools that will increase productivity (such as task management software) to help avoid duplication of effort.

Step 5: Create a leadership structure that allows you to accelerate

A successful SEO team structure is one that allows you to accelerate growth. SEO is a team sport. It requires the expertise of multiple disciplines and the collaboration of many people in your organization.

So, you will need to create a leadership structure that accelerates growth. Create a clear chain of command. This will allow for clarity and accountability within your team. It also makes it easier to delegate tasks and responsibilities – which is important if you have limited resources or capacity.

Step 6: Create better team alignment with the content marketing team

When there is a smooth alignment between the SEO and content teams, each team can effectively achieve its set objectives and goals. 

On the other hand, misalignment between the two can result in inefficiently executed projects and a lack of favorable results. That can also cause revenue loss. 

Your SEO team and your content marketing team must work closely together. You will need to put all the necessary processes in place to encourage easy collaboration between the two teams.

How do you make sure your SEO team structure works like a well-oiled machine?

#1 Know the end goal and what success will look like for your SEO team

Success metrics should be defined before writing any job description so that you can get the best hands to help you achieve your set goals. The definition of success for the SEO team should be fluid and constantly changing, depending on external factors like market trends or business strategies.

#2 Layout the content creation, research, and optimization workflows to align teams

When talking about optimizing an SEO team structure and key performance indicators, there is a need to take time to effectively layout your content strategy. Every member of the team should be on the same page through an optimized workflow.

Outranking can help you to plan your content, generate a content brief, or create a powerful outline to help organizations create quality content and manage the workflow of content creation smoothly.

#3 Enable your teams with the right data and software

Equip your data analyst with the right tools to monitor KPIs and ensure they are improving and staying on track. 

  1. Project or task management tools: Asana, Trello, and Jira
  2. Keyword research tools: Ahrefs and Semrush
  3. Content research, optimization, and brief creation tool: Outranking.io

# 4 Measure KPIs monthly or quarterly

If it can be measured, then it can be improved upon. To achieve the best results with your team, you need to work on measuring your growth by measuring key performance indicators. As an SEO team, common KPIs you might want to have your eyes on are our keyword rankings, traffic, and conversions. All these should be reported on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.

OKRs are different for each person or department, but they can include traffic, leads, revenue attribution, number of featured snippets, amount of content produced, and CTR improvements. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking to create an effective SEO team structure, we’ve covered all the basics of how to map out and create a team structure that streamlines your company’s work. Outranking is an SEO platform designed to optimize your SEO and content team workflow. Try Outranking.io today!

Pankil Shah
Pankil Shah
Co-founder @ Outranking.io