Pop quiz: What’s the definition of “SEO culture” at an enterprise company?
Sorry, your answer of “Another meeting, email, or team bonding event that I have to fake smile through that has no hope of success” is incorrect.
I’m looking for “That warm cozy feeling you get when laundry first comes out of the dryer that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and trusting.”
It’s OK, I’m here to educate you.
Look, SEO at an enterprise company is fun.
Except for the part where you have to learn a dozen different brands and educate yourself on internal lingo terms like “BU” and “QBR.” And that doesn’t even include the fact that you have more than one (sometimes 10 or 20) different business leads you to have to sell and win over with your SEO strategy.
The fact stands: If you want to gain the respect and trust of your peers for your SEO strategy at an enterprise company, you have to dedicate 50% of your time to education and culture.
If you’re thinking “why,” then you’re doing it wrong.
Too often, the idea of “SEO culture” is to over-promise and under-deliver, which is why I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
After 12 years of working on SEO at enterprise companies, I’m pulling together some golden nuggets of knowledge I’ve learned to help build “SEO culture.” Ahead are a few of my favorites.
‘Office hours’ for enterprise SEO professionals is more than a meeting – it’s a culture shift
The idea of “office hours” started to trend in the tech world when Jason Fried, CEO of 37Signals, announced he was hosting CEO office hours in 2009.
Reread that sentence again – 2009, people.
It’s safe to say that “office hours” needs a makeover.
Let me be clear: I don’t mean this level of a makeover.
Within my first 3 months at an enterprise company, I make an effort to create SEO office hours.
It is all about setting the initiative that SEO is a part of a wider movement – promoting it across the company and different marketing channels.
Even Google’s John Mueller hosts SEO office hours.
The key to succeeding with your SEO office hours at a giant company with thousands of employees is having a thorough plan and schedule in advance.
While I set the schedule and agenda for the SEO office hours in month 3, I don’t kick them off until month 6.
I then host the event biweekly, leaving it open to people with questions. If no one has questions, I use the time as an educational opportunity to share a new update.
The biggest lesson I learned from actively listening and learning during these office hours is the importance of establishing trust. Think of your SEO office hours as an open door where people can share their gripes with the SEO team.
I heard about potential worries from the editorial team about SEO delaying work. I listened to complaints from the product marketing team that our keywords don’t align with the brand vision. I had to hear out what the web development team thought of some of the technical SEO recommendations.
At first, it may seem like you’re a punching bag. But the reality is, when you bring SEO into an enterprise company that’s been around for years, you’re bringing change.
People fear change.
Eventually, you’ll settle in. Conversations will flow. Laughs will be had.
You’ll learn stuff about your coworkers that you probably wish you hadn’t (like this person is dating this person). At this point, it would behoove you to grab a frosted donut and pour that bourbon you’ve been saving for a special moment into your lukewarm coffee.
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Lunch-and-learns help build SEO into the company culture
First order of business: Let's remove the "lunch" from lunch-and-learns.
No one wants to shovel 63 burritos into their mouth in less than 10 minutes like Joey Chestnut in a hot dog eating contest to pretend to participate.
The most important part of lunch-and-learns is the "learn" part.
Use this as an opportunity to walk through something related to your next quarter plan.
For example, if I'm managing 1,000+ domains and I want to start implementing best practices in Q1 for all domains, I would walk through schema markup best practices, which help set the stage for the next quarter.
It helps generate buy-in for your quarterly plan, and if there are any questions that push back, this opens the floor for a bigger conversation.
Creating a culture around enterprise SEO is more than just drinks on Friday
Defining how you create an SEO culture at an enterprise company is difficult.
As the SEO lead, director or VP, you set the tone. If you want to deliver solid SEO results, it requires a culture and mindset of trust in you and your SEO achievements.
When you can align your enterprise SEO strategy and your leadership, a strong SEO culture engraining within the company will drive positive outcomes for all teams.