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Promoting the SEO to the C-Suite

How to make the corporate C-Suite better aware of the value of SEO and how to increase profits. Ash Nallawalla describes how the SEO position is buried too deep in corporate structures and why it needs to be raised higher, possibly with an accountable manager tasked with "website success". He suggests alternative titles for such a role, such as Chief Web Officer, Chief Webmaster, Web Success Officer and so on.

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Promoting the SEO
to the C-Suite
ASH NALLAWALLA – FRACTIONAL SEO
About Ash
Author of Accidental SEO Manager (Amazon), with two more in the series to
come soon.
Judge, Australian Web Industry Awards 2023
Moderator at Webmasterworld forums
Fractional SEO consultant to SMB clients
Previously in enterprise SEO roles, notably Carsales, Suncorp Group, NAB,
ANZ Bank, UBank, Optus, Yellow Pages and Melbourne IT (SME clients).
Pubcon speaker since 2007
Book URL: https://accidentalseomanager.com
Please connect on LinkedIn (mention SEO Collective)
BACKGROUND
EXAMPLES
C AN YOU R ELATE TO TH ESE
SITU ATION S?
DISCLAIMER
•My examples are usually
composite, or historic and
usually won’t apply to the
current website.
•Not all examples are my
past employers – some
were overseas clients that
won’t show in my LinkedIn
profile. Others are
observations from the
outside.
ATMs and Branches in Map Results
∙ In 2010, NAB had around 700 physical branches, and over 1,300
ATMs.
∙ So did the other banks, great and small…
∙ Some addresses were out of date - customers left nasty reviews.
ATMs and Branches in Map Results
∙ Data accuracy (fixed with a bulk Excel upload).
∙ Data accuracy (ATMs moved or closed).
∙ Data accuracy (Branches moved or closed).
∙ More recently, at Suncorp Bank:
• Differentiation (Posts – Offers?)

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Promoting the SEO to the C-Suite

  • 1. Promoting the SEO to the C-Suite ASH NALLAWALLA – FRACTIONAL SEO
  • 2. About Ash Author of Accidental SEO Manager (Amazon), with two more in the series to come soon. Judge, Australian Web Industry Awards 2023 Moderator at Webmasterworld forums Fractional SEO consultant to SMB clients Previously in enterprise SEO roles, notably Carsales, Suncorp Group, NAB, ANZ Bank, UBank, Optus, Yellow Pages and Melbourne IT (SME clients). Pubcon speaker since 2007 Book URL: https://accidentalseomanager.com Please connect on LinkedIn (mention SEO Collective)
  • 3. BACKGROUND EXAMPLES C AN YOU R ELATE TO TH ESE SITU ATION S?
  • 4. DISCLAIMER •My examples are usually composite, or historic and usually won’t apply to the current website. •Not all examples are my past employers – some were overseas clients that won’t show in my LinkedIn profile. Others are observations from the outside.
  • 5. ATMs and Branches in Map Results ∙ In 2010, NAB had around 700 physical branches, and over 1,300 ATMs. ∙ So did the other banks, great and small… ∙ Some addresses were out of date - customers left nasty reviews.
  • 6. ATMs and Branches in Map Results ∙ Data accuracy (fixed with a bulk Excel upload). ∙ Data accuracy (ATMs moved or closed). ∙ Data accuracy (Branches moved or closed). ∙ More recently, at Suncorp Bank: • Differentiation (Posts – Offers?)
  • 7. Separate Desktop and Mobile Pages ∙ Separate code bases lead to different content that confuses customers. ∙ Some companies still have separate desktop and mobile code bases! ∙ Even Googlebot does not know which one to crawl.
  • 8. SEO IS OFTEN LEFT OUT CAN YOU RELATE TO TH IS?
  • 9. Technology Selection Raise your hands if you are invited to discussions about the selection/ purchase/implementation of: • Replacement CMS • Scraper blockers (firewall) • New domains • Subdomains
  • 10. Policy Decisions Raise your hand if you are included in decisions about: • Annual budgets (for your silo) • Blocking AI crawlers • Potential company acquisitions
  • 12. How to Make C-Suite More Aware of SEO? Of course, the C-Suite is “aware” of SEO, but not much more than the word “SEO”. So, how can we improve upon this awareness?
  • 13. Money Talks •Two truisms in enterprises: • The C-Suite is usually incentivised with sales bonuses and share price, more than the minions. • Good news spreads fast. • Ensure that all analytics reports include a breakdown from all conversion sources, e.g. Organic, Direct, Paid, Email etc. • Share SEO wins in the company-wide Slack channels. • Keep reminding the C-Suite about SEO wins.
  • 14. Collaborate! • Start and cultivate regular conversations with stakeholders in other silos, e.g.: o “How can the SEO team help you to hit your OKR (Objectives and Key Results) and KPI (Key Performance Indicators) targets?” o Attend the OKR-setting meetings when they occur. o Ask to be in their daily standups as an optional, but ensure they ping you if SEO topics might come up. • Form cross-functional teams across the company to decentralise tasks
  • 15. A Good Collaboration Example All brands and silos inside each brand had small, cross-functional teams, e.g. the sole SEO (me) was in the “Research & Editorial” squad, which comprised: • Product Manager (Research Pages) • Scrum Master (dev background) • iOS dev • Android dev • 3 x CMS devs (mobile and desktop) • QA • UX • SEO
  • 16. Where Is the SEO Positioned? Group CEO • Australian MD and Senior Leadership Team • Executive Leadership Team • Product Manager • SEO (me) Group CEO • Brand CEO • Executive Leadership Team • Senior Leadership Team • Senior Manager • Less Senior Manager • Even Less Senior Manager • SEO Manager (me) • SEO Team and Agency
  • 17. Bad News Can Be Good News •Leverage the drops in rankings and conversions: • If any drop can be attributed to the SEO team not being kept informed, be sure to point it out tactfully. • Ask to be added to meetings (as optional)
  • 18. What Is All This Achieving? • Middle managers become more aware of the benefits of SEO when you point out how it was done. • The C-Suite becomes more “Aware of SEO”. • Web governance improves.
  • 19. Friendly Fire Sources of "friendly fire" Recruiters Finance – budgets Marketing – brand image, PPC, campaign sites etc Legal Product owners UX QA testers IT Content teams Analytics PR teams
  • 22. Maturity Models ∙ Maturity models are a quality and best-practice measurement framework that guide organisations towards excellence. ∙ Some are lightweight and thinly-veiled lead-gen ploys. ∙ Examples: • Capability Maturity Model for software development • Business Process Maturity Model
  • 23. CapGemini SEO MM Too simplistic and focuses on the SEO process only.
  • 25. SEOMM at Microsoft Focuses only on SEO processes.
  • 26. Website Governance Study In 2015, Robert Jacoby described a Website Governance Model
  • 27. Ash’s SEO and Web Governance MM ∙ Measures SEO MM in situ – how effective is the SEO capability within an organisation. Needs a scoring scale to be created. ∙ Examines SEO processes similar to other models and finds opportunities for improvement. The shortcomings are often traceable to a lack of support from other teams or senior management. ∙ Examines organisation’s workflows and internal communication, then finds opportunities for improvement. ∙ Does not threaten organisation’s existing SEO activities. ∙ The goal is to improve the organisation’s revenue and not just improve their SEO processes. Somewhat like a chiropractor re- aligning a body.
  • 28. SEO Audit ∙ A thorough SEO audit finds the usual issues that can be caused by: ∙ Ignorance of internal SEO team or external agency, e.g. missing tags. ∙ External factors, e.g. recent Google update, that are known and will be addressed. ∙ A competent SEO agency can address the above. ∙ A deeper examination could identify: • Lack of budget to implement what is needed. • Human factors – the numerous issues found in most companies, e.g. poor communication, inadequate responsibilities to achieve the targets, politics, organisational structure, etc. • A lack of a defined Web Governance and the score on the WGMM scale.
  • 29. Possible Sc ale for SEOMM 1.Initial Chaos – No sign of SEO 2.Repeatable Basics – Basic SEO knowledge is evident 3.Defined Processes – Advanced SEO knowledge is evident 4.Managed Measurements – Good governance is evident 5.Continuous Improvement – Ensures SEO quality is maintained
  • 30. Web Governance Audit ∙ Its details are customised to the company, but the findings will follow a study of web workflows as they exist. NOTE: SEO failure does not necessarily point to a lack of web governance – sites do not rank for many reasons, even if “everything” has been done to best practice. ∙ It’s possible to get a top score but not rank well.
  • 31. PROMOTING SEO TO THE C-SUITE R AISIN G SEO VISIBILITY
  • 32. SEO at the End? This was a real discussion on LinkedIn, where the (non- SEO) marketing "guru" showed where the SEO activity should sit.
  • 33. SEO at the End (Take 2) The discussion continued, and someone suggested this sequence.
  • 34. SEO After the Launch? The discussion continued, and someone suggested this!
  • 36. Job Title Options Chief Webmaster (CWM) Chief Web Officer (CWO) Web Success Officer (WSO)
  • 37. Chief Web Officer O V E R 4 , 6 0 0 R E S U LT S I N L I N K E D I N . ( 3 1 0 I N 2 0 2 2 )
  • 38. Interview with Jason Barnard ∙ I spoke about this topic with Jason. "Why Enterprises Need a Chief Web Officer" ∙ (Please Google the long URL)
  • 39. Chief Webmaster O V E R 8 6 0 R E S U LT S I N L I N K E D I N .
  • 41. What About CDO, CIO, CISO, CTO etc? Let them be. There are many Chief Digital Officers and even more Chief Information Officers, but they rarely have the SEO function reporting to them.
  • 42. Baby Steps START W ITH A POSITION BELOW TH E C - SU ITE BU T W ITH MOR E R ESPON SIBILITY.
  • 43. Responsibilitie s of the Web Success Officer Everything that the website can do to maximise sales (but not product design or marketing): ∙ Maximising online conversions ∙ Website governance ∙ Website operations and maintenance ∙ Managing website-related teams
  • 44. Who Reports to the Web Success Officer? Everything that directly affects the website should have its top manager reporting to the WSO. Website infrastructure – Web developers, Domains, etc CMS – Developers, Text entry team Content – Writers, UX, Accessibility Others – CRO, QA, etc SEO Team
  • 45. Plan B: Independent SEO Team If the company isn't ready to create a Web Success Officer role, they should create an Independent Website Team, or Rapid Action Squad, led by an SEO Director, who manages: ∙ SEO team, led by an SEO Manager ∙ Others – Scrum master, Web developer, UX, CMS, Content, etc ∙ SEO Agency This team can complete many tasks without waiting for others to approve/prioritise.
  • 46. Summary Raise profile of SEO and tie it to revenue. Get in front of C-Suite. Try to change reporting line. Be patient.
  • 47. Contact Ash Nallawalla Twitter: @ashnallawalla Email: ash@crm911.com Web: https://accidentalseomanager.com