An interesting question was asked recently by Marie Haynes, who mentioned that she has a team of 8 SEOs currently. Does every single SEO team member need to have their own set of search engine optimization tools? Probably not. But it comes down to how you have your SEO team structured, and the internal SEO process at your organization.
When an SEO organization or team is a small team (let’s say 5 or less employees), then typically each SEO team member should have their own toolset. With smaller agencies, or even with my own consultancy, each employee typically handles all of the SEO tasks. So, if that Search Engine Optimization professional is performing all of the SEO tasks, then it makes sense for them to have all of the SEO tools. Hopefully there is a pre-defined SEO process, and that SEO pro needs to go through the entire process. But once an SEO team starts to become larger, let’s say over 5 SEO team members, it can be much more efficient to start defining specific tasks to specific team members. For example, lets look at the example of Marie Haynes’ SEO team.
First, let me define what a typical SEO toolset should be, at a minimum:
- SEO Crawler – software, either run locally on a Mac or PC, that crawls a website and provides data. This could be run locally or it could be a SaaS tool. These always have fees involved, usually a ‘per user’ fee. Data can always be exported into reports or files and shared with others.
- On-page SEO tool – typically a SaaS tool, but also could be run locally. It only helps evaluate the on-page factors. Typically a per-user fee is involved, data can also be exported usually, and reports shared with others.
- Link Tool – typically a SaaS tool, and usually a ‘per user’ fee. Restrictions on the amount of links or data that can be viewed or reported on each month.
- Misc. Free SEO tools – typically a SaaS tool or website: could be a tool from Google, a page load speed evaluator, browser add-on, etc.. These are almost always free, data can sometimes be exported into reports or user can take screen captures.
It’s important to note that when it comes to SEO crawlers, whether they’re run locally or as a SaaS tool, they’re always coming out with new versions, new features, and upgrading their tools. This is great–but as someone who is working in the SEO industry, it’s sometimes tough to keep up with not only the search engine algorithm updates, but new software features of SEO tools. Because of this, once an SEO team gets to a certain size, it can be more efficient and more productive if one or two team members are dedicated to pulling data for the rest of the team. Those one or two employees become experts at running crawls of websites, and they can monitor those crawls. They become experts at the SEO tools: and can oftentimes spot odd data or point out SEO issues since they’re constantly looking at data from multiple websites.
What are the SEO Team Members’ Tasks?
Let’s continue to look at the example of an SEO team of 8 staff members. What is each team member doing every day? What are their daily tasks? For example, is each member of the team responsible for a certain number of SEO clients? Does that team member, who is responsible for, let’s say 10 SEO clients, doing everything for that client? And other team members don’t get involved with SEO clients that aren’t theirs? If that’s the case, then the team of 8 staff members are essentially acting as individual SEO consultants. They’re not a team. They’re individual SEO consultants.
That can work for a small SEO team, and usually by that I mean an SEO organization that has under 5 employees.
But once you start to add more employees and SEO team members, it’s much more efficient and productive to take a different approach.
An SEO Team with Specialists
Once an SEO agency starts to get to a certain size, it’s much more productive to start having each of the team members begin to be specialists. Or, depending on your overall SEO process, assign certain tasks to certain team members. Part of the overall SEO process, one of the most important ones, is to gather data. If the SEO doesn’t have the right data, then they cannot make accurate assumptions and decisions based on that data. An SEO crawler, for example, gathers data about a website’s web pages. If the crawl of a website isn’t done properly, or if it takes too long, then the SEO won’t have accurate data or the whole SEO process will be slowed down.
With SEO crawling being such a difficult but important task now, along with all of the data that can be pulled, one or two employees should be the experts on crawling sites with the various SEO crawlers that are available. Those employees can be experts at using the crawling tools. They can make sure that crawls are done in an efficient manner, they can make sure the data is accurate, and oftentimes point out potential SEO issues when the crawls are complete. And that’s just the crawling tasks. Add other data that must be pulled from various sources, add more than 10 agency clients total, and you easily have a full-time job for someone, just pulling data and making it available to other other SEOs on staff.
SEOs Shouldn’t Have to Worry About Data
In order for an SEO to accurately and effectively do their jobs, SEOs need to not have to worry about the data. They need to be able to evaluate the information that they have, whether it be info from a crawl done on a website or all of the links to their client’s site. What if the SEO doesn’t have all the links? And they’re missing 10,000 out of 40,000 links to a client’s website? Can they accurately make a decision that the client needs more links or that they need to disavow certain links? No.
Over the past 20 plus years that I’ve been doing SEO, as an SEO in-house at a large organization, to an SEO specialist, to an SEO Manager, SEO Director, Senior VP, and an SEO consultant, there’s one thing that I’ve learned. What is that? Too much time is wasted during the overall SEO process by gathering data. Sure, it’s important for an SEO to understand crawlers and crawling, running SEO tools, and understanding which part of that data to pay attention to and which can be overlooked. But it’s much more efficient for an SEO to spend their time looking at data rather than waiting for a large crawl of a website to be complete.
My recommendation? Once your SEO agency or SEO team becomes a certain size, it’s time to re-evaluate every team members’ daily tasks. Does every team member need access to every single SEO tool? Does ever team member need their own Screaming Frog SEO spider license? Do they need to spend time crawling websites and running SEO tools? Probably not. Do they need accurate data from crawls and from SEO tools? Yes, absolutely. But it’s about being efficient and making the best use of each SEO team member’s time. Let’s rethink how our SEO team is set up, let’s move the technical SEO tasks to employees that enjoy running software all day and becoming the best at doing that. Let’s let the SEO team members that are the best at making recommendations do that. At the end of the day, the data will be more accurate and the team members will be so much happier.