The 9 Components of an Effective SEO Team: Do You or Your Agency Have Them Covered?

seo

A modern SEO team is nothing like it used to be.

It’s extremely rare to find a single SEO capable of doing everything necessary to fully optimize a business for search.

And even if you do have all those skills, it’s better to have multiple people who specialize in different areas (if you have the budget).

You can form a team in-house or hire an agency—either option can work.

However, you’ll obviously have much more control over an in-house team.

In this post, I’ll go over all the components of an effective SEO team so that you know whether you have all the areas covered.

Running a SEO team? Check out these cheat sheet and get to know about 9 essential components of an effective SEO team.

Keep in mind, there’s no perfect structure for an SEO team. One person could cover one or several of these components.

Ideally, you’ll have at least a few people who can cover each area if needed in case of emergencies.

Finally, if you are planning to hire an agency, it’s worth researching their team to find out whether they have specialists who cover these areas. 

Component #1: Let’s start at the top – SEO manager/director

The head of the team manages everyone else.

The SEO manager or director is more concerned with the “big picture” strategy rather than the tactics each team member uses to accomplish their work.

The SEO manager’s job typically involves pitching and working with clients.

This involves working out payment agreements, keeping clients updated and happy, and creating proposals for new SEO projects.

While you can hire a sales rep to bring in new clients, most of them won’t have enough SEO knowledge to capture big clients.

The sales process should also naturally be an opportunity to determine the client’s strengths and needs and then to devise an effective SEO strategy.

In addition, it’s crucial that you deliver on the promises you make to win the sale, so whoever is pitching a project should also be involved in its execution.

The other part of the job is managing employees.

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A director needs to make sure that employees (that we’ll be talking about later on) know what their responsibilities are within a project.

And just like any other manager, the SEO manager must be able to motivate his or her employees.

Although I said that one person can often play multiple roles, being an SEO manager for even small-to-medium-sized businesses is a full job in itself.

Component #2: The content creator(s)

I’ve said it before: “Content marketing is the new SEO”.

In short, content is more important than ever when it comes to growing organic search traffic.

Sure, there’s always some technical work that can be done on a client’s existing site, but eventually your traffic will plateau unless you’re producing stellar content.

Therefore, you need at least one content creator.

Some very successful businesses have only one or two content creators (like Groove or Buffer), while others have several (like HubSpot or Crazy Egg). If you’ve already got content producers on your team, don’t worry about their number.

In this case, I’m referring to writers as “content creators” since the vast majority of content is written. Of course, if your content creators can also create videos or infographics, that’s a bonus.

Many “SEO writers” were hired for $5-10 per article. Not surprisingly, these writers create low quality content that rarely ranks outside of extremely low competition niches.

Modern SEO writers are much more professional, and you should expect to pay them accordingly. While it varies, you’re probably looking at a minimum of $100 per post, often much more.

And while that seems like a big cost, you’ll save a lot on acquiring backlinks since getting links to great content is infinitely easier.

Finally, many content creators also have great copywriting skills. It’s common for content creators to also be involved in email marketing and conversion rate optimization (more on those later) in small SEO teams.

Component #3: Designers

If you recognize the need for great content, you’ll need a designer to create custom images for just about all your content.

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It’s unlikely you’ll find someone with both great design skills and strong writing skills, so you’ll need at least two different people for these two roles.

The manager must ensure that the content creators and designers are on the same track. Otherwise, you’ll end up with writing being done before the images are ready and vice-versa.

Since designing is such a specialized skill, it’s typically best to hire someone to work just on designing. If you don’t have enough demand for a designer to justify that, you can hire a freelancer to work with on an on-going basis.

Component #4: PR and link builders

I’ve chosen to combine public relations (PR) outreach and link building here even though there are some distinctions between the two. But for the majority of modern SEO, they are the same.

Both consist mostly of reaching out to other people in your industry and related industries, looking to develop relationships that will be mutually beneficial.

PR is a much broader term that encompasses modern link building. However, the relationships could be used for other opportunities beyond acquiring a simple link (like a joint venture).

Most SEOs who specialize in link building should also be expanding their skillsets to include more PR skills.

Relationships grow exponentially: A key concept with this kind of approach to link building is the network effect.

The network effect means that with each new person joining the network, the network becomes exceedingly more valuable to all the members of the network.

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Putting this in terms of link building and PR: As your network grows, those relationships become much more valuable together than they are alone.

When you have more strong relationships, you can start to offer things like joint ventures. In addition, you may be able to help out one of your contacts by connecting them with another contact.

The reason why I tell you all this is that it’s best to hire one specific person (or a small team for a large organization) to do all your outreach.

If you hire a whole team, you can build a big network, but it will essentially be a bunch of small networks, which doesn’t leverage the exponential power of the network effect.

Instead, if one person (or a few) has a large network at their disposal, your link building options will be far greater.

Component #5: Technical experts

The latest generation of SEOs focuses mostly on content, which is a good thing.

However, it’s not a good thing if the technical side of SEO is ignored.

The technical side forms the foundation of all the other parts of SEO, and without it, your team will struggle to produce results.

That’s why you need a technical SEO expert, often called an SEO analyst.

They’re the ones who understand site architecture and can quickly analyze a site to spot any gaping SEO flaws.

Among other things, they handle things such as:

  • load time optimization
  • keyword optimization in content (if needed)
  • split testing
  • internal linking optimization
  • implementing rich snippets and “rel” tags

While SEO analysts often have a good range of programming/development skills, they may still work with developers.

For small WordPress sites, analysts can make most of the changes themselves. For a complex, large custom site, you’ll likely need a dedicated developer.

Component #6: Developers

Modern SEO involves great user experience just as much as it involves great content.

In order to make that user experience great, you need a developer who can modify your website.

Again, this might be an area where you hire either a freelancer or a full time developer. There are very few SEOs who also have top notch developing skills.

Finally, a developer also gives you the ability to create different forms of content for your target audience, e.g., tools.

For example, the Quick Sprout tool has attracted thousands of links and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, which wouldn’t have been possible without a great developer.

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Component #7: Account manager

Sometimes, the SEO manager gets overwhelmed.

If that happens often, a new set of responsibilities should be assigned to a member of your SEO team—an account manager.

They’ll handle most of the basic client communication post-sale.

Most importantly, they’ll be generating reports of the work and the results.

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If you have your own in-house SEO team (you’re the only client), these reports are still important.

These should be used by the manager to stay on top of all his team members as well as by the team members themselves to understand what results their work is producing.

This alone takes a lot of time off the manager’s plate.

In addition, an account manager’s responsibilities (if it’s a full role) can also include customer support. They’ll be the first line of contact in case of any issues or questions.

Most of the time, they’ll be able to answer those questions, and only when they can’t will they pass off the concerns to the SEO director.

Component #8: Email and social media marketers

Email marketing usually gives businesses the best return on investment (ROI).

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Social media is another channel that’s very effective for certain types of niches.

I put these two together because they often overlap, but they can also be done by separate members of your team.

It’s hard to define the roles of an email marketer and a social media marketer. These roles will look very different depending on the SEO team you have.

Both of them need to have some input into your content marketing strategy because that content will be promoted and used in other ways in emails and on social media.

In some cases, it’s possible to have the SEO director take on this role and then assign creating the actual emails and social media posts to copywriters/content creators.

This is another area where you’ll need regular reports to document your progress.

Component #9: Conversion rate optimizers

Last but not least is the conversion rate optimizer (CRO), which is an optional role for an SEO team but a good one to include if possible.

CROs spend their time conducting split tests to optimize processes as much as possible.

This can be crucial if you’re selling your SEO work to clients or upper management.

Why?

Because they don’t care much about your actual rankings—they care about the results of those rankings: revenue, profit, and, to a lesser extent, traffic.

Say a page is getting 100 search visitors a day, which converts to 10 email sign-ups and one sale down your conversion funnel.

Let’s call that a 1% conversion rate.

With split testing in a typical situation, you can double or even triple that rate after running several tests.

If you raised your conversion rate on that single page to 3%, you’d triple your profit.

It’s much easier to increase your conversion rate this way than trying to triple your SEO traffic. Better yet, do both.

A CRO isn’t always part of the SEO team. That role is often assigned to a general marketing team member.

That’s because while you’ll want to do some split testing with things like email outreach tactics, most split testing will be done to find ways to improve the process of converting your visitors into customers.

A CRO will need access to all parts of the business, including channels such as email, social media, your blog, your analytics, and your website (to implement split tests).

With tools available these days, a CRO doesn’t have to be a developer or even work with your developer for the most part.

Conclusion

We’ve looked at 9 different key areas and responsibilities of an SEO team.

They could be covered by 9 people, 2 people, or 20 people—there’s no perfect team size.

The only important thing is to make sure that all these areas are covered. And by covered, I mean you need to have someone who specializes in them, i.e., an expert.

If you’re hiring an agency, you need to find out how they operate by either asking them directly or researching their team based on the information they provide on their website.

As a fun sort of survey, here is a question for you: how many of these components do you cover yourself? Additionally, how big is your current SEO team (or agency’s team)?

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Comments

  1. Dr. Greg Kushnick :

    So clearly written, Neil. I will post this in the Wework network. Very helpful and something for tiny startups to strive for.

  2. Md Shahzad Hassan :

    Huh!
    I’m really fedup of this topic SEO it’s never going to end…:-(

    • Didn’t you get the memo, Neil is the SEO King! Kinda what he does. But point well taken.
      SEO is supposed to be the FREE side of promoting your site.

      Let’s reduce this to more simpler terms. Most business live and die by word of mouth advertising, the SEO of the Caveman days.

      If you assume that your business will live or die based on what people say about it then 1) What are you doing to make sure your product or service represents a great value/experience? If you don’t do this, you lose.
      2) Now that your customers love you, what do you do to thank them, reward them and encourage them to speak well, post well and basically tell others why they love your business? Being aware of what Neil suggests I believe is his best efforts to help You keep Your business at the Top of Your mind.

    • What are you confused about?

  3. Arjun Sharma :

    thanks niel for this amazing article and also inform you I’m a big fan of your blogs and as well as you. I loved your writing skills and also jealous because I never write an article above 1300 words :V
    Don’t mind but I need an article in which you describe how to made backlinks, which places/sites are good for backlinks and many more related to this topic

  4. Denis Gonzalez :

    Even if we don’t have a SEO Agency working for us, this article give us the layout of how to organize our tasks in relation to SEO. We can’t do it all, but at the beginning we must wear more than one hat. We should focus on the most important aspects to take our business / sites to the next level.

    I have to say that my main struggle is to create content. But for others could be technical. Those hard aspects to cover should be the first to be outsourced when we have enough resources to do it.

    Thanks again Neil for these ideas.

    • It’s hard in the beginning for sure, but that persistence will pay off at some point. Delegating is an art and strategy, just like accounting, marketing and every other department in business. Have fun and enjoy the journey!

  5. Thank you Neil for this great blog post. Just liked your FB page.

    I get good ideas about SEO. Can you give me some idea about how to explain SEO to our clients?

    Looking forward for your reply.

  6. Caroline Constable :

    “The technical side forms the foundation of all the other parts of SEO, and without it, your team will struggle to produce results”

    Pleased to see the technical side of SEO still being valued and totally agree that it should be seen as the foundation of a holistic campaign.

    • It’s like our brains, there is a logical side, and a creative (in simple terms). When we use our whole minds, that’s when we become most effective.

  7. I wish, that I make a good SEO team in future for my websites. By that time, I know you will do updates in your articles, for now lets take it as a note. Good guide Neil Sir. 🙂

    • You’ll need to wear a lot of hats at first, but it’ll all pay off once you experience that growth you desire.

  8. I need clearly cover some of this 9 components, i have a dude about PR,

    i saw some sites offer this service and put the service like PR9, thats his work.

    What is the work of PR, is publish backlinks in diferent sites ?

    • Not necessarily. Their work is that similar to a marketer getting guest posts and media coverage for your business. They extend your brand/message to the mind’s of the public

  9. Joseph de Souza :

    I have handled all the jobs except #1 SEO manager/director and Component #9: Conversion rate optimizers. This is because most of the time I am the only technical person available and have reasonably good knowledge of HTML & CSS and ability to code simple apps in PHP & MySQL & modify open source code. Whenever a large amount of work is involved or content is to be written in other languages there is a specialist content writer whom I co-ordinate with regarding type of content to be written.
    I am not a highly skilled designer and this is usually outsourced for complex design works

    • Nice and as it should. You want to focus your efforts on the vital few activities that give you the best return on your time.

  10. Pankaj Dhawan :

    I am amazed how easily and wonderfully you explain the things. This was awesome read and I am gonna need it when I am thinking of having such a team. Thanks very much Neil for this post, I think it was needed by many at this point of time.

  11. Rohit Shitole :

    Great article Neil. Loved the way you explained it.
    I will like to become an expert myself if possible :). But it will take time to master few of these.
    Still learning lots of things, every next article is improvement. Your tips helps me a lot to improve myself 🙂

  12. Hello Neil

    Thanks for your Article. I think in 2016 Email Marketing provide high growth and relationship with our users because me and my team got very good results with the help of High quality Emails.

    Thanks
    Sandy

    • Hi Neil,

      Good stuff, SEO team requires a lot of budget.

      Unless you are already making decent income online, you can’t afford to have a dedicated SEO team. But it’s highly recommended to have great ROI.

      SEO is in fact one of the fastest ways to grow your traffic, online visibility and more importantly sales. Thanks for the great share!

    • Emails in my opinion are the name of the game.

  13. Good well writen posts as usual with great content and ideas!

  14. This is a great post, Neil. Smaller organizations should never be afraid to outsource SEO work to an agency if they can’t afford to do it in-house.

    Technical work needs a professional, for instance.

    • Absolutely it does. Especially if you’re sites getting some good traffic, it’s worth every penny, investing in a professional to do the job.

  15. Robin Khokhar :

    Hi Neil,
    I don’t have any team now, but after reading your post i want to have a team of mine.
    Thanks for the great share.

  16. Anthony Toronto :

    I really enjoyed this article.

    It contained a lot of great info!

    I cover 7/9 areas we outsource our design. Cheap design stinks.

    I am not a full fledged developer either…yet

    Keep up the great content!

    • absolutely it does. You can find people who are both affordable and good. When you do, create good relationships with them.

  17. Another great article Neil . hope that we get our business succeful so we have a good organized team

  18. Nice information to operate organization and also boost the skills in employee how to work accompany and growing together

  19. I wish I have the perfect SEO team in future. Thanks so much Neil for this article, Being aware of what Neil suggests I believe is the best goal to keep business alive.

  20. Great post! Would love to see a similar post of team organization for social media related tasks.

  21. Ravinder Singh :

    Personally speaking, I am working in the field of SEO since last 2 years. Apart from this, I am a freelance content writer as well as Web/ Graphic Designer.
    In terms of SEO, I have a good knowledge of Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Google Analytics, Adwords and other SEO tools. But I want to learn more skills to cover other qualities too. Also, I am working to at-least reach near the expert level.

    • It sounds like you are concentrating on some key skills. Instead of trying to add more, work on becoming a master at something specific. Everything else will be easy.

  22. KINGSLEY ADDO :

    Thanks for you inspiration, neil you are tooo much.

  23. Such an expansive team?

  24. This is a good article and very descriptive of the complexity of the SEO process. However, you don’t really address where to find or obtain these resources in each area outside of “hiring an agency”. Clearly, this article is targeted at the larger company with resources trying to outrank other larger competitors. If you are a small business, should one just give up or what should they do? Perhaps that is the subject of another article. Thanks.

  25. Femi Oyeniran :

    Thank you so much Neil.. What can I say, I’m inspired by your article.

    • That’s great to hear Femi. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help or if you get stuck with anything.

  26. Nora McDougall-Collins :

    One statement from that article mentions a situation that is out of whack in the tech world, This is a great article, but this statement, while true, indicates the mess that the field of tech sales is in. “While you can hire a sales rep to bring in new clients, most of them won’t have enough SEO knowledge to capture big clients.”

    Why is that? It’s because the company doesn’t care enough about their product to train the sales staff. They only care about getting signatures on the bottom line. I worked for a company with such a salesman. He was a liar to the customer and a bully in the office. I’ve also spoken to well-meaning, but ignorant, tech sales staff where I told them to go and sit down with the their software developers until they really understood the product. If I ask a tech sales person how the data in their system is stored and they don’t know – we are just finished talking.

  27. Hey Neil,

    Nice write-up man. Sure this article is worth reading! Not now but maybe in the near future, I’ll be making my own SEO team, at that point in time I will come back and refer to this article.

    Keep writing such awesome stuff.

    Best wishes,
    Annie

    • It will give you something to aspire for. Once you have the opportunity to build out a team, you can move faster and faster.

  28. Hi Neil,

    I very recently ventured into the world of SEO. I believe that with the way Google is evolving each day, businesses that have big reach will continue to grow on and on. An overall web presence is needed and making use of ever platform to reach out to users and forming connections are vital.

    Let me know your thoughts on the future of SEO and what will be the prime deciding factor that separates a winner from a loser in future!!

    Interested to hear your insights ????

    • I think the future of SEO will be completely integrated with content marketing. The better the quality of your content, the more effective it will be and higher it will rank.

  29. Jithin Chandrababu :

    Thats well explained Neil..

    That being said, whats your take on building a team for a full fledged digital marketing agency? A team that takes on all digital marketing including SEO,Paid Ads, Branding etc?

  30. A good list on how to build effective SEO Team. This could help the people who wish to start a digital marketing company. Thanks.

  31. Perfect guide to hire a SEO Agency or anyone want to start their SEO agency then this post is much useful for them. Responsibility for every post is clear in this article.

  32. Jackquiline Doring :

    This is my ideal team of SEO and this is what I have been suggested to my boss. I can now let him read this at least Neil is with me.

  33. Dominique Jackson :

    Great post Neil. This is the best approach to SEO in my opinion. Instead of hiring one person who’s just “OK” in the different aspects of SEO, it’s so much more effective to put together a team of people who specialize in each piece.

    Obviously every company won’t be able to hire this type of team from the beginning but it should be the goal.

  34. Bruce mesnekoff :

    Thanks for Information about SEO . Your Article is impressive and very informative. I am now regular visitor of your website and bookmarked it.

    • Glad it was informative Bruce. If you have any questions about SEO or get stuck with anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  35. Hi, Neil!

    Thanks for shared a useful information, I never heard about!

    The new things from the above!

    *Account manager
    *Developers
    *Technical experts

    Would you elaborate it, please? I thought that Link Building + Content Is more than Enough for SEO but you given a nice information

    Thanks once again!

  36. Dilip Rajpurohit :

    Such a great post Neil!

  37. Thank You Neil,
    Well I am planning to open a SEO company for local business but never thought so deeply, I must say your article did help me a lot.

    • That’s wonderful Virat. If you have any questions or get stuck with anything you learning, please feel free to ask.

  38. James Doweny :

    Hi, This article is worth reading, as I’m gonna hire someone for my site SEO. Now, I better understand what to focus on while hiring someone specialist. You have shared some valuable information. Thanks!

  39. Awesome technical information about on page & links.

  40. Hi, This article is really interesting and informative one about SEO working environment . I know SEO but not to much like an expert , I have a team as well and i work with them , I think its good to go with your defined components.
    In my opinion SEO is like medicine for website , which make it healthy and strong ……

    Thanks its really appreciative one ,

    • It does feel like medicine for a website, and I feel like a doctor who prescribes “strategies” as medicine 😉

  41. Hello Neil,

    I’m a fresher of online marketing and learning from you a lot. I always try to make a mathematical equation of your written blogs. That helps me a lot to recall everything.

    Should SEO = change (SEO manager + content creator + Designers + PR + Technical expert + Developers + Account manager + Email and social media marketers + Conversion rate optimization)

    Note: any change of independent variables, will affect a big on SEO and will change your profit amount also.

    I am a big fan of you and your logical conclusion.

    Thank you for this awesome logic.

  42. Cimpean Andreea Diana :

    I agree with you, but if you include Email and social media marketers in SEO, it means SEO is digital marketing in its entire meaning, not to mention display advertising or PPC. After all, SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a natural (organic) way..
    Anyways, I think it’s a great article.

    Thanks,
    Diana

  43. piastra per capelli :

    outreach email is what i m working right now…

  44. Great Useful Writeup relevant for basic to advanced seo

  45. I wish, that I make a decent SEO group in future for my sites. At that point, I know you will do redesigns in your articles, for the present lets take it as a note.

    The specialized side structures the establishment of the various parts of SEO, and without it, your group will battle to deliver results”

    Satisfied to see the specialized side of SEO as yet being esteemed and thoroughly concur that it ought to be seen as the establishment of an all encompassing effort. Good guide Neil Sir.

    A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing such Post…

    Respects,

    Md arman…

    • I’m so happy this has helped you Md. If you have any questions or need help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  46. php developer :

    thank you niel your tutorials always good ,also to seo beginner like me

  47. Dhruval patel :

    well this post was amazing 🙂

  48. Very useful content. Thanks for sharing

  49. sonali singh :

    this post really help in organizing SEO relation and manage work.

  50. Very nice,This was awesome read and I am gonna need it when I am thinking of having such a team.
    Thank you very much to provide good tips to every one.

  51. David J Parker :

    This gonna be very helpful if any one is new start up over here.. Really Neil!! Good team structure is very important for any business not only for SEO organization. I am also a new start up.. Thanks a lot

  52. Sue J. Maselli :

    Nice post

  53. Aalok Dhond :

    Nice inspiring post. Its going to help me a lot in our startup comany.

  54. milon khan :

    Great post!!

    Something I have been leaning on in the doing direction.

    Your thought is like mine:

    really help rank better on yelp listing page. I tried it for few local businesses and it
    really helped my
    Thanks,

  55. Hello Neil

    Thanks for your Article. I think in 2016 Email Marketing provide high growth and relationship with our users because me and my team got very good results with the help of High quality Emails.

    Thanks

    • I agree, there will be a lot of changes with emails and the value that is generated from that relationship

  56. Thanks for sharing such important information! Your post can be a helpful Email and social media marketers.

  57. Thanks Nail, This is informative article! I am waiting next article…

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