It is tempting to leave SEO to the marketing department of your B2B company. After all, it is usually more efficient to delegate responsibilities and tasks to those best suited to handle them. Would you want your Marketing Manager to write quarterly financial statements? Would you want your Operations Manager to talk to the press? Would you want a payroll clerk in charge of recruitment? Of course not. So it makes sense for people outside of marketing not to waste their time worrying about SEO, right?
Nearly every type of position in a B2B businesses can contribute to the SEO process — as long as they both understand the necessity and receive something in return. Here’s how.
The chief executive’s main goal is to increase revenue and cut costs as much as possible — otherwise, the board of directors will fire him. He can contribute to the company’s SEO efforts by allocating enough resources — financial, human, and otherwise — to that department. But before the CEO will do that, he will need to be convinced that it will increase revenue and/or cut costs. (And, it goes without saying that other departments are trying to convince him to help them as well.) The selling points are obvious: increase website traffic leads to more potential sales, and SEO is a cheap way to market effectively. However, in return for support from the CEO, he will need concrete metrics to present to the board of directors detailing exactly how the company’s SEO program is increasing B2B profits. Be sure that you compile and give them to him.
This person in your B2B organization is probably already aware of the benefits of SEO, but he likely has a lot of technical stuff on his plate. IT departments are notoriously overworked and constantly busy with computer malfunctions or dealing with staff members who are not very familiar with technology. (“My computer is frozen — what should I do?” “Shut it off, and turn it back on again!”) As a result, you will also need to convince him to allocate his technical resources towards your SEO project. However, the key is to tell him that most of the work can be done by B2B marketing staff through the website’s back office. IT staff will only need to consult and offer a few tips on SEO at most.
The Website Designer and Developer
These people also know — or should know — about SEO. But they have likely been looking at long strings of code on your B2B website for hours a day, weeks on end, so they might be wary of any change in what they are doing. But reassure them that optimizing the site for B2B search-engines is relatively easy. (For example, show them this SEO cheat-sheet for B2B webmasters.) When they see the website ranking high in Google, they can always brag to their webmaster buddies — especially if they work in the same B2B market!
The Sales Manager
This person is responsible for generating as much sales revenue as possible. He needs to be convinced that investing time in SEO is a good way to reach more potential customers who are realistic sales targets, and once the Sales Manager is willing to help, he can provide B2B sales terms and product keywords for which customers ask and search online. But before he will invest time in assisting SEO activities, the Sales Manager will need to be assured that SEO will bring more leads to the sales department. In return, tell the B2B Sales Manager that the SEO department can provide B2B analytical data on the market that will help the sales department to close more deals and adapt to the needs of the market.
The Marketing Manager
Marketing and SEO are the two departments that can work together most closely and improve each of their operations. The Marketing Manager can help the SEO team to generate more inbound links through coverage on B2B news websites and B2B online press-releases. The Marketing Manager might not be aware of the benefits of B2B online marketing compared to traditional forms, so you can also educate him and thereby help his own department’s activities. Marketing and SEO speak the same language as well — conversion costs, conversion rates, average revenue per website visitor, and so on. Hash out a plan together over lunch!
Everyone likes to be read. Writers of all sorts love to know that many, many people are reading their stuff. The SEO department can tell the Content Editor that optimizing the website will draw a lot more traffic to the site, enlarging his B2B audience of website visitors. It is also fairly simple for you to work together. Review all the content on the site to see what articles, sections, and keywords generated the most traffic. Once the Content Editor knows what brings the readers, he can assign more B2B articles and content to his team. Both you and he win!
PR Manager — Community Manager — Outreach Manager
The person in this position — or people in these positions — can be a wonderful source of B2B partnerships and links. The PR Manager knows which audiences follow your website, blog, and related content, and they can use their existing relationships in the B2B world to convince similar — but non-competing — websites to link to your site and help your Google Page Rank. He — or they — can also work with you to manage your B2b social-networking efforts on Facebook and similar websites. Web 2.0 is all about B2B networking, and these people are experts.
No department is an island unto itself. Sales affects finance; marketing affects sales; and operations affects marketing. In the same way, nearly all layers of your B2B organization can pay a role in B2B SEO. Everyone can benefit as long as everyone understand the benefits.