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Why Marketing, Not IT, Should Make SEO Decisions

It’s a common misconception that SEO decisions and responsibility should fall on IT teams rather than the marketing department. The confusion is easy to understand considering so much of the implementation of SEO work falls on the IT and Web development teams.

SEO and marketing should go hand in hand. There are three major reasons for managing and maintaining your SEO project within your marketing department: first, SEO is a marketing tool requiring the same informed decision making as other marketing tactics; second, effective SEO decisions require a marketing perspective; and, finally, marketing reaps the rewards of SEO, so they must bear the burden.

SEO Is a Marketing Tool, Not a Technical Project

It’s easy to define and allocate a project based on the expertise needed to do the work. this happens all too often with SEO. When you first begin an SEO project, much of the work up front will be changes to website copy, backend work on page titles and meta tags, and other technical work that requires the knowledge and assistance of your IT team. Because a large part of the practical work seems to fall to the IT department, especially if you’re working with an outside SEO firm and implementing SEO work in-house, it’s easy to also delegate the bulk of the SEO decision-making power to the IT team as well. However, SEO is a marketing tool and requires intricate knowledge and consideration of marketing and branding strategy.

SEO is a marketing tool requiring intricate knowledge and consideration of marketing and branding strategy.

For example, just because print advertising involves a great deal of design and creative work doesn’t mean you can assign the decision-making power of the entire media plan to a creative team. You want your marketing and media placement personnel to make decisions here, as well as manage the involvement of other creative teams. The same applies to your SEO project: IT work may be a large part of the project, but IT involvement as well as most major SEO decisions should be managed by your marketing team. They have the perspective your project needs to be successful.

SEO Decisions Require a Marketing Perspective

Perspective is everything, and you need your SEO decisions to be made from an informed marketing perspective. As a marketing tool, decisions such as website copy changes, keywords, and strategies for titles and meta tags need to be made with an eye toward your target audience, current branding strategy, and other marketing and advertising messages. SEO’s primary metrics need to be ROI, conversions, sales, and other marketing measures. These measures also need to be consistent with the methods used to evaluate your other marketing tactics, so that ROI of all marketing methods can be evaluated and compared.

Certainly, implementing many of the changes required in an SEO project will fall to IT, but these changes require a depth of knowledge and understanding of your company’s marketing and branding. Without the perspective of your marketing team, your in-house SEO team or SEO firm cannot make the recommendations and alterations that lead to SEO success. You’re wasting IT’s time and wasting your SEO investment.

Marketing Reaps the Rewards and Must Bear the Burden

Charging your IT team with an SEO project is sure to cause some internal tension within your marketing department as your project progresses. As site work is implemented and your site gains visibility online, the marketing department will be the first to see the benefit of all of the SEO work. More site visits, increased conversions, and jumps in sales are just some of the results your marketing team can expect from your SEO project. Marketing departments should already have metrics in place to measure and evaluate these benefits, and with them communicate marketing success. But what can your IT team do with this? How do these results translate to success in terms of the work they’ve done? Your marketing team is best suited to evaluate and communicate the successes, so they need to manage the SEO burden.

. . . everyone needs to be able to make informed, collaborative decisions when considerations overlap.

The best balance of power for SEO decision making in instances where technical and website work will be handled in-house is keeping a clear division of technical implementation versus marketing-motivated decisions. For example, the IT team would be best suited to decide what time of day is best to take down the website to make site copy changes, while the marketing department would ensure that site copy changes conform to the company’s existing branding strategy. There will, of course, be overlap in decision-making power. That is why it’s so important to keep all of those involved, informed throughout the SEO project. Everyone needs to be able to make informed, collaborative decisions when considerations overlap.

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