The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) has been called a lot of things–dead, irrelevant, and impossible to understand.

But at the end of the day, SEO is still the mechanism that gets your ecommerce site to rank–and eventually, gets you more organic sales.

We could go on forever about SEO management. And we did just that in our guide to Ecommerce SEO (with the help of our good friends at GrowTeam, an agency that connects ecommerce businesses with reputable partners and vendors).

FREE Ecommerce Business Owner’s Guide to SEO Management

In this guide, we looked at the practices of top ecommerce companies (and CEOs) who successfully grew their organic rank and sales, and attempted to answer these key questions:

  • Why do they invest in SEO?
  • What do they do in-house?
  • What do they contract out for?
  • How do they get maximum performance from vendors?


All of these questions boil down to: What are they doing that other companies are not?

If you don’t have time to read through the full guide, skim the checklist below.

1. Manage the Important SEO Functions In-House

This was one of the biggest differences between average performing sites and top performing sites – the best performers did their content work in-house.

The majority of CEO’s said they believe that social media, blogs, and other product content needed to be developed in-house to maintain the voice of the company and keep control over technical terms, references, and industry knowledge that outside vendors would struggle with.

Many of them had unsuccessfully tried to outsource this work in the past and failed.

Keys to Success:

  • Create an editorial calendar and make it public within the business
  • Include non-marketing staff in content creation
  • Have one primary owner for editing, voice, and tone


2. Outsource Technical On-Page SEO

There were two main areas where CEOs used outside contractors successfully: Technical on-page SEO work and link building. We’ll address link building in the next section.

Keys to Success:

  • Use software to assist in managing meta data & linking structures
  • Have a domain authority of at least 20 (using MOZ scale)
  • Ensure there are no active penalties on your site
  • Launch an active paid search campaign


3. Build Links With Digital PR

Although less used than technical SEO, many site owners said they did engage specialty PR agencies to market their content to high authority sites to create backlinks. Many PR agencies are now focusing on this area as a core deliverable because of its value to the overall domain authority, and you need to ask them specifically about their process.

Many PR agencies are now focusing on this area as a core deliverable because of its value to the overall domain authority, and you need to ask them specifically about their process.

Keys to Success:

  • Be careful with links–poor quality, high volume links can have a negative impact
  • Use only reputable firms that provide complete lists of all links created, sites and partners, and content
  • Track your link profile independently


4. Be Smart When Picking an SEO Agency

If you have contracted for marketing services in the past, then you know that some of the worst companies in this space have the best sales people. That’s why it’s so important to look deeper than the surface level when you’re vetting agencies.

Keys to Success:

  • Focus on selection–don’t get drawn in by fancy white papers and previous clients
  • Aim for experienced account managers
  • Treat your account manager at the vendor company like part of your staff
  • Get the agency invested in the outcomes you’re trying to drive


5. Integrate Your SEO Agency With Your Internal Team

As the owner of the business, it is ultimately up to you to create integration between internal resources and contractors. How well you do this has a big impact on the leverage you get on the dollars you invest in online marketing services.

Keys to Success:

  • Set up a regular scheduled call with your agency and internal staff to review reports and upcoming activity
  • Encourage staff to prepare questions:
    • What are the best practices for this type of work?
    • What are you seeing that is working with your other clients?
    • What trends do you see emerging in the last couple months that are relevant to our business?
    • What do you think we could be doing to increase our conversions?
    • If you were in our shoes, what would you be doing that we aren’t yet?


6. Keep Your SEO Agency in the Loop

Help your vendors do their job by sharing critical data with them. Sales, conversions, specials and new product and service data give them material to work with.

The act of sharing information breeds trust and common accountability to shared goals. It also helps protect against a vendor hiding bad performance data or covering up mistakes.


Keys to Success:

Notify your SEO agency ASAP if:

  • New products or service lines are launched
  • Changes are made
  • Seasonal specials or events are planned


7. Collaborate With Your Agency

We often see CEOs leaving their vendors on an island. They believe that the vendor is responsible for obtaining certain results, but don’t really put effort into using their own resources to increase the level of activity.

Don’t leave your vendor on an island, or you’ll risk seeing subpar results and discord between their agenda and yours.

Keys to Success:

If you adopt an approach geared towards leveraging your vendor’s intelligence and your own resources, you can start asking questions like:

  • What can my team be doing to accelerate your work?
  • What would you recommend we do more of if you had access to my team’s time?
  • In what way can our team be more involved in the online marketing campaign so this campaign has a higher chance of success?
  • What things can we be doing on a monthly basis to complement your efforts?


8. Don’t Leave SEO Learnings to the Pros

Working to absorb best practices and industry knowledge from a vendor not only improves the campaigns you’re working on with them in the short term but also helps to retain that knowledge in your organization after the vendor is gone.

Keys to Success:

  • Learn how to read analytics yourself and ask detailed questions about your traffic and conversions.
  • Get some of your internal people Google certified so they can understand what the vendors are doing and ask better questions. This is not very hard or expensive, but gives you a big edge in the long term.


Check out the full guide here:

FREE Ecommerce Business Owner’s Guide to SEO Management

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