Lee Odden

Pubcon Session: In House SEO

In House SEO Panel

The “In House SEO” panel included Jessica Bowman formerly with Business.com but now with Yahoo, Bill Macaitis from Fox Interactive Media and Aaron Shear who was from Shopping.com but is now a consultant. Moderator duties were handled by Todd Friesen.

More companies are bringing search marketing in house either because they want to save money, they want to have more control or they want search to be more closely integrated with other business marketing and processes. Moving search in house is a significant undertaking and this session was focused on shedding light on some of the organizational challenges/opportunities to be considered.

When I finally made it to the session, I had missed Jessica’s presentation 🙁 and Bill Macaitis was just starting.


Organization structure of an in-house search marketing team:

Organizational Structure of In-House SEO
Click to see expanded view

Budgets: Build a business case early, even if you don’t already have a budget. Show the potential. Show the current situation in terms of ranking and traffic along with average revenue per visitor and extrapolate the potential revenue. You can get more traction if you can show the numbers.

With budget, there’s a greater chance of participation. Key budget areas include: staff, SEM spend, competitive insights, keyword bid management, analytics.

Common challenges:

  • Editorial hates all those keywords in the copy
  • Design hates the “wordy” pages
  • Finance doesn’t want to give search any budget
  • Engineering is too busy to work on implementation

With all those challenges, Bill gave the following tips on getting SEO projects pushed through:

  1. Define the opportunity. Rankings, traffic, revenue per unique visitor and identify what the revenue increase would be if rankings increased. Money talks.
  2. Focus on small wins. Look for low hanging fruit that will show measurable impact and build off of that.
  3. Sell all stakeholders. Identify them and then sell them on search.
  4. Find allies. Find others in the organization that would benefit from SEO implementation as well. Working together, you may have a better chance of implementation.
  5. Money words (ego words) for executives. Appease execs by getting traction on their personal favorite phrases to make it personal and build to a larger scale program.
  6. Face to face. Your in person communications are more effective than email or phone when trying to get support.
  7. Relationship management. Use relationship information just as you would in sales to facilitate attention to projects.
  8. Ranking reports. Not ideal, but can be a useful snapshot.
  9. Bring out the competitor. Example: Show performance of different business units or departments, show performance of all to all. Do the same thing using competitors.
  10. Accept no excuses, ie don’t take no for an answer. If they say no, you haven’t sold everyone that you need to.

Aaron Shear

Next up is Aaron Shear who related his experience while working with Shopping.com. Actually, he is still involved as an outside consultant.

Started with no budget, no staff, no support. Very difficult to reach targets. How to overcome such a challenge?

Rally support. Must have a senior manager “sponsor” SEO initiatives or they will never get pushed through.

  • Empower your in house SEO teams
  • Get as many of your peers on your side as possible
  • Use educational brown bag lunches to inform others on search. The more employees who know what you do the more they think about SEO.

Look at the extended organization. Large organizations often have many disparate SEO initiatives with no cohesive organization. There can be communication barriers. The opportunity is to bring them together.

  • Develop relationships with other SEOs in the organization that might be able exert influence.
  • Teach SEO and its benefits to people who don’t know that might influence SEO projects.
  • Track everything
  • Partner or affiliate Network – Modify link urls to pass link popularity. These links are high impact and often low or no cost.
  • Use data from the SEM team, paid search metrics.
  • Network like crazy – share what you know. Be careful of what you share with competitors.
  • Stay active on the forums but take info with a grain of salt.
  • PR departments can help your cause. Help them with optimizing their releases.
  • Focus on the tail, not the top keywords. Fluctuations in ranking will drive execs (and you) crazy.

Be sure to check out the TopRank channel for SEO videos and the Pubcon 2007 Flickr set for conference photos. You can also subscribe to our feed and follow us on Twitter.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Thanks… some good insight for a guy starting one from scratch at my company.


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