If your company is new to search engine optimisation (SEO) then you need to remain in control of the work that’s being done,  whether you’re using an agency or you’ve hired someone in house.

Of course, not everyone has time to research optimisation tactics so they may not understand the work that’s being done on their company’s behalf. So here are my five tips to help you successfully manage your SEO team:

Manage your expectations

Forget all those misspelled spam emails you’ve had from the ‘Supreme SEO Company’ promising you a top Google ranking for your most competitive term within three days.

Organic SEO can be a lengthy process and, depending on your industry, reaching the very top of the search results for the more popular terms can take some time and a fair whack of investment.

Talk to your optimisation team about what terms they plan to target and what their own expectations of success are. If you’ve picked a reputable agency then it will give you a realistic outlook. Hold them to it.

Set goals

Managing your expectations is one thing but you still need to hold your team to targets, otherwise it’s impossible for someone who doesn’t understand the industry to keep tabs on the work.

You don’t want to pay for substandard work because an unscrupulous ‘expert’ has blinded you with jargon.

Unfortunately, optimisation is a new sector and that means there are a few snake oil merchants around. Ask for references and use a decent agency or new recruit.

Once you’ve found them, ask them to outline their ambitions for your website and then hold them to those targets. Just because you don’t have an in depth knowledge of the work, doesn’t mean your team can get lazy – but it’s up to you to check they are achieving their promised goals.

Brace yourself for the long haul

Make sure you have put resources in place for ongoing work – you can’t budget for three months and then decide SEO isn’t for you.

Boosting your search engine visibility takes time and then it takes effort to maintain. You can’t dip your toe in and then abandon the effort after a very short time – it’s a waste of money.

Make sure there’s a company commitment to your optimisation campaign and that the resources are in place to maintain the work.

Involve your staff

Whether it’s being run inhouse or you’re using an agency, the work that team is doing can be supported by the entire company. Keep them involved, keep them informed and keep them on board.

For example, your email marketing team can learn from your paid-search work about which subjects get the most clicks.

Your PR team, if you have one, can enhance your onsite optimisation by targeting some of the trickier keywords in their press releases. And your whole workforce can tweet your blog posts, share links with friends (if you’re a consumer-facing business) and create buzz around your online marketing efforts.

Be prepared to get involved

Are you a well-known name in your sector or even your local sector? If you are, you can help enhance your optimisation team’s work.

Blogging, tweeting, guest blogging – your name could really help spread the word about your company online and build inbound links to your site, which are really helpful for your optimisation.

To be honest, even if you aren’t well-known, you could still garner credibility as an industry expert if you start blogging and building an online reputation.

If your SEO experts decide you need a blog then it’s best that it’s in the name of a prominent figure within your company. It will also enhance your corporate reputation, so it is well worth it.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 31 August, 2010 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is CEO at SEO and content marketing agency BlueGlass, he can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments (14)

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Sankar Datti

Getting involved with would helps a lot to know what exactly happening and we can plan to make it better.



almost 8 years ago

Matthew Phelan

Matthew Phelan, Director and Co-Founder at 4Ps Marketing

Hi Kevin, A really good starting point. I would add to the setting goals section; “Agree on KPI targets”. Every client will and should want to set an ROI target but if you can put some further KPI measurements in place that are specific to their business it will really help. I have another article written by our client services director (Chris Hyland) that expands on this. I would normally leave a link but without wanting to be accused of link spam :-) if you interested go the 4Ps Marketing website and search for “Client expectations” in the search bar on the top right. All the best Matt

almost 8 years ago


Russell Hogg


Some good tips and advice here, particulary regarding being in for the long haul and involving staff. There's nothing harder (and more infuriating) than trying to create a change environment for the benefit of a company only to be stonewalled by the staff whilst the Management team turn a blind eye. It's one thing being hired to perform SEO miracles at times, but another to manage internal staff gripes and policy.  The long haul point is valid because so many think that after a month or maybe 2, they should be soaring above all their rivals on SERPs on all the keywords that were listed at inception (no matter how many keywords or phrases were requested). Again, when coupled with the point involving staff, the likelihood of quick and dirty wins are of course greater with full staff buy in anyway, and it certain bodes well for further intangible benefit of internal team working, seeing results etc.

I wouldn't agree this is a new industry though. I've been optimising sites, albeit for fun in the 'early days' since 1994, managing paid search since it started in 2001 and have run a proper SEO company since 2004. The point is valid though when, in context, you look at how many 23 year old SEO 'Experts' there are all of a sudden.

I'd also say, regarding your point about expectations, for the client to be realistic in what they have paid for. Again, as an agency, we tend to change retainers to clients for SEO for a set number of hours per week, not necessarily on results. We wouldn't have any objection to changing our cost model, and in fact it'd vastly suit us financially to charge on results at the proper hourly rate, but clients tend to want to know how much they are paying each month, upfront, and they then set that sum aside. As an agency, we, and I am sure others, can't charge a retainer for a number of hours and also guarantee results...which of course can't be guaranteed anyway.

At the end of the day, the client needs to understand the needs of any agency they employ, and vice versa...it's a 2 way street, but all clients should expect, as a minimum, detailed benchmark reports on a regular basis so the client can at least keep tabs of progress...or not!



almost 8 years ago


Adrian Yearwood, New Media Manager at Tottenham Hotspur

A really good article.  For me the key statement is around - bracing yourself for the long haul - you can’t budget for three months and then decide SEO isn’t for you.

Many people expect instance results but with SEO this will rarely happen -especially if you are in a competitive market place.

Agree your KPIs and continuously review against them asking yourself do we need to do more of the same or try new tactics rather than should we stop with our endeavours.

If working at the keyword\phrase level it is worth setting and reviewing you KPIs on a keyword\phrase level so you are not blinded by averages.  Perhaps 5 of your 10 target keywords\phrases are doing well and the other 5 need more work.

almost 8 years ago


Abby Gilmore

I've just started in she SEO/Internet marketing industry and I completely agree with your tips.  I sometimes have trouble getting through to people that an SEO campaign doesn't deliver instantaneous results, though it is not what people want to hear.  Your point, "Make sure you have put resources in place for ongoing work – you can’t budget for three months and then decide SEO isn’t for you" is a good one.  

Also, I wish more people were excited about getting involved in SEO campaigns.  "To be honest, even if you aren’t well-known, you could still garner credibility as an industry expert if you start blogging and building an online reputation" - I agree 100 percent.  Positioning yourself as an expert is key in any industry and blogging is one easy way to do so.  

almost 8 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

Yes, Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) are important, and we agree 6-10 of these with each client, even if they are on our performance based pricing.  It keeps us all focused on the same end goals and working in a partnership with our clients.

Long haul?  Yes, but you should start seeing some results in a few weeks.

almost 8 years ago


Social Tool

Enlightening tips! It's important to keep in mind that embarking on an SEO makeover needs time and patience before real results are felt. And more importantly, participation in social outlets like Twitter is important. It feels more authentic and satisfying when a brand owner engages personally with the account's acquired followers.

almost 8 years ago

Charles Robinson

Charles Robinson, Account Manager at Rade

Great article, full of common sense. It is a daunting prospect having to commit considerable resource and cost when the results are not necessarily a given - sometimes the results are fairly swift, but more often than not, it is an altoghter lengthier (read costlier!) process.

This article really does highlight the salient points. As a supplier you should pull no punches when explaining what is achievable to your client. As a supplier, we find SEO is very much a hand-holding exercise, and we work closely with our SEO clients to make sure we garner their confidence and help throughout the process.

We definitely find that having easy to measure KPIs with a clear benchmark is so important both in demonstrating results. If you are a supplier, it gives you the confidence in your campaign team, if you are on the receiving end, you know your money is being well spent (or not as the case may be!).

almost 8 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, CEO & Founder at SM Commerce

Traffic Revenue! This has to be one of the most frustrating conversations with companies in that simply driving traffic won't bring in sales.... getting the mindset right with the correct goals is oh-so crucial.... If you simply target revenue/conversion then don't expect huge traffic and vice versa.... don't expect your broad traffic to drive sales

almost 8 years ago



For companies unsure about SEO this is a great article for them to get an idea of the industry and what they need to do. SEO can be daunting for some people, but having employees fully engaged, educated and interested in SEO can be seen as half the battle won already.

I find with clients that they see their website as somewhat of an annoyance, when they should be seeing their website with as much importance as any other department in their company. By setting medium to long term goals for SEO, this can result in long term gains. The key here would be to manage a clients expectations. While they may want to be the first organic result within three month, they have to be realistic. SEO will not give the immediate results like paid search.

almost 8 years ago


Sean Usher

Great tips Kevin, of course if you are working with businesses to help improve their position in the serps, then you also have to handle their expectations as well.

So often when I meet a new client, they expect results immediatley. So bracing yourself for "The Long Haul" is absolutley correct, plus I think giving it 3 months is also the right amount of time for coinsideration.

I also try and educate the business owner to reassure them that this SEO thing is not some black magic stuff, like they have heard from many sources


almost 8 years ago



Great Tips, I hope it will very helpful to the SEO professionals, I have some client who wants to immediate result. I try to convince to the business owner that SEO takes time to give the result...........

over 7 years ago




about 7 years ago



I think this is the right way to start SEO.


almost 6 years ago

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