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Navigating through Departments: The Key to Making Impactful Changes in SEO



Navigating through Departments: The Key to Making Impactful Changes in SEO

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

SEO is unlike any other digital channel. It does not and cannot live in a silo, while something like a paid search program can be run by a single person with minimal help.

From our experience, the biggest deficiency in SEO campaigns is not a lack of understanding of the craft, rather, it’s the roadblocks that occur during implementation and cross-team collaboration. Great ideas can be presented and discussed, but taking an idea from a whiteboard or a slide to actually living on a site where it can impact performance can be difficult.

Whether in-house or on the agency side, blockers to success often come from internal site teams or long development queues. The key to making progress comes from two primary avenues:

The departments that SEO impacts (and how to work with each)

With a channel like SEO where progress is not solely achieved by one consultant or advocate for the channel, but from the implementation of recommendations, it’s critical to understand how to navigate through a business to make progress.

We break down the departments as follows:

Business / Marketing

The business and marketing teams are the stakeholders whose resources will be used to execute your SEO strategies. These are the individuals at a company who you must win over to be successful. Ever had an amazing idea only to be squashed by leadership? Many of us have been in that situation at one point or another, so the key is to make the case for SEO.

Unlike other marketing channels where ROI can be predicted, it can be difficult to forecast growth for SEO. How do we provide statistical evidence that our strategies will be a driver for success? Although there’s no perfect science, we break down our methodology below:

Step 1: Start by quantifying potential traffic gains through ranking improvements by utilizing average click-through-rate at various positions.

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Step 2: Utilize this data to build a forecast based on investment and potential growth using conversion rate and average order value to predict potential revenue.

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Step 3: Agree on a reasonable forecast and set expectations with the client. Ensure both parties are on the same page about the opportunity in the vertical to avoid any potential pitfalls, and keep growth conservative.

Step 4: Start audit and planning exercises. Our audits serve as the roadmap for success and the forecasting exercise occurs during this phase as a compliment to the strategy.

Design / Creative / UX & UI

Once your strategy is approved and you’re ready to build out new pages, new sections of the site, or redesign pages, it’s time to consult with the design team. They’ll be the ones to help you move your recommendations from ideation into a design, but that process isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

The first issue is not a lack of resources, but the incessant battle between UX (site teams) and SEO. Ever heard any of these statements before?

  • We shouldn’t expand our main navigation because our users want a more simplified approach

  • This doesn’t meet our brand guidelines as we don’t want any text content on our pages

  • These site changes don’t seem to ladder up to our goal of getting people to convert

  • We can’t change that because our users are used to it that way

Although these are all valid statements, they do present an issue with being able to progress and grow organic traffic.

SEO and UX need a balance. Finding it can be hard, but necessary. As the advocate for the organic channel, you must always be willing to argue how and why your recommendations can help the business grow. You can do so by providing clear, concise, and effective instructions to design and site teams.

We utilize checklist templates to provide to design teams an idea of what needs to be included with examples (after marketing / business teams have approved our recommendations, of course).

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We finalize these recommendations by signing off on designs prior to development, when the real site work begins.

Development / Engineering

Why are development and engineering resources the largest blocker to SEO success at the mid-market and enterprise level?

SEO is de-prioritized (YES! Even after executives are bought in). We see it again, and again, and again. As engineering and development teams have urgent things come up, it’s easy to move around other projects that are less time sensitive. On average, website migrations we’ve worked on are delayed one to two months at the mid-market level. For enterprises, this can be much more severe. So how do you get around your projects being moved to the back of a development queue?

It can be hard. I have personal horror stories of asking for the same on-site changes for over three years with no movement due to other internal pressure for other things to be done, or blockers from other teams.

There are two main tips we have for ensuring that SEO development projects move through the pipeline properly once they’re scheduled:

Tip #1: Create in-depth tickets to help alleviate potential development problems. Many times, projects stall out because development can be difficult. The first thing you can do is document in detail what needs to happen. What does the final state need to look like?

Many of our clients work in JIRA, and we are able to integrate directly in to create tickets, comment on them, and QA them upon completion.

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Tip #2: Create an accountability tracker. Whether you’re a consultant, and in-house SEO, or an agency partner, a “next actions” or project tracker sometimes isn’t enough. We create an accountability tracker where we can discuss weekly where projects are when they fall on other teams, specifically on engineering teams that are pulled in many different directions.

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Project Tracker Template

PR / Thought Leadership

Ever engaged in some sort of authority building? Well, there’s undoubtedly some overlap with PR efforts, especially with how link building looks at this point in Google’s existence. There is no gaming or tricking the algorithm anymore- linking needs to be through concentrated content development and promotion.

Link building is outreach, and therefore, some of the efforts an SEO agency or SEO team might be working on may intersect. We have three main tips to ensure your outreach efforts are successful and well received.

Tip #1: Ensure that relationship boundaries are defined between PR and SEO. We start every engagement by first asking for a “Do Not Contact” list from any existing PR agencies. You do not want to be contacting a media outlet that a PR agency or an internal team has an existing relationship with. Start by understanding the types of relationships that already exist.

Tip #2: Don’t just email everyone. Similar to establishing boundaries between PR and SEO, consider other areas of the business that have relationships with website owners. For example, affiliates are another area that you want to think more in-depth about. There are strategies you can use to acquire links that are valuable from affiliates, but you’d want to ensure you’re touching base with whoever manages those affiliate teams first. Start by setting a meeting and strategizing with them.

In addition, you want to be careful about contacting websites that may not be a fan of your company or client. Be sensitive to the information in an article. When performing a service like link reclamation, be sure that the sites you’re reaching out to weren’t saying something negative or are not a fan of a company. Although this isn’t extremely common, it does happen and can cause internal issues.

Tip #3: There is always opportunity. Don’t get discouraged. Even if you’re working on outreach where there are a lot of blockers in place, there are still sites you can contact that will add SEO value. Focus on sites that are strong and receive organic traffic, but aren’t in the same tier of what a PR agency would be focusing on (think USA Today, or Seventeen Magazine). Although these are amazing sites to be featured on, you can still get value from mommy blogs that have strong rankings and some authority. These sites can still move the needle (as long as they are high-quality and don’t have high spam scores).


Content creation is crucial to SEO progress, and sometimes it is the most critical piece. This varies by business type, but generally every business can benefit in some way from having SEO-focused content on a website (content built to rank for a specific query).

Most businesses have some sort of copywriting resources in-house. These individuals are not always focused on web content, but might be focused on many other types of content to support awareness initiatives or internal processes.

When looking at the content process, there are many areas that SEO teams need to support. No matter who is actually creating content, the SEO team needs to provide strategy and direction.

Our content process is as follows:

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Just like all other departments that we’ve discussed so far, content teams also need to be aligned with SEO goals and understand how to produce content that ranks.

We recommend creating content maps to help guide content teams. These roadmaps should contain everything that a copywriter needs to understand how to write for SEO.

As the SEO strategist is working towards the goal of ranking for a keyword that drives business results, the strategy for the content should be coming from someone who knows the goals of the business on a deep level.

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Content Roadmap Example

These are two key areas that impact rankings that can sometimes be harder to deliver on:

1. Content comprehensiveness: Although not always true, longer content does tend to rank better for informational / research queries. While a 2,500 word post may not always be the preference for the business, sometimes it is necessary to rank. It’s important as an SEO to advocate for comprehensive content (when we believe that the result should be an in-depth response).

2. Keyword targeting in content titles: There is no such thing as “writing for search engines” anymore. The truth is that content needs to be written for users. However, we still must use keywords in the title tag and in the title of the post. These are still the strongest on-page signals we have. Many times, the title of posts are written with brand or marketing language, without considering its ability to rank competitively. For example, a content team might title a post about workplace efficiency as “7 Ways to Improve Your Efficiency Throughout the Day” without taking into consideration a keyword focus for SEO. Whereas, an SEO might recommend a title such as, “Workplace Efficiency: Tips to Improve Workflows”. As the title holds so much weight, the SEO team needs to advocate for ensuring that the title of the post has a balance between being optimized and engaging.


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Making meaningful progress towards growth in SEO takes an entire company. It is our job as SEOs to serve as the project manager and guide projects through the pipeline. We’re also responsible for ensuring that stakeholders on different teams know and understand our initiatives, and that everyone is working towards the same goals.

When everything is working as it should, the results will follow.

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips



How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips

Collecting high-quality data is crucial to making strategic observations about your customers. Researchers have to consider the best ways to design their surveys and then how to increase survey completion, because it makes the data more reliable.

→ Free Download: 5 Customer Survey Templates [Access Now]

I’m going to explain how survey completion plays into the reliability of data. Then, we’ll get into how to calculate your survey completion rate versus the number of questions you ask. Finally, I’ll offer some tips to help you increase survey completion rates.

My goal is to make your data-driven decisions more accurate and effective. And just for fun, I’ll use cats in the examples because mine won’t stop walking across my keyboard.

Why Measure Survey Completion

Let’s set the scene: We’re inside a laboratory with a group of cat researchers. They’re wearing little white coats and goggles — and they desperately want to know what other cats think of various fish.

They’ve written up a 10-question survey and invited 100 cats from all socioeconomic rungs — rough and hungry alley cats all the way up to the ones that thrice daily enjoy their Fancy Feast from a crystal dish.

Now, survey completion rates are measured with two metrics: response rate and completion rate. Combining those metrics determines what percentage, out of all 100 cats, finished the entire survey. If all 100 give their full report on how delicious fish is, you’d achieve 100% survey completion and know that your information is as accurate as possible.

But the truth is, nobody achieves 100% survey completion, not even golden retrievers.

With this in mind, here’s how it plays out:

  • Let’s say 10 cats never show up for the survey because they were sleeping.
  • Of the 90 cats that started the survey, only 25 got through a few questions. Then, they wandered off to knock over drinks.
  • Thus, 90 cats gave some level of response, and 65 completed the survey (90 – 25 = 65).
  • Unfortunately, those 25 cats who only partially completed the survey had important opinions — they like salmon way more than any other fish.

The cat researchers achieved 72% survey completion (65 divided by 90), but their survey will not reflect the 25% of cats — a full quarter! — that vastly prefer salmon. (The other 65 cats had no statistically significant preference, by the way. They just wanted to eat whatever fish they saw.)

Now, the Kitty Committee reviews the research and decides, well, if they like any old fish they see, then offer the least expensive ones so they get the highest profit margin.

CatCorp, their competitors, ran the same survey; however, they offered all 100 participants their own glass of water to knock over — with a fish inside, even!

Only 10 of their 100 cats started, but did not finish the survey. And the same 10 lazy cats from the other survey didn’t show up to this one, either.

So, there were 90 respondents and 80 completed surveys. CatCorp achieved an 88% completion rate (80 divided by 90), which recorded that most cats don’t care, but some really want salmon. CatCorp made salmon available and enjoyed higher profits than the Kitty Committee.

So you see, the higher your survey completion rates, the more reliable your data is. From there, you can make solid, data-driven decisions that are more accurate and effective. That’s the goal.

We measure the completion rates to be able to say, “Here’s how sure we can feel that this information is accurate.”

And if there’s a Maine Coon tycoon looking to invest, will they be more likely to do business with a cat food company whose decision-making metrics are 72% accurate or 88%? I suppose it could depend on who’s serving salmon.

While math was not my strongest subject in school, I had the great opportunity to take several college-level research and statistics classes, and the software we used did the math for us. That’s why I used 100 cats — to keep the math easy so we could focus on the importance of building reliable data.

Now, we’re going to talk equations and use more realistic numbers. Here’s the formula:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

So, we need to take the number of completed surveys and divide that by the number of people who responded to at least one of your survey questions. Even just one question answered qualifies them as a respondent (versus nonrespondent, i.e., the 10 lazy cats who never show up).

Now, you’re running an email survey for, let’s say, Patton Avenue Pet Company. We’ll guess that the email list has 5,000 unique addresses to contact. You send out your survey to all of them.

Your analytics data reports that 3,000 people responded to one or more of your survey questions. Then, 1,200 of those respondents actually completed the entire survey.

3,000/5000 = 0.6 = 60% — that’s your pool of survey respondents who answered at least one question. That sounds pretty good! But some of them didn’t finish the survey. You need to know the percentage of people who completed the entire survey. So here we go:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

Completion rate = (1,200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Voila, 40% of your respondents did the entire survey.

Response Rate vs. Completion Rate

Okay, so we know why the completion rate matters and how we find the right number. But did you also hear the term response rate? They are completely different figures based on separate equations, and I’ll show them side by side to highlight the differences.

  • Completion Rate = # of Completed Surveys divided by # of Respondents
  • Response Rate = # of Respondents divided by Total # of surveys sent out

Here are examples using the same numbers from above:

Completion Rate = (1200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Response Rate = (3,000/5000) = 0.60 = 60%

So, they are different figures that describe different things:

  • Completion rate: The percentage of your respondents that completed the entire survey. As a result, it indicates how sure we are that the information we have is accurate.
  • Response rate: The percentage of people who responded in any way to our survey questions.

The follow-up question is: How can we make this number as high as possible in order to be closer to a truer and more complete data set from the population we surveyed?

There’s more to learn about response rates and how to bump them up as high as you can, but we’re going to keep trucking with completion rates!

What’s a good survey completion rate?

That is a heavily loaded question. People in our industry have to say, “It depends,” far more than anybody wants to hear it, but it depends. Sorry about that.

There are lots of factors at play, such as what kind of survey you’re doing, what industry you’re doing it in, if it’s an internal or external survey, the population or sample size, the confidence level you’d like to hit, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, etc.

But you can’t really get a high completion rate unless you increase response rates first.

So instead of focusing on what’s a good completion rate, I think it’s more important to understand what makes a good response rate. Aim high enough, and survey completions should follow.

I checked in with the Qualtrics community and found this discussion about survey response rates:

“Just wondering what are the average response rates we see for online B2B CX surveys? […]

Current response rates: 6%–8%… We are looking at boosting the response rates but would first like to understand what is the average.”

The best answer came from a government service provider that works with businesses. The poster notes that their service is free to use, so they get very high response rates.

“I would say around 30–40% response rates to transactional surveys,” they write. “Our annual pulse survey usually sits closer to 12%. I think the type of survey and how long it has been since you rendered services is a huge factor.”

Since this conversation, “Delighted” (the Qualtrics blog) reported some fresher data:

survey completion rate vs number of questions new data, qualtrics data

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The takeaway here is that response rates vary widely depending on the channel you use to reach respondents. On the upper end, the Qualtrics blog reports that customers had 85% response rates for employee email NPS surveys and 33% for email NPS surveys.

A good response rate, the blog writes, “ranges between 5% and 30%. An excellent response rate is 50% or higher.”

This echoes reports from Customer Thermometer, which marks a response rate of 50% or higher as excellent. Response rates between 5%-30% are much more typical, the report notes. High response rates are driven by a strong motivation to complete the survey or a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.

If your business does little person-to-person contact, you’re out of luck. Customer Thermometer says you should expect responses on the lower end of the scale. The same goes for surveys distributed from unknown senders, which typically yield the lowest level of responses.

According to SurveyMonkey, surveys where the sender has no prior relationship have response rates of 20% to 30% on the high end.

Whatever numbers you do get, keep making those efforts to bring response rates up. That way, you have a better chance of increasing your survey completion rate. How, you ask?

Tips to Increase Survey Completion

If you want to boost survey completions among your customers, try the following tips.

1. Keep your survey brief.

We shouldn’t cram lots of questions into one survey, even if it’s tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have more data points, but random people will probably not hunker down for 100 questions when we catch them during their half-hour lunch break.

Keep it short. Pare it down in any way you can.

Survey completion rate versus number of questions is a correlative relationship — the more questions you ask, the fewer people will answer them all. If you have the budget to pay the respondents, it’s a different story — to a degree.

“If you’re paying for survey responses, you’re more likely to get completions of a decently-sized survey. You’ll just want to avoid survey lengths that might tire, confuse, or frustrate the user. You’ll want to aim for quality over quantity,” says Pamela Bump, Head of Content Growth at HubSpot.

2. Give your customers an incentive.

For instance, if they’re cats, you could give them a glass of water with a fish inside.

Offer incentives that make sense for your target audience. If they feel like they are being rewarded for giving their time, they will have more motivation to complete the survey.

This can even accomplish two things at once — if you offer promo codes, discounts on products, or free shipping, it encourages them to shop with you again.

3. Keep it smooth and easy.

Keep your survey easy to read. Simplifying your questions has at least two benefits: People will understand the question better and give you the information you need, and people won’t get confused or frustrated and just leave the survey.

4. Know your customers and how to meet them where they are.

Here’s an anecdote about understanding your customers and learning how best to meet them where they are.

Early on in her role, Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Head of Content Growth, conducted a survey of HubSpot Blog readers to learn more about their expertise levels, interests, challenges, and opportunities. Once published, she shared the survey with the blog’s email subscribers and a top reader list she had developed, aiming to receive 150+ responses.

“When the 20-question survey was getting a low response rate, I realized that blog readers were on the blog to read — not to give feedback. I removed questions that wouldn’t serve actionable insights. When I reshared a shorter, 10-question survey, it passed 200 responses in one week,” Bump shares.

Tip 5. Gamify your survey.

Make it fun! Brands have started turning surveys into eye candy with entertaining interfaces so they’re enjoyable to interact with.

Your respondents could unlock micro incentives as they answer more questions. You can word your questions in a fun and exciting way so it feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz. Someone saw the opportunity to make surveys into entertainment, and your imagination — well, and your budget — is the limit!

Your Turn to Boost Survey Completion Rates

Now, it’s time to start surveying. Remember to keep your user at the heart of the experience. Value your respondents’ time, and they’re more likely to give you compelling information. Creating short, fun-to-take surveys can also boost your completion rates.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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