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You Can Go Your Own Way: How to Get Things Done When You’re the Only SEO

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You Can Go Your Own Way: How to Get Things Done When You’re the Only 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.

If you’re an SEO like me, you probably spent at least a year or two at an agency where you worked with other experienced SEOs. On large teams, there’s always someone to learn from, bounce ideas off of, or to help finish projects on time.

But what happens when the SEO team is just you? This is the question I had when, after several years agency-side, I moved in-house to be the first and only SEO the organization ever had.

More than three years later, I’m still a team of one. I had to figure out how to accomplish my goals without the built-in support of an established team, and although there are challenges, being the only SEO is an opportunity to flex your knowledge, develop the practices that will bring the organization into the digital age, and maybe even grow your own team.

Here’s how I get things done, and hopefully some of these practices will be helpful for you as well!

How and why some organizations start with just one SEO

Many “legacy” organizations are going through a digital transformation: transitioning from traditional media to a digital presence by investing in their websites and digital specialists. The pandemic likely accelerated this process, and these groups will be hiring their first dedicated SEOs.

This is how I was hired. The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest environmental nonprofits in the world, with offices in dozens of countries and thousands of employees. One SEO. Yet this is fairly advanced — most nonprofits have zero*.

*Sidenote: If you are a nonprofit SEO I would love to connect!

One of the first digital transformation hires was the analytics director, Jenny. Jenny’s mission was to find opportunities to grow the site. Almost immediately, she saw that half of the website’s traffic is from organic search. So she asked, “Who manages search here?” Turns out, no one. She believed that if the website was important, the organization needed to invest in it. And that meant a strategy for search.

Jenny needed to highlight how beneficial an SEO would be. She built an analytics dashboard for the CMO, who was from a traditional media background. His first question was, “What’s organic search?”

Yes, really. Then he had a lightbulb moment: “Oh, so Google! Wow, that’s all our traffic?”

And a new SEO position was funded.

A rough start

Unfortunately, this realization came at a less than ideal time. The Nature Conservancy was in the middle of this digital transformation, starting to heavily invest in digital marketing, building a team, thinking strategically about the website, and the CMS was shutting down. They scrambled to find a new CMS and execute a site migration.

No worries, they thought, the web developer vendor will handle SEO. Their contract included this line item: “SEO industry best practices for relaunch”.

If your stomach just clenched, imagine how I felt when, during an interview, my soon-to-be-boss excitedly said, “You might have noticed that the website looks a little different today. Our relaunch went live this morning!”

Yes, they went through a site migration while hiring for an SEO. They celebrated with cake.

Teams without an SEO don’t know what they don’t know, and they’ll make mistakes that you will be responsible for fixing. Until that moment, I had been thinking that I’d be setting the SEO strategy for the future of the organization, help the website emerge as an authority and a leader in the nonprofit space, and contribute to my personal goal of furthering the mission. Instead, my first several months on the job would be cleaning up the migration.

When I started, there were hundreds of errors across the site. It was slow, there were no dedicated SEO fields in the CMS, and there were broken links everywhere. Worse, there was no SEO guidance for content creators, meaning each new page created more errors.

So, how did I start to move the needle on over 2,000 pages that were published with zero thought towards SEO? I had to triage: there was no way I could fix all the issues myself, so my priority was slowing the rate at which new, problematic pages were published.

The solo SEO process

Step 1: Make friends on other teams and find your evangelists

When you’re the only SEO, especially if you’re also the first, it might seem like no one at your organization understands your job. But someone, somewhere, does — at least a little. You just need to find them.

And when you do, don’t immediately ask for favors or demand they change how they do their jobs. Approach your new friend with empathy, interest, and understanding. Start by learning how you can help them do their jobs.

Analysts

My first friends were on the analytics team. Obviously I had Jenny, the analytics director, and I also had Leigh Ann, an amazing analytics architect. She had been with The Nature Conservancy for 20 years and knew how desperate the site was for SEO guidance. Chances were if I was annoyed at an issue, she had been annoyed at it for years. She was thrilled some of these issues were finally being addressed, and I was thrilled I had current and historical data to back up my recommendations.

Developers

My second friends were the developers. When you’re the only SEO, you’re the default expert on both content and technical SEO. I give the developers a heads up on what the content team has planned that might require their involvement and, more importantly, educate the content team on the level of effort required for seemingly small tasks. This not only helps me directly, it also increases understanding and keeps relationships smooth across teams.

Other marketers

One unexpected friend I made early on was Rachel, a marketer with the Florida chapter. She worked with SEOs in a previous role and understood the value of organic search. She reached out to me after a training, wanting to collaborate. Together we created a new page specifically designed to bring in organic traffic.

The topic was mangroves, trees that grow in coastal saltwater that provide important habitat for animals and protect communities from storm impacts. The Florida chapter talked quite a bit about mangroves but didn’t have a dedicated page for them. I sent Rachel some keywords, questions, and examples of mangrove content and she built a new page. We collaborated on every element. We both wanted to show how SEO could improve the kind of content most marketers were creating.

A persistent notion among marketers is that their pages are primarily seen because they’re promoted. While the page was shared on social media and in an email, within a few weeks, it was ranking for our target keyword. Six months later, 85% of the traffic to that page was from organic search. I made sure to give that page — and Rachel — a shout out, both to give her credit and to show other marketers the kind of success SEO can bring. She also shares the success of the page with other marketers and is a valuable SEO evangelist.

Step 2: Provide SEO education every day

It doesn’t matter if you work with hundreds of SEOs or you’re the only SEO, every SEO role involves a good amount of education. The field changes frequently, new clients and stakeholders have varying levels of understanding (or worse, outdated ideas), and websites and priorities change. You need to keep up with the field and communicate changes and best practices simply and effectively.

Agency clients expect their vendors to be consultants, but when you’re in-house, it can be easy to forget to treat your colleagues and superiors like a client. And when you’re the only one with SEO expertise, everyone has questions. It’s your job to not only answer their questions, but also to be proactive.

Being the only SEO means speaking up and asserting your knowledge. Within my first two months, I conducted an SEO 101 training open to anyone at the organization. I covered what SEO is, what it means for content creators, busted myths, walked through what a SERP looks like, how to optimize pages using our CMS, and highlighted examples of pages that were already doing a great job. I ended the training by giving attendees steps for conducting their own research, and offering to help anyone creating new content. (Giving out candy doesn’t hurt, either.)

Of course, not everyone is going to react well to someone who comes in and tells them the way they’ve been doing things this whole time is wrong. Naturally, you’ll encounter resistance. That’s okay — focus on those who do want to work with you, and minimize conflict with everyone else. Results, hopefully, will speak for themselves.

You get to choose the SEO hill you die on. Figure out what’s going to move the needle the most at your organization. Understand when to fight and when to let something go in order to appease that higher up you just can’t win over right now.

Step 3: Do (at least some of) the work yourself

One of the biggest culture shocks moving in-house was the level of bureaucracy standing in my way. The larger the organization, the more hurdles you’ll have to jump. Sometimes it takes half a dozen people to approve a title tag change and content owners are sometimes always too busy to fix their broken links. I quickly realized there would be times I’d need to just do things myself.

If your SEO agency experience ever involved providing recommendations to your point of contact and then wondering why almost nothing got implemented, you may have no idea how long it takes to actually do the work you’re recommending, or what very real barriers your client faces. I didn’t when I was with agencies.

At The Nature Conservancy, I tried everything I could think of to encourage content owners to fix their issues: meeting one-on-one with them, sending emails with step-by-step instructions, even setting up automated email reminders. They just didn’t have the time.

So, I started making some of the changes myself. I’d remove a few broken links on one page, update title tags and meta descriptions on another, and worked with my team’s writer (who was willing to pitch in) to update content. It’s important to not be too busy, proud, or afraid to do the work.

If you’re thinking this is time consuming, you’re right. If content owners didn’t have the time to manage a dozen pages, how could I manage thousands? Right when I was starting to resign myself to spending Saturdays doing all the stuff I was recommending so we could start seeing results, we hired a production manager, Lane. He quickly made a sizable dent in our backlogged work.*

*In the never-ending cycle that is nonprofit work, Lane’s plate is now also overloaded.

I was lucky that we had the budget to hire Lane, but what if we didn’t? It would have been unrealistic and unfair for me to actually spend my weekends implementing optimizations across thousands of pages. If anyone is in this position now, build a case for hiring someone. Estimate the time it would take to implement your recommendations, and the cost of not implementing as much as you can. Use the metrics that matter to the powers that be, and show how SEO contributes to their own goals. Ask your advocates for help, especially if they might have some insights you don’t.

In the meantime, protect your priorities: Block off time on your calendar for focused work (and use it), enforce no-meeting Fridays, don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good” or “done”, learn how to say “no” to tasks that don’t fit your priorities, and recognize and admit to your limits.

In essence, do the work, but don’t actually work through your weekends!

Step 4: Find your community

It can be a bit lonely and isolating to be the only SEO at your organization. Who do you go to for a gut check, a proofread, or to ask a dumb question without judgment when you’re the only SEO? You need to find your community outside your employer.

First and foremost, you don’t need to have every answer immediately. “I don’t know, let me find out” is an acceptable answer. You can Google answers to the questions you’re asked, or you can find people to ask.

Former colleagues, former classmates in similar positions, website forums, even Twitter hashtags can be a good community. Women in Tech SEO is a wonderful, global community for women in the field. I also had some success reaching out to others in similar positions at related companies. There are SEO podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, conferences, and online courses to learn from.

No matter where you find your community, don’t just take: remember to help others as much as they help you.

Why it’s actually great to be the only SEO

Being the only specialist at a company comes with unique challenges, as outlined here. But there are some wonderful benefits to being the only SEO on your team.

The wow factor

Chances are, your colleagues and superiors are learning a TON from you. I regularly hear things along the lines of, “Wow, I never knew we needed to do this!” or “This is hugely helpful!” for simple best practices.

Employee appreciation

Your colleagues can be extremely happy you’re on the team. Like Leigh Ann, the analytics architect, who had spent years measuring metrics that no one had been working on. And Rachel, from the Florida chapter, who got to show her boss results from our collaboration.

It feels good

When there’s no one else who knows SEO at your organization, there’s also no one to disagree with you! But in addition, if you’re the only SEO on the team, your company may be low on digital expertise, maybe even transitioning from traditional media to a digital presence. You get to genuinely help bring an organization into the digital future and show how SEO can have incredible results.





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MARKETING

Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.

 

What are Instacart Promotions?

 

Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”

 

– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart

 

Source: Instacart

 

How Do Instacart Promotions Work?

 

Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  

 

Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart

 

Instacart Promotions Benefits

 

Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers

 

With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.

 

Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  

 

Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives

 

With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 

 

Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 

 

Access Real-Time Performance Insights 

 

The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.

 

Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.

 

“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti

 

Interested in Instacart Promotions?

 

With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.

 

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(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!

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(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!



It’s important to us that you, our valued customers and partners, can identify with the tools you use daily.  

In that pursuit, Optimizely set out to simplify the way we talk about our product suite. That starts, first and foremost, with the words we use to refer to the technology.  

So, we’ve taken a hard look at everything in our portfolio, and are thrilled to introduce new names we believe are more practical, more consistent, and better representative of the technology we all know and love.  

You may have seen some of these names initially at Opticon 2022 as well as on our website. In the spirit of transparency, the team here at Optimizely wanted to make sure you had full visibility into the complete list of new names, as well as understand the context (and rationale) behind the changes. 

So, without further ado… 

Which names changed?  

Some, but not all. For your ongoing reference, below is a complete list of Optimizely products, with previous terminology you may be familiar with in the first column, and (if applicable) the new name in the second column.  

Used to be… 

Is now (or is still)… 

Meaning… 

DXP 

Optimizely Digital Experience Platform 

A fully-composable solution designed to support the orchestration, monetization, and experimentation of any type of digital experience — all from a single, open and extensible platform. 

Content Cloud 

Optimizely Content Management System 

A best-in-class system for building dynamic websites and helping digital teams deliver rich, secure and personalized experiences. 

Welcome 

Optimizely Content Marketing Platform 

An industry-leading and user-friendly platform helping marketing teams plan campaigns, collaborate on tasks, and author content. 

DAM 

Optimizely Digital Asset Management 

A modern storage tool helping teams of any size manage, track, and repurpose marketing and brand assets (with support for all file types). 

Content Recs 

Optimizely Content Recommendations 

AI-powered and real-time recommendations to serve the unique interests of each visitor and personalize every experience. 

B2B Commerce 

Optimizely Configured Commerce 

A templatized and easy-to-deploy platform designed to help manufacturers and distributors drive efficiency, increase revenue and create easy buying experiences that retain customers. 

Commerce Cloud 

Optimizely Customized Commerce 

A complete platform for digital commerce and content management to build dynamic experiences that accelerate revenue and keep customers coming back for more. 

PIM 

Optimizely Product Information Management 

A dedicated tool to help you set up your product inventory and manage catalogs of any size or scale. 

Product Recs 

Optimizely Product Recommendations 

Machine-learning algorithms optimized for commerce to deliver personalized product recommendations in real-time. 

Web 

Optimizely Web Experimentation 

An industry-leading experimentation tool allowing you to run A/B and multi-variant tests on any channel or device with an internet connection. 

Full Stack 

Optimizely Feature Experimentation 

A comprehensive experimentation platform allowing you to manage features, deploy safer tests, and roll out new releases – all in one place. 

Personalization 

Optimizely Personalization 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to create/segment audiences based on past behavior and deliver more relevant experiences. 

Program Management 

Optimizely Program Management 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of an experiment. 

ODP 

Optimizely Data Platform 

A centralized hub to harmonize data across your digital experience tools, providing one-click integrations, AI-assisted guidance for campaigns, and unified customer profiles. 

 

So, why the change?  

 It boils down to three guiding principles:  

  1. Uniformity: Create a naming convention that can be applied across the board, for all products, to drive consistency 
  2. Simplicity: Use terms that are both practical and concise, ensuring the names are something that everyone can understand and identify with  
  3. Completeness: Develop a framework that showcases the full and complimentary nature of all the products and solutions within the Optimizely suite 

 As the Optimizely portfolio comes together as a complete, unified platform, it’s important that our names reflect this, as well as support our 3 key solutions (i.e. orchestrate amazing content experiences, monetize every digital experience, and experiment across all touchpoints).  

Other questions? We’ve got you covered. 

Q: Why have you made these product name changes? 

    • We wanted to simplify how we talk about our portfolio. The renaming applies a naming convention that is both practical and concise.  

 

Q: Do the new product name changes affect the products I own? 

    • No, there is no impact to product functionality or capabilities.  

 

Q: Do the new product name changes affect who is my Customer Success Manager or Account Manager?  

    • No, there are no changes to your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager. 

 

Q: Do the new product name changes affect the ownership of the company?  

    • No, ownership of the company has not changed. We have only made changes to the Product Names. 

 

Q: Have any contact details changed that I need to be aware of?  

    • Only contact details for former Welcome customers has changed. These are the new contact details you should be aware of: Optimizely, Inc.| 119 5th Ave | 7th Floor | New York, NY 10003 USA. Phone: +1 603 594 0249 | www.optimizely.com 

 

Q: Where can I send any follow up questions I might have?  

    • If you have any questions about the Product Names, please contact your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager.  


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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts


Every year, we see new trends entering the world of email marketing.

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