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7 Tips For Getting The Most Of Your Enterprise SEO Freelancers

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7 Tips For Getting The Most Of Your Enterprise SEO Freelancers

Whether this is the first time you’ve outsourced your SEO or you have years of experience working with freelancers, going into the process with a well-structured plan will help you to get the best out of your support team.

At the enterprise level, it’s even more crucial that you have high levels of communication and accountability for any SEO project.

With so many pages to manage, there’s an increased potential for costly mistakes or errors.

It’s your job to prevent those as much as possible.

So what can you do to build a successful team of enterprise SEO freelancers?

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These seven tips can help.

1. Provide Them With Thorough Briefs

No matter how big your site is, you will always know more about the business and its goals than the freelancers that you hire.

But that’s also why it’s up to you to educate your freelancers appropriately and give them the inside knowledge that they need to do their work effectively.

With sites that are hundreds or even thousands of pages, it can be incredibly easy for a freelancer to get lost when it comes to the structure of the site and why things are set up the way they are.

Providing them with a detailed brief ahead of the project start date will allow them time to review, follow up, and clarify anything that could make their work more difficult or less successful.

Your brief should include some information on the objective of the work you want the freelancer to complete, along with everything that’s expected from them in terms of deliverables.

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You should also clearly outline any deadlines for each aspect of the project, along with agreed-upon processes like standing meetings or check-ins.

2. Establish Concrete Deliverables

While having goals like “increase organic traffic to the site by 10% this quarter” are great to aim for, your freelancers need to have concrete deliverables laid out that make it clear when the work is done.

If you’re not sure where to start with these, it’s important to remember that deliverables are about controllable outcomes.

You should be able to look at them and ask “was this task completed or not?”

Yes, you’re hiring freelancers to make a difference in your business growth.

But their role is to complete the necessary tasks to get you to those goals, not guarantee that those goals will be achieved.

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Ultimately, it’s out of both your and your freelancer’s hands as to the results of growth or performance goals, no matter how hard you work.

Setting clear, definable deliverables is one of the best ways to keep everyone on-task and ensure a successful working relationship with your freelancers.

3. Outline Success Metrics Upfront

Before you launch any new digital marketing project, you need to know how you plan to measure its success.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) will vary from business to business, and even from project to project at enterprise-level companies.

Take the necessary time that you need to map out your measures before handing over work to your freelancers.

Common SEO KPIs that you might want to consider are traffic or rankings. Are you seeing an increase in performance in both of these as a result of the work that your freelancers are doing?

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But your success metrics don’t always have to be hard data like this.

When internal teams are overstretched and being pulled in too many different directions, mistakes happen more often.

Seeing a reduction in errors or less time being spent on corrections is a valid success metric that you can use with your SEO freelancers.

It might not be as flashy a metric as traffic or rankings, but it can make just as much difference to the bottom line of the business long term.

4. Give Them Access To Necessary Docs And Tools, But Respect Their Process, Too

When you hire freelancers, you need to create an onboarding process as if they were a new member of your internal team.

This means giving them access to any documents or tools that they’ll need in order to complete the work that you’ve outlined for them.

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Internal documents can be buried deep in computer files and internal systems, so be sure to clearly lay out instructions for where these files can be found and how the freelancer can access them.

If you’re working in a project management system, set them up as a new user and schedule a call to walk them through where everything is and how your internal team uses the system.

The same goes for your website.

Give your freelancers the access that they’ll need to do their work and take some time to show them where key pages are or any problem areas that you specifically want to bring to their attention.

However, many companies make the mistake of expecting their freelancers to use all of their tools, apps, and internal communications channels.

It’s important for freelancers to stay connected to the project, but they may request you not add them to your Slack, not give them additional email addresses, or that you ping them directly if they are added into internal comms systems on the channel they use the most (generally their own email).

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This is to ensure updates are not missed, projects stay on task, and they can manage the number of places they need to check for feedback across clients.

5. Have A Process For Ownership And Check-Ins

When you’re working at an enterprise business, you probably have hundreds of tasks on your plate every day.

After all, that’s why you hired freelancers, to help lighten the load!

But while those freelancers are responsible for the work they’re doing, you are ultimately the point of contact and person in charge of the project.

It’s vital that you schedule a time to check in with your freelancers, either at set stages of the project or on a weekly/biweekly basis to see how things are going.

Set up an internal process for these check-ins that increase efficiency for both you and your freelance team, particularly if you’re working with multiple freelancers across different parts of the project.

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It’s your responsibility to stay on top of everything, to make sure that deadlines are being met, and that work is up to the standard that you’re expecting.

Keeping in touch on a regular basis, without micromanaging your external team, is the best way to stay on track.

6. Set Up Standing Meetings To Keep The Project Moving

While weekly or biweekly check-ins are helpful, be sure to schedule standing meetings and calls to keep the project moving along.

Most teams find that these standing meetings are most useful around key deadlines, like wrapping up an SEO audit or ahead of a project launch.

Check-ins are often more informal and by email, whereas these standing meetings should take place in person or over a video call and be structured more like a formal meeting.

Put together an agenda and email this over to your internal team and all of your freelancers at least several days ahead of the planned meeting time.

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This gives everyone a chance to look over it and add any additional comments or suggestions.

During your standing meetings, review what has been completed so far and how this has gone.

You should then set aside some time to discuss any changes that may have happened internally that might impact the work that your freelancers are doing and to talk about upcoming deadlines ahead of the next meeting.

Standing meetings can certainly take up time in your schedule, but they’re an important part of managing an outsourced team.

Knowing that you have a set appointment to discuss the project will keep the momentum going and go a long way towards making your freelancers more successful.

7. Have A Quality Assurance Process Before Go-Lives

Just as you’re responsible for making sure that work gets completed, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that work is of the highest possible standard before it goes live.

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Yes, everyone makes mistakes.

But it’s vital that you catch these before they’re launched to the wider world.

Building a quality assurance process into your project launch schedule can help you to keep the appropriate checks and balances in-house.

This might mean having several sets of eyes look over a piece of the project before it’s put on the website or asking a senior member of the team for final sign-off before sending feedback to your freelancer.

Be firm with maintaining and adhering to your process once it’s in place.

Thinking that you can skip a step or two is a sure way to set yourself up for something to slip through the cracks.

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It may take longer to work through each item on the checklist, but it can save you embarrassment or, worse, losing money when your project goes live.

Conclusion

Enterprise SEO is a unique and challenging beast, but it’s also incredibly rewarding when you see your hard work paying off.

Working with freelancers is one of the best ways to bring specialized expertise into your team and plug gaps that need filling in order to launch a successful project.

With the right systems and processes in place, you can help your freelancers to deliver their best work for you and build a lasting working relationship that your enterprise business can benefit from for years to come.

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Featured Image: 4 PM production/Shutterstock

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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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Featured Image:Ismael Juan/Shutterstock

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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Google Unplugs “Notes on Search” Experiment

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Google unplugs Notes On Search Experiment

Google is shutting down it’s Google Notes Search Labs experiment that allowed users to see and leave notes on Google’s search results and many in the search community aren’t too surprised.

Google Search Notes

Availability of the feature was limited to Android and Apple devices and there was never a clearly defined practical purpose or usefulness of the Notes experiment. Search marketers reaction throughout has consistently been that would become a spam-magnet.

The Search Labs page for the experiment touts it as mode of self-expression, to help other users and as a way for users to collect their own notes within their Google profiles.

The official Notes page in Search Labs has a simple notice:

Notes on Search Ends May 2024

That’s it.

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Screenshot Of Notice

Reaction From Search Community

Kevin Indig tweeted his thoughts that anything Google makes with a user generated content aspect was doomed to attract spam.

He tweeted:

“I’m gonna assume Google retires notes because of spam.

It’s crazy how spammy the web has become. Google can’t launch anything UGC without being bombarded.”

Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks) tweeted that it was author Purna Virji (LinkedIn profile) who predicted that it would be shut down once Google received enough data.

She shared:

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“It was actually @purnavirji who predicted it when we were at @BarbadosSeo – while I was talking. Everyone agreed that it would be spammed, but she said it would just be a test to collect a certain type of information until they got what they needed, and then it would be retired.”

Purna herself responded with a tweet:

“My personal (non-employer) opinion is that everyone wants all the UGC to train the AI models. Eg Reddit deal also could potentially help with that.”

Google’s Notes for Search seemed destined to never take off, it was met with skepticism and a shrug when it came out and nobody’s really mourning that it’s on the way out, either.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Jamesbin



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