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Training & Professional Development Tips For Remote-First SEO Teams



Training & Professional Development Tips For Remote-First SEO Teams

People management is critical to the success of your remote-first SEO team.

You may never meet in person, and many of the verbal and visual cues inherent to working in the same physical space are gone.

This is the final part of a three-part series on building your remote SEO team, whether in-house or at your own agency or freelance business.

We first examined how to structure your remote team, then explored legal implications and important communication issues remote SEO teams face.

Now, you’ll learn how to structure your remote SEO training and development program and find helpful tips for onboarding, team building, mentoring, work-life balance, and more.

Building A Success Remote SEO Team Culture

The most important consideration when building a fully remote SEO team is how each member is thriving within the team.

Help Members Feel Settled

You can help your team perform well individually in several ways.

First, we should look at helping each member feel settled in the role.


Joining a team is daunting. Walking into the office for the first time can be overwhelming.

Joining a remote-only team is similarly nerve-wracking.

The only thing that will change for some team members between the Friday at their last job and their first Monday with you is the laptop on their desk.

For others, it may be the first time in a remote role.

Onboarding colleagues is crucial for setting them up for success.

There are many ways to help your new team member feel settled, but in those first few weeks, you should consider:

  • Offering (not mandating!) a catch-up before they start once they have accepted the role to meet you again as their line manager so they can ask any questions and get to know you.
  • Creating a structured first week and sharing the plan with them before they join so they know what is expected of them and the hours they will be needed for their first few days.
  • Sending over any equipment before they join to set up in time for their first day.
  • Sending them information about their colleagues, even if it’s just names and their job titles, to get familiar before they join.
  • Do not use this as an excuse to get them to start working for you before they have officially joined the company. Anything you send should be for their benefit and not yours. This is not an opportunity to get their “thoughts” on a client pitch or take a “quick look” at an audit.

Team Building

You might be building a team from scratch or inheriting and growing a team.

If it’s the former, the members may not be familiar with working together. You will need to spend time up-front helping the team become efficient.

This may mean scheduling “ways of working” discussions and “getting to know you” sessions upfront.

If your team has been working together for a while, and you’re the new one on the team, take the opportunity to learn their current cadence of things like meetings and retros, and find out what’s already working well.

Helping your team gel together remotely doesn’t always require a lot of face-to-face time.

It goes beyond organizing a few virtual escape rooms or drinks over Zoom after work.

Look at the personalities and skillsets within your team.

Where are they working well together?

Where are they not?

Assess the weaker points in their teamwork and create a plan to address them.

For example, it may be that they all have very disparate ways of approaching common SEO tasks.

This might be an issue when handing overwork or working together on a project.

Getting the team to discuss their approaches and agree on a standard output would be one way of facing this challenge.

Team building can be part social, part operations-focused.

But do not make the mistake of thinking weekly virtual quizzes will solve these challenges.

Regular Check-ins

A crucial part of your role in leading a remote SEO team is making sure you are checking in with your team members regularly.

You will need to assess their happiness, productivity, and how you can help remove obstacles to either.

You will know from your own experiences that there is a fine line between being a supportive manager and an overbearing one.

It is worth discussing with each team member how they work best.

Would a weekly 15-minute chat reviewing what they are working on that week help?

Would they prefer to keep you updated with an email each week and a more in-depth face-to-face review once a month?

Whatever you decide on, make sure you keep it in the diary.

Your team needs an opportunity to voice any concerns or wins.

You also need regular touchpoints to see what support you should be giving.

One significant difference between an in-office and remote role is that it is a lot easier to miss the signs that your colleagues are struggling.

These regular check-ins go some way to addressing that.

Training & Professional Development Tips

High-profile digital marketing agencies have recently commented how they would never want to go remote-first.

The comments centered on the need for junior staff to be around more experienced staff to grow and learn.

Remote-first SEO teams simply don’t have this set-up.

That’s not to say that the opportunity to learn from more experienced colleagues isn’t there. It’s just not going to be through overhearing a conversation from across the desk.

Training must be more thoughtfully considered and planned with remote teams.

Guides And Mentors

A great way to make sure your new team member feels welcomed and settled onto the team is by assigning them a “guide.”

This is someone, not their line manager, to who they can ask questions.

This way, they have a point of contact where they can find out information about the company, logins, and the history of SEO on the websites without worrying they are bothering the wrong people or looking silly in front of their manager.

This is particularly important for remote roles where it isn’t possible for a new colleague to just ask a question of someone who is passing by.

A mentor can be particularly helpful for junior team members.

Their role is to help with training and development needs.

As a line manager, you will likely have helped identify skills gaps.

The mentor can be someone who has a strength in those skills and can be a sounding board, or signpost, for your team member.

For example, if your new junior SEO wants to learn more about technical SEO, you can pair them up with your senior tech SEO, and they can arrange one-to-one training or coaching.

Team Workshops

Getting the whole SEO team together for regular workshops can aid in both building team support and sharing knowledge.

A workshop can be as simple as looking over recent developments in the SEO industry together, like Google Analytics 4, or working on a problem such as a Javascript rendering issue.

By coming together as a team, you have the opportunity to learn from each other and build a culture of solving problems together.

Knowledge Shares

Similar to team workshops, knowledge shares will build a culture of looking to colleagues for help rather than going it alone.

Knowledge shares can be sessions once a week, or month, where the whole team talks about developments in the SEO industry, such as sharing a recently read article or conference notes.

Group Conference Trips

Bringing the whole team together to attend an in-person, or virtual conference can help with upskilling and team building.

Remember to make sure it’s accessible for everyone.

Virtual might be the better way to go if your team is spread across a large geography.

Pooling Training Budgets

You might like to encourage your team to share any training budgets they are afforded.

Pooling together their budget might allow them to hire a specific trainer or coach.

It could give them access to a resource portal or back-catalog of videos from a conference.

By sharing their budget, they will have a unified development opportunity to talk about as a group and increase the scope of what they can afford.

Internal Seminars

You may want to empower your team to give their own training sessions.

Chances are you have hired team members with strengths in certain areas where others are lacking.

If they are up for sharing that knowledge, you can suggest a training seminar.

Alternatively, you may have identified other people in the business to share their knowledge on a certain topic, for example, a developer running through the latest Javascript framework for the new website.

Respect Why People Have Chosen Remote Working

There are many reasons your team may have chosen to work fully remote.

It is a good idea to find out why they’ve chosen remote work and make sure you are helping them get the most out of the opportunity.

Outside Of Work Commitments

Many of us chose to work remotely because of our commitments outside of work.

Working remotely reduces the need for a lengthy commute and keeps us closer to our homes, hobbies, and families.

Be mindful that just because a team member is already at home and does not need to rush off to beat the traffic doesn’t mean they don’t need to clock out on time each evening.

Those outside-of-work commitments might be during lunch breaks or before work starts.

Your team working from home does not give you access 24 hours a day.

Their work hours are when you should expect them to work.

Child And Elder Care

Some of these out-of-work commitments might well be looking after family members.

Be prepared for kids on video calls and parents walking past your colleague’s desk as they’re talking to you.

Your team’s offices are in their homes.

It is unreasonable for us to expect other people in those homes to work to our company’s schedule.

It is reasonable for you to expect your team to keep distractions to a minimum where possible.

However, likely, family members popping on screen or an emergency trip to the doctor likely causes your colleague far more stress than the company.

Help to normalize a healthy work/life balance.

Let your team know that it is OK to prioritize family when emergencies happen.

Flexibility And Work/Life Balance

Another reason employees choose to work fully remote is the flexibility that it brings them.

There is the freedom to pick the kids up from school or take the dog for a walk.

It is important to realize that if this flexibility is a core driver for your team member working from home, frequent infringement on that might be why they look for another role.

Make sure you and your team understand what is required of them in terms of working hours, and don’t be the one to break that agreement.

Conferences And Meet-ups

If work-life balance, commitments outside of work, and the desire for a short commute motivate your remote team, be very careful not to over-index on meet-ups and in-person conferences.

Remote first businesses often want to gather their team together once or twice a year for face-to-face meet-ups with a view to team building.

This might already be the limit of what your team can commit to.

Consider the additional toll it takes on employees.

You may not be aware of the additional steps they need to take to be present at the in-person events; for example, the single parent arranging childcare during their time away.

The extra effort of staying overnight in an unfamiliar place can be for someone with health conditions.

The desire to not be away from family members.

Be prepared not to expect too much in-person attendance from your fully-remote team.

Remoteness Of Home

Finally, another consideration you should make around why your team might choose to work remotely is their home location.

Some people don’t live near major cities or transport links.

For them, working remotely opens up SEO jobs that would otherwise be physically out of reach.

If you expect them to travel to clients’ premises or a social event, keep this in mind.

Making Sure Remote Is Right

When building your remote-first SEO team, a key consideration is finding candidates suited to remote roles.

The pandemic has led to some people working remotely for the first time.

They may now never want to go back to in-person alternatives.

For others, this might be their first experience working fully from home.

Part of your interview process might include exploring how comfortable they feel with a remote-only role.

Does the candidate appreciate the loneliness or change in the work environment that a fully remote role brings?


However you choose to build your remote SEO team, there are a lot of benefits to doing so.

Being remote-only opens up the possibility of increased diversity in your team.

Your team may include people from across the world, not just in the city where old offices were based.

Embrace that opportunity to build out a diverse and accommodating team.

Your team may experience a greater level of freedom as a remote team.

Make sure they are comfortable with that and understand the boundaries you’ll need to work within.

ICYMI – be sure to read How To Build A Remote Team For SEO: Planning & Structure and Legal Considerations & Communication Tips For Your Remote SEO Team for more on setting your remote SEO team up for success.

More resources:

Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock


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Examples With Pros & Cons



Examples With Pros & Cons

Marketing channels are tools and platforms that brands use to communicate with their audience.

If we squeezed the idea of marketing channels into a single picture, it’ll look something like this:

How marketing channels work

Businesses use different means (content, messages, ads) to reach their audience in places where they hang out (e.g., social media, Google Search) or reach them directly (e.g., text messages, emails). They may use a selection of channels or all available channels. 

In this post, you will get an overview of the most commonly used channels today: what they are about, how they are used, and what they are best at. 

Organic search refers to the non-paid search results from a search engine. 

Two types of search results

Organic search is one of the pillars of the entire internet. In all, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine (BrightEdge).

The practice of optimizing webpages to increase traffic and visibility in this channel is called search engine optimization (SEO).


At Ahrefs, we create blog posts about topics relevant to our product. At the same time, we try to target topics that offer search traffic potential and are within our capability to rank. 

Sample keywords we target with our content
We use Keywords Explorer to find good topics for our blog. The SEO metrics show us how much traffic we are potentially looking at (TP) and how hard it can be to rank (KD).

This way, when people Google things related to SEO and marketing, we can naturally feature our product. 

Example of high-ranking SEO content

Each piece of content that ends up ranking adds up to your overall organic traffic. So the more high-ranking content you have, the more potential customers visit your website. Plus, evergreen topics can generate traffic for years after publication. 

Chart showing traffic years after publication

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of organic search

Learn more: How to Create an SEO Content Strategy (Follow the Ahrefs’ Framework)

Social media platforms are used to engage brand followers and other users through organic reach or by paying to reach a defined audience. 

Social media is not just Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Messaging-only apps like Discord, Slack, and WhatsApp also fall into the same channel category. 

Do social media users “consume” content from brands? Quite surprisingly, 90% of people on Instagram follow a business (Instagram). 


Social media is complex. It’s a mix of product marketing, PR, and customer support. Trying to summarize it is like trying to summarize all conversations in the world. 

Each brand on social media tends to develop its own voice while publishing a balanced mix of product marketing, conversations, entertainment, and company news. 

And so while some brands will be super serious and “business-oriented,” others will try to win hearts with candor and authenticity. 

Social media profile description

Furthermore, this is an effective use of social media:

Advertising products also works: 

Demonstrating value is something fans want to see from their favorite brands: 

Last but not least, one of the best ways to use social media for businesses… user-generated content: 

Example of user-generated content on social media
Users’ photos made with GoPro published on the company’s Pinterest profile.

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of social media

Learn more: Ahrefs’ Twitter Marketing Strategy: Here’s How We Do It 

This marketing channel allows you to distribute your content and ads in a video format.

Does video marketing work? These stats seem to speak for themselves:

  • 70% of viewers bought from a brand after seeing it on YouTube (Google).
  • 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service (Wyzowl).

Basically, video marketing is about two things:

  • Using video instead of text and images to engage with the audience – Video can make such a difference compared to other media that focusing on this kind of content has become a distinct type of marketing. 
  • Taking advantage of video-first platforms like YouTube and TikTok – These platforms have such a big audience that it makes sense for many brands to create videos just to be there. 


The great thing about video is that platforms like YouTube have their own distribution mechanisms, which can bring your content to thousands of people for free (of course, you can boost that with some budget too). 

We use this channel on a regular basis, and we’ve even made a video on how to rank videos #1: 

Moreover, you can repurpose videos and create “packages”—like a full-blown Academy. It also works the other way around: start with a course and share it or parts of it on YouTube. 

YouTube videos repurposed for an entire course

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of video marketing

Learn more: The Simple (But Complete) Guide to Video Marketing 

Advertising is about paying media outlets that have access to your audience to display your message near or instead of regular content. 

Digital advertising is the same idea transplanted to the internet (aka paid traffic or paid media). 

Advertising is not dead. Although content marketing seems to be the perfect alternative, most B2B and B2C marketers use paid content distribution (67% and 78%, respectively). 


Why pay for ads when there are free traffic channels like search and social media? Especially when ads have such a bad reputation? 

It’s all about the creative you use and the targeting.

Some ads can be simply irresistible because they dominate the space, such as this “Stranger Things” Ad:

"Stranger Things" ad on building
Source: Netflix.

Some are genuinely entertaining, such as the Super Bowl half-time commercials

Some ads are just so well-targeted that it makes you wonder whether they’re still legal. 

And unlike free traffic channels, you can simply outspend the competition instead of building authority, backlinks, or a following. 

Pros and cons 

Pros and cons of advertising

Email marketing lets you reach your prospects’ mailboxes with messages that either prompt direct action or are aimed at creating a long-term relationship with the brand.

You can get a “direct line” to your audience either by building an email list (e.g., with a newsletter) or sponsoring someone else’s newsletter (a mix of advertising and email marketing). 

Be prepared for what success looks like on this channel, though: The highest average industry click rate is 5.01% (hobbies), and the average for all industries is 2.62% (Mailchimp).


Some brands use this channel only to “seal the deal.” They spend so much on brand awareness and product marketing elsewhere that all they need is a nudge sent directly to an inbox (my inbox, in this example).

Email marketing from Vans
We all have our favorite brands. They just need to email us from time to time to sell us stuff. No need to preach to the converted.

Other brands will need more touch points and do more soft-selling beforehand. 

Hustle introduces HubSpot in an email

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of email marketing

Learn more: 8 Easy (But Effective) Ways to Grow Your Email List

Sponsorship as a marketing channel is about attracting prospects to your business through exposure to your brand in a sponsored material or event.

It’s typically used for two kinds of goals: brand awareness and brand image (i.e., gaining customers’ trust). 

Sponsorship is all about visibility. But it works best if the cause/person you fund is something/someone that your target audience cares about, e.g., an event attended by your audience. 

Is sponsorship a popular way to do marketing? If you look at it globally, the spending from 2007 to 2018 was on a steady rise. 

Most probably, the stats are inflated by big brands sponsoring sports. But small and medium brands can engage in sponsorships too, e.g., niche magazines, industry events, or influential content creators. 


Sports would probably be just a pastime activity if it weren’t for the sponsors. 

Sports is also a great lesson about sponsorship. Watch an FC Barcelona game, and you’ll see and hear “Spotify” thousands of times. The logo is literally on every player, and its home stadium’s name starts with “Spotify.” 

Sports sponsorship example

Pros and cons 

Pros and cons of sponsorship

7. Conversational marketing 

Conversational marketing refers to engaging in real-time conversations with potential and current customers through live chats, chatbots, messaging apps, and social media. 

This channel is supposed to be the answer to generic experiences typically offered on websites where users have to navigate through a set of pages to get information or service. 

What’s more, it seems to be quite effective: 

  • 79% of companies say that live chat has had positive results for customer loyalty, sales, and revenue (Kayako).
  • 82% of companies that use AI conversational marketing solutions find them to be a valuable asset in their strategy (Drift). 


The way brands usually use chatbots (aka virtual assistants) is to: 

  • Answer basic and frequent questions.
  • Qualify leads.
  • Schedule a meeting with an agent. 
  • Promote specific content. 

Just like Drift does: 

Chatbot example

Anything beyond that is beyond the capabilities of automation for now. However, solutions like Zowie claim their chatbots are ready to sell things to humans. 

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of conversational marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing (WoMM) is the process of influencing and encouraging natural discussions about a product, service, or company.

In other words, it’s about giving people a reason to talk.

Is word of mouth effective? 

Well, it’s probably one of the most effective marketing channels because people tend to trust other people more than brands. According to a study by BrightLocal, 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.


WoM is so powerful it can get a company off the ground and help it grow throughout the years. 

We should know. Ahrefs started over 10 years ago with 0 marketing budget and no marketing personnel. What got us where we are today was largely thanks to WoM: recommendations from users and positive reviews. 

SEO industry poll
One of the industry polls on SEO tools.
Word of mouth example
This person subscribed to Ahrefs because their friends spread the word. Thank you, friends. 🙂

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of word of mouth

Learn more: Word-of-Mouth Marketing: A Simple Tried & Tested Guide 

Podcasting allows brands to reach people interested in a given topic by producing, being featured in, or sponsoring pre-recorded audio. 

Podcasts seem to be a growing channel in terms of audience and ad spend:

  • Podcast ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $2.2 billion in 2023, a 27% increase from 2022 (Statista).
  • There are more than 850,000 active podcasts today. 


Let’s take a quick look at three ways brands use podcasts today. 

The first, and probably the most popular way, is being interviewed on a podcast or co-hosting one. The brand and/or the product gets to be featured in a natural way throughout the conversation. 

Brand in a podcast

The second way, and also a very popular option, is to sponsor a podcast. The audience gets acquainted with the brand through advertisements inside the podcast and/or brand identification near the content (like in the example below).

Brand in a podcast

The last way a brand becomes engaged in podcasts is by creating its own series. Products are rarely featured; the focus is on memorable experiences delivered through carefully targeted content. This way, the brand can earn positive associations, differentiate, and give their audience a reason to come back to the website on a regular basis. 

Brand in a podcast

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of podcasts

Whereas other marketing channels are used to communicate with the audience, events are more about meeting with the audience. 

Event marketing can be done online and offline but also in a hybrid model. However, in-person events allow for evoking stronger emotions and more convenient networking. 

But can you rely on the in-person formula only? Probably not. Half of marketers and advertisers predict all future events will have a virtual dimension (MarketingCharts).


There are a few different types of events used in marketing. They can differ quite substantially. 

Trade shows. Organized around products and technologies. Usually business-oriented, with the goal of networking and generating leads. 

Formnext, example of event marketing
Formnext, an additive manufacturing trade show. Business, business, business.

Conferences. Organized around ideas or technologies. The focus is on exchanging knowledge, entertainment, and networking. Often have a laid-back atmosphere with a mixed agenda. They are the most “open” of all types. 

Inbound 2022, event marketing example
HubSpot’s Inbound landing page. Learn, meet friends, eat well. Like in life.

Seminars and workshops. Focused on exchanging ideas and experiences. Usually smaller in size and organized for a small number of people. 

SEO workshop at Digisemestr
My colleague, Michal Pecánek, running a workshop on SEO for students of Digisemestr.

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of events

Learn more: A Simple SEO Guide for Successful Event Marketing 

11. Affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing is where people promote another company’s product or service in return for a commission on generated sales.

The party promoting the product is called the affiliate, and the brand delivering the product is the merchant. Often, there is also a middleman connecting the parties called the network or program (e.g., ShareASale or GiddyUp).

A commission is typically a percentage of the sale price but can occasionally be a fixed amount. 

All those fractional commissions and percentages add up to a huge business. According to Statista, business spending on affiliate marketing will hit $8.2 billion in the U.S. by 2022.


This article by Musician on a Mission lists eight studio setup essentials and links to products using affiliate links. 

Example of affiliate link
The highlighted link is an affiliate link.

Products mentioned in this one article alone can get a part of that over 10,000 organic traffic (and other traffic sources too). 

Organic traffic to an article with affiliate links

At its best, affiliate marketing is a win-win for all parties involved, including consumers. Affiliates earn commissions on their work testing products (sometimes) and putting up the content, merchants get exposure to qualified audiences via trusted partners, and consumers don’t need to spend much time researching products on their own. 

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing

Frequently asked questions about marketing channels. 

Why are channels important in marketing? 

Because every brand needs a way to reach out to its target audience and attract customers. Marketing channels simply connect brands to people who might need their products or services. 

What is the best marketing channel?

It’s very unlikely and definitely not optimal to use one marketing channel. Brands usually try to be present in as many channels as possible, as this increases reach and convenience to customers.

That said, it’s common to focus on one channel or a small set of channels. For example, at Ahrefs, we focus on organic search and video marketing because those channels can serve the entire marketing funnel. This has proven to be an effective way to reach out to our audience. 

How to choose marketing channels? 

Do some market research and identify places where your audience hangs out and what channels your competition is using. Then start using those channels to test out what works for you and what doesn’t, and then iterate on your findings. 

What’s the difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing? 

Omnichannel marketing is about using all available channels to attract and serve customers, providing a seamless experience. For example, Ikea allows you to purchase products in stores, online, through an app, by phone, etc. 

Omnichannel marketing in a nutshell

Whereas in multichannel marketing, multiple channels are utilized. However, not all of them are utilized or integrated. For example, I bought a wardrobe online recently, and the shop sent me text messages about the status of the order. But I couldn’t use the same channel to respond (and warn that it was about to send me the same product twice). 

How are marketing channels different in B2B than in B2C?

B2B and B2C brands invest in the same channels (according to HubSpot). However, the way they use the channels may differ. 

B2C brands usually use these channels to offer entertainment and directly impact sales. B2B brands focus more on educating prospects and forming long-lasting relations. 

These types of brands may also find some types of content or platforms more suitable for them. For example, B2C brands typically don’t publish case studies, and B2B brands find LinkedIn more effective. 

What’s the difference between marketing channels and distribution channels?

Distribution channels are the means by which products or services are being made available to a consumer (e.g., directly via a brand’s website or through resellers), whereas marketing channels are the means by which products and services are being communicated to the consumer. 

Final thoughts 

Multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing seem to be the way to go these days. More channels mean more convenience for your customers, more prospects reached, and more ROI for your company.

But to make the best use of your channels, it’s a good idea to keep your brand’s messaging consistent across all media; marketers call it integrated marketing communications

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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