Do you need outside expertise to manage your SEO work? Or can SEO coding be done in house? The answer is, “yes.” Some should be done in house, and other work is usually better farmed out, depending on a few key factors.
To better leverage the power of SEO for your digital content, it helps to break the concept down a bit. Then you'll see how your team can apply today's best practices.
What SEO Does
SEO, or search-engine optimization, drives your website’s organic traffic. It’s essentially a set of guidelines applied to digital content to catch the attention of the search engines. Once the search engines decide they like your content, you are getting free advertising via search. that can translate into free website traffic, free conversion, free leads and customers.
Search engine crawlers are automated bots that scan your digital content for various words, tags and other settings. Once the scan is done, the crawler uses an algorithm to make a decision about when to show your content in user search results. This decision can change daily - one day the search engine may place your page at #6 for a certain keyword, and the next day it may hit #2.
For example, say you write a blog post about whether or not cats can eat peanut butter. You’ll probably use the words “cats eat peanut butter” a few times in the text and in the headline. You may even post a video of a cat eating peanut butter, and a header image of a cat looking at a peanut butter jar. If you code the blog post properly, the crawlers will assume it’s probably relevant to prioritize showing it to people searching on keywords including “cats peanut butter.”
Front-End vs Back-End
The details of SEO apply to many different aspects of your online copy, images, video and audio content. When I’m explaining the SEO concept, I like to break it down into two groups. I call them “front-end SEO” and “back-end SEO.”
- Front-end SEO is basically what the public sees when they engage with your digital content. This can include the headline, subheds, images, photo captions, text, links, and video subtitles. All of these elements (when coded properly) have the potential to add SEO “weight” to your blog post.
- Back-end SEO is what the search engine crawlers see. Elements include the meta tags for your post, image tagging, keywords, meta description and more. Back-end SEO also includes off-page tweaks like backlinks, robot.txt files, redirects, and indexing with Google.
When You Need Outside Expertise
For a fully optimized site, front-end and back-end SEO work together in coordinated harmony. Front-end SEO is best done by whoever is generating and uploading the content. That team can research the most appropriate keywords and easily apply them in the blog platform.
A little of the back-end SEO can also be done by this same team. The content team should be researching and adding keywords, creating meta tags, and tagging images.
Keyword research may indicate that a good long-tail keyword for our cat post is “can cats eat peanut butter.” The content team would create a meta description and headlines including variants on that keyword string. They would tag the image and video in the right places with the same keyword, and make sure the keywords show up periodically in the text. They may even add a link to a particular brand of peanut butter.
But the off-page SEO is a whole other project, and it is more about pure tech geek than it is about cat-friendly content. Unless you have an SEO specialist in your IT department, here is where you should hire outside help. An SEO expert can spend an hour or two running an audit of your content, then correcting errors or adding tweaks that speak directly to the crawlers. Because the search engines update their algorithms frequently, it’s worth working with a specialist who stays on top of the trends.
The Perfect SEO Cadence
Front-end SEO is ongoing - you’ll need to incorporate it into every new piece of content that you generate. Your in-house content team can stay on top of these SEO trends by attending webinars, workshops, or reading expert blogs.
Back-end SEO can be cycled in and out, periodically, with regular audits and updates. After your initial SEO audit, you’ll be able to identify potential problems and trends, and set a cadence with your SEO expert for future updates.
If you want to feel the full power of organic search, make sure your SEO effort is coordinated properly. Mix inside skills with outside expertise to make sure your front-end and back-end SEO go together like cats and peanut butter.