5 Essential Tips for Training a New SEO Team

A company is only as good as its employees. In the world of SEO, the landscape is constantly shifting and there will always be a pressing need for quality employees. In fact, over the past decade, there has been more than a 1900% increase in companies looking for SEO-experienced workers over the past decade.

Luckily, SEO is not rocket science. However, it does not mean that anyone can come in off the street and do a top-notch job. SEO is a field that in order to truly understand in the finer details, you need to get down in the trenches and get first-hand experience.

If you’ve just brought on some new employees with a basic level of experience in the field, you will need to develop tactics to get them up to speed. Here are three tips to make the process easier.

1. Recommend resources for industry trends


First of all, if you’re bringing on a group of newbies (let’s say you’ve just hired a crop of fresh graduates), they probably have an entry-level grasp on how SEO works. But, you should provide as much information as possible in regards to an overview of the industry from an agency point-of-view.

Luckily, there are tons of free and inexpensive resources available. Have your newbies

As all search marketers know, SEO is a game of trial and error and success is dependent on adjusting. With new trends and insights popping up seemingly by the hour, your team needs to be up to speed on a daily basis. Chances are, they already know some of the big sites within the industry. Regardless, make sure they are keeping up with blogs on sites like:

Try to instill habits into your team to make sure they are keeping up. Encourage them to spend the first half an hour or so of the day catching up on the latest industry news.

2. Foster communication and transparency


The success of any company stems from the ability to effectively communicate both internally and externally. First, you will need to get your team well-versed in proper client communication. Regardless of whether it’s phone calls, emails, text messages, or face-to-face, this is one of the most challenging aspects of agency life.

Start by having the team craft some practice emails. Be sure they are familiar with any terms, formats and templates that your organization is used to.

Even their email signatures matter, in order to keep up the professional and consistent appearance. There are a couple of nice options, like WiseStamp, which is an instant signature creation tool, and GraphicRiver, which is a collection of professional signature templates.

Additionally, there are a number of “weak” words and phrases to avoid such as:

  • Kind of
  • Hopefully
  • Just
  • Maybe

Internally, communication and collaboration are the building blocks of a successful business. Transparency in the workplace is vital. While this seems like a no-brainer, it can be difficult to truly instill. An operation runs smoothly when everyone is on the same page about tasks and communication.

Speaking of smooth operations, you also need to get your team on board with the scheduling and task management tools that you use for managing campaigns and assigning work.

A seasoned collaboration and project management tool such as WorkZone is usually a better fit for managing multi-channel marketing campaigns compared to entry-level task trackers like Trello or Basecamp.

For ongoing accounts running parallel campaigns with task interdependencies and multi-team assignments, a clear-cut view of the big picture with open communication boards and progress reports is essential for everyone involved:

Streamlining communication and promoting teamwork from the start is an extremely beneficial tactic to practice in an agency setting.

3. Cover keyword research techniques


To get into the technical side of SEO, one of the most important things to educate your team on is how to do effective keyword research. While some SEO experts are proclaiming keywords as “dead,” what with Google’s changing algorithms, obfuscation of search data, the rise of voice search, as well as how other search engines handle queries, I believe the name of the game in SEO is ranking for the right terms, which can (still) make or break a website.

Conducting research can be a lot harder than one might think.

A very important insight to convey to your team is that it isn’t about just getting visitors. SEO is about targeting the right visitors that have a good chance of turning their experience into a conversion. This cannot be overstated.

By conducting keyword research properly, you not only create content your audience is looking for, but also predict trends, shifts in demand, and changes in market conditions. Start by training your team on the ins and outs of the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, but don’t stop there. The Moz Keyword Explorer and Ahrefs Keywords Explorer are two very useful tools that offer data on more related terms and further insights on the ranking potential of your keywords. The latter, in particular, lets you pull up advanced metrics such as total clicks (important in the face of the rising number of results with answer boxes and knowledge cards), clicks per search, and rate of repeat searches.

Also, be sure you are educating everyone on the basic process for assessing the value of a specific term. For instance, here are a couple questions to consider when doing research:

  • Is the keyword relevant to any business objective of the website it leads to?
  • Will web users find exactly what they’re looking for when they enter these words into the search box?
  • Will they be satisfied with what they find?
  • Does this traffic have a strong possibility of turning into a conversion? Or a sale?

In addition to this, have the team google the terms manually to see what other websites are already ranking for these keywords. Are the results organic?

A great way to test a keyword’s strength is by using a practice site. Create a PPC campaign for a certain term. If the website doesn’t rank for it, you have the option to buy test traffic to get an idea for how good it could get. Bid for exact match queries and direct traffic to the relevant page on the website. Track impressions, clicks, and conversion rate.

Based on the research, show the team how to determine the value of a keyword. Let’s say your search ad generated 10,000 impressions over the course of a day. The ad brought 200 visitors to your website. Of those 200 visits, six resulted in conversions totaling $600. This means that each visit is worth $6.

Keyword research is the foundation of an SEO campaign. Your team will need to know this aspect of the job down to a tee.

4. Educate them on copywriting


Quality content is the backbone for almost all digital marketing ventures. Writing material optimized for SEO isn’t necessarily complicated. However, there are a number of key principles you will need to teach your SEO team.

Most importantly, writing top-notch content depends heavily on the ability to understand people. It’s all about creating value for the viewer while targeting specific keywords and using strong backlinks, and spreading your brand message via a plethora of marketing channels.

Doing this successfully results in boosted authority and relevance, which will increase your search rankings. Quality content plays a huge role in Google’s algorithm for determining these standings. Their representatives have repeatedly said so and their webmaster guidelines page has a whole section titled “Quality guidelines” in addition to “General guidelines.”

Be sure you spend a good deal of time teaching how to create stellar headlines for content pieces. This an area that even the best copywriters can struggle with. Regardless of how awesome the body copy might be; a sub-par headline won’t do your click-through rates any favors.

In short, a good headline should be concise, while attracting attention that prompts further action. Just be wary of clickbait lines – these days Google and Facebook have algorithms that detect and bury content misrepresented by their headlines.

Generating fresh topics for articles will get difficult the more you write. Inbound Now and Portent have great title generators that can help defeat writer’s block and nail down intriguing ideas for posts.

At the end of the day, writing content is all about encouraging people to act. Educating your team on the fundamentals of SEO copywriting will make the technical aspect run much smoother.

5. Bring them up to speed on Google updates and penalties


One of the most important concepts to keep in mind when working in SEO is that there are no guarantees. Google is famously quiet about how they are constantly evolving. Updates can happen at any time. Typically, when one occurs, it is a cause for concern.

Regardless of whether or not you or your clients have bought or traded links in the past, your website could end up getting penalized. For that reason, everyone on your team needs to be in the loop of what to do when this happens.

Over the past few years, Google has released major algorithm updates with weird names such as Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Payday, Pirate, Phantom, Possum, Caffeine, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, and RankBrain. Each left many SEO strategists scrambling as their search rankings dropped like a rock. Make sure you communicate to your technical SEOs and account managers the best ways to prepare and react.

For one, instill a habit of analyzing websites regularly as new content is added so the team can be quick to identify issues. Second, ensure that websites have properly structured categories and sub-categories with clear navigation.

This is especially important for ecommerce websites as it will make the task of crawling the interface easy for both users and bots. Third, always make sure that link profiles are clean. Train them to keep a close eye on backlink inventory and weed out the low quality ones. This will help keep you in good standing with Google.

When an update hits out of nowhere, clients will most likely want immediate answers and explanations. Train your team on possible scenarios and how to properly address such issues. This is an area that truly separates the novices from the experts.

The wrap

It bears repeating that SEO is a world that is constantly changing. As search engines and other digital platforms evolve, so will your team. Fine-tuning the foundational and technical abilities of your team will be an on-going task and should not be taken lightly.

Keep an open-door policy and take into account that good employees gain a lot from a valuable mentor. Do whatever you can to help them set and reach professional career objectives and become skilled marketers in the process.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Tracy Vides

Tracy Vides is a digital marketing strategist who works with small businesses and startups to help improve their content, SEO, and social presence. Tracy is also a prolific writer—her posts on ecommerce, social media, and conversion are regularly featured on tech blogs across the web. Follow her on Twitter @TracyVides.

13 thoughts on “5 Essential Tips for Training a New SEO Team”

  1. Hey! Nice article, quite useful for me.
    I was wondering: what determines your choice of SEO tools?
    I want to buy some subscriptions for my company and can’t decide so far. I wanted to start with Serpstat tool because it seems good and it’s cheaper than others. Have you any experience with it?

  2. Excellent article Tracy! There are definitely a number of things to be discussed to SEO beginners and it will take some time. Great points you have here 🙂 I think, copywriting would take the longest time since it’s not easy to mimic a writing style. Everything else can be read and applied easily. But I think, it’s better to divide these tasks to a few people rather than giving all these to a single person who has no background about SEO at all.

  3. Outstanding article Tracy! Thanks for sharing resources for learning SEO. I think these days everyone started from MOZ seo guide. And Learning SEO – The Ultimate Resource by Lia also good for newbie in SEO field.
    thank you for sharing.

  4. I agree with the previous commenter who said copywriting is a huge time eater. We made this much less problematic by hiring writers to our team. That way we know we can depend on them to get the copy to us on time to optimize it and that it will be well-written.

  5. Like you, I have just recently introduced some new employees onto my SEO and web development team. Because of the constantly shifting rules of SEO, I am always looking for blog posts that are extremely helpful but I can share with my new employees to guide them through the process. I love how your post is laid out-you have broken up the content well so that it is easy to read and you included visual aids which are extremely helpful. One of the most helpful parts about your blog post (in my opinion) is #5: Bring Them up to Speed on Google Updates and Penalties. I will be sharing this with my team today. Thanks!

  6. Google updates its algorithm quite often and it is crucially important to educate your team about what’s working and what’s not. It is extremely important to always stay curring edge with SEO, otherwise, you will fall behind. The SEO tools that I use are, Majestic, Ahrefs, SemRush and some other once.

  7. Better Strategies is what makes an SEO company keep moving forward and keep outdoing their competitors in the same field. This article clearly explains how to improvise your SEO team for the betterment of a company. I found your article really helpful, thanks!

  8. I feel the transparency part is essential. Too many SEO’s wants to hide the links they have built, kinda gives the industry a shady feel at times. So it’s important that anyone new in the industry helps grow clients trust first and foremost from the onset.

  9. I really liked what you had to say about how the success of any company stems from it’s communication. It makes sense to me that a business who couldn’t communicate effectively wouldn’t go far. I don’t know a lot about seo or rankingr or what have you, but I’m sure that if you choose to work with someone who is open and honest with you you’ll have a good experience.

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