30 second summary:

  • SEO is the key to digital success.
  • Managing SEO across a large company or across multiple websites requires a lot of skills.
  • SEO can be time consuming and gets more difficult every day.
  • A combination of talent and technology is required for enterprise SEO to succeed.

From a global pandemic to the ongoing economic, environmental and leadership crises we witnessed over the course of 2020, brands are now faced with the challenge of standing up and rethinking “business as usual”. Unprecedented changes in consumer expectations and behavior, with digital convenience and personalization high on the must-have list, offer a previously unseen opportunity for those who have mastered corporate SEO skills to serve them for increasingly discerning consumers and provide to customers.

As we move into 2021, the importance of SEO as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy cannot be underestimated. SEO is the key to digital success. From the insights and context, it delivers the content it optimizes and the results it enables. SEO is the most profitable and cost effective channel for businesses today.

A quick note on the term “Enterprise SEO” before we get into that. Enterprise SEO refers to large companies with complex organizational structures and different lines of business and products, and that is the most common definition of it. However, corporate SEO can also be practiced by smaller companies and agencies – especially companies that manage large or multiple websites. It is a common misconception that size is a requirement for business SEO to be successful. Enterprise SEO is essentially the holistic management of digital campaigns (search and content). As a platform of integrated tools and functions, including money, productivity, and customer relationship management, corporate SEO platforms take digital strategy from the side to the personal – and which company couldn’t benefit from it?

Businesses of all sizes can leverage corporate SEO to deliver meaningful, personalized experiences to their customers in real time. Managing SEO across a large company or across multiple websites requires a lot of skills. For those new to the world of corporate SEO, deciding which skills to focus on first can be a daunting task. But innovative, tech-savvy search engine optimization knows that there is always room for growth.

As the constant evolution of SEO fuels careers (and creativity), this evolving industry offers endless learning opportunities. Here are seven essential skills for SEO success in 2021.

1. Industry and market-specific knowledge

Regardless of whether you work on the agency side or in-house, the depth and breadth of your industry knowledge determine how you interpret the data provided by SEO and analytics tools. In short, corporate SEO strategies are only as good as the thinking behind them.

AI-powered technology can help increase your knowledge and understanding of the company’s place in the market, especially its place in SERPs. However, to really stay up to date, you need to understand what your customers need and want, and translate that industry and market-specific knowledge into actions that are powered by SEO. There’s really no one-size-fits-all approach. The more you know about your industry and target market, the better at leveraging search intent as the driving force behind your SEO strategy and providing the right resources to satisfy consumer curiosity and keep sales.

2. Data-driven digital awareness

SEOs need to understand the vast digital marketing ecosystem and where SEO fits in. Data-driven digital awareness enables you to work with the broader marketing and communications teams, including paid search, social media and community managers, copywriters and producers, to strategize and deliver real value. How you continuously support each other, from the exchange of knowledge to process optimization, is the key to holistic digital marketing.

Data-driven digital awareness can aid ongoing brainstorming and optimization, enabling organizations to maximize spend and pivot on plans in real time. Once we understand that set-and-forget strategies just aren’t up to par, the question simply arises as to where to start.

Consider your content marketing strategy for a moment. Designed to engage consumers and answer questions at every stage of the buying process and ultimately earn the consumer business, it’s only as good as the insights behind it. With the right collaboration and reporting support, the types of content your team develops can evolve to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. Additionally, AI can help drive dynamic content optimizations that meet each customer’s needs in real time.

A strong awareness combined with the right data and analysis can help you reach and stay in touch with potential customers, save time and manage resources more efficiently.

3. Multitasking and Big Picture Thinking

SEOs wear a range of hats. It is important that you understand what is going on at other points in the customer journey and have an overview of what each person and channel is doing to aid content discoverability, engagement, and conversion.

Take a step back and think about cross-departmental collaboration, from sales to service and everything in between. How often do you get together (virtually or otherwise) to come up with ideas and develop strategies? As consumers increasingly demand more from the companies they want to do business with, a seamless experience is vital and this requires collaboration between teams. Your ability to see the big picture and map the customer journey, understand the weak points and optimize the experience along the way sets you apart from the crowd.

Be curious, ask questions of your colleagues and think outside the box about which solutions SEO can support. You are only limited by your imagination.

4. Technical competence

Knowing how, why and when to use technology and automation is key. Technology isn’t just about automating certain tasks. It has the power to dramatically affect the customer experience.

More than just moving consumers through a generic funnel approach that is armed with the right knowledge – from demographics to buyer traits and behavior – and the right technical know-how, for example, an accomplished corporate SEO can leverage the technology to Leveraging market opportunities by triggering meaningful, personalized real-time experiences for consumers. Technical competence alone is not enough, but combining your skills with strategic thinking and the right vision can deliver incredible value.

5. Management skills

How well can you inspire, motivate and build up your fellow human beings?

As a corporate SEO, you deal with multiple stakeholders at every level. Understanding and playing well with the organizational hierarchy is important so that you can champion SEO, gain buy-in for SEO initiatives, defend budgets, and generally communicate the importance of this incredible tool.

Being a leader means cross-functional collaboration. More than ever, SEO has the ability to intervene and guide with insights and analyzes in order to inform the customer and employee experience.

6. Excellent communication skills

Communication skills are vital throughout the company. You need to feel just as comfortable in the boardroom as in conversations with engineers and developers. Strong communication skills and an understanding of your audience and their priorities are critical to delivering engaging presentations, market research and background data.

From brand awareness to pay-per-click monitoring and management, SEOs who keep an eye on optimizing results and deliver insightful and easy-to-understand reports are communicators to learn from. Keep it simple, take advantage of the data and insights that SEO provides, and share your knowledge with the wider organization at every opportunity.

7. Multimedia skills

You don’t have to be a writer by day or a video editor by night, but a top business SEO needs to know how great content comes together, whether in video, graphic, text, or any other format. You may be responsible for managing creative teams or outsourcing content creation. Hence, you need to know what to ask of the staff, how much it should cost, and how to evaluate and improve it.

Combining your data and insights with an understanding of each component of the digital marketing mix – and the motive that supports it – goes a long way in managing workflows and resource allocation. Once you have a multimedia foundation, your insights can help your creative team drive prospects to your website and engage those prospects in a conversation in the most efficient way.

Talent + Technology = SEO Strategy Winner

As the world continues to adapt and change, consumers will increasingly prioritize convenience and crave seamless and personalized experiences from the companies they want to relate with. Ultimately, it’s about using the right data to deliver the right offers at the right time, in the right place, in the right place.

SEO is time consuming and gets harder by the day. SEOs can use an average of 6 cobbled together tools and 4 hours a day for research, reporting and analysis.

Smart SEOs are looking for platforms that can save them time on research, reporting, and analysis. This makes it easier for them to find the time to actually make the major SEO changes and move the strategy forward.

Enterprise SEO is the best way to deliver the digital experience that consumers are now demanding. With these seven essential business SEO skills in your toolbox, you will be well positioned to identify opportunities and deliver business results for your customers.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading platform for enterprise SEO and content performance.