In this post your will learn why SEO Training For Non-SEOs matters and how important it is.
It’s all too common for companies to leave SEO to a small section of the marketing team and ignore the wider benefits of SEO knowledge and training for the wider team. By promoting SEO knowledge and giving your team the confidence to make smarter SEO decisions, you can increase organic growth, gain real insight for your SEO campaigns, and ensure key stakeholders are on board with the strategy you are pursuing.
How exactly do you achieve company-wide buy-in to your SEO strategy? It often starts with training that is pitched at the right level for the audience. If you offer something too rudimentary, you run the risk of boring the audience, whereas if you offer something too technical and advanced, your training might be irrelevant.
The solution? A flexible approach to SEO training for non SEOs that enables you to pitch the content at exactly the right level. Once all parts of the company have a basic awareness of SEO, they can all work together to feed into the strategy, resulting in incredible organic website traffic growth.
Why bother with SEO training?
A question we hear a lot is this:
“Why does my whole team need to know about SEO? Isn’t that what we pay the SEO team/agency for?”
SEO knowledge beyond the confines of those professionals employed to manage and implement the strategy might seem superfluous. But there are benefits to be found in spreading this awareness throughout different departments.
Digital teams can work together to share insight on customer behaviour, industry trends and company objectives that will feed into SEO strategy and make it stronger. Digital teams can also feel empowered to make smarter decisions that will help to promote growth.
For example, a copywriter trained in basic SEO principles can implement best-practice throughout their work. This avoids the common issue of the work passing through multiple hands before it goes live on the website. The end product is often far from what the copywriter would have hoped to achieve, and no one takes any pride in the work.
But by training a copywriter in basic SEO principles for growth, they can make SEO a core part of their strategy, allowing them to make this an integrated part of their efforts, rather than an afterthought.
Feedback from other digital departments will also prove invaluable to the SEO strategy. Your social media manager will have in-depth knowledge about customer behaviour, demands and trends. And your customer service team will know precisely what information is missing from your website, because they will always be plugging the gap.
What should SEO training cover?
Now that we’ve made the case for spreading SEO knowledge and confidence throughout the entire digital team, what exactly are you supposed to teach them?
I have found that shorter sessions are more conducive to productivity. With more workers opting to work from home, short zoom training sessions are incredibly popular. This is far better than a full day of training that requires everyone to be available at the same time. Opting for shorter, bite-sized sessions will increase uptake of this particular type of training for busy teams.
Knowing what to cover and what to leave out is simple. Just ask yourself, will the team member be able to put this knowledge to work in their department? If the answer is no, then you can safely skip it. For example, your copywriting team probably doesn't need to know about technical SEO. Here are some of the things we think should be covered for every member of your digital marketing team:
Understanding the basics of SEO is essential for success. You need to know where it started and where it is headed to be able to make sense of the present. A brief overview of what SEO is, how it works and why we bother is a great place to start.
Explaining with examples of SEO success stories is always helpful. Many individuals will find it easier to grasp concepts when they can see them in action. Here are some of the SEO basics we would cover for a standard digital team:
- An introduction to technical SEO. They don’t need to know how to implement it, but knowing what is happening behind the scenes can help non-SEOs to understand how it all fits together. Technical SEO often goes hand in hand with website development, so including this team in the conversation can help to provide additional insight.
- On-page optimisations. The easiest way for most digital professionals to understand SEO is through content optimisation. Explaining how on-page optimisations can influence website rankings and traffic will help to provide context that they can easily relate to. In learning about on-page optimisations, you can also explain how an SEO strategy is built, including keyword research and trend forecasting.
- Digital PR, or link building. This is one area of SEO that is often misunderstood and at risk of misinterpretation. Digital teams need to know how to build quality links, and how the content that is shared through your own platform can help to build links over time.
As you delve deeper into SEO insight, it’s important for individuals in your digital team to understand how intent shapes searches. This is often a topic that is well-received by digital teams because they already have an understanding of customer behaviour when they land on the website. All you’re asking them to do is think about the steps it takes to get them there.
Search intent is all about making a link between what customers want and what your website can offer. Closing this gap will help to increase your rankings, traffic and conversions.
It also helps your digital team to avoid chasing irrelevant traffic. While it certainly might be possible to publish content that drives traffic, this won’t be much use if the content is not relevant to your site or encouraging high-intent traffic.
By including this session in your SEO training, it can help to remind everyone on your team that they can actively contribute to website growth. This can help to increase engagement and encourage individuals to take ownership of the website traffic growth.
With any marketing activity, we need to know what is working and what isn’t so that we can justify further spend. By explaining how we measure SEO success, you can then show how this insight is fed back into campaigns to make them stronger.
Measuring SEO analytics will usually involve introducing third-party tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and keyword tracking tools such as Ahrefs or Moz. As Google Analytics is due to switch over to GA4 soon, this would be a perfect time for a refresher course.
This part of the training can also cover tasks like competitor research. This will allow you to show how we learn what other companies are doing and how we can use this information to inform our own campaigns. This is also an excellent way to spark a little bit of rivalry.
How can SEO training help promote growth?
It’s hard to justify SEO training if it doesn’t have any tangible benefit to the company. The training needs to be practical enough that the team can begin implementing changes that will improve the marketing strategy. The good news is that increased knowledge of SEO across your company can help to improve organic traffic growth.
Your marketing team offers insight that cannot be found elsewhere, and this can help to shape SEO strategy decisions. This kind of cross-department collaboration can only be good news.
To achieve this, you need to think about what behaviour you want to change so that the training can be tailored to this. Behaviour won’t change unless your team feels confident in their knowledge and empowered to take action.
Through targeted training that is geared towards small behaviour changes, you can increase website traffic without increasing SEO spend. For example, if you encourage a copywriter to research topics before they get started to better understand user intent, you can increase the chances that they will produce something that users are actually searching for.
This is great news for the copywriter, too, as they will have a sense of accomplishment that their work is having a significant impact on company growth. By linking behaviour changes to things that will have a tangible impact on website traffic and therefore growth, you can also increase stakeholder confidence.
How can SEO training help increase confidence?
Times are difficult for companies at the moment as they struggle with increasing overheads and soaring salaries. For this reason, every penny of marketing budget allocation will be carefully scrutinised by those at the top. SEO budgets may be squeezed if there is a lack of understanding about what it can help the company to achieve.
To counter this, SEO training can give decision makers the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about where to allocate their budgets. SEO can feel like a dark art to those who don’t understand the terminology. Whereas paid search offers a more direct correlation between marketing spend and its impact, SEO can be more difficult to track.
By offering SEO training to stakeholders, you can increase confidence in this type of marketing activity. And by including other members of your digital teams, you can also show how the wider company can contribute towards these goals.
Setting up an SEO training programme in your company
It takes some planning to set up an SEO training programme that will offer the maximum benefit to everyone involved. Before starting, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who will most benefit from the training sessions?
- What do they already know about SEO?
- What do we need them to learn about SEO?
- What behaviours do we want to influence or change?
- How much time do they have for training?
Once you know the answers to these questions you can start to formulate an SEO training plan that meets all of your needs.
Start by deciding who could benefit from SEO training and then consider what knowledge they might already have. Remember that their training could be very out of date, and you might have new behaviours you want to encourage them towards.
Time is often a key consideration for companies, as this training will inevitably eat into productivity time. This is why it’s vital to ensure that only the people that will benefit the most will attend, and that the training is pitched exactly at their level.
We know that splitting the training into multiple sessions over weeks or months is more beneficial than trying to cram everything into one day. If you choose an intensive course, you run the risk of overwhelming employees with information that they don’t have the time to assimilate and put to use in their roles.
By breaking up the training into manageable pieces, you can give employees time to try out their findings in the workplace and then return to the following session with practical experience of what they are learning about.
The benefits of using an external training provider
While SEO professionals might be very good at what they do, not everyone can teach their role with efficiency. Doing is not the same as teaching, and it can help to turn to someone with a flexible syllabus that can be adapted to your needs.
If you do choose to work with an external training provider, you need to make sure they will cover topics that are perfectly aligned with your goals. SEO activities that are relevant for one company might be completely irrelevant to another company, so the training should reflect your current SEO strategy.
The external provider isn’t there to shape your SEO strategy or to introduce new concepts. They should spend time getting to know your SEO strategy and goals so they can provide relevant training that offers actionable insight for your team. When choosing your training provider, look for one that is ready to adapt the training to your needs, rather than arrive with a fixed agenda.
I'm Paul Gordon an SEO freelancer who has spent the last 16 years helping businesses expand and grow through effective SEO strategies.