The importance of cross-team collaboration for SEO

“As SEOs, it’s fundamental that we don’t work in silos” Areej AbuAli, Brighton SEO 2021.

This quote was on one of the first slides at my very first Brighton SEO this year. Whilst it was a direct quote from herself back in 2021, this year she expressed how true it still remains, including it again in her 2022 presentation, ‘Unlocking the hidden potential of product listing pages’. After attending multiple talks over the two day conference, the emphasis on effective collaboration and building strong relationships with internal teams was a big takeaway for me. 

Despite the wide variety of speakers and talks covering multiple disciplines within the SEO field, the sessions I attended all had a clear theme – being able to deliver an airtight organic strategy cannot be achieved by SEOs alone. 

Effective organic strategies require buy-in, time and support from other fundamental teams such as Tech, UX, CRO, Product, and more. So, being able to forge strong relationships with essential teams will not only help to improve the implementation of your strategy, but also enhance it by using as much data and insight as possible. 

It’s no secret that most in the industry will have experienced these collaborative difficulties before, but with multiple speakers choosing to call them out, I picked up some really practical and refreshing advice at Brighton SEO to share. 

1. Leverage data and insights to understand your user better

Areej AbuAli and Luke Carthys’ talk ‘A definitive talk on perfecting faceted navigation for SEO and sales growth’ both highlighted the importance of optimising pages on Ecommerce sites – in particular, product listing pages (PLPs) – when dealing with faceted navigation. In both talks, their strategies started by understanding the opportunity available in the market and Areej expressed how opportunity should be measured based on conversion, not just search demand. 

As SEOs, you might have an abundance of tools at your disposal, or you might only have one trusty day-to-day companion like SEMrush or Ahrefs. These tools are essential when it comes to discovering demand and trends in the market and they are vital in helping you prioritise where to focus your strategy. But, it’s important not to solely depend on search volume as the basis of your recommendation, because it doesn’t give any insight into what your user wants.

So what can you do to learn more about users?

To understand what your user wants, you first need to understand the ways in which they navigate and use your site already. This should provide invaluable insight into how you can make it even easier for customers to convert. 

Areej’s tips:

Collaborate with all your internal teams! 

  • Does your customer service team regularly receive questions about a specific product combination?
  • Does the CRO team have data heatmaps to show which filters users interact with most?
  • Does the marketing team have data on what queries users are making in the internal site search?

Luke’s tips:

  • Filter parameter URLs in Google Analytics to figure out which filters your users mostly frequently apply.
  • Leverage internal site search to find queries that match filters.

While both talks focused on the example of optimising faceted navigation – which is employed to help users find products more easily by using on-page filters – these tips should be considered as part of any organic strategy. 

Taking the time to interact with other teams and gather an array of data to analyse alongside search demand, ensures you are making changes that will truly benefit your users and their on-site experience, and we know Google won’t be complaining about it either. 

2. Improve attitudes towards collaboration by aligning key performance indicators (KPIs)

Presented in case study format, Areej’s talk started like any strategy does, by being able to define the business value in how and what you’re being measured against. In her example, it wasn’t visibility, rankings or sessions, but as you will probably hear from any member of a brand’s C-Suite, it was the growth of organic revenue. 

Above I talked about how beneficial leveraging data from different internal teams can be to an SEO strategy, but how do we get teams to supply this data? And ultimately – what’s in it for them?

Each team within the business will be measured across a set of core KPIs, if you can start to unpick these collaboratively it might become apparent that you are working to achieve the same goal. In this instance, taking the time to align KPIs with other teams has the opportunity to make cross-team working more efficient and effective. 

‘Building a relationship based on common goals and data sharing are two core components of laying strong foundations for cross-team success.’ Hannah Mitchell, Organic Strategy Director at Croud. 

What next?

To wrap things up, we know that putting these tips into practice will most likely not be achieved overnight. Building new relationships or improving existing ones will take time, but aligning on the bigger picture should go a long way. 

As SEOs we should always be striving to produce quality content for users and we can do this effectively by taking time to understand what users want. Combining search demand with user behaviour insights will step up your SEO strategy.

So, keep this in mind when building your strategy: 

  • There is no such thing as too much data!
  • Creating new pages is easy, but understanding what your user needs to convert is the real goal.
  • Effective collaboration has the power to accelerate the potential of any organic strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about improving your SEO efforts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

by Maddie Stanier
3 November 2022



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