If you’re in the process of expanding your SEO team and hiring new members, it’s important to know their individual level of SEO knowledge, in order to successfully integrate them into your SEO training program.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to search skills training.
Use this column as a guideline as you look to prescribe the appropriate training for your new hire’s level of experience.
Here are three main levels of knowledge that will give you the keys to identify and train up each different persona.
For the New Employee with Little to No SEO Knowledge
As any digital marketer who has worked on SEO will tell you, it’s complicated and not a subject matter one can pick up overnight.
When hiring a new employee for your SEO team, their past work experience alone will likely give you initial insight into their knowledge of the field.
Keep in mind, those who have little or no organic search marketing experience – for instance, those who have worked full time in digital marketing, but have only peripherally worked on SEO – would definitely fall into this category.
Given the nature of SEO, it’s important that you teach this novice group the true basics from day one.
Otherwise, they’re likely to get lost.
We recommend reading why SEO is important to level-set on the critical nature of SEO when it comes to the overall success of all digital marketing efforts.
Team members need to learn its history and scalability, as well as an introduction into more specialized terms like SERP, universal results, algorithmic changes, title tag, meta description, and heading tags.
A great place to start your SEO training program is through providing comprehensive resources such as videos, case studies, and articles.
That way, your new team member can more easily ingest and internalize the information that you’re teaching them, while also having the option to re-watch or re-read later on if needed.
On top of that, you can pair this educational content with live training of implementations to demonstrate the optimization process more completely.
These SEO beginners will need help understanding where and how to divvy up their workflow.
They’ll need to understand the foundational concepts of SEO and learn how to allocate their time judiciously.
It’s imperative for your new team members to grasp the most fundamental aspects of SEO and principles of organic marketing before diving into the more advanced topics.
A true discernment of SEO basics and its three pillars (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness) will set up your new team members, and subsequently your SEO program, for success.
The most important things to keep in mind when onboarding those with little or no SEO knowledge and experience are:
- To be thorough.
- Not to assume those employees are privy to common SEO knowledge.
- And to provide the necessary resources to educate them on the basics before getting too deep in the weeds.
One of the biggest early takeaways should be the understanding that SEO is all about tapping into your potential customer’s voice via their Google search habits.
Then you can teach them how to utilize those insights to produce high-quality content informed by data so that ultimately, that content gets found by your target audience.
For the New Employee with Medium SEO Knowledge
Assuming an employee does have some SEO background and you’re trying to determine if they have a medium or high-level SEO sophistication, it is vital that you ask them about their experience and comfort.
You likely discerned this to some degree during the interview process.
Unless a person with experience has an incredibly impressive SEO background, from which they know not only all the basics but also the advanced tricks of the trade, they will likely fit best in this group.
For those with that medium-level of sophistication, spending too much time on the basics (as we did with the first group) will waste time, bore and disengage them, and not bring many benefits.
If you have determined someone to be a fit amongst this group, quickly review the high-level principles of those basics to ensure you are on the same page on the foundational principles before moving on.
Next, you can begin to teach the more advanced elements of SEO.
Topics such as indexation (Robots.txt file), page performance, and emerging trends in digital marketing should be brought into focus.
This enables your team members to successfully gauge the current organic performance of your website and start brainstorming new SEO strategies.
For someone at this level, it’s crucial to emphasize the value of unique content across all pages of your site, as well as to review strategies to optimize existing content that can improve organic keyword rankings.
An example of the latter would be explaining the effects of keyword cannibalization, how to identify duplicate content, and techniques to fix and avoid such issues in the future.
For this level of sophistication, providing resources such as strategy decks, comprehensive reading material, and real-world examples are important to support your new team member’s growth.
Once this knowledge is gained and best practices are learned, the next step becomes knowing how to put these strategies into action.
Educating them on how to utilize data to write content powered and informed by SEO will prove invaluable over time.
For the New Member with High/Expert SEO Knowledge
As mentioned before, only a very advanced SEO belongs in this category.
Skip the basics and 101 best practices in favor of a more in-depth, layered, SEO training program.
Of course, once someone from Level 2 graduates to this point, they now should also benefit from the more nuanced training of Level 3.
Depending on your team setup, this person may be someone you want to teach how to quarterback an SEO program, from content to technical strategies.
A new team member joining at this level of sophistication should be trained in technical SEO if they are not already.
First, they should learn how to run technical site audits using tools like DeepCrawl and Screaming Frog.
This will enable them to execute on changes that benefit the technical foundation of your website and improve its discoverability and user engagement on search engines.
Given that technical SEO is no walk in the park (although what a park that would be), providing this background and training to help that team member learn technical SEO is often helpful in making sure that they see success.
Additionally, going through the fundamentals of off-page SEO will be rewarding for your website in the long-term.
Ensure your team member knows how to build domain authority through a strong backlink profile and that they understand the importance of structured data, in order to capture various universal result types.
Doing so will help you integrate a mature SEO program that will feed into and bolster your overall digital marketing efforts.
Lastly, as mentioned before, you may want that new SEO guru of yours to ultimately delegate or even run the entire SEO program.
Soon enough, they may be in the shoes you’re in right now, looking to train up new employees and bring the rest of the team to their level.
As you train that sophisticated SEO, make sure you teach them how to spread the knowledge beyond just your SEO team.
No matter what level of SEO experience or ability your new team member has, there are specific resources and learnings appropriate for them.
Again, it is important to first determine what their proficiency is and then provide them with the right materials that will help them flourish in their role!