Does Size Really Matter for SEO Teams

How many people should be on your SEO team? The factors to consider

Why you need to look at the operational needs as well as revenue impact when determining SEO team size.

Does SEO Require a Team - Atlanta GA

This is the second installment of our series on in-house SEO in which we dig into the operational challenges and opportunities that managing search engine optimization in-house presents.

As a consultant who specializes in in-house SEO, I’m often asked how large the SEO team should be. Most people think it has to do with revenue numbers. While that comes into the equation, it’s not a leading indicator of what size SEO team a company needs.

Let’s explore some of the factors I consider when making recommendations for SEO team size. They’re typically surprising to most SEO teams! The reason is I look at the operations, not just the revenue. Revenue can help justify (or limit) the team size, but it’s not an indicator of the SEO hours needed in a week.

Factor #1: Complexity of the website

Factor #2: Number of developers, number of agile development teams, and frequency of launches

Factor #3: Number of product managers

Factor #4: Number of merchandisers who create pages/content

Factor #5: Number of UX designers

Factor #6:  Number of writers and their writing experience

Factor #7: How much analysis and reporting is needed

Factor #8: SEO knowledge of each role listed above

Next Steps: Determine the SEO team size your company needs

  1. Estimate the man-hours needed for each factor above, and use that to start figuring out what the size of your team needs to be in order to pull off great SEO.
  2. Break the SEO man-hours defined in the previous step into the following — these are radically different skillsets.
    • Strategic/Non-technical SEO (content, keywords, etc.)
    • Link Building
    • Reporting
    • Technical SEO
  3. Total all the man-hours by function, and divide each function by 30 (with the assumption they could perform 30 hours per week of actual SEO work). You may be able to combine a few of the functions listed above. For example, a non-technical/strategic SEO could do reporting.  But breaking this up really shows you how much of each SEO skillset you need month-to-month.
  4. Add in any management hours needed for this team.
  5. Determine the number of people needed to pull off the SEO hours needed and determine the salaries/budget for each.
  6. Compare the total cost of everyone on the SEO team (current + new people you just identified) with SEO revenue to see if it makes business sense to even pitch your team size. If you can use SEO profit numbers (or estimated profit based on a percentage of revenue), then this will give you even more insights.
  7. For many, the SEO team size you just identified is too big. Your next step is to plan a management conversation:
    • Show management why what you’ve estimated is actually needed.
    • Point out that this isn’t realistic based on current SEO revenue.
    • Discuss that this means you need each non-SEO role to master their 20% of SEO that makes 80% of the impact for their roles so that you can effectively manage/lead SEO company-wide with reasonable SEO headcount.
    • Show the headcount you would need if each team actually knew when to pull the SEO team in for projects if there wasn’t rework, etc. (Redo your numbers for this scenario.)
    • Lastly, talk about the budget ask being:  An SEO team of X people *AND* $Y for solid SEO training for each role touching the website, company-wide.

Now you’re set to have a really good understanding of what size of SEO team you should have for your company. And more importantly, how to discuss growing the SEO team with executives.

Read the full article with much greater detail by Jessica Bowman on Twitter @jessicabowman here:

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