In House Out House SEOLast night I attended a gathering of mostly in-house SEOs in San Francisco, many from brands we all know. One of the goals of the event was to provide an open forum to share some of our current SEO challenges to get feedback from each other. It was amazing, or perhaps not, how remarkably consistent the sentiment was in almost every conversation I had:

  • “The C-suite doesn’t (want to) understand SEO”
  • “Design doesn’t want to accommodate SEO” (AKA “Steve Jobs would never do THAT!”)
  • “No one wants to rebuild our platform to make it more SEO-capable”
  • “The only thing they’ll fund is blog posts”
  • “The paid search guys can easily track their performance by keyword. We can’t so they get all the $”
  • “How do I educate the organization about the benefits of investing in SEO?”

To be clear it wasn’t all bitching and moaning. There were a number of solutions proffered to several of these issues. And some of these sites were so dominant in their categories that their biggest issue was what they should do now that they rank well for all of their target keywords (how often do you hear that one?). But my main takeaway from the discussion was that SEO strategy and tactics, in general, were not key issues for in-house SEOs.

Constantly having to make the case in organizations where SEO is not part of the culture is THE issue.

When I think about it, this is often the case with clients who hire us. We can put together great site audits, great plans to grow SEO, great tests to dip their toes in the water, great examples of historical ROI, etc. but often what clients really need is a change in their culture that makes SEO a priority.

As I am fond of saying…

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6 Response Comments

  • Heckler  August 3, 2017 at 11:34 am

    The most irritating thing for me is that most devs think ‘SEO is just something your sprinkle onto a finished project’


  • Adam  August 4, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Note to self: Though it’s been over a decade since I’ve worked from the inside, this post and Eric’s recent one ( has me convinced that my favorite tactic from those days – make yourself an honorary member of the dev teams by buying them food and spending as much time with them as the marketing team – is probably a good idea still.

  • Dennis  August 7, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Andrew, great post on how SEO’s really have to change the culture of their organizations to embrace SEO. I think this should be done right from the start when a new investor buys an existing business. This way, SEO becomes a priority from the top down. Other than that, it helps to show what the competition is doing and use organic traffic as a benchmark to acquiring quality leads for the business. Of course, this is a must for in-house and contract SEOs.

    • Andrew Shotland  August 7, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      I let this comment go by (link removed) because it’s a reminder that both in-house and outside SEO consultants have to deal with comment spammers trying to rank for terms like “buy an existing business”.

      • Kylw  August 18, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        Just one more thing we all have in common!