SEO Manager Role (in Indian Companies)

Role & Responsibilities of New Age SEO Manager

Interview with Nevil Darukhananwala

1. What is SEO?

If a user is searching in Google (or another search engine) and you have a product or service to offer that matches their search intent then that user can convert into a potential customer.  However, the user needs to find your website first.  So SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a set of strategies with intention to gain higher preference and visibility in search results for your product / service/ content.

2. What factors influence the search rankings?

There are many known (and unknown) factors which influences search rankings and the list can get pretty large. There are only 10 slots on Page 1 of search results and everyone is vying for those 10 spots. So not all SEO professionals or SEO strategies can get you into the Top 10!

It’s crucial that you have an experienced SEO Manager or SEO Partner who can create a long term & profitable SEO Strategy for your organization.

3. What are the qualities to look for in a SEO manager?

The SEO Manager’s job description definition has evolved over time and now comprises of extensive strategic, analytical, and tactical skills. Let’s look at some of the important qualities of a SEO Mangers.

A. Business Skills

The new age SEO Manager needs to be able to understand the business, industry and unique value being provided by the organization. He or she needs to be able to understand the different company offering, target markets, audiences and competitors. There are many tools that can assist with data on user trends, behavior and competition strengths / weaknesses but analyzing that data and drawing the right inferences is a much needed quality for a SEO Manager.

The SEO Manager then needs to translate this understanding and data into a viable and scalable SEO plan which helps the organization attain the goals and KPI’s setup by management. The SEO Manager must be able to take quick decisions when to pivot incase a new opportunity or threat is discovered.

The SEO Manager would also need to be able to create processes to manage the various tasks & teams. Also create custom reporting systems for the CEO, Marketing & Digital Teams as each would need different data and measurement of the ROI from the SEO efforts.

B. SEO Skills

SEO is an ever evolving field, and deep knowledge and personal insights / experience are the only weapons to beat the competitors and attain top rankings.  A SEO Manager needs to have a deep insight into search engines and where they are headed.  They need to keep themselves constantly updated by reading online or attending advanced SEO course.

Google came out with many updates to ensure that they produce the best results based on search intent of the user. These include algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc all with the intention of weeding out bad websites or websites using manipulative methods to attain top ranking.  A few critical mistakes could get your website out of Google rankings for months.

C. Strategic Skills

A SEO Manager will FAIL to achieve the organization goals if they are unable to build a unique SEO strategy that is customizable & scalable, that creates high value for users, and which will not get the company into a future Google penalty.  This requires strategic thinking to align the SEO plans with the specific organization goals.

D. Creative Skills

A SEO Manager needs to be able to understand and develop content strategies along with the team of writers.  Content plays a very crucial role in an effective SEO Strategy and the SEO Manager needs to have an understanding of different types of content modeling, grouping and outreach methods.

E. Relationship Skills

A SEO Manager will need to build relationships with many bloggers, website owners and journalists over time.  This includes sending an outreach email or twitter message, building credibility, creation of value, negotiation, & ensuring a win – win.  Relationships need constant watering and a good SEO Manger will use a good CRM tool to ensure the relationships are maintained and leveraged when the time comes.

F. Analytical Skills

A SEO Manager needs to be able to analyse all the data (from analytics, webmaster, various campaigns etc) and use that data intelligently in modifying the SEO campaigns.  This means using various tools (including excel) to analyze the data, track performance and take decisions to stay on course or shift strategy.

G. Technical Skills

While the SEO Manager need not be skilled in technology, they need to understand the various technical metrics (like redirects, on page, sitemaps etc) that directly affect the SEO campaigns. Tools like analytics and webmaster give many insights and alerts. Most SEO’s will work with the technical team to implement any such changes.

4. Is it important for every brand to have an SEO manager?

A company has a choice to outsource the SEO efforts or manage the same in house. It’s a shame that in many of the big organizations and even digital enterprises in India there is a lack of a position of a SEO Manager.

As companies begin to understand the need for a SEO Manager they will need to be able to hire the right person (remember it’s not about 1 yr or 5 years experience in the field of SEO, it the knowledge of the right strategy).  Also companies will need to evolve their knowledge about SEO, otherwise they are doomed to fail.

5. How long does it take to see results from SEO?

SEO is a long process of creation of search intent focused content, and marketing and outreach of the same to earn positive user signals; and this process continues month after month.  The learning’s from one campaign are applied to other campaigns so tracking the progress at campaign level is critical.

There are many factors that affect rankings, right from domain age, authority and trust, to link reputation, brand mentions and user signals. The time to achieve success in SEO would depend on the current status of website, the competition and budgets that are allocated to the activity. I would give 6 to 9 months as a good timeline to gauge effective ROI from the SEO efforts.

6. What are the educational qualifications of an SEO manager?

Ideally anyone can learn the SEO strategies if they are smart and willing to devote the time needed to learn.  Unlike a course in Web Design where most institutes will teach the same techniques, in SEO there is no one fixed technique or strategy.  So, this makes it important that the SEO professional learn the right skills from a good SEO Mentor.

7. Is age a factor of being an SEO manager?

No, age is not a factor. Anyone with the right knowledge (and strategy) can implement a successful SEO campaign.

8. How much does an SEO manager earn?

In India, I feel there is immense opportunity for a SEO Manager.  The reason is that till recent times companies were used to outsourcing the SEO. In today’s age companies understand the benefits of having an in-house SEO team led by a capable SEO Manager.  In the next 3 years, I predict the SEO Manager will play a critical marketing role in every Indian company.

9. What do employers look for in a SEO manager?

Employers should be looking into the strategic, analytical and knowledge skills of the candidates first.  Many employers will find it very difficult to analyze if the candidate knows the right SEO Strategies (unfortunately there are candidates with 6 years experience still working on old methods that have been mostly banned by Google) as there are no direct benchmarks.  Here is some advice that could help HR managers.

  • Does the SEO strategy create value for the users?
  • Can the SEO Strategy be customized to your companies goals?
  • Is the SEO Strategy scalable?
  • Is the Strategy Safe from future Google Algorithm changes
  • Hire a SEO Consultant who can prove the above

10. Where can I learn to be an SEO manager?

No matter what institute you choose, the only advise I can give is to check the SEO Syllabus & visit the SEO Mentor who will be teaching you the actual course.  Meet minimum 3 teachers and then you decide based on the inputs received during the session.