Why SEO is Hard for Small Marketing Teams and How to Overcome It

The average American spends 59% of their time online but doesn’t know the first thing about crawling, indexing, and ranking. Although Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key to organic visibility in the digital age, most small businesses don’t have anyone with the title “Search Engine Optimization Manager” on their marketing team.

Even for the scrappiest small business marketing managers, Google’s Search landscape continues to grow exponentially. Your business will be left behind if you don’t engage with SEO. 

In this article, we’ll cover why SEO can be so tough for small companies – and some tips for flipping the script to make organic search marketing work for your business. 

SEO is volatile and COMPLEX

SEO is complex, competitive, and constantly changing. And while marketing, in general, is moving faster than ever, search engine optimization requires a level of mastery that most small marketing teams can’t account for.

Even the basics of SEO sound confusing. “Crawling, indexing, and ranking” are not words we use in everyday vocabulary, especially not in sequence. The technical jargon alone makes many marketing leaders leading smaller teams throw their hands up in defeat.

We know this because many of our clients were in the same boat.

There’s a lot of “What the heck does this mean?”

So, I will break it down with an analogy that simplifies it.

The Library Analogy

In layman’s terms, I like to consider crawling, indexing, and ranking like this.

Imagine that Google is a library – which, in a way, it certainly is. 

Every day, Google receives millions of submissions for books to put on its shelves.

In this instance, books mean web pages. Shelves mean Google’s index. And instead of librarians reading the book, it’s Google crawlers—otherwise known as robots or spiders.

To determine what books to put on the shelf, Google crawls (reads), indexes (shelves), and ranks (categorizes and shares) each book.

  1. Google reads through a book’s contents to understand its topic. If Google crawls (reads) a page and finds nothing of value, It will reject the submission, and the content will not proceed to the next step.
  2. When Google reads a book and determines its value, it indexes it in its collection. This essentially places the book in a massive library with infinite category tags.
  3. Finally, when a library patron comes to Google and asks, “What does it mean when I dream about dreaming?” or “What is the capital of Azerbaijan?” Google will reference its index of books (web pages) and give the person reading options to answer their question.

This happens daily, millions of times, across countries and device types, for every question imaginable.

Most marketing leaders want to be the encyclopedia go-to for their industry, but they have no idea how to get their books into the library.

In addition to the complexity of making it into the SERP, there’s no guarantee you’ll stay once you’ve made it. You must keep up with competitive improvements, be aware of algorithm changes, and balance marketing initiatives that impact SEO.

There Are Too Many SEO Tools

I use 15+ tools daily to do my job as an SEO manager. From free platforms like Google Search Console to paid tools like SEMRush to simple plugins like Link Redirect Trace, the quality of my work depends on the quality of my tools. 

A basic SEO tech stack includes:

Tech Stack Type Description Options
Content Management System Your software application enables the creation, modification, and organization of digital content on websites without requiring specialized technical knowledge. WordPress, Shopify, Sitecore, Magento, Squarespace, Wix
Tools and Plugins for your CMS Additional software components or add-ons are designed to extend the functionality of a Content Management System, offering features like SEO optimization, security enhancements, or e-commerce capabilities. Rankmath, WordPress Rocket, Yoast
Extensions In Your Browser Add-on software modules installed in web browsers to enhance functionality, offering features such as ad blocking, password management, or productivity tools. Link Redirect Trace, SEO Meta in One Click, Wappalyzer, Google Developer Tools, View Rendered Source, Grammarly, Web Developer, Lighthouse
Google Analytics Platforms Google provides web analytics services that track and report website traffic, offering insights into user behavior, demographics, and acquisition sources. Google Search Console, Google Analytics 4, Google Ads
Keyword Research Tools Software applications that help identify relevant keywords and phrases for SEO and content marketing strategies based on search volume, competition, and relevance metrics. AhRefs, SEMRush, Advanced Web Ranking
Audience Analysis Tools Tools used to analyze and understand a website’s audience’s characteristics, preferences, and behaviors, often providing demographic, geographic, and psychographic insights. SparkToro, BuzzSumo
Customer Relationship Management Tools Software applications designed to manage customer interactions and relationships offer features like contact management, sales tracking, and customer support integration. Hubspot, Microsoft 365, Salesforce
Website Crawler A software program that systematically browses and indexes web pages online, gathering data for search engine indexing, website audits, and SEO analysis. Screaming Frog SEO Spider, DeepCrawl, Sitebulb
Heatmapping Tools Tools that generate visual representations of user interactions with web pages, highlighting areas of interest or engagement to optimize website design, layout, and content placement. Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Mouseflow
Backlink Tools The process of evaluating the quantity, quality, and relevance of inbound links pointing to a website from external sources, helping to assess SEO performance and identify link building opportunities. Moz Pro, Majestic SEO
Artificial Intelligence Tools AI is often utilized in SEO to analyze data, detect patterns, and make informed decisions to enhance website optimization, including keyword targeting, content creation, and backlink analysis. This ultimately improves search engine rankings and organic traffic. AI can also be used to create new content, such as imagery or web copy. OpenAI’s GPT, Surfer SEO & Jasper, Google Bard, Midjourney, Gemini

Even if you were willing to source everything you needed for your SEO tech stack, knowing how and when to use each tool requires considerable time.

SEO Levers are Infinite, but Small Marketing Teams Resources Are Not

Perhaps you’re a marketing leader who understands SEO. Perhaps you also are a leader who empowers their team with an SEO tool stack to help understand performance.

Understanding SEO and configuring the tools is easy. The hardest part is prioritizing, scoping, and implementing SEO initiatives.

It’s almost as though you need to build your own SEO machine, with each initiative operating as an efficient component supporting the whole. Particularly with limited resources, this workload can often lead to SEO being put on the back burner, which is considered too time-consuming or complex to tackle effectively with limited staff.

Smaller companies need their own personalized SEO strategy. The strategy should be based on your priorities, the site’s maturity, industry, and resources. An SEO agency can help assess an SEO initiative’s impact and be transparent about the effort required to execute the strategy.

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Examples of SEO Initiatives

Content Publication: Content publication involves regularly creating and publishing SEO-optimized content such as blog posts, website pages, and infographics to attract organic traffic and improve search engine rankings. Initiatives may include:

  • Conducting customer journey research to identify target topics and relevant keywords.
  • Creating high-quality, engaging content optimized with target keywords.
  • Implementing on-page SEO elements such as meta tags, headers, and internal links.

Local SEO Management: Local management focuses on optimizing a business’s online presence for local search, including managing local listings, obtaining local citations, and garnering positive reviews to enhance local SEO visibility. Initiatives may include:

  • Optimizing Google My Business listing with accurate business information and relevant keywords.
  • Acquiring local citations from authoritative directories and local websites.
  • Encouraging positive customer reviews and managing online reputation across local platforms.

Website Redesigns and Migrations: Website redesigns and migrations involve updating or moving a website while ensuring minimal disruption to SEO performance and maintaining or improving search engine rankings. Initiatives may include:

  • Conducting comprehensive SEO audits to identify and preserve valuable SEO elements during redesign or migration.
  • Implementing proper 301 redirects to maintain link equity and preserve ranking positions.
  • Monitoring website performance post-redesign or migration and addressing any SEO issues promptly.

Keyword Optimization: Keyword optimization entails strategically integrating relevant keywords into website content, meta tags, and other on-page elements to improve search engine visibility and attract targeted organic traffic. Initiatives may include:

  • Conducting keyword research to identify high-volume and low-competition keywords relevant to the target audience.
  • Incorporating target keywords naturally into page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and body content.
  • Monitoring keyword performance and adjusting optimization strategies based on search trends and ranking fluctuations.

Technical Optimization: Technical optimization involves optimizing the technical aspects of a website to improve crawlability, indexation, and overall search engine performance. Initiatives may include:

  • Improving website speed and performance through optimization techniques such as minification, caching, and server optimization.
  • Implementing structured data markup to enhance search engine understanding of website content.
  • Resolving technical issues such as broken links, duplicate content, and crawl errors to ensure smooth website operation and indexing.

Backlink Management: Backlink management focuses on acquiring high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites to improve domain authority, increase organic traffic, and boost search engine rankings. Initiatives may include:

  • Conducting competitor backlink analysis to identify link-building opportunities.
  • Creating valuable, shareable content to attract natural backlinks from relevant websites.
  • Monitoring backlink profiles regularly and disavowing toxic or spammy backlinks to maintain a healthy link profile.

How to Make SEO Work for Your Company

If you’ve made it this far and thought, “I’ve got this covered,” then you may be able to manage your company’s SEO.

But should you?

You are not alone if you are overwhelmed by the analogies, the tool stack, and the initiative list. 

Most small—to medium-sized companies we work with will never have to understand all the nuances of crawling, indexing, and ranking. Honestly, they don’t have to. While we emphasize an open-door policy with initiative suggestions, we do not burden our clients with scoping or roadmapping.

In reality, for most marketing directors leading a small marketing team, the best way to make SEO work is to delegate it to someone. 

We’re well aware of the pressures and expectations you have in your role. If you dedicate your time to SEO, you’ll spend many nights and weekends maintaining it.

If SEO does generate a significant share of your revenue or leads and you don’t have the time to do it yourself, here are things to consider when looking for an SEO partner.

SEO Partner Considerations

Does the SEO Agency Understand My Company?

At Augurian, we use company profiles and customer journey research to understand your target market. At the start of engagements, we complete comprehensive audits to ensure that we understand your SEO performance, competitive landscape, and top-priority initiatives that will give you the best return on your investment.

Does the SEO Agency Have a Plan?

Another core tenet of confident service delivery at Augurian is a progressive plan. We plot out initiatives annually to understand where we’re going. These initiatives are tied to traffic and revenue goals and enable more proactive conversation when plans need to change. Everyone has access to the roadmap, and we are transparent in our project management.

Does the SEO Agency Communicate Impact?

If you’re paying for an SEO strategy but wonder how traffic trends, you’re not getting a fair partnership. Transparent reporting on a recurring basis, often monthly, enables all parties to understand how performance is trending. This transparency allows us to all think critically about what is and isn’t working. It also alerts us to algorithm changes or competitive squeezes, enabling us to pivot our plan to suit your business’s bottom line.

Have Confidence in Your SEO With Augurian

If you want to make SEO work for your business, consider starting with a free SEO Audit. These audits come with no strings attached, giving insights into your website’s performance in organic search and illuminating top opportunities and critical issues. Receive a snapshot of your SEO status without a substantial time or financial commitment.

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