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SEO Cannot Be Done Alone

John Doherty —  May 17, 2011
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Is SEO a team sport?

SEOs are often known individually in the industry, not necessarily for who they work for (though it is great when the company pushes the SEO into the spotlight, and the SEO gives love back to the company).

At the beginning of my SEO career, I assumed that everyone had skills in all areas of SEO, and that they could take care of everything on their own. SEO seems to attract the jack-of-all-trades technology and marketing people.

But is this true?

Have we forgotten to heed the advice of the great John Donne, “No man is an island”?

Code for Food

3 Reasons to Work Together

There are many reasons to work together and collaborate. Here are my top 3:

  1. Your work improves. If you have a trusted “other” to lean on, who will look over your work carefully and provide quality and careful correction, your output will be of higher quality.
  2. Shared responsibility. Hopefully you will have coworkers who can do the tasks that they are most skilled at, while you can focus on the tasks in which you excel.
  3. They can help you out on a bad day. If you have a tough day and are finding it hard to be motivated, a good coworker can pick you up and help you. Coworkers can be invaluable friends.

Being a Solo SEO is not possible

One could even argue that a “solo SEO” is not even a possibility. Even when you are working alone in your office, I bet you have others that you collaborate with and learn from. This is the importance of the SEO social communities and helpful forums, such as Twitter and the SEOmoz Pro Q/A. You could even include Quora in this list.

I posed a question to my friend Tom Harari, who I have collaborated with on some projects, and who was working on a team by himself. Here is what he said about working alone as an SEO:

As for reaching out to other SEOs outside of the SEOmoz Pro community, Twitter and SEO meetups were huge, more so Twitter though. I’ve asked Wil Reynolds, Tom Critchlow, Kris Roadruck, Ross Hudgens, and countless others direct SEO issue questions and have gotten quality responses or resources where to find an answer.

I think as an SEO in general, and as a beginner SEO, if you’re not utilizing Twitter you are severely hurting yourself. It’s not for follower count, though that’s a nice bonus. I see Twitter as a live information feed with the best articles being shared by the big names in our industry and the ability to interact in real time with them is priceless.

I also asked on Twitter, and Derek Mabie made an interesting point about teamwork being more necessary for brands and consultants. I think I agree, that it is more possible to be a solo SEO as an in-house SEO than as a consultant. This is, however, just conjecture and my gut feeling.

Some of us may be thinking that in-house SEOs need a team as well, since you are more hands-on with the websites. I think this is partially true, but being an in-house SEO, especially alone, will force you to learn many new skills. But even so, you still need a community to ask questions of.

Resources

Popular consensus seems to tell us that all SEOs need a place to ask questions. Here are the places I recommend:

If you are interested in a comparison of in-house vs agency SEOs, there is a great post here from David Karalis at SEER Interactive.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? Is SEO more effective when done on a team? What advantages do you see to working alone? What resources have you found to be helpful when learning SEO, and when you have questions?

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

3 responses to SEO Cannot Be Done Alone

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more John! You can achieve much more when you have a team of individuals who are working toward the goal.

    If more SEO’s would realize that there is no harm in collaborating and actually, it should be encouraged, I think it would make everyone’s job a little easier. Who knows when you’re are going to need a favor…right?

    • Hey Chris –
      Thanks for the comment! One of the things I love about this industry is the openness and the willingness to collaborate, but sometimes we need a reminder that it’s a good thing to work together.
      Cheers!

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for the great post, along with the ‘I’m not leaving’ post I have just come from.

    I have been the ‘solo SEO’ (agency, with 18 months experience) since my counterpart left a few months ago and can categorically say it is not the future! Thank goodness for Twitter, SEOMoz etc or I would be really stuck and probably have just a shred of confidence left.

    I am soon to join an established team and can’t wait to get started with a bunch of other SEOs to bounce ideas with and learn from!