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7 Experts Reveal Today’s SEO Dream Team (and their First Concert)

By Snap Agency May 21, 2014

Search engine optimization and time-tested marketing strategies are converging. In the last several years, there has been a significant change in the definition of SEO and the resources required to execute on it.

seo cheat sheet by moz
SEO Cheat Sheet by Moz

Certainly, the checklist of best practices that ensure that a website’s content is crawlable, indexable and understood by search engines will continue to be an essential piece of SEO. But, the strategies best-suited to improve organic search appearance and drive traffic for the long term are dependent on conducting solid research, producing quality content, building relationships, and distributing the message to the relevant channels – AKA marketing.

Like many other companies that provide SEO services, we are constantly adapting to the tactics that produce results and structuring our team so that we can execute on them. The job titles and skill sets that form an SEO team evolve with the ever-changing algorithms that ultimately determine your place in SERPs.

So, in order to succeed under today’s definition of SEO, who do you need on your team? Sourcing from industry experts, we built today’s SEO Dream Team.

seo team jerseys with question marks

See what each expert had to say as they reveal the seven skill sets of a great SEO team below.

We Asked 7 SEO Experts

We got feedback from seven industry professionals on their opinion of the optimal SEO team. Then, we combined their responses to construct the SEO dream team and define their responsibilities.

If you’re not one that likes reading in-depth blog articles, then I’ve got a solution for you! This blog post has been condensed and made into a SlideShare. Come back to the blog post when you want more details.

Or continue reading belowrand fishkin

Rand Fishkin / Moz


What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

I believe in having a team of T-Shaped marketers who are deeply embedded in the channels and practices that provide the most value to your marketing (whether that’s SEO or other fields), and also possess knowledge across a variety of related marketing disciplines. I’m not a big believer in titles (in fact, were I starting a new company today, I wouldn’t have them), and I think the right role is to pitch in when and where you’re needed and can add value. There should be no such thing as “this is my job” or “that’s someone else’s job.”

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

People with exceptional content creation, distribution, and relationship building skills.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

I believe my parents told me a story of taking me to see the Bolshoi ballet in August of 1979 in New York, when I was only a month old. Sadly, I don’t remember a thing (my understanding is that I slept through it).

Brian Dean / Backlinko


What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

1. Writer/Blogger: Creating compelling content ideas and putting them into real world blog posts
2. Copywriter/Editor: Makes web copy pop so that ADD internet users actually read it.
3. Link Builder: Does the hard (but critical) work of building those links.
4. SEO pro: For keyword research, on-page SEO and strategy Designer: For increasing content’s perceived value.
5. PR: Building relationships with journalists and big name bloggers.

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

PR pros and journalists.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

I’m old: Better Than Ezra

paul shapiroPaul Shapiro / Catalyst



What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

I’m not one to care about job titles, although I understand the importance of them for one’s career. For this question, I’ll focus more on my team’s roles and skill sets. Every member of my team should be a T-Shaped marketer, with in-depth expertise in a particular area that enables them to innovate and think outside of the proverbial box. You can be an expert but not be able to formulate original ideas believe it or not. I see it all of the time. If you aren’t innovating, you aren’t going to be THE EXPERT.

As for the particular areas I’d like my employees to have a deep knowledge of, I’m going to assume I can’t get everything I want, so I’ll limit myself to 5 specialties:

1. Someone with great knowledge in UX. I don’t see enough of this and it’s a much needed perspective in the SEO industry.
2. A data scientist. Here’s some awesome data for a client. Work magic, pull out the insights and tell a great story. Being able to run scientifically sound experiments and do a little bit of CRO would be an added benefit too.
3. The Social Media guy. I want someone who truly gets social, how it integrates well into organic search, and knows how to leverage that insight for general digital marketing strategy.
4. A traditional marketer and businessman who can apply his knowledge to the world’s current technology and marketing channels. The 4Ps don’t go away.
5. A writer/copywriter/content person. I want someone to capture the essence of what we do, and what our clients do, in writing.
Bonus: A technical SEO. Someone who can program and extrapolate his technical knowledge for other purposes would be awesome.

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

UX folk, for sure. Again, it’s a much needed perspective that I haven’t seen enough expertise in among agency SEOs. Google is caring increasingly more about UX, as they are catering to the user. Creating a good user experience is key to building a good SEO strategy. Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to answer why a recommendation is proper for both SEO and UX. It’s certainly a common situation.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

It must of been a pretty crummy concert, because I can’t even begin to remember what it was. It was probably somewhere local in my hometown of Montclair, NJ during middle school. Probably a Metal band. I think my most memorable concert was either seeing a band called Grails from Portland or the 12/12/12 Concert at Madison Square Garden during which there was a Nirvana reunion with Paul McCartney filling in for Kurt Cobain. That was epic.

jason acidreJason Acidre / Xight



What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

1. Technical SEO – must possess extreme knowledge with web technology who can perform technical audits/implementations, analytics, and conversion optimization.
2. Content specialist – in charge of content development, from blogging to copywriting for landing/product pages, email newsletters, and other digital marketing materials.
3. Designer – who can help in improving UX, conversions as well as in content marketing (infographics, custom page layouts, email marketing and video marketing).
4. Developer – can implement all the necessary changes and improvements needed to fully optimize the website – and can also collaborate for interactive content efforts for the marketing campaign.
5. Social/PR/Outreach – someone who can help manage the brand’s social media accounts, outreach efforts (for link development, relationship building and brand marketing).
6. Team Manager – who’ll not just supervise and make sure that the campaign is on track, but can also effectively communicate needs/progress/forecasts to clients. Managers should have a solid background or at least know how each segment of inbound marketing works (deep knowledge in SEO, content marketing, social media, email marketing, analytics, conversions, design and web development).

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

Creative directors. Search is gradually turning into a channel that’s more dependent on marketing-driven metrics. And in order to compete in the coming years, SEOs will need diversified perspectives, especially from people who really understand marketing.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

P.O.D., back in 2001, when they played here in the Philippines.

jeff sauerJeff Sauer / Jeffalytics



What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

If I were to build an SEO team from scratch, I would probably have the following roles on the team:

1. Editor in chief – the person responsible for the consistent quality, strategy and delivery of content.
2. Content creator – one to many people responsible for creating content for the site
3. Graphic Designer – to make everything look good, clickable, shareable, etc.
4. Technical SEO – to help mold the site structure, information architecture into a search friendly environment. To analyze opportunities within the current web assets to maximize their value. They will also analyze all inbound links, web analytics, etc. Keyword research will also fall into their responsibility.
5. Content promotion – the person who is responsible for reaching out to sources who will potentially share the content being produced, manage social presence, etc. traditional link building included here as well as social
6. Front End Developer – someone capable of creating high concept interactive content that will draw in new visitors and provide value beyond written content.

I wrote a post on this on my website about how difficult it is to simply “do SEO” for a company because of all of the moving parts. Be sure to check out Why I will not “do SEO” for you to see just how important the above roles are to search success. Note that all of these roles don’t necessarily correlate to existing job descriptions in the market. That is because the market is changing so quickly that the roles do not match the career paths defined by HR teams. Also, the number of people in each role will vary. You may need 2-3 SEO people for a large site but only .5 graphic designers.

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

To me, SEO is about marketing your business. It is about creating a brand. It is about creating loyalty. It is about creating a market for your products and services. For SEO to succeed into the future, that means it’s all about rounding out your team that is responsible for SEO with roles that have always been responsible for delivering good marketing. That means content, creative and promotional channels (paid, earned and owned media). That means that SEO could be folded into a broader marketing strategy or take the lead at creating a long lasting marketing organization. In order to survive as a discipline, SEO will need to become a lot less tactical in execution and become a part of your overall marketing strategy.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

Funny you should ask, this is not the first time I have had to reveal this secret. The official “first concert” I went to was MC Hammer with Boyz II Men and Jodeci at the Target Center in the early 1990’s. While this may sound obscure, I was asked this question a month ago at a MIMA board meeting and a fellow board member revealed that this was also his first concert. Small world!

Clayburn Griffin / 360i



What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

1. You need an Account Director to handle the client relationship and keep the SEOs from having to deal with political muck.
2. A good Project Manager can be a godsend as they keep everyone organized and on task, taking a lot of the tedious admin work away from the SEOs.
3. Then, an SEO Director should be well-rounded in all things digital and set the strategic direction for the team and oversee the work of the junior SEOs.
4. The junior SEOs can vary in type and number based on the account and client.

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

Content creators. If not directly on the SEO team, then at least within the same agency (or in the marketing department if in-house) to be given some direction by the SEOs. We need people who can create good engaging content, not just limited to writing. Creative people who can make awesome.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

I don’t really understand concerts. I’m not good at being part of an audience in general, but especially one that stands around swaying and cheering randomly. I never know what to do with myself, and I don’t feel a need to provide noticeable feedback yet it feels expected of me. That being said, my first concert was Toby Keith in Ruidoso, NM.

josh braatenJosh Braaten / Collegis Education



What are the job titles of today’s optimal SEO team and what roles do they perform?

It’s not about what roles belong on the SEO team, but more so what roles from other teams can support SEO objectives? In that sense, I’d include brand strategists, editors, creative directors, developers, copywriters, analysts, community managers, CMOs and more.

In the next year, I foresee SEO teams hiring more…

Journalists, analysts and editors.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

I’m not much of a country fan now, but Garth Brooks was my first concert.

Let’s Build an SEO Team

I’m detecting a theme in the answers given above. All of the experts seemed to agree that as SEO broadens to become more strategic and less tactical, the job titles required to execute on it are becoming less defined.

Today, more than ever, an optimal SEO team needs to be comprised of people that can creatively brainstorm amazing ideas, develop interesting and engaging content, and promote the hell out of it when it’s ready. But, you can’t build a business on great content alone. To support that mission, you also need a team that has technical expertise in web development as it relates to search marketing, that is able to analyze data and make strategic recommendations, and a team that can manage its people and client relationships.

To follow in the direction of the experts’ opinions, today’s SEO dream team is defined more by their skill set and the value they bring to a marketing team than their job titles. Each member of an SEO team should be a utility player to a certain extent. Meaning, that while they have a primary area of expertise, they should be knowledgeable enough to assist in a any task required to execute an SEO strategy.

The Team Manager

The Team Manager guides the client’s marketing strategy and the people working on it. This person leads the team to a successful outcome; relying on their knowledge of marketing strategies, creative vision and ability to inspire amazing work. You might give this person the title of Creative Director.

basketball jersey seo team manager


seo strategist basketball jersey

The Strategist

The Strategist ensures that work created by the team will have a measurable impact on the client’s search engine optimization. By utilizing research, trends, analytics and a deep understanding of inbound marketing, the Strategist delivers data-driven strategy recommendations to the team that guide the creative process.

The Content Creator

With the recommendations of the Strategist in hand, the Content Creator is responsible for the delivery of content that will capture the interest of the client’s target market. The Content Creator leads the creative ideation and content development.

seo content marketing basketball jersey


seo uxer basketball jersey

The UXer

The content produced by the SEO team must be usable and visually-appealing to its audience in order to be effective. The UXer increases the value of the content by injecting great design and user experience into the raw content.

The Developer

The Developer translates the content and design assets to the web to make it functional. Interactive content makes great content. And it requires technical expertise to make it happen.

seo uxer basketball jersey


seo promoter basketball jersey


The Promoter

Unfortunately, creating great content doesn’t guarantee that the target audience will find it. The Promoter manages earned and paid media tactics so that the content gets the attention it deserves. This includes link building, social media management, influencer outreach, but – most importantly – it’s the Promoter’s job to build relationships. When we asked the experts which positions SEO teams will be hiring for most in the next year, the consensus was outreach professionals.

The Filter

It’s not always the work that determines the health of a client relationship. People do business with people they like. The Filter keeps the client happy so that the rest of the SEO team can focus on their work. The Filter communicates all work to the client, manages administrative tasks, and holds the SEO team accountable to the project deliverables and timeline. You can break up these tasks between a Project Manager and an Account Manager.

filter basketball jersey


These roles for an SEO team are not meant to silo each member into a narrow definition of their responsibilities, but rather assign ownership to the essential tasks of this collaborative endeavor. An effective SEO team should be flexible – able to adapt to each client and the areas where the strategy is finding success. As the digital marketing landscape continues to change, your SEO team should be prepared to change with it.

Snap Agency is a Minneapolis SEO company that develops data-driven strategies to grow businesses through digital marketing.  If you want to chat more about our approach to SEO or anything else digital, contact us by emailing go@www.snapagency.com