Whether this is your first time outsourcing SEO or you have years of experience working with freelancers, going into the process with a well-structured plan will help you get the most out of your support team.
On an organization level, it is critical that you have high levels of communication and accountability for any SEO project.
With so many pages to manage, there is an increased potential for errors or costly errors.
It is your job to prevent these as much as possible.
So what can you do to build a successful team of enterprise-level SEO freelancers?
These seven tips can help.
1. Provide them with comprehensive briefs
No matter the size of your site, you will always know more about the business and its goals than the freelancers you hire.
But that is also why it is up to you to educate your freelancers appropriately and give them the inside knowledge they need to do their work effectively.
With sites consisting of hundreds or even thousands of pages, it can be very easy for a freelancer to get lost when it comes to the structure of the site and why things are set up the way they are.
Providing them with a detailed brief before the project start date will allow them time to review, follow up, and clarify anything that could make their work more difficult or less successful.
Your brief should include some information about the goal of the work you want the freelancer to complete, along with everything that is expected of him or her in terms of output.
You should also clearly define any deadlines for each aspect of the project, along with agreed-upon processes such as standing meetings or check-ins.
2. Create tangible deliverables
While having goals like “increase organic traffic to the site by 10% this quarter” is great to achieve, freelancers need tangible outputs that show when the work is done.
If you’re not sure where to start with it, it’s important to remember that output is about manageable results.
You should be able to look at them and ask “Is this task completed or not?”
Yes, you are hiring freelancers to make a difference in the growth of your business.
But their role is to complete the tasks necessary to reach those goals, not to ensure that those goals are met.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your freelancer’s hands as to the outcome of your growth or performance goals, no matter how hard you work.
Establishing clear and definable deliverables is one of the best ways to keep everyone on task and ensure a successful working relationship with freelancers.
3. Define success metrics up front
Before launching any new digital marketing venture, you need to know how you plan to measure its success.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will vary from company to company, and even from project to project at the corporate level at the enterprise level.
Take the time you need to map out your measures before handing the work over to the freelancers.
Common SEO KPIs you may want to consider are traffic or rankings. Do you see an increase in performance in both areas as a result of the work that freelancers do?
But your measures of success don’t always have to be hard data like this.
When internal teams are overworked and pulled in many different directions, mistakes happen more often.
Seeing a decrease in errors or spending less time on corrections is a valid success measure that you can use with SEO freelancers.
It may not be a flashy metric like traffic or rankings, but it can make a huge difference to a company’s bottom line in the long run.
4. Give them access to necessary documents and tools, but also respect their processes
When you hire freelancers, you need to create an onboarding process as if they were a new member of your internal team.
This means giving them access to any documents or tools they will need to complete the work you have assigned to them.
Internal documents can be buried deep within your computer’s files and internal systems, so be sure to clearly place instructions on where to find these files and how a freelancer can access them.
If you’re working in a project management system, set them up as a new user and schedule a call to walk them through where everything is and how your internal team is using the system.
The same goes for your website.
Give your freelancers the access they will need to do their work and take the time to show you where the master pages are or any problem areas you want to bring to their attention specifically.
However, many companies make the mistake of expecting to use their freelancers All of their tools, applications, and internal communication channels.
It is important for freelancers to stay in touch with the project, but they may ask you Not Add them to your Slack, you don’t give them additional email addresses, or you ping them directly if they’ve been added to the internal communication systems on the channel they use the most (their email in general).
This is to ensure updates are not missed, projects stay on task, and they can manage how many places they need to check for feedback across clients.
5. Have a process for ownership and check-ins
When you work for a company, you probably have hundreds of tasks each day.
After all, that’s why I hired freelancers, to help lighten the load!
But while these freelancers are responsible for the work they do, you are ultimately the point of contact and person in charge of the project.
It is essential that you schedule a check-in with the freelancers, either at specific stages of the project or on a weekly/bi-weekly basis to see how things are going.
Set up an internal process for these check-ins that increase efficiency for you and your freelance team, especially if you work with multiple freelancers across different parts of a project.
It is your responsibility to stay on top of everything, to make sure that deadlines are met, and that work lives up to the standard you expect.
Staying in touch on a regular basis, without micro-managing your outside team, is the best way to stay on track.
6. Set up standing meetings to keep the project moving forward
While weekly or bi-monthly check-ins are helpful, be sure to schedule standing meetings and calls to keep the project going.
Most teams find these standing meetings to be very useful around key deadlines, such as finishing an SEO audit or before launching a project.
Check-ins are often more informal and via email, while these standing meetings should take place in person or via video call and be structured more like a formal meeting.
Put an agenda together and email it to your internal team and all freelancers at least several days before the planned meeting.
This gives everyone a chance to look at it and add any additional comments or suggestions.
During your standing meetings, review what has been accomplished so far and how things have gone.
You should then take time to discuss any changes that may have occurred internally that may affect the work your freelancers are doing and to talk about upcoming deadlines before the next meeting.
Standing meetings certainly take time out of your schedule, but they’re an important part of managing an outsourced team.
Knowing you have a set date to discuss the project will keep the momentum going and go a long way toward making freelancers more successful.
7. Have a quality assurance process before Go-Lives
Just as you are responsible for making sure the work is completed, it is also your responsibility to make sure the work is of the highest possible standard before work begins.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes.
But it is imperative that you catch it before you release it to the wider world.
Establishing a quality assurance process in the project start-up schedule can help you maintain the appropriate checks and balances within the company.
This could mean having several sets of eyes looking at a piece of a project before putting it on the website or asking a senior team member for final approval before sending feedback to the freelancer.
Be firm about maintaining your process and stick to it once it’s in place.
Thinking you can skip a step or two is a sure way to set yourself up for something to slip through the cracks.
It may take you more time to work on each item on the checklist, but it can save you embarrassment, or worse, losing money when you start your project.
Enterprise SEO is a unique and challenging beast, but also a very rewarding one when you see your hard work pay off.
Working with freelancers is one of the best ways to bring specialized expertise to your team and fill in the gaps that need filling in order to launch a successful venture.
With the right systems and processes in place, you can help freelancers bring their best work to you and build a lasting working relationship that your organization’s business can benefit from for years to come.
- Hiring Freelance Content Marketers: How to Find the Perfect Fit
- SEO Freelancing: 10 things you need to know to be successful
- Enterprise SEO Guide: Strategies, Tools, and More
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