Outsourcing some of your enterprise SEO to freelancers? These tips will help you get the best work product and have a successful partnership
Whether this is the first time you’ve outsourced your SEO or you have years of experience working with freelancers, going into the process with a well-structured plan will help you to get the best out of your support team.
At the enterprise level, it’s even more crucial that you have high levels of communication and accountability for any SEO project.
With so many pages to manage, there’s an increased potential for costly mistakes or errors.
It’s your job to prevent those as much as possible.
So what can you do to build a successful team of enterprise SEO freelancers?
These seven tips can help.
1. Provide Them With Thorough Briefs
No matter how big your site is, you will always know more about the business and its goals than the freelancers that you hire.
But that’s also why it’s up to you to educate your freelancers appropriately and give them the inside knowledge that they need to do their work effectively.
With sites that are hundreds or even thousands of pages, it can be incredibly 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 ahead of 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 on the objective of the work you want the freelancer to complete, along with everything that’s expected from them in terms of deliverables.
You should also clearly outline any deadlines for each aspect of the project, along with agreed-upon processes like standing meetings or check-ins.
2. Establish Concrete Deliverables
While having goals like “increase organic traffic to the site by 10% this quarter” are great to aim for, your freelancers need to have concrete deliverables laid out that make it clear when the work is done.
If you’re not sure where to start with these, it’s important to remember that deliverables are about controllable outcomes.
You should be able to look at them and ask “was this task completed or not?”
Yes, you’re hiring freelancers to make a difference in your business growth.
But their role is to complete the necessary tasks to get you to those goals, not guarantee that those goals will be achieved.
Ultimately, it’s out of both your and your freelancer’s hands as to the results of growth or performance goals, no matter how hard you work.
Setting clear, definable deliverables is one of the best ways to keep everyone on-task and ensure a successful working relationship with your freelancers.
3. Outline Success Metrics Upfront
Before you launch any new digital marketing project, you need to know how you plan to measure its success.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) will vary from business to business, and even from project to project at enterprise-level companies.
Take the necessary time that you need to map out your measures before handing over work to your freelancers.
Common SEO KPIs that you might want to consider are traffic or rankings. Are you seeing an increase in performance in both of these as a result of the work that your freelancers are doing?
But your success metrics don’t always have to be hard data like this.
When internal teams are overstretched and being pulled in too many different directions, mistakes happen more often.
Seeing a reduction in errors or less time being spent on corrections is a valid success metric that you can use with your SEO freelancers.
It might not be as flashy a metric as traffic or rankings, but it can make just as much difference to the bottom line of the business long term.
4. Give Them Access To Necessary Docs And Tools, But Respect Their Process, Too
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 that they’ll need in order to complete the work that you’ve outlined for them.
Internal documents can be buried deep in computer files and internal systems, so be sure to clearly lay out instructions for where these files can be found and how the 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 uses the system.
The same goes for your website.
Give your freelancers the access that they’ll need to do their work and take some time to show them where key pages are or any problem areas that you specifically want to bring to their attention.
However, many companies make the mistake of expecting their freelancers to use all of their tools, apps, and internal communications channels.
It’s important for freelancers to stay connected to the project, but they may request you not add them to your Slack, not give them additional email addresses, or that you ping them directly if they are added into internal comms systems on the channel they use the most (generally their own email).
This is to ensure updates are not missed, projects stay on task, and they can manage the number of places they need to check for feedback across clients.
5. Have A Process For Ownership And Check-Ins
When you’re working at an enterprise business, you probably have hundreds of tasks on your plate every day.
After all, that’s why you hired freelancers, to help lighten the load!
But while those freelancers are responsible for the work they’re doing, you are ultimately the point of contact and person in charge of the project.
It’s vital that you schedule a time to check in with your freelancers, either at set stages of the project or on a weekly/biweekly basis to see how things are going.
Set up an internal process for these check-ins that increase efficiency for both you and your freelance team, particularly if you’re working with multiple freelancers across different parts of the project.
It’s your responsibility to stay on top of everything, to make sure that deadlines are being met, and that work is up to the standard that you’re expecting.
Keeping in touch on a regular basis, without micromanaging your external team, is the best way to stay on track.
6. Set Up Standing Meetings To Keep The Project Moving
While weekly or biweekly check-ins are helpful, be sure to schedule standing meetings and calls to keep the project moving along.
Most teams find that these standing meetings are most useful around key deadlines, like wrapping up an SEO audit or ahead of a project launch.
Check-ins are often more informal and by email, whereas these standing meetings should take place in person or over a video call and be structured more like a formal meeting.
Put together an agenda and email this over to your internal team and all of your freelancers at least several days ahead of the planned meeting time.
This gives everyone a chance to look over it and add any additional comments or suggestions.
During your standing meetings, review what has been completed so far and how this has gone.
You should then set aside some time to discuss any changes that may have happened internally that might impact the work that your freelancers are doing and to talk about upcoming deadlines ahead of the next meeting.
Standing meetings can certainly take up time in your schedule, but they’re an important part of managing an outsourced team.
Knowing that you have a set appointment to discuss the project will keep the momentum going and go a long way towards making your freelancers more successful.
7. Have A Quality Assurance Process Before Go-Lives
Just as you’re responsible for making sure that work gets completed, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that work is of the highest possible standard before it goes live.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes.
But it’s vital that you catch these before they’re launched to the wider world.
Building a quality assurance process into your project launch schedule can help you to keep the appropriate checks and balances in-house.
This might mean having several sets of eyes look over a piece of the project before it’s put on the website or asking a senior member of the team for final sign-off before sending feedback to your freelancer.
Be firm with maintaining and adhering to your process once it’s in place.
Thinking that 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 longer to work through each item on the checklist, but it can save you embarrassment or, worse, losing money when your project goes live.
Enterprise SEO is a unique and challenging beast, but it’s also incredibly rewarding when you see your hard work paying off.
Working with freelancers is one of the best ways to bring specialized expertise into your team and plug gaps that need filling in order to launch a successful project.
With the right systems and processes in place, you can help your freelancers to deliver their best work for you and build a lasting working relationship that your enterprise business can benefit from for years to come.