Here at Koozai, our people are our driving force, and are far and away our most valuable asset. That’s why we focus on making sure we have the right people with the right skills and the right attitude.
I believe that as an agency we have taken some key steps towards carving out our “SEO Dream Team”, and here are my learnings from our journey that could easily be translated to other SEO agencies to create the strongest possible SEO force.
Our vital migration from Digital Marketers to SEOs
Until last year, our search marketing team was made up of dual-trained Digital Marketing Executives who worked on both SEO and PPC for their range of clients. This gave us flexibility when it came to resource availability, and it did have some perks, such as clients having a single contact managing both elements of their project.
However, whilst we could all work on being great at both disciplines, this arrangement meant we would never be the best. The biggest reason for this is the dramatic growth in PPC over recent years, where staying on top of all the updates, changes, betas and paid advertising channels is a full-time job in itself.
We each worked out where we fitted in best, and our SEO and PPC teams were born. This was one of the best business decisions we ever made, and the differences between the skillsets of the two teams are now massive.
In addition, it meant that we opened ourselves up to a wider pool of stronger candidates – specialists in their field whom we no longer required to have excessive experience in other areas.
For me, effective recruitment is another key area to get right when it comes to building a team of SEO rock stars.
What I look for in an SEO candidate… and it might not be what you think
The key to a good agency and achieving the best results undoubtedly lies in building a strong, skilled and passionate team of specialists. But that doesn’t always mean hiring the most experienced or most knowledgeable candidates. In fact, I often hire marketing graduates with zero SEO knowledge or experience.
But how, I hear you cry, can someone with no knowledge of SEO, who will need potentially months of training, be a viable hire over an experienced self-starter?
To some agencies, this idea would sound ludicrous. But at Koozai, our graduate scheme has produced some of our finest, most reliable SEOs. They possess qualities that are harder to come by in experienced marketers, including:
- They’re already used to learning hard and fast from university, meaning a hands-on graduate role with heavy training is almost an extension of their degree and a foot in the door of an industry that can otherwise be hard to crack.
- A passion and drive to carve a career for themselves in an industry that keeps them on their toes and gives them the opportunity to challenge themselves continually.
- A fresh mind, not clouded by the SEO tactics of yesteryear, that makes them easier to mould into modern, white-hat SEOs who embrace the Koozai way of working.
Essentially, the qualities we look for in an SEO candidate are relatively simple:
- A passion for marketing and a clear desire to be part of our culture.
- The ability to learn fast, which we judge using a home study project and questions in
the second interview.
- Strong communication skills and honesty about what they do and don’t know.
- Most importantly, team fit – a quick “would I be happy to sit next to them at the
Christmas party or every day in the office?” is usually enough for us to understand this
As my CEO says, “anyone who wants to learn and has the beans, we can teach them SEO; but we can’t teach anyone not to be a jerk”.
Agency investment in staff training and personal development
Regardless of a new starter’s knowledge or experience level, effective training is essential, and this naturally comes with a financial investment.
At Koozai, we pioneered the KoozAcademy to give our specialists access to some of the world’s industry leaders for bespoke training. Rather than regularly sending our team to industry conferences, we bring the conference to us by inviting some of the most reputed experts to deliver the exact training our team needs. From expert international and mobile SEO advice from Aleyda Solis to a deep dive into backlink analysis with the Majestic suite by Dixon Jones, the KoozAcademy has allowed us to give our team a real edge in terms of knowledge and skillset.
Alongside training, it’s important to give your team time to develop personally and work on what they want to achieve outside their career. Regular Personal Development Plans and time for employees to work on their own development go a long way to building teams of passionate marketers who want to do well for themselves and the agency.
Lastly, make it fun!
Last but by no means least, the friendly, almost family-like atmosphere we strive for means the team isn’t just a set of employee numbers. Everyone is unique and valued and brings something different to the table.
We hold quarterly events, from go-karting to Glorious Goodwood and summer barbecues to ensure our team never forgets to have fun!
So, what’s the recipe for building an SEO Dream Team?
- Have dedicated specialists who are experts in their field, not jacks of all trades
- Hire the right people for the company based on passion and drive, not necessarily existing skillsets
- Invest in the right training that your staff actually need and will benefit from
- Never take the fun away, and keep a team of experts as passionate about the agency as they are about the industry.