SEO Process

How to Build an SEO Team: Structure Roles for Success

Nick Eubanks
Last Updated: Mar. 24, 2024
SEO Team

Ready to start building your SEO team?

That’s easier said than done if you want to set up your SEO business for success. You need to strategically structure each role and determine the fastest ways to reach your goals. 

In this article, I’ll explain how to build SEO teams, along with best practices from my experience building and scaling my SEO agency to $1 million in revenue. 

What Does an SEO Team Do?

An SEO team is a group of specialists who work together to help you improve your website rankings in organic search results. Their ultimate goal is to drive organic traffic to your website by making it more visible to your target audience. 

SEO teams simultaneously work on everything from keyword research and content creation to technical SEO and link building.

These teams can wear many hats depending on their sizes and a company’s budget. For instance, startups typically have small teams with a link builder, an on-page SEO specialist, and content writer.

However, established companies hire dedicated SEO experts to handle various SEO tasks, including technical SEO, data analysis, SEO migration, and PR activities for big e-commerce and content websites. 

The size of your in-house or external SEO team is not that important. What matters is how you align their skills and strengths to support your business goals. 

I’ve seen two-person SEO teams built into in-house marketing teams working closely to achieve common goals. That’s why I recommend defining your goals and assigning roles before forming an SEO team. 

6 Common SEO Team Roles

Below, I’ve put together a brief overview of the most common SEO team roles. Understanding these roles will help you determine which ones are crucial for your website and business goals.

1. SEO Team Lead

If you want to grow your website in organic search results but don’t know where to start, I recommend hiring an SEO team lead. Even though experienced SEO leads aren’t cheap, this will save you time and money in the long run. 

SEO team leads are usually generalists who can assess the current state of your website, see how SEO can support your business goals, and plan the next steps in your SEO efforts. 

Their role is multifaceted and includes:

  1. Communication with decision-makers 
  2. Development and implementation of data-driven SEO strategies aligned with business goals
  3. Following SEO trends and identifying new opportunities
  4. Prioritizing tasks
  5. Managing an SEO team and assigning tasks
  6. Tracking SEO progress
  7. Providing guidance and mentorship, ensuring everyone is on the same page

In my opinion, SEO team leads act as a bridge between the SEO team and other departments, such as content marketing or web development, ensuring everyone’s efforts contribute to success.

2. Technical SEO

Technical SEOs ensure search engine crawlers, like the Google Bot, can quickly discover, crawl, and index your website’s content. Think of them as digital detectives, constantly searching for indexability issues, broken links, duplicate content, or 4xx errors that could hinder your website’s search engine visibility.

Based on my experience, companies don’t typically hire technical SEO experts in the first place. They usually allocate a budget to link-building and optimized content creation. However, they eventually turn to technical SEOs when too many technical issues adversely affect their websites. Don’t make this mistake. 

A technical SEO expert is essential to every SEO team. If your budget is limited, I recommend hiring an expert before launching a new website, during an SEO migration, or significant website changes. Trust me, it’ll save you time and trouble in the future.

3. SEO Analyst

The SEO analyst is your team’s research and data powerhouse.

Their job is to understand how people search for products, services, or information related to your niche. They identify the most relevant keywords to target by analyzing search volume and competition.

In addition to keyword research, SEO analysts monitor SEO KPIs such as CTR, conversions, and bounce rates. They create detailed reports and dashboards to present actionable insights and recommendations to stakeholders, helping them make decisions. 

Moreover, SEO analysts collaborate closely with content writers, web developers, and marketers to implement on-page optimizations and content creation aligned with SEO best practices and business goals.

Based on my experience, an SEO analyst’s responsibilities are often spread among several team members (an on-page SEO specialist and an SEO lead) or delegated to a general SEO specialist. This is done in particular to reduce headcount and expenses. 

I recommend first defining your goals before hiring an SEO analyst. If you can start small by assigning responsibilities to other team members, do so. You can hire additional team members as soon as you see a need to scale up. 

4. On-Page SEO Specialist 

On-page SEO specialists ensure your website speaks the language search engines understand while providing a fantastic user experience. 

It involves researching keywords and discovering search terms people use to find products or services online. Then, they weave those keywords naturally into website content, H1 tags, metadata, and image tags to help Google better understand and rank your web pages. 

In addition, on-page SEO specialists are masters of a website structure. They optimize internal linking to ensure your target audience and search engines can easily navigate your website and discover relevant pages. 

They also work with web developers to improve page loading speed and mobile-friendliness, which are crucial for rankings.

5. Content Marketer 

Technically, content marketers aren’t part of an SEO team.

However, they usually collaborate with on-page SEOs and team leads to create optimized content that helps achieve business goals. 

Content marketers analyze the target audience’s needs and create compelling content. This involves writing blog posts, articles, product descriptions, and even social media captions. 

In addition to writing, content marketers also play a crucial role in content promotion, working with other team members to distribute content across various marketing channels.

6. Outreach Specialist 

An outreach specialist cultivates valuable connections in the vast online world. Their main goal is to build backlinks, which are votes of confidence from other websites. They identify high-quality websites and create compelling pitches to entice website owners to link back. 

Beyond link building, an outreach specialist can amplify your website’s content and brand awareness by connecting with journalists or influencers to generate articles or social media mentions that drive traffic.

You might have spotted some similarities with the link builder role. That’s because all link-building-related tasks, including backlink analysis and backlink audit, are usually performed by a link-building specialist. 

However, if your budget allows, I’d recommend hiring both experts to scale up the link-building process. 

4 SEO Team Structure Examples 

At this point, you should already know your SEO goals and who you need to hire to achieve them. The next question is: “How to structure an SEO team to maximize efficiency?” 

In fact, there are many formulas for creating an in-house SEO team. 

Below, I outlined the most common examples of SEO team structures. Whatever structure you choose, I recommend integrating your SEO team into essential business decisions concerning your website and product launches. 

1. In-House Team

The structure of an in-house SEO team can vary depending on the complexity of your website and your overall SEO strategy. However, common SEO roles form the core of many teams. 

For example, the SEO team lead acts as the conductor, guiding the overall strategy and overseeing the entire team’s efforts. Other roles, like an on-page SEO specialist, link builder, and content writer, typically support the SEO team lead role. 

Other specialists, like a technical SEO expert or an SEO analyst, might be added later to address specific needs and meet the growing demand.

In-house seo team

2. Agency Team 

If you want to launch an SEO agency, you’ll have to work on a proper team setup. That’s because agency SEO teams manage a wider range of projects than in-house teams. 

Imagine a team of experts where every member focuses on a specific area of SEO. One department might handle technical SEO tasks. Another might specialize in on-site optimization, creating content and a website structure around target keywords. Yet another team could be outreach ninjas, building high-quality backlinks. 

Based on my experience, this departmentalized approach lets SEO agencies manage a wide range of client needs, from technical SEO audits to comprehensive content creation strategies.

An SEO director or a head of SEO usually leads these departments. They oversee the entire operations and ensure all the departments and teams work smoothly.

Agency Team

3. Agency Pod Structure

There’s another agency SEO team structure that revolves around client pods. In this example, every pod is a dedicated unit for a particular client. 

A typical pod might include:

  • An account manager who serves as the main point of contact for the client. They translate client goals into actionable SEO tasks for the team.
  • An SEO specialist who is responsible for on-site optimization, technical SEO audits, and keyword research. They wear many hats to ensure clients’ websites grow according to the pre-approved plans. 
  • A content strategist (or a link builder) who creates high-quality content that attracts backlinks. They might collaborate with the client’s content team or create content in-house to improve a website’s domain authority.

This team structure allows agencies to offer a comprehensive SEO service while providing clients with a dedicated team focusing on their goals. Note that this is just an example. Depending on your agency’s goals and client needs, you might need to hire more SEO specialists, like a data analyst or a local SEO expert. 

Agency Pod Structure

4. Flat Structure 

In contrast to the traditional hierarchical structure, a flat SEO team operates with a more horizontal approach. 

In particular, team members don’t have roles like “content specialist” or “technical SEO expert.” Instead, everyone has a well-rounded understanding of various SEO disciplines. This allows for greater flexibility and collaboration. 

This structure thrives on open communication and a clear understanding of shared goals. Team meetings become brainstorming sessions where everyone contributes their ideas.

Even though team members must have some expertise, everyone should be able to handle various aspects of SEO. This agility makes flat SEO teams ideal for smaller companies or startups where resources are limited. 

Flat Structure

8-Step Guide to Building Your SEO Team

There’s no universal way to do it. The ideal SEO team setup depends heavily on your company, industry, and desired results. 

Some companies might have an entire team dedicated to one SEO goal. On the other hand, smaller companies might have one SEO specialist leveraging multiple SEO tasks at once. Despite a big difference in these SEO approaches, both setups might work well. 

You already know the common SEO team roles and how typical SEO teams are formed. 

Below, I explain how you can form your SEO team step-by-step.

Step #1: Define Your Goals 

Before building your dream SEO team, it’s crucial to define your goals. These goals will be the foundation upon which you structure your team and guide your recruitment efforts.

First, identify what you want to achieve with the help of SEO. 

Are you a small business aiming for local visibility or a large company targeting new markets? Once you have a high-level vision, you can translate it into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound SMART goals. 

For instance, you might want to achieve a 20% increase in organic traffic within the next year or have 50% of leads coming from SEO-driven content marketing in the next six months. These are the high-level SEO goals. Now, you can plan what needs to be done to achieve them.

If you aim to achieve a 20% increase in organic traffic but don’t have much content yet, you’ll have to focus on keyword research and SEO content writing. In this case, I recommend hiring an on-page SEO expert and a content writer. 

If you already have a lot of content on your website that doesn’t rank, you’ll likely have to invest more in technical SEO and link building. A technical SEO expert will ensure your website can be crawled and indexed, while a link builder will help boost your website’s domain authority. This is of utmost importance if you want to target high-competitive keywords. 

As you see, defining concrete goals will help you determine the specific skill sets and team structure required to achieve them.

Step #2: Decide on a Team Structure 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to defining the most suitable SEO team structure. 

As you already know, the best structure emerges when considering factors like a company’s size, industry, and SEO focus.

Budget plays a crucial role, too. Can you afford a dedicated content writer or link builder, or will your specialists wear multiple hats? 

For small businesses or startups, a lean team with an SEO lead might be enough to start with. Depending on your SEO goals, you can hire an SEO team lead and a content writer to scale up content production. If you want to focus on fixing technical issues and link building, consider hiring an SEO generalist who will simultaneously work on multiple SEO tasks. 

For large e-commerce or content platforms, I recommend forming a team of experts focusing on specific areas. This could be SEO managers, technical SEO specialists, content strategists, and link builders. 

The ideal structure fosters collaboration and agility. Open communication between SEO specialists, content creators, and other marketing departments is crucial for achieving optimal results. That’s why you must ensure your SEO team integrates seamlessly with other departments.

Step #3: Find Talent 

At this step, you already know who to hire and how you’ll structure your SEO team. Now, your task is to find and hire the most talented people. 

There are many ways to find talented SEOs for your team. Freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr offer a vast pool of SEO professionals, allowing you to browse profiles and choose someone who aligns with your budget and project needs. However, verifying freelancers can be time-consuming, and their expertise can vary.

You might also want to leverage your LinkedIn network and industry connections within SEO communities to find candidates fitting your team culture.

TTT Academy

When evaluating potential hires, I recommend assessing their:

  • Technical SEO knowledge.
  • Content creation abilities.
  • Keyword research skills.
  • Former experience in link-building and outreach. 
  • On-page and off-page SEO knowledge.
  • Understanding of the SEO trends.
  • Strategic thinking.

I highly encourage reviewing case studies or references to assess candidates’ past performance and client satisfaction. The ideal SEO candidate should showcase a data-driven strategy focusing on long-term organic growth.

If you want to hire an SEO lead, assess their soft skills in addition to their professional experience. A good SEO lead should be able to manage a team, assign and delegate tasks, communicate with stakeholders, and ensure the team is on track with its SEO goals. 

Step #4: Set Up Project Management Software 

Let’s imagine you’ve already formed an SEO team. Now what? As a company owner or manager, you must keep an entire team organized. To do this, you need project management software.

Consider factors like team size and budget when choosing one. Also check whether your preferred software has task creation features, deadline setting, file sharing, and communication channels.

Popular options include Trello for visual task management, Asana for team-oriented features, and ClickUp for customizable views. These software products offer free trials, so you can test them before choosing the most suitable software for your team’s needs and budget.

If you are starting or have a limited budget, try organizing your workflow in Trello. I’ve used it to manage content creation, from assigning writing topics to tracking progress, collaborating with team members, and organizing deadlines. 

For complex SEO projects, Asana or Monday.com can be powerful solutions. They allow you to easily collaborate on keyword research documents, content calendars, and link-building campaigns. Regular team meetings and collaborative software will help you streamline your SEO process and ensure every team member is on the same page. 

Step #5: Use Professional SEO Tools 

While skilled professionals form the foundation, SEO tools empower them to work smarter and faster. These tools can be categorized into keyword research tools, competitive intelligence tools, technical SEO audit tools, and link-building tools.

If you’ve ever worked on SEO, you might know that reliable SEO tools are expensive. However, it doesn’t mean you have to invest in many SEO tools. It’s time-consuming and inconvenient to work simultaneously with different SEO tools and transfer data between them. Therefore, I recommend using all-in-one digital marketing tools like Semrush. 

Consider Semrush your one-stop shop for everything SEO. At its core lies the powerful keyword research toolkit. Imagine uncovering hidden gems — high-volume keywords with low competition. This is what you can achieve with the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool

Keyword Magic Tool

But SEO is more than just keywords. Semrush equips your team with technical SEO tools to identify and fix website issues. It looks for broken links and mobile responsiveness issues so you can ensure a flawless user experience for your website visitors. 

Semrush’s Rank Tracking tools let your team monitor your website’s performance over time, see whether your website ranks for those keywords, and measure the impact of your SEO efforts. 

Semrush goes beyond SEO. It can be your secret weapon for crafting data-driven content marketing strategies and managing successful paid advertising campaigns, all within a single platform. You can learn more about the tool in my in-depth Semrush review

I’m telling you this because my SEO agency has used Semrush for years to manage complex SEO projects. We could have spent thousands of dollars on various tools, but instead, we mainly used Semrush to manage clients’ work. 

To learn how I built a $1 million+ revenue SEO agency from zero, check out my 7 Figure Agency course at TTT Academy. 

Step #6: Set Up Effective Team Communication

Fostering open and transparent communication is the cornerstone of a successful SEO team. 

Here’s what worked for me when growing my SEO agency:

  • Weekly team meetings
  • Daily communication via Slack
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Regular project updates
  • Collaborative problem-solving

Encouraging open and transparent communication within the team creates a culture of trust and accountability, where your team members will feel comfortable sharing ideas, asking questions, and providing feedback. 

I also encourage you to define communication protocols. It should include response times for emails and messages, escalation procedures for urgent issues, and guidelines for sharing essential updates. This will ensure no questions are left unanswered and no tensions arise within a team.

Step #7: Encourage Continuous Learning 

SEO is an ever-evolving field where updates happen almost daily. 

That’s why fostering a culture of continuous learning within your SEO team is essential. 

Here’s what you can do to help your SEO teams stay on top of the industry trends:

  • Encourage team members to share interesting articles, case studies, or industry news they read daily. It will facilitate knowledge exchange and help the entire team be on the same page.
  • Implement regular training sessions. Your in-house experts can lead these sessions, or you can invite external SEO specialists.
  • Provide access to professional development resources. You can also offer financial support for SEO certifications, online courses, and conferences. 

One of my former clients held monthly brown bag lunches, where his team could present on recently learned topics. This helps with knowledge sharing and ignites curiosity within the team.

Step #8: Regularly Review Your SEO Team Performance 

Let me give you one piece of advice that took me years to understand — don’t underestimate the power of one-on-one meetings!

I encourage you to schedule regular chats with team members to discuss individual goals, setbacks, and areas for improvement. This personalized approach builds trust and ensures each person feels valued and heard.

Finally, celebrate wins together! Recognizing and rewarding achievements will motivate your team and reinforce a positive and collaborative work environment.

Let’s Build Your SEO Dream Team

I’ve armed you with tips and strategies for building your SEO team from scratch. Depending on your goals and resources, your SEO team can wear many hats or have dedicated experts to fulfill particular roles. 

Now, it’s your turn to take action!

Check my 7 Figure Agency course to learn how I went from a personal consulting business to a $1 million+ revenue SEO agency.

I recorded 52 video lessons to share everything I learned about creating SEO teams and building a profitable agency business.

Ready to dive in? 

Join TTT Academy today and learn how to build and scale an SEO business that gets results.