I have been doing SEO for 11 years, that means that basically every day for the last 11 years, I have woken up my focus was on getting sites to rank better. In that time I have managed remote teams, worked as part of a team in IT, worked as part of a team in marketing, and now in a team of NOTHING but SEM & SEO consultants at SEER.
As QUALITY link building matters more than ever the reliance on brainstorms has increased significantly in many SEO companies. I think everyone can admit that brainstorms are usually most effective face to face. In the world of video conferencing, shared whiteboards, shared desktops, shared bookmarks, shared project tools, etc, etc, we are functionally able to brainstorm remote, but it just doesn’t work as well.
What made me think of this post is when Adam (@adammm) came into the office to paint a wall in the conference room with whiteboard paint. After it dried, a few days later I saw this on the wall (pic):
Yes, I wrote down something about farting in the office, hey, its a brainstorm cut me some slack.
This whiteboard sits in our conference room every day, which is probably sat in by 5-6 people every day.
This means that every single day 5-6 people who visit the office (partners, clients, interviewees, consultants, employees, moms, dads, sisters, etc) sees that someone at SEER is thinking about the 5 worst TV moms of all times, and is encouraged to contribute. A skype session or gotomeeting can not replicate this.
Now I can tweet this out and get responses but not all of us want to be broadcasting to the world our next link building idea. And sure I can have some private people who I share an idea with but what if at that time they draw a blank? What if they have absolutely no ideas? Nothing happens.
What if that person or group of people saw your link building idea everyday because it stared them in the face daily? One day they might draw a blank, 2-3 days later something might click.
So learning from this experience, the wall leading to the bathroom is next to get painted, why? Because we all go to the bathroom or go downstairs 3-4 times a day, meaning that each blog post idea we are developing gets viewed by 12-13 people 3-4 times a day, it stays as a reminder every single time you go to the bathroom that we have 5-6 different ideas.
This is just one example, but there are others like the 2-3 times a week, when someone overhears me talking about a link idea with someone else and chimes in to bring GREAT fire and resources to our conversation giving the idea a better angle or a better resource which helps make it more likely to connect with the target audience.
There are days when someone on the team will grab 6,7, or all 8 SEOs and say hey check this thing out that I just saw about Digg search or some new search query, and right then and there 5-8 people who do SEO all day start shooting holes through the idea with the goal being to make it better and stronger or kill it. We don’t really need to IM a bunch of people, set up screen share and a phone line, we just do it, which makes sharing those kinds of ideas much easier.
Strategic link building can’t be forced sometimes it needs to marinate for days, weeks, or even months, having a whole team of other people who are thinking about your link building ideas too NEVER hurts.
So while I have always thought that it is best to have most of your SEO team under one roof, I think the importance of link building has made it even more critical as the basic blocking and tackling of SEO (like site structure, keyword research, etc) doesn’t need as much of idea sharing, hole shooting, and brainstorming, it’s the creativity in building links and overhearing others as they struggle or succeed with an idea that will become more important to getting QUALITY long term links.
Does this mean that having a solo SEO or a distributed team is a bad thing? Absolutely NOT, I was a solo in-house SEO at one point in my career, and a solo SEO consultant at another point. Being distributed help prevent interruptions and can help keep you more focused. With that said I, personally, still believe that it is undeniable that having someone else (whether it is 1 person or 10 people) 5 feet from you as you brainstorm versus on IM or skype helps in the creative link building process.