A search marketing silo is like an office set up with cubicles: everyone is in his own little space, and no one interacts, save at the coffee machine. The problem with this approach is that the integral components of successful SEO do not collaborate. Design, development, analytics, and content teams need to work towards a common goal, but those cubicle walls get in the way. The disconnect between the technical development people and the idea-based marketing people creates websites that are not as efficient and effective as they should be.
Brian Massey of Search Engine Land makes a valid point, writing, “Tech usually creates standard reports that marketing will get, but IT isn’t going to create the reports that marketing needs, and marketing doesn’t know the analytics solution well enough to tell them different.” Collaboration makes each part work towards the same goal, which is to convert traffic to sales.
The issue of “silo-ing” is not new, but it is becoming more pressing as technology advances and the SEO industry shifts rapidly. In 2004, Christopher Kenton wrote in Business Week, “It was as if we had spent weeks finding individual trees, and learning fascinating things about leaves and bark, only to step back, take another look, and exclaim, ‘Oh wow, this is a forest!’”
Silos are not “bad” per se; they are just ineffective. It is to be expected that various teams will have expertise in specific areas. This is, in fact, what you want. But when those areas of expertise never overlap and continue to work towards separate goals, “silo-ing” becomes incredibly damaging to search marketing efforts.
The first step in breaking these silos is to make sure that everyone: marketers, content producers, techs, analytics people, etc., understand the goals and understand what they are supposed to be working towards. It can be difficult to overcome ingrained practices; there really is no choice anymore if businesses want to remain competitive. Open communication and core goals are essential.