Building and scaling global SEO Centers of Excellence

By Jim Yu

Wider spread internet adoption and mobile use worldwide are opening up lucrative new markets in Latin America, China and the rest of Asia-Pacific and more. Global opportunities bring with them a whole new realm of user behaviors, language and intent considerations, and search engine expectations for SEOs to navigate. Google is practically nonexistent in China, for example, where more than 800 million Internet users choose Baidu – which handles an average of 6 billion queries daily in China alone – Haosou, or a handful of others instead.

How can you ensure that your SEO is built to scale as you expand into new global markets?

Being one of a handful of SEOs constantly attempting to explain and justify your needs, budget and activities is a constant uphill battle. Instead, I’ve long been an advocate for the development of Centers of Excellence inside enterprise brands as a proven way to decentralize critical knowledge and best practices. In doing so, SEOs can win buy-in and cooperation across the brand.

In developing Global SEO Centers of Excellence, you can win support and share in SEO successes across the brand. Here’s how.

Promoting SEO maturity in your organization

You have to walk before you can run. Before you can involve your company’s executives and other teams in SEO advocacy and process, you need a set of best practices and clear goals to share.

In organizations with high SEO maturity, we see several common positive traits across the people, process and platforms involved, including:


  • The SEO team is supported by strong, cross-organizational executive support for search
  • A central SEO team owns the Center of Excellence and drives network-wide activities that support its goals
  • The organization boasts a digitally native community that supports skills development and certifications


  • There are formal, documented engagement and SEO models deployed throughout the process of content development
  • Customer-driven insights drive data-backed content decisions
  • Social, paid search, and SEO are tightly integrated


  • Standardized dashboards and reporting capabilities integrate on-page and off-page data, automating where possible and enabling the activation of data in as near to real-time as possible
  • Audits, insights, publishing and other core SEO activities are integrated at the platform level

Only once your people, processes and platform in place are you ready to scale your global SEO efforts. These are the backbone of your Center of Excellence – it’s the foundation on which your organization-wide understanding of and advocacy for SEO can be built.

Below is an example of a framework for broader Digital Centers of Excellence that you can also map to.

3 Key Traits of Successful Global SEO Centers of Excellence

With that baseline in place, what do these centers actually look like? As you set out to build yours, pay particular attention to these three critical areas.

1. An inherent understanding of demand in each region

Does your team understand searcher behavior as well as the powerful search engines in each region?

Even here in the United States, where Google takes the lion’s share of queries, the way search results come back varies wildly across regions. The content will be different, but the entire structure of …read more

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