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We are working with Quill, a Division of Staples, in their search for an SEO Manager based in Lincolnshire, IL.

Earning more than $1.2 billion in sales, Quill is America’s premier B2B direct marketer of office products with over 70% of its sales on the internet. Quill and serve small to medium-sized businesses across the United States. From Quill’s founding in 1956 through its sale to Staples in 1998, Quill has maintained a reputation for superior customer service and has been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates for providing “An Outstanding Customer Service Experience.”

Quill’s ever-growing product assortment includes more than 200,000 items including school and office supplies, office machines, furniture, technology, cleaning and breakroom, vending machines, custom-printed and promotional products.

Position Summary

As an essential member of the digital marketing team, the SEM Manager is the primary owner of planning, development and execution of critical SEO programs. The SEO Manager is expected to set and implement the Quill/MAP SEO vision by partnering with the business units and divisions to impact lasting change.

This position requires a strong collaborator who understands how to align the needs of strong white hat SEO with that of merchandising, marketing, ecommerce, IS and other digital media channels. The Manager is expected to evaluate external and competitive trends as well as internal business performance to draw out relevant insights and actionable proposals. The Manager is also accountable for meeting revenue and cost targets, and developing and driving the SEO strategy for Staples.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: This is a fantastic SEO Manager job for an established SEO leader to join one of the world’s most successful online retailers: Quill.

Quill is a $1 billion ecommerce business that has existed for more than half a century, but has been owned by Staples for 15 years. 80% of Quill’s business is online, although the company is included in Staples’ Internet Retailer Top 500 ranking. However, if you separated the two entities, Quill would be ranked in the IR Top 30. In fact, Quill’s online business has grown by more than 60% in the last two years.

Pretty amazing.

To take greater advantage of the expertise and massive size of both of these ecommerce groups, Staples has formed a Global Digital Marketing Center. The GDMC will include members of Staples / Quill’s organic search, paid search, CSE, and affiliate marketing teams. Quill’s new SEO Manager will be key member of this team, and will be expected to champion SEO throughout the organization.

This SEO Manager job will report to the Director of Global SEO and will be a key influence in the development of the strategic roadmap for organic search, and it will help set Quill’s goals for this channel, in addition to developing the project plan for meeting these goals. The SEO Manager will have 4 full-time Associates reporting to them, including 2 project managers and 2 coordinators. The SEO Manager will also work with any contractors Quill retains. Accordingly, it’s essential that the SEO Manager be experienced in building, managing, maintaining, and growing a strong team around the organic search function.

There’s a lot at stake here.

Quill’s senior management team is completely bought in to SEO, and the group meets every 6 weeks to assess the effectiveness of the channel and how it could be better leveraged for Quill. For the SEO Manager, this means that top management will be looking at things like …

  • Home Page Optimization
  • Navigation Optimization
  • Product Search Optimization
  • Product Page Optimization
  • Checkout Optimization
  • Touch Point Optimization
  • Information Touch Points
  • Load Speed Optimization
  • Shipping and Returns
  • Customer Re-Targeting

… as each of these things pertain to Quill’s competitiveness in Google’s SERPs.

Now obviously, Quill’s executive team sees organic search as a means to an end (being found by customers), and not an end unto itself. But they are going to be paying attention to your work, and you WILL be called on to present your strategies and ideas to them.

So please know this: Quill’s management team doesn’t need an SEO Manager whose tendency is to rope-a-dope them with SEO jargon during presentations. In fact, the SEO Manager doesn’t need to understand much of the technical minutia related to SEO. The company has consultants for that.

What the company needs is a business-oriented SEO Manager who can teach others about SEO in ways they can understand and appreciate. This means making SEO “accessible” to the GDMC’s functional partners, including IT, marketing, merchandising, customer service, and Staples’ internal agency. The SEO Manager must be great at building up presentations and understanding what success stories will excite others in the organization. You gotta keep it real, because this role is all about marshaling internal and external resources to build the channel.

It’s a pretty huge deal.

Last year, the company spent millions of dollars on search across all of its brands. Major bucks. Quill has 65,000 products on its site, and it is expanding its number of drop ship items drastically. I have the numbers, but I can’t share them here. But it goes without saying that all of these pages need to be optimized for organic search, and that means working with relevant, reliable content vendors — vendors who will see YOU as one of the key players in Staples / Quill’s ecommerce search channel. This is your chance to be a player.

Is this SEO Manager job right for you?

Well, you can’t be a shrinking violet in this position. It’s a very high profile role that requires poise, common sense, and a confident, polished executive presence that will help you clarify the benefits of organic search to Staples / Quill stakeholders everywhere – both internally and externally. You will need to be a thought leader for SEO, yet we would want you to appreciate the benefits of “channel agnosticism.” Meaning, your primary objective should be improving Quill’s accessibility to customers, and you should be driven by removing friction from their relationship with the firm.

Just as important, you need to be able to manage and grow a team. The opportunity is simply too big for you to do this all by yourself.

At Staples, leaders are DOERS. Leaders are highly visible, and they live the example of what to learn, how to act, what to measure, and what to prioritize. They prize intellectual rigor, and they recognize and reward excellence. And they understand that leadership is not rank, privilege, titles, or money. It is a responsibility to make everyone on the team stronger, both personally and professionally.

If it is your nature to do that, then we’d love for you to apply.

Primary Responsibilities

  • As the SEO business lead, champions SEO thought leadership across the organization to increase traffic, revenue, and business acquisition from natural search. Conducts research and analysis to prioritize SEO initiatives based on opportunity, level of effort, and business priority alignment
  • Owns relationships with external vendors and agencies in support of SEO. Leads internal cross-functional team and external vendor partners in completing project activities on-time and within budget. Oversees invoicing and budgeting for all external SEO vendors
  • Collaborate with key functional areas including Merchandising, Channel Marketing, Marketing, Finance, Customer Relations, IS, E-commerce, and external vendors in evaluating performance and providing recommendations to improve or initiate visitor traffic, revenue, and business acquisition. Develops and facilitates training sessions to grow knowledge and increase organizational capabilities for developing SEO-optimized assets
  • Coordinates with Market Manager, Paid Search to ensure integrated search marketing strategy
  • Manages direct report(s) to facilitate
  • Coordinates tactics for keyword research, link building, content creation, and more in support of SEO
  • Provides digital marketing thought leadership to organization
  • Stays current on research and emerging trends, specifically for SEO, and clearly communicates impact of changes and new developments
  • Prepares and communicates both regular & ad hoc reporting on online marketing performance to executives, internal business stakeholders, and external agencies. Independently works with business stakeholders to identify KPI’s, develop dashboard or scorecard reports, and interprets metrics to deliver sound, data-driven recommendations
  • Support associate development of team members and direct reports (if applicable)
  • Provide opportunities for associates to take ownership of initiatives and coaching to successful completion

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum 4 years of SEO experience preferred
  • A demonstrated track record of increasing rankings, traffic, and or revenue while managing and executing search engine optimization strategies and tactics
  • Experience with a retail e-commerce website is preferred
  • Foster an environment of collaboration and innovation to expand the organization’s digital marketing and SEO competency
  • Ability to comfortably work with large groups of people at all levels of management
  • Highly proficient in Excel/Word/Powerpoint with the ability to analyze data and prepare reports presentation
  • Previous experience using web metric programs (Omniture, Core Metrics etc.)
  • Experience using SEO analysis tools such as Conductor Searchlight, SEOMoz Pro, MajesticSEO
  • Adaptable, flexible, proactive professional style that can prioritize work, navigate successfully in a cross functional/matrix environment and engage support functions as required to complete the work
  • Strong and effective communication (both written & oral) and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent time-management and project-management skills: this person will be constantly challenged to lead the completion of multiple initiatives, projects, and tasks on time and within budget
  • Coach and develop associates to meet or exceed business objectives and attain successful career development

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Richard Pirkle. To apply, CLICK HERECandidates, please be sure to email Richard for a packet of market research and company / competitive intel that will differentiate you in your candidacy. Due to the intensely competitive nature of this search, thorough preparation for these interviews with this proprietary material is strongly recommended.

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