Online Strategy: How to Identify and Breakdown Organisational Silos in Digital Marketing

Damon Rutherford | | Updated: 16 April 2024

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Our experience working with dozens of large organisations has shown us that communication and integration between various departments is pivotal to executing effective online strategies and sustaining a strong online reputation. This article is talks about what we have learnt over the last ten years, and how organisations integrate their teams to recognise and combat organisational blindspots.

What is an organisational silo?

Organisational silos arise when departments or groups within an organisation operate in isolation from one another. This lack of communication and collaboration can lead to inefficiencies, a disjointed company culture, and missed opportunities in the digital landscape.

As search engines have gotten more complex and more online platforms outside of your direct control are having a significant say on how your brand is seen online, it is crucial that you identify the blindspots in your online strategies.

Why is a consolidated search strategy important?

When teams don’t work together, things tend to slip between the cracks. In the case of online, non-digital teams tend to think that anything online is the responsibility of the digital team, and the digital team think that anything that they don’t directly control (the website, Google Ads, their social media profiles) is outside of their remit.

This leaves elements such as online reviews and ratings unmonitored and unoptimised which can be detrimental to a brand’s online perception.

Which teams are we talking about?

When developing online strategies, the following teams are important:

  • Digital
  • Website Development
  • Digital Marketing
  • Content
  • Brand
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Retail Marketing

Which areas of online strategy are we talking about?

What activities does online strategy include:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO): writing and optimising website pages that rank highly for specific keywords in the organic results of search engines like Google.
  • Paid search advertising (PPC): running paid search advertising campaigns that target specific keywords in the search engines such as Google.
  • Local search engine optimisation: increasing the visibility of physical locations in both Google Maps and the local results in standard search engine results.
  • Online reputation: monitoring and managing websites that have a high visibility in search results and are likely to influence confidence in your brand.

How do organisational silos affect online performance?

The following examples illustrate some of the unintended consequences of silo based working, including duplication of work, or worse still, the work not being done at all:

  • SEO, PPC & Content: Keyword research is key to developing effective campaigns in all three of these areas, however in most organisations these areas are at best duplicating efforts, at worst not working together at all.
    Look at a search engine result page – from the searchers perspective organic and paid search results show as one and should be working together.
  • Paid search advertising: Another perspective is that where a brand doesn’t rank highly organically, it becomes more important for a brand to advertise to ensure they have visibility for the keyword.
  • Local search and maps: For an organisation with retail outlets, local search can be more important than organic search results. Unfortunately for many organisations, local search falls through the cracks and no-one ends up managing it:
    • It doesn’t belong to the digital or website teams because it’s not the website.
    • It doesn’t belong to the retail marketing team because it’s in the search engine results.
  • Online reputation: One that can easily fall between the cracks, every organisations online reputation should be super important, but as with local search and maps, no-one owns it as it’s in no-man’s land.
    • It doesn’t belong to the digital or website teams because it’s not the website
    • It doesn’t belong to brand team because it’s in the search engine results
    • It doesn’t belong to corporate reputation team because it’s in the search engine results


The first step in this process is understanding what are the main elements of your online performance. What topics are you visible for online, which topics you want to be visible for,  who is talking about you online (and what they are saying).

Which topics you want to be visible for is straightforward – most organisations will have this under control, even if the organic and paid search terms are operating separately (hint: they shouldn’t).

The big opportunity here is to get the organic and paid search teams working together, even if it is just sharing their keyword research and goals. And ensuring that their work lines up from the wider organisational perspective.

When it comes to who is talking about you online though, this is a whole different kettle of fish.

Reputation for instance – who looks after this? And are they really looking after it or are they just paying lip service? Here’s some examples of types of reputation online, and who we think should be looking after them:

  • Glassdoor and Indeed: the HR department
  • TrustPilot, Feefo and Reevoo: the Brand and PR teams
  • Reviews: the Brand and PR teams
  • eRetailers such as Amazon: the Brand and PR Teams

And how about Google Business Profiles for your various locations? Who looks after those? And are they really looking after them? For many retail organisations how you show up in Google Maps is now more visible (and important) than their website presence.

Your retail marketing team should be looking after this, but chances are they probably aren’t, because that’s online, and that’s the responsibility of the digital team.


If you would like to talk through this topic in more detail we’d be happy to chat.

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If this is an area you would like to explore more closely for your organisation, we’re available to talk you through the process. Contact us via the form below and let’s set up a time to talk through your current online challenges (and how to overome them). 

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