To do his job and meet his Marketing KPIs, an Enterprise SEO manager has to influence IT, Product, Editorial and Marketing (in roughly that order) and yet he is often hired straight into the marketing team without much consideration as to whether he can influence anything from there.
This could be a big mistake. Often Marketing Managers have limited influence over IT or Product decisions and cannot champion SEO properly. This could be a barrier to getting important developer and ops team guidelines in place for risky operations like site relaunches.
I remember sitting with the marketing manager in many meetings with IT and trying everything possible to get them to agree to do 301 redirects to ensure SEO did not drop when they did the massive URL changes throughout the site. At the end of the day the IT manager said it was not our jurisdiction and the decision was made to go ahead without the crucial redirects. We did get the redirects in place at the 11th hour but it was pure luck that the Marketing Manager was able to create a CEO intervention that saved the day.
By contrast, I had the opportunity in another role I reported directly to the COO and had a relatively smooth ride in terms of getting all the initiatives I needed to get IT, Product working together.
In conclusion, there seem to be a wide variety of org structures in online companies these days but generally speaking the higher up the food chain the SEO manager can go, the better change he/she has of having a role in the important IT, Product, Editorial and Marketing decisions that make the difference.
What do you think?