1. Always track changesIt’s an age-old tale; someone in an organization (the client, the dev team, the CEO) decides to make an update to the site without communicating it. Pages are gone or moved, content has been changed, and even worse, you didn’t notice it until a few weeks later when traffic was gone and rankings had tanked. Unfortunately, as much as we communicate, as much as we try to stay involved, situations like this are bound to occur. The best thing to do is to prepare. Here’s how. Set up change alerts Tools like SEORadar or VisualPing will notify you when changes are made to a site. Whether it’s on-page or in the code, you will get an alert and immediately be able to see where the change occurred. For larger e-commerce sites where changes are made frequently, a tool like SEORadar will allow you to choose the types of changes you want to be notified about. A good feature considering none of us want to be bombarded with useless emails. Keep a changelog We use a combination of Basecamp and Google Drive to ensure we can easily find existing recommendations. After all, if a page is accidentally removed or you need to revert content or tagging, finding the approved content becomes pretty important. Even more importantly, if a site tanks, it’s good to be able to see what drove it. A few things we do to stay organized:
- Shared Changelog. For a number of clients, we keep a shared changelog with the dev team. This way we know the when, what, and where of site updates.
- Analytics Annotations. When an update is released, recommendations are implemented, or a big announcement is made (ex: mobile indexing), make an annotation in your analytics platform. A year from now, when you are pulling data and wondering what happened, you’ll have it right in front of you. Annotations can be lifesavers.
- Closeout messages. For example, if a page was updated, make a note in the original message, noting the date of the change and the URL. Record keeping FTW!! (Check out Recordit.com for the best free onscreen recording software ever- you'll thank us later!)
2. Clean data = Good dataYou spent hours creating a report. The results look good. You’re showing value. And just when it’s time to present the report to the team, you hear: “Does this include login traffic?” or “We actually switched to a new profile.” or “We need to take out traffic from X.” Make sure you’re using the right data from the start. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a project when one team has been using one data point and another team a different one. And you’d be surprised by the number of reports I’ve had to redo because we had the wrong information or the client wanted certain data points removed. At the same time as you sync up with your team and the client, make sure your analytics is set up properly from the start – is tracking on all pages? Is sub-domain tracking set up? Are the correct goal URLs set up? Is event tracking working properly? One of the biggest challenges we have in SEO is showing value and we rely on analytics data to help us. Without the right data in place, our challenge becomes even greater.
3. Knowledge is powerI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again…there is a lack of education in the marketing space when it comes to SEO. Not only that, but the value of SEO is still being questioned. Here’s the thing – while it’s changing, it’s not changing fast enough and we can’t get mad because someone doesn’t understand the value of what we are doing or understand everything that’s involved in the process. More importantly, we have to be able to explain things in a way that matters to the stakeholders. Here’s how: Know Your Audience How we talk to the PR team is different than how we talk to the Dev team and certainly different than how we talk to the CMO. Guess what? The CMO probably doesn’t care about the type of redirect you are recommending. What they do care about is the impact it has on the overall business. Know who it is you are talking to, what their knowledge is, and what they care about. If you are unsure, ask ahead of time. During our initial discovery, we not only ask questions related to SEO but also get backgrounds on the people we will be working with.
- What is their role?
- What are their goals?
- Have they worked with an SEO team in the past?