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Developing A Global SEO Diagnostics Plan
A positive trend I have seen over the past few months is companies adopting a dedicated SEO diagnostics person or integrating SEO diagnostics into existing web diagnostics protocols.
I have seen a huge missed opportunity, especially with global companies, that don’t take the action to monitor page inclusions, duplicate content and redirection issues. It is easier than ever to add this to your workflow using free tools such as Google’s and Bing’s Webmaster tools yet many of these problems can increase rankings, traffic and revenue easier than many other tactics.
Some of the time, these diagnostics activities are viewed as “beneath” the mighty SEO and are not sexy enough for the agency to spend time to review.
However, most of the time there just is not enough time for anyone on the team to do it. I strongly suggest in this post-Panda era that companies, especially global companies, make the time or add a role to routinely monitor these issues.
Google & Bing Webmaster Tools Monitoring
The current functionality of these tools has now offers site owners a treasure trove of opportunities for quickly identifying problems ranging from broken links, missing pages, duplicate titles all of which required agency tools or manual reviews in the past.
One company I spoke with recently mentioned they took the time to fix the problems identified by Webmaster Tools in multiple English speaking markets and their pages improved over 300%. After that experience, they dedicated a resource to monitor and prioritize changes on a weekly basis.
They identified a problem in their content creation process where countries would simply copy the US page and load it in multiple countries until they could create a local page. This resulted in multiple countries being penalized for duplicate content even though they had the geographical setting set correctly.
While individual errors are not exponentially valuable, it is the aggregation and easy detection of many errors that makes preventive diagnostics reviews valuable especially to the global search team.
I suggest have your global or local teams review the main errors at least monthly to identify problems. Often, the farther away from the mothership you go, the less resources to maintain the Web. These tools can often be a great Web diagnostic tool indicating other problems on the site such as broken links and missing pages which might go undetected.
Recently, a European site owner reviewed his global Google Webmaster Tools data for the first time and found significant problems in the US and Asia with broken links and not found pages due to the use of a different URL syntax in these markets. Had they not taken this step, it would have missed out on significant traffic and upset visitors.
Using Enterprise SEO Management Tools
The sophistication of SEO tools has expanded to identify many of these issues and even those that are more complex and missed by free tools.
Enterprise SEO tools such as BrightEdge, Conductor, Covario, SEOClarity and Sycara all have some sort of diagnostics built into them beyond page level audits. These can be invaluable on a global scale to identify site-wide issues that may not have been detected by free tools. These tools are developed to empower the Enterprise SEO to scale by uncovering macro and micro issues with pages, templates and infrastructure.
Unfortunately while they are great tools, once integrated, many companies do not invest the people to review and implement the corrective actions.
Hiring The Diagnostic Specialist
As noted, many companies “want” to do preventative maintenance or diagnostics but just don’t have the business justification to budget for the resource. I suggest you start small and these reviews into the normal workflow to catch any errors to demonstrate the value for a more permanent position.
A few companies I have found created a role that integrates keyword research, report development and diagnostics. It is often a feeder position into the more advanced Search Team. If you can’t hire a full time person, start with a contractor or even a few hours from your agency is better than nothing.
Those companies that have embraced and active diagnostics role have told me the position typically paid for itself often in the first month from all of the issues that were detected and quickly resolved.
I have typically referred to this person is the cross between Sherlock Holmes and a bloodhound on a trail. Their sole role will be to dig into the site at the different levels to identify all of the mistakes, problems and general gotcha’s that your tool set identifies.
On a global level, they don’t need to speak a dozen languages since the errors are typically language independent. This person should be diligent, patient and have great attention to detail — since reviewing the various errors/issues and documenting them with corrective action while coordinating with the local or global resources can be mind-numbing work, but its success can pay off in dividends.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.