In a world where everything changes at break-neck speed, it seems like not a day goes by where I don’t utter some version of the same words and advice. After a recent chat with a couple of other in-house SEOs, it occurred to me… we sound like a broken record.
Are we destined to repeat the same litany of items over and over?
ALT tags are empty… URL is not friendly… Don’t use duplicate titles… Don’t use more than one title on a page… Make sure the description is well written… Use absolute links… Be careful when using rich media… Is there a good down-level experience? The list is almost endless.
In most cases, these refrains have been uttered for years now; a staple of good ol’ fashioned, grass-roots SEO work. They have been, and will remain, the nuts and bolts of on-page SEO. So, yes, we are all repeating many of these same things over and over, it seems. While the world does change and evolve (and along with it so do search algorithms and an SEO’s response to those changes), we need to make sure we don’t get complacent.
It’s too easy to get caught up in a loop of providing the same feedback over and over, simply because someone didn’t fix it the first time you asked them too. This is not a long-term strategy for success. Success is measured in dollars, conversions, action. Hard numbers. So let’s take a look at breaking this moldy mold.
If you find yourself having the same conversations with the same people a few times each year, perhaps there are other issues that need to be addressed. It is entirely likely those you approach actually want to do the work you suggest. Maybe they simply lack the head count to make it happen, along with other work. In other cases, it could be the language barrier. SEO’s do tend to have their own unique language; just like so many other professional groups.
If you dig deeper into the mix, you will likely find the root cause of why things haven’t been done. When you have this cause, you can effect change.
Maybe you need to have a heart-to-heart with yourself and be honest if you’ve approached your program and work from the right direction. If you work at a law firm, talking to the lawyers about SEO is a dead end. Sure to get you uninvited form the summer picnic. If you approach them and speak in terms of attracting new clients, pre-qualifying them based on keywords & topics and lower acquisition costs with higher profits, then that will likely get them to pay attention. After that, they’ll sign off on the technical needs you place before them to get to the better place you’ve described.
This heart-to-heart should also reflect on your level of approach. Like landing an airplane, success is the desired option, and approaching a runway too high, or too low can have dire consequences. Best to think about this and nail it the first time. When you built the program (or inherited it), were the correct people brought in to support the project? Did the right people have input and sign off?
If you approached a Senior VP, you might have gone too high. Their view of the world is very macro, so many small details are missing. This often leads them to think in broader terms. The downside here is over-simplification. The opposite of this is engaging the ground-level folks (graphic designers, programmers, Sysadmins, etc.) and getting them moving. At this level, there is a need for a great deal of detail, which can overload people, processes and systems if not properly planned for and fed into the work stream.
Throw into this lines of communication, and there are many easy paths to lead you astray. Imagine you are a department lead, Manager or mid-level executive responsible for people, work and projects. You walk into work one day to find your staff all engaged in a bright, shiny new (SEO) project you know nothing about. That might be just disconcerting enough to the Manager to make them pull all of their people away from the (SEO) project.
I think one of the best approaches is to view your SEO program (or even smaller projects) through as many different filters as possible. Ask yourself whose support you need, then build a story that supports a win for their area of interest. By doing this in key areas, the end result is a storyline with many points of support across the company – just what you actually need to successfully move the work forward.
Make sure you help everyone, at every stage and level, craft the messages, too. One poorly worded communication could lead to a lot of confusion as groups try to interpret what your directions mean to them. Over-simplification can be as damaging as too much detail, so think strategically when crafting your communications, and trace the work back to an expected ROI relevant to the group being addressed.
Though it may seem to you like endless repeatition of the same message over and over again, this process is important to ensure the right messages reach the right people.
Who knew SEO work could prep you for a career in politics?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.