Is Your Company SEO Ready?
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• It takes a unified team across all department to build a house of SEO.
• Each department has to anticipate the upcoming challenges they’ll face, and how how their teams will fit in to the framework of SEO.
If you’re getting ready to integrate search engine optimization into your business for the first time or perhaps revisiting it, preparation is half the battle. Trying to manage competing initiatives, departments and goals within your company takes a lot of prepping so everyone works in tandem to ensure SEO is done right organization-wide. Add to that the working relationship between an agency and in-house team (if you’re looking to hire consultants), and you have a lot of people who have to brace for the impact SEO on the organization.
Every day, each team here at Bruce Clay, Inc. must work together with client organizations towards the goal of successful SEO implementation. I quickly took a poll this morning across multiple departments to ask the following question:
What are the top few pieces of advice you’d give the [insert department here] within a company that’s prepping to implement SEO in house?
Below, you’ll find some recommendations from various team members here who work in account management, Web development, social media, Web design and content.
Web Development/Technical Back End
Our Web development manager, Aaron Landerkin, offers the following advice to technical in-house teams when prepping for SEO:
- Be in it for the long haul. SEO isn’t a “one and done” project. It’s ongoing, so be open to integrating it into your workflow. As a developer, this may mean changing the way you push updates to the site. It is also worth it to read up on SEO if you’re not familiar with it; as most developers are not.
- Track everything. Make sure your web analytics is up to snuff so you can effectively measure the impact SEO is having. Decisions in SEO are made with hard data.
- Don’t game the search engines. Just because you’re a developer and you *can* implement something that can “get around” Google’s spider, doesn’t mean you should. Stick to what Google and Bing tell you to do as webmasters. Again, this is an ongoing project and doing something spammy will jeopardize that (and potentially your job).
- Work with designers and writers, not against them. Oftentimes, in-house SEO will involve different departments, all trying to do their work from different angles just like every other web project. Clashing with people writing the text and designing the page will only make things worse. Be open to accepting suggestions and implementing items that may seem strange.
Shawn Barker, senior client liaison, weighs in with the following tips to ensure successful SEO companywide:
- Increase internal knowledge and understanding. If you don’t know much about SEO, take a training course to increase your knowledge and learn what SEO is all about. Understanding why your in-house teams or your SEO consultants are making certain recommendations will only benefit the project; you will be more likely to implement all recommendations, rather than taking the attitude that these sometimes little changes won’t make a difference.
- Get upper level buy-in. If you’re trying to implement SEO, be sure to communicate to upper management that SEO is an ongoing process, and ensure they understand Google’s algorithm is constantly changing.
- Have a willingness to implement in a timely manner. The goal for most SEO projects is to increase rankings and traffic; if you can’t implement recommendations or tactics in a timely manner within your organization, it can jeopardize the intent of the project.
- Review the website’s existing design. Determine if the site is SEO-ready before implementation. If the site is not indexable and uses things such as Flash, or if everything is an image, then you may need to consider a redesign in preparation for SEO.
- Determine if the code can be improved or cleaned-up. Search engines need to be able to easily index your pages. Try to simplify your code and reduce clutter. It’s best to get the actual content of the page closer to the top of the code.
- Plan for the site’s URL structure. You want to make sure the URL structure is organized and makes sense to a search engine. Plan for using directory structures to stay organized; name your directory/page something relevant to the subject of your page.
And here are my tips for gearing up for the content production side of SEO:
- Identify short-term and long-term content strategies. You’re going to have two needs for content a) The initial content needed to get the site optimized and b) The ongoing content strategy that requires a consistent effort for producing new content. Identify what both of those look like and create strategies around both.
- Plan for the types of content you’ll produce. The next step in breaking down SEO content needs is identifying what types of content you’re going to be producing and the resources available. Sure, you’re going to need text and lots of it, but what other types of content will you be producing? Videos? Infographics? How will you accomplish creating those? What department will be involved and how will you work wih them to create the content you need? If you’re outsourcing parts of your content creation, research, identify and establish vendor relationships.
- Consider a dedicated content producer. It’s likely you won’t be able to sustain the content requirements on your own if you don’t have a dedicated content producer. If you decide to go the outsourcing route to hire contract writers, make sure they’re good at what they do. Don’t just settle on any ol’ person who will take the writing burden off your company. Content needs to be customized to your business, your SEO strategy and your industry. Writers will need to understand your business inside and out as well as SEO. If they aren’t in-housers, make sure they have an effective way to gather critical information about your business and put in the research necessary to understand the industry, its challenges and opportunities. You can’t write well without doing research well.