The creation and presentation of an SEO strategy is often the focus of industry discussions. However, the success of an SEO project depends just as much on the processes that are put in place to ensure that all teams involved can work together.
Regardless of your SEO strategy, without clear processes, SEO projects too often remain at the recommendation stage with little or no follow-through. There’s no one-size-fits-all model, as each company has to find its own way of doing things, depending on its size and the SEO maturity of the various teams and managers.
In this article, we offer 8 recommendations, drawn from our experience at Liligo, to improve your processes.
Before getting into the heart of the matter, we would like to highlight a specific feature at Liligo. Historically, the company has generated a significant part of its traffic from search engines. It has never been necessary to convince internal stakeholders of the importance of this type of acquisition channel.
Therefore, it is important to note that if your company does not place much importance on SEO, you will have to work on this matter first, before tackling the implementation and improvement of SEO processes.
Highlight the relationship between an SEO strategy and business
One of the main points of contention when it comes to implementing the SEO team’s recommendations is the lack of correlation between the strategy and revenue. Do you think KPIs like the visibility index, the number of ranked keywords or even clicks are enough to impress an executive team? Unfortunately, they are not.
When presenting your initiatives, get straight to the point by demonstrating their estimated impact on revenue. To build these estimates, I suggest you look at Andrew Charlton’s course or this comprehensive training module by Tom Critchlow. The objective of these estimates is not to be 100% accurate, but to make people understand that the primary objective of the strategy is not only to increase traffic, but also to increase your bottom line.
Here is an example of a presentation with estimates.
Prioritize tasks based on their impact and effort
A site of several thousand pages, like Liligo’s, inevitably has a long list of problems and areas for improvement. At Liligo, the SEO backlog actually contains several dozen initiatives. However, only some of them are considered as priorities and visible to the whole IT team.
We follow a similar process as the one explained by Areej Abu Ali in this article.
- We associate an estimated impact with each initiative
- The IT team associates an estimated amount of effort
- Based on these two parameters, tasks are prioritized and activated
Our advice: Don’t try to create JIRA projects with 50 tickets.
Establish a process as soon as the project is defined
When a new SEO project is added to the project roadmap, the SEO & Content team can start preparing all the documents that will constitute the brief. This documentation will allow the other teams, mainly the IT team, to carry out the project. In order for these teams to easily take over the project and quickly understand its meaning, three types of documents are necessary:
- A document explaining the objective of the project. If you are proposing the creation of a new type of page, you can, for example, provide an estimate of search volume, expected traffic and the impact on revenue.
- A visualization brief (for example, a page mockup). This makes the work of the design team much easier.
- One or more technical documents depending on the project.
To avoid unpleasant and time-consuming surprises during the development phase, it is important that this documentation be presented to the project managers and to one or more people from the IT department to evaluate the overall feasibility of the project and to make changes, if necessary. Over time, by gathering feedback from other teams, you will find the most effective format. You’ll also define a document creation process that can be repeated to save time on subsequent projects.
Our advice: Make an effort to adapt the documentation to the format the IT team prefers. If you prefer CSVs but they use JSON for a given project, adapt. It will go faster and you’ll make friends.
Encourage progress through repetition
Over the course of the project, it is very common for problems or complexities to arise unexpectedly. As the IT team moves forward, some elements may challenge the feasibility of a portion of the project.
When this happens, the SEO team needs to be able to reevaluate certain points and sometimes even decide to simplify the project. At this point, it is crucial to know how to identify the parts of the project that can be put aside for a next round. We always try to move a project forward, even if it means making some sacrifices, as opposed to holding up the entire project.
In most cases, it is more efficient to see a project through to the end, knowing that some parts have been removed and simplified, rather than spending too much time on non-essential issues.
It’s up to you to define:
- The non-negotiable points of the project, those that have the most impact on the expected result.
- The negotiable points, those that have less impact on the result.
Keep in mind that if it is a new project, you will have more negotiable points than if it is a migration, for example. The impact of a partial release is not the same.
Maintain frequent exchanges with the IT team
The clearest and most complete documentation possible can never replace frequent communication. The ability of the SEO team to communicate with other teams is a pillar of a successful project.
The SEO team’s availability during all phases of the project is also important. Encouraging regular exchanges enables a better understanding of the project’s feasibility, anticipating bugs and solving problems quickly.
Project managers, if there are any in your organization, are valuable allies. At the same time, involving developers directly in certain discussions helps the project run more smoothly.
For more information, we recommend this article on the relationship between SEO and development teams, especially chapter 4, Conversations over Documentation.
Clearly define who is responsible for each aspect of the project
We have just mentioned the importance of exchanges throughout the project, but these exchanges are only really productive if the roles are well defined. Whether they are done by phone, email, chat or in person, discussions always take time. A lack of definition of roles and expertise leads to misunderstandings and trial and error that affect the fluidity of the project. To remain effective, it is important that each person knows directly who to contact according to their specific needs.
Similarly, once you have organized your project into stages, you will need to define the people responsible for validating each stage.
Have comprehensive documentation of page types
Create this documentation from the beginning so that you never lose sight of the structure of your site. On a simple Excel document, list the different pages of your domain. This will allow you to:
- Make it easier to explain the architecture to new employees
- Configure new tools more quickly
- Have regular expressions available when needed
Know some SQL basics in order to autonomously analyze data
Typically, a company’s data is stored in a database, often via a cloud system, like BigQuery or Redshift (Amazon). Being able to perform simple SQL queries will allow you to cross-reference your SEO data with the company’s data to make more relevant recommendations.
At Liligo, we have an automatic backup of GSC data in a BigQuery table. URLs are classified (by typology & destination) via automatic rules. With a little SQL, we can, for example, prioritize the optimization of certain pages based on impressions and revenue. Without SQL, we would only be able to take into account impressions, and this would have much less impact.
Depending on the data you have, you may find even more interesting ways to use SQL.
You may have a data team that can do analysis for you. But what could be better than doing your own analysis, without depending on the availability of other teams? Learning the basics of SQL doesn’t take more than a day. Let’s get to it!
The evolution of SEO processes at Liligo
We’ve shared all these tips after gradually putting them into practice at Liligo over the past two years. Liligo has always placed a lot of emphasis on SEO. However, SEO projects were not supported by sufficiently structured processes. This affected the relationship between the SEO and IT teams.
A recent publication by Adam Gent explains quite well that the implementation of SEO projects is dependent on the structure of the processes and the proximity of the teams. So for the past two years, we’ve been putting processes in place, like gateways, that bring us closer to the IT team. Over time, we continue to improve these processes and we have been able to successfully complete large-scale projects, such as major migrations and the creation of thousands of new pages.