The fact that digital marketing can only be successful with teamwork always becomes clear when half of your colleagues are on their summer holiday. In this holiday edition of the SEO News for August, we therefore take a look at the best colleagues in the world.

The engine room is where it all comes together

Beyond the glossy campaigns, big budgets and sparkling offices of advertising, there’s a world without whose dedication and expertise the lights would only shine half as bright, reach would only be half as wide and many grand promises would merely remain empty words. While the combination of creative ideas and empirical analysis may be seen as the future course of the digital transformation in marketing, its successful development in many areas has so far remained nothing more than betting on technical skills: the R&D department. But this doesn’t have to mean reinventing the world.

Even beyond disruptive transformations, internal and external developers, database experts and software architects are responsible for building and maintaining our digital marketplaces, networks and service platforms. In their hands lies the key to excellent performance and the targeted connection of current content with a user experience suitable for everyday life. They can also safeguard faultless data collection and, above all, legally binding business transactions. It’s not a matter of chance that all these points have become the focus of search engine optimisation in recent years.

The search engine optimiser – a digital caretaker

Tongue in cheek, you could say that search engine optimisers (SEOs) take on the caretaking work for the Googles, Bings and Baidus of this world. They ensure barrier-free access and use clever markers to provide the necessary orientation for search engines within their digital real estate. In the case of renovations or conversions, the search enginer optimiser also makes sure that loads and costs are avoided for users and owners where possible. This job necessarily involves tinkering in the engine room and seeking a constructive relationship with colleagues at the controls.

In an article for the magazine Searchenginejournal, Rachel Costello, technical SEO at the US technology provider Deep Crawl, has now accused developers of having a lack of understanding for the implications of their work. Costello claims many technicians are unaware of the potential consequences for the volume and quality of organic reach that “simply changing or removing a line of code” entails. In milder words, John Müller of Google advocates more understanding on both sides: “I’d like it if more SEOs would work together with developers,” the Swiss Webmaster Trends Analyst responded at the end of last year to a question about which topics should be the focus of the search industry in 2019. Unfortunately, experience shows that understanding for the work of other colleagues is rather lacking.

Mutual misunderstanding leads to wasted time and money

There’s not only a lack of knowledge of abilities and tasks. More importantly, marketing and R&D departments rarely get together to discuss how shared priorities could be organised and managed. Since SEO-relevant changes are often not entirely critical for a website’s operation, communication can drag on for weeks or months before they are implemented, especially for large, international platforms. The consequences of inadequate understanding and deficient communication are wasted time and money in a business environment where taking up the cause of agility and efficiency can’t come fast enough.  But it’s also true that the engine room feels pressure from many sides as the technological bottleneck in the company, and that its operations are shaped by standardised processes.

Likewise, it can hardly be an advantage if a large share of SEOs in companies and agencies come out from the “content corner” and often struggle to follow the relentless technological change of the web.

It’s the users who suffer

But ultimately, it’s not the developers or marketing staff who suffer. Instead, it’s the users who have to deal with slow webpages, awkward user guidance or frustrating 404 error pages. For this reason, it’s the job of search engine optimisation to leave the confines of caretaking and seek active collaboration with developers and technical service providers. This primarily includes taking ownership of processes and priorities in the technology department as well as clearly formulating the goals and dependencies of SEO work. Our experience has shown that, as an agency and tool provider, it is important to be flexible and to limit SEO roadmaps to what is feasible. This doesn’t mean getting as many measures off the ground as possible, but identifying and prioritising appropriate and manageable actions together.

The challenge for modern, successful SEO work lies precisely in this interface role between marketing and developer teams. Being mindful of the possibilities and constraints of the client and actively sharing knowledge with technical staff create the basis for establishing active governance with the aim of efficiently and profitably activating the search channel.

After all, once R&D and SEOs get talking and begin to learn from one another, they may soon realise that they simply work on different sides of the same coin.

This page is available in Deutsch (German)

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