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The Engineer’s Playbook for Enterprise SEO: Six tips for a smooth SEO implementation

For companies that rely on the cultivation of their digital brand, a strong SEO strategy is essential. But while high-level SEO planning is crafted by SEO management, the technical implementation of concrete enterprise SEO measures are often the responsibility of programmers or developers. For this reason, the interface between SEO managers and technical teams is critical.

In our recent SEO Summit, Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics and a technology leader in the industry, offered six tips that can help streamline SEO implementation across the entire organizational structure.

1. Make data usable

“Whether you’re working with small or large teams, it is absolutely critical to be able to understand how to create integrations in order for you to scale.”

Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics

Jordan acknowledges that data can be complex, but being able to collect, analyze, and put data to use is a crucial part of identifying and solving problems before they have a negative impact.

Data quality is a prerequisite

“Understanding core technologies and limitations is the first step to successful data collection and usage. The second step to the process of ensuring that you’re recording reliable data points that you can align across the organization.”

Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics

According to Jordan, there are two core requirements for high quality data: Consistency and completeness. This means that data collected over time should come from the same source to avoid discrepancies and inaccuracies. Data sets should pursue an identical insight goal over a longer period – only then are they consistent.

Jordan also reminds SEOs to consider competitor data, which often gets pushed into the background. Competitor comparisons provide a clear picture of where a company’s website performance truly stands. With the right tools, SEOs can easily record both their own data and that of their competitors.

Software provides a critical source of data

“The reality is that crawl data is very complex. What we often do as SEOs is we download the list and send it over to somebody, but this doesn’t actually create any inspiration for someone to work on it, because it doesn’t tell anyone anything meaningful. It just says I have a whole bunch of errors.”

Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics

In order to identify problems at an early stage, data must be collected, stored, tracked, and understood by all internal stakeholders in order to draw concrete conclusions or formulate specific instructions on how these problems can actually be solved.

For example, SEOs cannot achieve their goals by simply sending reports to web programmers. Instead, the informative value in reports should be extracted and shared using tools and solutions that aid in the understanding of the data and paint a clear picture of how a website is developing.

Defined thresholds can help SEOs stay on top of issues. If a certain value is reached, it can automatically signal to SEOs that they need to act. For instance, if the number of 404 pages increases by ten percent, this could trigger an alarm that prompts SEOs to take appropriate countermeasures.

Leverage dashboards for health status updates and monitoring

Operationally, Jordan recommends that SEOs use dashboards to keep an overview of multiple website performance categories at once. Dashboards provide SEOs with centralized information about the health of their websites. They display complex data sets in a digestible way that accurately show how different components contribute to the broader health of a site.

Jordan gives Google Search Console as an example of how to organize and enrich data. GSC presents information in a comprehensible way so it can be effectively used to influence strategic direction, initiative priorities, and KPIs.

Trending software, dashboards, and other tools that generate meaningful information from data help SEO managers visualize and interpret that data to increase website traffic, visibility, and reach.

2. Generate tickets correctly and efficiently through problem-oriented communication

“In order for us to become more effective, we need to be able to focus on the problem and the opportunity more than the actual task at hand.”

Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics

Companies usually use a ticket platform as a place where individual tickets that address specific problems can be created and assigned to a particular group of people or a certain individual for resolution. In SEO, tickets represent a central communication tool for project management that can be accessed by all the people in the company that are involved in website maintenance.

It is important that tickets do not focus too narrowly on a particular task or tactic. Instead, they should focus on the root of the problem that needs fixing and the potential paths to a solution. This will provide context for the website developers, programmers, and other technical staff who will ultimately be responsible for implementing the fixes.

Jordan gives a real ticket example of Search Title Experimentation. Optimizing the <title> tag in HTML files can be effective, especially when a website has hundreds of millions of subpages, most of which may be “user generated content”. Implementing this solution would noticeably improve the visibility of these pages in search engines, and that would be a great success.

To achieve this efficiently, the wording of the ticket should focus on the specific requirements profile that the Search Title Experimentation must fulfill. The ticket should not specify, under any circumstances, the exact result. For example, X must be developed immediately and completed by day Y.

By accurately conveying the necessary requirements to the technical teams, the construction of the Search Title was successful, leading to a greatly improved click-through rate and opening up the potential for millions of additional sales for the website.\

3. Keep it simple

“Sometimes a sequence of work needs to change. When this happens, you should make clear what your intentions are and set really good acceptance criteria. This will make you far more effective when it comes to building tickets and creating meaningful communication and collaboration, not just with your engineering teams, but also with content teams, product teams, and even management apps.”

Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics

SEO is complex and can be difficult for outsiders to grasp. However, within a company, SEO affects numerous stakeholders, including programmers, marketers, and decision-makers. In order to get everyone on the same page, planned SEO measures should be characterized by goals that are as simple and clearly formulated as possible. This will lower the stakeholder acceptance threshold and maintain effective communication and collaboration when tickets are generated.

4. Keep an eye on competitors

Tools such as Builtwith can provide a detailed look at the analytics solutions and content management systems (CMS) used by competitors. The software provides particularly valuable insights if your own website uses identical technologies but differs from the competitor in terms of plugins. If the competitor’s website performs slightly better due to the selected plugins, Built insights offer a way for SEOs to identify inefficiencies and improve the performance of their own site.

5. Visualize competitive performance

“Another key component of competitive analysis is collecting data over time using Film Strip tools like Webpagetest We often fail to keep these things, but I think that Film Strips are always great three months later, when you can either go back and give praise to the engineering team and say, thank you for making these changes. Look at how much better we’re performing.”

Jordan Koene, Advisor to Searchmetrics

According to Jordan, storing data for the long term is essential to being able to retrospectively visualize and analyze the development phases a website goes through. This can be done particularly well with the Film Strips software. It offers the ability to not only to compare progress with competitors, but also document necessary changes and their effects. This makes it easier to communicate key markers and goal posts to other stakeholders, including executives, marketers, and programmers.

6. Quick overviews with comparative tables

Comparative tables, which record and visualize the most elementary KPIs of competitors, are important instruments in the SEO management tool belt. Within a very short time, they cover the information that SEOs and other stakeholders need regarding key indicators like ranking or indexed pages.

Jordan makes it very clear that SEOs need to formulate simple and clear goals and create flexible project and work plans. Central to this is a ticket system that produces easy-to-comprehend, unambiguous, and problem-oriented tickets. For better understanding, a cross-departmental language convention can help, complete with a legend in which the most important SEO terms are defined.

SEOs should also be clear about which measures they want to take and how the acceptance criteria should be defined. It is essential to collect and store data for the long term so SEOs can link the past with the future, quantify and measure website performance, and gain valuable insights.

Access Jordan’s session from our Summit to find out more about best practices for your engineering team to increase awareness of your brand.