There’s a perception that search engine optimization requires no resources. Executives sometimes think that SEO is simply a matter of editing existing content. As a result, they don’t fund or staff SEO adequately to see real organic search performance gain.
In reality, SEO isn’t about changing keywords here and there. It’s about optimizing a digital marketing presence to meet the needs of the business and its customers. This doesn’t happen without priority, resources, and effort.
The biggest concern I hear from clients is that they can’t implement SEO recommendations. They might know what needs to be done. But they can’t move past the recommendation stage.
Sometimes, when I make a recommendation, the response is, “But we’d need IT to do that.” You can replace “IT” with “legal,” “brand,” “UX,” “operations,” “product data,” “creative,” or “strategy.”
It’s true that SEO requires collaborating with other teams. There are relatively few SEO projects of large value that can be done without involving others.
Thus the recommendations of SEO professionals should speak to many people in various areas of expertise — SEO, technical, marketing.
It’s about optimizing the way a digital marketing presence meets the needs of the business and its customers.
Explain What, Why
The first step in acquiring SEO resources is to explain what you’re asking for and why it’s necessary.
Many SEOs make the mistake of presuming that everyone speaks their language. Instead, SEOs should explain their case with enough high-level information that management understands it, and with enough detail that it can be used as a blueprint for execution.
For example, say you need to add a link to the header navigation. The reason is obvious to SEO professionals: It would drive much internal link authority to the page receiving the new link, thereby improving its visibility and potential to generate organic search traffic and revenue. So why wouldn’t the company want to do that?
But just sending an email to your boss, asking for new a header link, won’t do the trick in most organizations. Nor would asking for a block of copy on a category page. Or a new page of content. Or any of a number of SEO recommendations.
That brings us to the “why.” In most cases, the reason to implement any SEO tactic is the return on investment, the estimated revenue increase from the recommendation. But there are other reasons. For example, you might need to drive brand awareness, or extend your brand’s relevance to a new category, or fill the top of the funnel with new visitors, who could convert to customers
How to Document
The content of the recommendation is what’s important, not the format. Does your organization respond, say, to bullet points in a Word document or to a PowerPoint presentation? Stick with what works and use that format.
Start with one sentence that clearly states the recommendation and the value. For example:
Add a link to the handbag section from the header navigation to increase revenue from organic search performance by approximately $123,000 per month.
Next, explain the reason for the recommendation. In the example above, you’d address site architecture, internal linking, and link authority and their importance to all major search engine algorithms. Also, discuss the math behind the estimate of revenue gains.
Anticipate questions and prepare the answers. “What is link authority and why does it matter?” “Why is the header link so important compared to another area of the site?”
What is the specific recommendation? How will you describe it? If it’s a link, which page would it link to? Is the link to an existing category or are you requesting a new top-level category (which could cause existing category labels to wrap)?
Provide helpful visuals. They don’t require a graphic designer. Take a screen grab and annotate with arrows and notes. Or sketch your idea, take a picture of it, and include in your proposal. Make it clear that your visual is conceptual, not a final design. And be mindful of not encroaching on the creative team’s expertise.
Consider the potential reasons why the recommendation hasn’t already been implemented. Perhaps the brand experience calls for a less cluttered visual design. Or the user experience team feels the addition would detract from visitors’ ability to navigate the site. Or developers have determined it’s not as simple as it seems. Anticipate likely barriers and suggest alternate solutions.
Naturally, the more complicated the recommendation, the more detailed your documentation would need to be. Those details could include explanations of metatags, structured data, redirects, content, code elements, and contingency plans.