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The Importance of Establishing SEO Requirements for Your Web Teams
Friday, June 18, 2010
As a search strategist, I wear many hats.  While I may specialize in organic strategies, I am more than an SEO.  In fact I'm not a big fan of the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Optimizer).  I work very hard at developing strategies and leveraging white hat tactics for my clients.  Quite honestly, I've had great success.  However I do not just do SEO.  In addition to being a Search Strategist I also actively participate in the following roles and tasks:
  • Project Management
  • Drive continuous improvement
  • Product Development
  • Blogger
  • Manage/Coach SEO teams
  • Educate
  • Deliver customer service
  • Establish process and requirements
It is this last item that I wanted to touch on today, the importance of developing processes and establishing SEO requirements.  We've dealt with a number of clients who communicate to us that they have their own SEO requirements, yet when we ask to review them, what they often come back with is not what we would consider requirements.

If you are fortunate enough to have an SEO or online marketing team, you should be working on establishing the following:
  • process documentation - to address the how to's of completing a task (i.e. keyword research)
  • best practice compilation/creation - to ensure that the tactics that you are considering are the ones that you should be using.  Compilation is important because this can avoid a lot of rework from happening in the future.
  • SEO Requirements - this is more from an implementation perspective that can be used by your SEO team, your technical team and/or your content team.
The importance of establishing SEO requirements cannot be understated.  Having requirements in place is a great way to:
  • educate your teams
  • improve the implementation process
  • promote the need for continuous improvement
So what type of SEO requirements should you establish?  That is a great question.  The answer is, it depends.  It depends on the size of your team, how far along you are in the search marketing maturity model, and really what your online/seo needs are.  The fact is that without SEO requirements, your teams may be spinning their wheels in tying to progress from an online marketing perspective.  Furthermore your team may be missing opportunities to improve your online marketing initiatives.

5 Areas That Need SEO Requirements
  1. CMS Requirements - you should define all of the SEO fields that you need as part of your CMS. Here's a good example of some of the requirements that you might want to consider including with your CMS requirements.  Typically with regards to SEO requirements for your CMS, you would include things like:
    • Ensuring that all pages have the ability to have a unique title tag that consists of 70 characters
    • Authors should have the ability to populate and customize the meta description tags
    • Authors should have the ability to edit the h1 or other heading tags of pages
    • URLs, including dynamic ones should have the ability to be rewritten to be more user and search engine friendly
    • Authors should have the ability to insert hyperlinks within the body copy of page content

  2. On-Page SEO - establish requirements for those who will be assisting in the on-page optimization efforts of your site.  This includes having requirements for:
    • tagging (i.e. title tags and meta descriptions)
    • H1 or heading tags
    • Page Copy

  3. Content Requirements - this goes without saying, but you should create SEO requirements for your copywriters and include any necessary instruction with regards to any legal compliance.  Remember content is no longer just html text, content can be in the form of images, video, blog posts, tweets, press releases etc.  Establishing clear requirements can ensure consistency and improve your content development process.
  4. Interlinking -  establishing SEO requirements for interlinking is something that a number of sites that we have seen simply just do not have in place.  Part of the reason for this is that many sites do not have formal interlinking strategies.  Establishing requirements for interlinking does not have to be complicated.  It can be as simple as outlining the process for identifying anchor text to be used, where to incorporate the links on a given page and which types of pages to either link from or link to.
  5. Technical Requirements - to address things such as page speed, image size, Flash, code clean up etc.  Most SEO or online marketing teams will have some form of technical requirements in place.  However, it is a good idea to revisit the technical requirements on a regular basis.  Technical requirements can cover off anything from:
    • Coding requirements
    • CSS standards
    • Tracking code implementation
    • XML sitemap specifications
    • Href link code specifications
    • and many more
If anything else, SEO requirements are a great way to educate the various teams that you have who work on your web properties about SEO, and industry standards.  Clear requirements can make it easier for your technical teams to implement SEO recommendations so that your site is optimized to its fullest potential.  It might be time to take inventory of your requirements that you currently have in place.  If you do not currently have SEO requirements, it's never too late to start establishing them.

    Labels: , ,

    posted by Jody @ 8:18 AM  
    • At 7:35 AM, Anonymous online reputation management said…

      Great breakdown of requirements for SEO. It really makes things easier when you take the time to plan ahead before proceeding. Thanks for the post.

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