How do you know if the SEO and content changes you make will benefit your site? Contributor Casie Gillette looks at different ways to prioritize resources so they impact your bottom line and promote your business objectives.

What do we need to do to optimize our site?

It’s a question every search engine optimization specialist (SEO) faces. After all, a website requires many things among others.

But what exactly is an optimised site? Well it is one that will generate lot of traffic to a site and also attract more viewers to your website generating more sales.

Having said that, the role of a good SEO becomes imperative as it not only means using the right keywords in the right places, but also creating great content, a strong link profile, and a solid user experience.

In fact, SEO is comprised of so many things that when faced with the question of what should be done, we often find ourselves providing too many recommendations.

Unfortunately, most SEO teams aren’t equipped with the knowledge to handle them. So, how do we guarantee that the changes which our teams are making will help drive success?
Over the course of my career, this has been a challenge I’ve faced over and over again, and thankfully, I’ve learned how to handle it. Let’s take a look at some of the steps to go about it.

Prioritize by impact
Time is a limited resource, which means not everything can be done. So, if we can get only the most important things onto the list, we can ensure we are choosing the recommendations that are going to have the biggest impact on the site as a whole.

Let’s look at a technical SEO audit, for example. In a technical audit, we might recommend canonicalization, redirect updates, heading tags, image compression and other things. A development team already bogged down by their regular day-to-day tasks isn’t going to fit all of this in.
To make sure things are done, we have to look at what is really holding back the site. For instance, title tags may not seem like the highest priority in the world, but if the site doesn’t have them, that could alone make all the difference.

Also, when making recommendations, it is important to help teams understand where they should start with immediately and what can wait for a later stage. After all everything’s not a priority.

Prioritize by resources

The same thing applies to resources.
Last year, we recommended a client to transition their site from HTTP to HTTPS. They had started only to realize they didn’t have anyone to manage the process.

Moving a site to HTTPS isn’t an easy task. It can be difficult, can result in errors, and, as I’ve seen several times now, it can result in significant organic traffic loss. Do you really want that to happen? Well, it is not worth taking the risk. So we held onto that recommendation for almost a year until they had the right people in place to ensure a smooth transition. Everything was switched over correctly, and the site has now a nice increase in traffic.

Let’s look at another example. Client B wanted our help in writing content but didn’t have anyone to actually edit, approve or manage the process, resulting in a backlog of unpublished blog posts.

Do you know who is benefited from a unpublished blog? Actually no one.
Therefore we decided to switch to blog refreshes. We identified a list of older blog posts that were ripe for an update and starting updating the content. We didn’t need extensive review, and we had the ability to implement the changes. As a result, blog traffic started picking up, and we were able to show improvements without new content.

At the end of the day, SEOs are often reliant on other departments to be successful. So, we have to be aware of available resources and optimise their use when necessary.

Recommendations should be aligned with business goals
It seems like an obvious thing to align your recommendations with business goals. But you must make sure you are driving results that impact the overall organization. Are you actually doing that? Or are your recommendations simply geared toward improving organic traffic and revenue?

I’ll be honest. I have been providing recommendations that has helped the SEO program but did not necessarily align with organizational goals. Hence it’s an easy trap to fall into.
Take the Client B mentioned above. At the onset of the program, we identified our core set of keywords and the types of content we would need to drive visibility. Everyone was in agreement until we actually built the content.

Yes, they understood they needed content, but they felt it really didn’t fit with their existing campaigns and current strategy.

So there were three blog posts and some unpublished content. Until a few months later.
We started asking more questions, getting integrated into their demand- calendar, and it turned out that those three unpublished blog posts fit perfectly into an upcoming campaign.
It was an easy thing to overlook. The content made sense for the SEO program, but it wasn’t necessarily a fit for them at the moment.

Make sure you understand not only the objectives of the team responsible for SEO but also the objectives of the supporting teams and the business as a whole.

Never jump at what is trending
Last month, I gave a presentation on common SEO mistakes people make. One of those things is overreacting to Google and its many updates and changes.

When Google tells us to make our sites secure or it’ll start warning users, we should listen to it. But when we fail to figure out how to differentiate between the secured and unsecured versions, it’s a bit frustrating.

We have to ensure that what we recommend makes sense for our business. We can’t provide recommendations simply because Google said so.
Now, I’m not saying your site shouldn’t be secure or shouldn’t be fast and mobile-friendly. But what I am saying is that maybe your mobile traffic is fairly insignificant, so you don’t need to spend 90 percent of your time focused on a mobile strategy.

Here’s another example.
When accelerated mobile pages (AMP) was launched, it seemed like an easy enough thing to do. Sure, it was built for publishers, but Yoast made it simple, and as a result, it became a part of our standard technical recs. But what about those not on WordPress? What about those with a custom content management system (CMS) who would need to hire a developer to build out AMP functionality? Was it worth it?

No, it wasn’t. In this case, the webmaster didn’t publish a ton of new content, and their overall mobile traffic numbers were fairly small. Even more telling, mobile search results for their core terms didn’t contain AMP results.
Google said, “Jump,” but in this case, there was no reason for us to jump.

Final thoughts
At the end of the day, success is a moving target. As SEOs, we need to continue measuring, adjusting and keeping our strategy aligned with the changing landscape.

Remember, while you may want to fix everything, that isn’t an option every time. Rather help your team be successful by prioritizing their tasks, helping them understand what is going to have an impact and providing recommendations that are built with business objectives in mind and you are good to go.

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