SEO: Laying the Groundwork

Over the past two to three months we’ve seen a lot of changes at Network Solutions, including a boatload of new product offerings and several new site launches. It’s exciting work – but gives the SEO team a lot of challenges keeping up with requirements. For instance, the SEO Dev team was given about 3 days to come up with keywords, metas, page titles and URLs for 128 pages. Yes – that’s right! And yesterday, we took on an additional 100 pages that are going onto a different site – and these will be pages with a bunch of videos (cool! something new to optimize!!)

Here’s the good news: Network Solutions GETS the need for search optimization! It’s great to hear when product marketers (of which we have several new ones) say, “I was told a number of times that I need to talk with your team to make certain we’re doing this the best way we can.”

Here’s the groundwork you need to lay to so you can do SEO at the speed of light:

  1. Get your keywords. Develop your target keyword list for the website. Know these keywords. Love them. Rank them in order of importance, and if you manage multiple products or concepts, categorize them that way, too.
  2. Map your site. Select which keywords you will optimize on which pages. For “orphaned” keywords, set up a plan for how you can add content or match them to upcoming efforts.
  3. Set priorities. Understand which parts of the site or which concepts are the most important (and/or have the most opportunity) and keep those posted where you can see them. Daily, ask: What have I done about these items?
  4. Get all parts of the SEO team involved in upcoming activities. Do you have developers, copywriters, social media team members or others who are directly or indirectly on your SEO team? Make certain they all know about the one, two and six month horizon (when possible).
  5. Be iterative. SEO is not a goal, it’s a process – and make certain that your team knows that, too.

Now onto the non-technical groundwork:

  1. Share keywords, goals and results with the product marketers. For them to understand why they are following particular guidelines, they need to understand what those guidelines are and why it makes a difference.
  2. Work with designers one-on-one.  There are times that SEO is viewed as the ugly step-child of design – where implementing good SEO practices seems to contradict user experience. These are the times where working with the designers one-on-one and being willing to find compromises that work for both (white hat) SEO and for design mean the difference between launching the right solution or a battle royale.
  3. Befriend your engineering department. I work very closely with our engineering manager, Jason Shawn. He is a very, very smart guy – and he understands the importance of SEO. In fact, I arranged for inhouse SEO training for all of the key players in engineering. It’s my experience that engineers love learning new stuff – and having an opportunity to contribute more than just coding and implementation skills.
  4. Socialize, socialize, socialize. Think of this as your internal public relations campaign to get everyone on board with SEO. This includes everyone from product marketing / management through engineering, web design, ecommerce and even the sales group.
  5. Stay on top and share. Keep up to date with what’s going on in search, social media and other places – as we all know, it’s a fast-moving target. Taking time to stay up to date and sharing new information  will help you keep other people engaged who can influence the outcome of SEO.