Whether you are in-house or in an agency, it can sometimes be difficult to relay information, be heard and get things done. This isn’t just limited to the SEO and developer doing the job, but can often be the cause of friction all the way to the top of the business.
If you want your recommendations to be worked on and take full advantage of them, you will need to help each other out. Rather than just being polite, it is essential to gain knowledge of the other person’s reasoning. With that in mind, here are some points to help you build a successful relationship.
Quantify the benefits
When opportunities are identified, there is no point in simply making a request without an explanation. If you want a certain change to be made, it must at least be supported by the theory behind it.
If possible, it is also good to include any useful data from past interactions or projections. It goes back to UX and how the current site is used. So it’s also a good idea to gather as much information as possible up front, like tracking events in Google Tag Manager.
Explanation and benefits should include the following:
Once these are described and explained, you will have a much better chance of implementing the changes and saving the developers’ time.
Offer solutions, but don’t be rigid
No one likes to be told they are wrong or that their job has been done poorly. Rather than being blunt in this way, it’s good to formulate potential solutions up front. That being said, your choice of solution might not be the best route for the developer, so take the time to define the problem and make sure everyone is aware of the intended end results.
It can often take extra work compared to gut reactions, but it will save time in the long run and allow for a good continuing relationship.
Explain what you’ve looked at and what you can do, but then make it clear where your skills end and developer skills are needed.
You can come up with something that will only be countered with an easier or more accessible solution, so make sure you’re open to that as well. Don’t get stuck in one way to work if a better solution emerges.
While bugfixing is a far-reaching term, it may be more beneficial to discuss tasks as bugfixes rather than adding functionality.
The developers will have worked on a rigid set of features and designs for a website and if you come in and ask for X, Y, and Z, it will likely fall on deaf ears of the developers and management. Instead, you can define some issues as bug fixes that might fit into the original mandate.
This will not apply to all issues, but issues of compatibility, readability, page speed, and server responses can often be presented this way.
Helps increase exposure
This shouldn’t be just an SEO goal, but it should be for everyone involved with the site. As an SEO, your goal is to reach more users, but this cuts across all channels and disciplines.
Hopefully, this isn’t about ‘reviewing the moves’, so the improvements to the website should generate the same enthusiasm across the board. This might be a difficult topic to tackle, but it should be mentioned that it is in everyone’s best interests to increase website traffic.
Keep everyone’s job in mind
As you continue to come up with solutions, make sure that you are not negative about the site and its aspects as this is a surefire way to ensure that your voice is not being heard.
This can range from high level opinions of the website to your wording on requests. Rather than saying the site is a trash fire, try to be tactful!
If you ask for a change, you are more likely to make it take action if you call it “improving current performance” rather than “fixing what isn’t working”.
You can easily see what you think about the requests by reviewing them and imagining that you received the email, or simply by passing it in front of another member of your team.
Keep your working methods fluid
No one works the same and even when 5 people are using the same software, there will be some quirks and efficiency gains to consider.
It’s no different when you’re working with developers and anyone else outside of your team for that matter. With many management systems doing very similar things, it pays to stay nimble and meet in the middle when possible.
With development made up of many more integrated systems than SEO, you will invariably have to respond to developers rather than developers by changing their entire process for an SEO recommendation! Make sure to keep this in mind when asking developers to learn an additional program or when evaluating the work involved.
Definitely recommend systems if they are not in use, but chances are good that the work environment for developers is fully implemented and less open to change.
Most of the above can probably be summed up in the adage ‘don’t be an asshole’, but making sure you are aware of the constraints, work practices and day-to-day of each party involved is key to good working relationship.