We all know that proper prior planning prevents poor performance. Nowhere is that more true than in creating an environment where technical SEO thrives and adds value to your corporate business strategies.
As I outlined in my last post, the first part of the SCORE methodology is standardizing metrics across the enterprise. Remember, SCORE means:
S – Standardize on metrics
C — Commit to tools and tracking methods
O – Organizational alignment
R – Reports and dashboards
E – Execute consistently
To standardize on metrics you’re going to need to answer a set of questions up front—these will point out where you need more resources and help prevent missed opportunities later. In this post, I’ll take you through the first three of these questions: why, who, and what.
The first place to start is with a clear understanding of why you’re measuring technical SEO. Good SEO is comprehensive SEO. To be sure, Google cares more than ever about content these days, but it also cares about a good user experience. Toward that end, it’s also looking more closely at sites that don’t perform as well as they should. Getting penalized by search engines could put you in a really bad mood. If left unmonitored, the technical side of SEO can slow things down and dramatically affect rank as well as organic search.
Let’s go back to our baseball analogy: if technical SEO is our swing, we want to be able to correct it as needed to avoid foul balls and increase our chance of a home run. When we talk about the technical side of SEO, it’s often in the context of doing an audit. This is an offensive tactic and it’s an important one. But you also want to prevent problems or handle them while they’re small. That’s the defensive angle.
Ideally, you want to build an efficient and systematic process for auditing the technical aspects of your website on an ongoing basis. That takes both offensive and defensive plays.
Next you need to know who will gather your metrics and who you’ll share them with. How you answer these questions will depend on your organization, but here are some things to think about.
In an ideal world, your SEO team will be connected with all the relevant functions on the business and technical sides of your company. Different business units contribute different metrics—for instance, IT measures 404 redirects, crawl rates, and malware alerts. Social contributes data on how social activity lines up with SEO KPIs. See the chart below for more examples of how this works.
Next, who will you share your metrics with? Answer: everyone who needs them, and no one who doesn’t. Part of the reason for doing technical metrics is to build credibility and authority for your work. Don’t waste time sending reports to people whose organizational mission won’t be advanced by the data. Your stakeholders probably include your IT, Web production, global, and social units, up to the C-level. And of course you may have others depending on your needs.
Finally, let’s look at some what questions. What metrics are available, and which ones are most valuable? The chart above gives you a starting point for the kinds of metrics you could gather. But should you? Don’t skip over this one. One of the best ways to get at this is to ask your stakeholders what metrics they think matter the most. If they can’t answer that question, ask them what business problems they need solved. Then work backwards to the metrics that will support those solutions.
In general, the most important metrics are those that have immediate business value. In a recent talk, Eli Schwartz at Survey Monkey recommended prioritizing missing pages, canonicals, and site redirects in your technical SEO. These metrics affect user experience directly and, as such, have immediate business value. I agree that these are a good starting place. Depending on what your stakeholders need, you’ll probably come up with a list that’s unique for your enterprise.
Taking time to consciously explore the why, who, and what around your technical SEO metrics will take you far toward standardizing them across your organization. In the next post, we’ll look at the where, how, and when of this step.