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.

SEO Team Model

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.