SEO implementation barriers and how to overcome them

One of the biggest contributors to organic growth is getting SEO changes implemented. It seems obvious that a website can’t perform to its fullest potential until improvements are made, however, this is often easier said than done. In fact, not getting work implemented is one of the main reasons we might miss out on performance targets and forecasts.  

There is a plethora of reasons why SEO recommendations go unchanged, and this is what we are going to uncover in this article, along with the techniques we use to make sure changes are being made. 

Why SEO implementation is important

When completing a large piece of work, whether that’s a nice beefy technical audit, or a site architecture review, we often feel a great sense of accomplishment. But the real value of your work is in its implementation – what’s the point of doing such a large piece of work if it isn’t implemented? An audit by itself will unfortunately not drive any results – but the execution will. 

Getting your hard work implemented can be the difference between reaching the top positions in the SERPs and lingering around the bottom end of the first results page or below, which generates little or no traffic. A study has shown that the top three positions in the search results get 54% of all clicks. Other industry statistics reveal that 75% of users never scroll beyond the first page of search results, further emphasising the importance of getting work over the line and appearing in those lucrative top positions. Our own SEOcausal tool provides additional proof that even small changes can have a large impact.

8 Common implementation barriers (and how to overcome them)

1. Insufficient dev/in-house resource

Developer resources are finite. It can be a daunting prospect seeing all your hard work go to waste only to then be questioned at an end-of-year review “So what have you done?”. 

To avoid this nightmare, we’d recommend getting as much information as possible about how many dev resources you’ll have available for SEO. For example, how frequent are their sprints? Do they have the capacity to implement all recommendations, or are they limited to less complex fixes? This is crucial information to have as it allows you to adjust your approach accordingly. If a developer has limited resources, you’d be wise to send over only the most high-priority fixes. 

We would also recommend forecasting the potential monetary uplift of an implementation to really drive home the importance of getting things over the line and push for extra resources. Even if this doesn’t lead to increased resource allocation, it can at least help convince senior management that resources should be focused on the recommendations that will yield the highest ROI.

2. Deprioritised tickets

The internal workings of businesses can be complex, and sometimes other business items are given higher priority over SEO tickets. Once this happens, it can be a little tricky convincing key stakeholders that your recommendations should be at the forefront.

If you get an external agency to carry out a technical audit, it is paramount that they have as much information as possible on your CMS, and the internal resourcing/capabilities to implement changes. This will help them frame their recommendations to ensure they are relevant to your site.

There are a few ways to get around the issue of deprioritised tickets. When writing a ticket for developers, you’ll need to be as clear and concise as possible (a developer’s disdain for fluff is unrivalled). Explain what the problem is, why it is a problem, the potential benefit of fixing the issue and the desired outcome. Throw in some extra shine onto your recommendations by adding a priority. This will really help stress the importance of your work and getting recommendations implemented.

One thing we do here is create tickets for only the highest priority items. A more bitesize number of tickets will be more digestible for key decision makers, increasing the odds of your recommendations being added into the next sprint. This also helps developers focus on a smaller number of items that will yield larger returns on investment.

If the above fails to get the ball rolling, it’s worth focusing on quick wins that require minimal effort. Positive uplifts off the back of these will go a long way toward getting more resources for the remaining tickets.

3. Code freezes

Coding freezes are a common roadblock in getting optimisations implemented. Sadly, it’s a fact of life that for ecommerce sites, they’re inevitable and typically occur during the peak holiday season. You may also find a code freeze will be put in effect due to a migration. 

The good news is that this can be mitigated by planning ahead with this in mind. 

Not all tickets will require dev resources, and there are plenty of SEO wins that can be implemented during a code freeze, from fixing broken links to removing low-quality content. Planning work around the dates a code freeze will occur can leave plenty of time in the months prior to get other, more resource-intensive tickets over the line.

4. Stakeholder roadblocks to content changes

Creating and optimising web copy is rarely a straightforward process. Depending on the company, there may be a number of key stakeholders who will need to review the work before anything gets published to ensure it is in line with company policy. Legal, product and brand teams are often teams consulted during this process. Needless to say, getting everyone on board can affect sign-off and publishing dates.

To avoid frustration, ensure these key individuals understand and buy into the content vision that you have. There may also be documentation they can provide you with ahead of time (brand identity, legal documents etc). Once you have their buy-in, embrace that this is an inevitable step of the content process and build out a content calendar and roadmap that is shared with all teams in advance.

5. Not having CMS access

Once you have sign-off, working in the CMS is the only surefire way to ensure your new or optimised content gets implemented. However, gaining CMS access is not easy. Clients and in-house technical teams might feel apprehensive about giving outsiders or other teams access for fear that something might go wrong. 

A way that we have planned around CMS concerns is by working within a staging site. A staging environment is where you can test changes before they are placed on the live website. Once this is done, the dev team can approve the page without risking anything breaking or changing on the live site. The changes can then be made on the live site safely, assuming they are the same.

6. Alignment with other teams

SEO works best when all branches of the business have a common objective. However, sometimes technical teams, SEO included, are kept in the dark from major business updates that can have major ramifications on the work they are doing. For example, a business rebrand impacts a plethora of online elements that an SEO and content team need to think about. 

We overcome this by having regular meetings with in-house teams and requesting business updates from them. The sooner we understand the business objectives for the next 6 to 12 months, the better we can service websites with a common objective. 

7. Business shakeups

SEO works best when different teams have a common objective, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. As a result, work doesn’t get implemented because it doesn’t meet those objectives. For example, SEO teams should be made aware when there are business / commercial updates, rebranding, web design changes etc. 

We’ve previously discussed the need to hold pre-audit kick-off discussions to mitigate this issue when SEO activity is due to start or when setting future objectives. This gives senior stakeholders a chance to make you aware of any upcoming turbulence from their end, such as changing business goals. Having as much information as possible will enable you or an external agency to tailor the strategy to focus on improving these specific KPIs and maximising ROI.

8. Lack of SEO knowledge

Last but certainly not least, an obstacle we encounter towards implementation is a lack of SEO knowledge from key decision-makers. SEO is an evolving field that can intimidate those outside the industry. Often the importance of SEO is overlooked, misunderstood or deprioritised because it seems too obscure when it comes to commercial value. 

To overcome this misconception, we run training workshops with our clients to ensure they understand the fundamentals of what we do. Our SEO strategies are also tightly connected towards commercial gain. Through commercial opportunity spotting, we can work towards a better return on investment. 

In conclusion

As you can see, we have experienced our fair share of road blockers on the way to delivering excellent results for clients. However, at Builtvisible, we pride ourselves on finding strategic ways to overcome these barriers. If your SEO strategy has hit a wall and is stagnating, get in touch with an SEO agency that proactively pushes the barriers of what is possible. 

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