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Implementation is the Name of the Game

Mark Jackson
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Implementation is a critical part of the SEO process. This is where we actually make the recommended changes to the Web site. It's also where way too many SEO projects go wrong.

As much we try to ask all the hard questions before an agreement is signed or a single check is cut, there are some who fail to realize the commitment of time/resources to implementing recommendations until the SEO process is well underway.

SEO Priorities

My company performs keyword research, competitive analysis, and site structure analysis, and writes recommendations for title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords, and content/header tags as a Phase 1 deliverable. These recommendations usually show up in our client's inbox within 45 to 60 days from the onset of the agreement (obviously, this will vary based upon the size of the initiative). At the end of this period, this initial round of recommendations is ready to implement.

For about 20 percent of our clients, we have access to their Web site and are able to implement the recommendations ourselves. For the other 80 percent, we depend on their IT staff to implement the recommendations.

This is where things can get a little "loosey-goosey." IT staffs have a lot on their plate. How do SEO recommendations get prioritized?

One of our clients recently asked us to prioritize the recommendations (title tags, fixing sitemap issues, bad redirects, broken links, and other items) by revenue generated. Yes. This is how their IT department works. They need to know the expected ROI on the time that's being invested, for each and every item being worked on.

How do you quantify "fixing a broken link" to a ROI? (If someone has an answer to this, please send it to me.) What we did in this instance was prioritize based on a 0-100 scale of "moving the needle."

Then, once we have approval on the recommendations implementation schedule, we're at the mercy of their IT department's "maintenance update" calendar. Bottom line: date of implementation "TBD."

DéjÀ vu All Over Again

One of our clients requires a weekly meeting to go over recommendations and talk about next steps. Typically, these meetings occur monthly, but we made special accommodations for this client. Really, this is overkill, but nevertheless...

We've been engaged in SEO for this client for about eight months now. They implemented some of our recommendations, but it seems like our weekly call with them discusses the same issues over and over and over again.

Recently, our main contact for this program "moved on." The new folks moved in and asked, "What's going on with our search engine optimization program?"

We showed them all of the recommendations (that were still outstanding) and received a commitment that our recommendations would be implemented. While I don't know if everything I'm hearing is completely accurate, I'm told that the IT department didn't even know about our recommendations until the recent change in personnel.

Talking to a Wall?

OK, this is the one that totally gets me. Regular readers my column know that I do free quarterly site reviews. The first site review I wrote was July 24, 2007 for a company called MDC Wallcoverings. In my next Quarterly Site Review on October 30, 2007, I called out MDC Wallcoverings because they still hadn't implemented my recommendations.

In my July 1, 2008 Quarterly Site Review, I called then out yet again. This apparently got MDC Wallcovering's attention. They e-mailed me to ask if I would be so kind as to have a call with their team to go over the recommendations.

I obliged (again, for free). I went over my recommendations with them for about an hour (I charge about $500/hour for consultation). They told me that they really appreciated my time and that this time they would implement. All I asked was that they share their results with me so I could discuss them in a future column.

I can't believe that I even have to write this again, but MDC Wallcoverings has not implemented my recommendations. Guys, I think you're nice people, and I really want to help you out. But, all the best/free SEO advice in the world doesn't work unless and until you implement some changes!

I know I'm not alone in my frustration. I hear SEOs talk about this all the time. As much as people may want to bag on SEOs and our industry (and I've done my share of this), SEO isn't voodoo or black magic. It only works when there's a commitment from everyone involved.

Help your SEO help you. Implement their recommendations! If you trust them (and you should if you hired them), let them do their thing. If you don't trust them, find another provider that you do trust.

For those of you who are really interested in having me review your site for SEO, please contact me as soon as possible. Let me know the keywords you're focused on and give me some background on your efforts. You might see your site reviewed next week!

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