Businesses pour tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into ensuring that their websites are properly built, expertly designed and engaging for their audience. And while good architecture and design is essential for the modern customer experience, another crucial element is traffic and how you get visitors to come to your website and potentially purchase your products and/or services.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most essential sub-areas within content marketing and one of the key things content managers can do to drive traffic to their websites. Platforms such as Bing, Baidu, and Yahoo do have some minimal market share, but Google is the one that everyone is trying to impress. With almost 93% of the market share, Google is the most popular search engine in the world, and it’s where most SEO managers focus their efforts. Yet SEO is a complicated beast, and Google provides a myriad of factors that go into it that require both creative and technical expertise.
While many companies employ a dedicated SEO expert to manage their SEO initiatives, others rely on their existing marketing teams to handle the job. Regardless, SEO isn’t a marketer-only initiative; it’s an area where developers need to have some input. Let’s dive into why SEO managers and developers need to be in sync if companies want to surge up the Google rankings.
The Technical Nature of SEO
When most people consider an SEO strategy, the first thing they think of is content production and keywords. But those aren’t the only pieces of the puzzle. As Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, points out, “when I explain SEO to newcomers, I tend to divide it into three equal parts: content, link building, and technical aspects. The first caveat is there are many more areas of SEO, but I find that limiting it to these three is a good starting framework.”
But how much of SEO is actually technical? It ultimately depends on your goals and the type of industry you’re in. That number could be 10%, 33%, or 50%, as Alexis points out, but regardless, the technical aspect of SEO isn’t to be overlooked. One of the reasons is due to Google’s Core Web Vitals.
Google decided to focus more on Core Web Vitals as part of an algorithm update for Page Experience. These areas represent the key things Google measures that impact the user experience on both web and mobile devices. The Core Web Vitals are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Here’s what each of them is:
- LCP relates to how long the largest piece of content on your page takes to load. Essentially, this is a measurement of how fast your website is.
- FID is a measurement of how long it takes for the website to react to user interactions. For example, FID measures how quickly the site responds to that input if a user clicks a button or a link.
- CLS is a measurement of site stability. For example, do things move around on the screen when the site is loading.
Why You Need Developer Expertise For SEO
As an SEO manager, you can only control so much of the page experience. With the ranking factors that Google has outlined through Core Web Vitals, such as site speed and other elements that produce a good score on Google Lighthouse, having some developer expertise is critical. Not to mention client-side rendering vs server-side rendering and other technical details that are best handled by developers.
It’s possible to get a great start on your SEO strategy without technical input, but at some point, you need to add the technical aspects if you want to see the best results. “Implementing technical off-page SEO is extremely important when it comes to a holistic approach to improving SEO (and ultimately SERP results) for your website and brand,” says Adam Kaminski, Digital Marketing Specialist at Anura.
How SEO Managers and Developers Can Connect
Search engine optimization needs both marketers and developers to work together for businesses to have success. The starting point for that can be for each department to familiarize themselves with some of the nuances and requirements of the other. “Good SEOs can speak the language developers need to quickly make critical technical fixes needed for SEO success,” says Nate Nead, CEO at SEO.co.
Yet, it’s not only up to SEO managers to do their part, as having a developer that can speak the same language as their marketing counterparts is also beneficial. “Conversely, developers who work in online marketing should be familiar with the nuances, language, and formatting requested by SEO professionals who may find and request fixes be made in a particular area,” Nead adds.
Companies can introduce workflows into their content management processes that gather input from developers and ensure that they are involved in content strategy. This enables teams to have the technical expertise they require for handling content and getting the most out of their SEO strategies.
Choose the Right Tools For SEO Success
Achieving success with SEO has a lot to do with the people that are put in place to handle that area of the job. But they aren’t the only thing a company needs to worry about. It’s also imperative that the developer tools and other platforms used for producing content applications are right for the job, starting with the CMS.
First of all, SEO managers should have a say in the selection of the CMS as they and other marketers will be the ones working with the platform the most. Also, developers need a CMS that enables them to get the most out of their technology stack and enables them to build a fast site as well as provides control over URLs, SEO-related metadata, redirect links, and more. Here are some of the qualities your CMS should have that aid in SEO:
Headless Content Delivery: As more enterprises move to headless CMS solutions to address the need for omni-channel content experiences, they must ensure they do not sacrifice the required SEO capabilities. Unfortunately many headless-only solutions do not support SEO very well. More sophisticated headless platforms such as Crafter CMS that provide all the SEO capabilities that major enterprises require, including comprehensive content authoring tools, developer agility, and high performance content delivery.
Rich Content Editing Features: When you choose a headless CMS, marketers must have features that make it easy for them to create and edit content. This includes complete control over all SEO relevant elements – friendly URLs, metadata, etc. This also means drag and drop page building and WYSIWYG editing tools that do not require complicated markup, as well as in-context previewing to see what content will look like on other devices, especially mobile devices, before it gets published.
Developer-Friendly: With the vital role that developers play in the SEO experience, the CMS you choose should have features that allow developers the flexibility to choose the language they want to use to create each front-end experience. Given the importance that Google has placed on-page experience, developers should have the freedom to choose the tools that enable them to enhance that experience.
How DevContentOps Improves the SEO Process
It’s clear that businesses that want to get the most out of their SEO efforts need SEO managers, developers, content authors, and more working together. Companies also need the support of the right tools like a CMS, and the DevContentOps approach can provide all of these things and more.
DevContentOps takes the speed and agility benefits that DevOps provides for developers and brings content authors and the CMS into the equation. This enables developers and SEO managers to connect and collaborate easily without struggling with the pitfalls of content freezes that can sometimes occur. Instead, the content delivery process remains uninterrupted, and teams can improve the content experience that their users have, and as a result, the SEO experience can be improved as well.