Shared understanding, features vs bugs, and common language
Monday 3-2-1 - Edition #1
Welcome to the 3-2-1 Monday newsletter.
Every Monday morning, start your week with the following:
💡 3 short ideas about working with devs and product teams.
📰 Two articles to explore to help be more effective with product and dev teams.
❓ One question for you to think about this week while working.
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💡 3 Short Ideas
Short ideas on how to improve working with devs and product teams.
1) Build shared understanding in your team
A key problem in SEO is that we rely heavily on documentation to communicate our recommendations.
The problem is that when relying on documentation to communicate SEO recommendations, other teams either:
Interpret what you’ve written differently or,
Skim-read the document without actually taking it in.
When working with development, product or design teams, our goal shouldn’t be to write perfect documentation but build shared understanding.
The goal of shared understanding is to ensure that team members have the same mental model of the problem and why they are trying to solve it.
How can we, as SEOs or digital product managers, help build shared understanding?
I've found the following methods helpful to help build a shared mental model with developers:
🗣️ Prioritise conversation over documentation - Conversation with other team members is critical to building a shared mental model and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
👥 Form smaller teams - Working in smaller groups to build shared understanding is critical. The more people you try to bring into the conversation, the harder it will be to focus on one problem.
🚀 Build shared spaces - Create physical or virtual team walls that teams that can be a focal point to discuss ideas, sketch concepts, and collaborate on solving problems.
: Share examples - Illustrating our ideas, specifications or recommendations using examples is one of the best ways to help everyone quickly build a mental model.
I wrote about shared understanding in SEO in the article below 👇
2) Businesses are designed to build features
Many organisations are obsessed with solving problems and building features that drive growth. Interestingly, fixing bugs in any system is viewed as less of a priority. Even though it can help to reduce costs and help solve customer problems.
So, why does this all matter to an SEO?
It matters because things raised as “bugs” are given less resource allocation in product and development teams than new shiny features that can help grow the company.
As SEOs, we must understand the difference between SEO features vs an SEO bug.
The difference between SEO features and SEO bugs is quite (in theory) simple:
📈 SEO Features - Adding new functionality to a website or improving on the system's existing functionality that helps search engines crawl, index and rank a website.
🐞 SEO Bugs - Fix existing SEO features or code that doesn't meet the expected result to help search engines crawl, index, and rank a website.
I wrote about SEO Features vs SEO bugs in the article below 👇
3) Develop a common language with your team
A key challenge for technical and business teams is a lack of common language around a concept or problem the team wants to solve.
If technical teams do not understand the concepts in conversations or docs, it can cause a delay in both product and SEO projects.
When working with dev and product teams, getting teams to use a common language around crucial concepts or ideas.
Product and engineering teams solve these problems by developing a common language around a feature or process.
This can mean that specialists (marketing, product, SEO) need to develop a shared vocabulary around the following:
📋 System or feature requirements - Create a shared language for a feature, template, system, etc.
🌀 A team’s process - Create a shared language for prioritisation processes, planning, success metrics, etc.
🧪 Testing plans - Create a shared definition of done when code is released.
How can they do this? Well, there are several ways I've found useful:
🔚 Start with the end in mind - One of the best ways to develop a common language around features is for SEO to start with an end in mind with any feature or activity.
📢 Engage with other teams regularly - An essential way to develop a shared common language is to talk to them regularly.
📝 Continuously Document - Developing a common language requires the team to continuously document their breakthroughs and discussions.
I wrote about the importance of common language in SEO in the article below 👇
📰 2 Articles to Explore
Articles to explore to help be more effective with product and dev teams.
by Steph Smith
“Interestingly enough, I realized that it was not the sporadic highs that were exceptional, but instead the long hauls; the sequences of events that seemed minimal at each juncture, but compounded into major gains. This led me to think further about what greatness truly means. I’ve come to learn that it’s not about overnight successes or flashes of excellence, but periods of repeatable habits.”
by Des Traynor
“It’s the low-effort, low-impact work that can kill you, because it’s so attractive. Hunter refers to it as “snacking”. It feels rewarding and can solve a short term problem, but if you never eat anything of substance you’ll suffer.”
❓ 1 Question For You
A question for you to think about this week while working.
How would you measure the success of your SEO work IF you didn’t have access to traditional SEO data (GSC, analytics, etc.)?
How did I do this week?
If you enjoyed reading this article, then consider the following:
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