Spreadsheets as Examples, SEO Business Case, Trust Battery
Monday Ideas - Edition #31
Welcome to the Monday morning ideas newsletter ☕️.
Every Monday morning, receive 3 ideas on how to work more effectively in product and dev teams.
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1) Spreadsheets as Examples
Examples are a powerful way to communicate with developers.
Some of the most successful SEO teams use examples to communicate what a CMS or platform is supposed to do (not how it does it). And these examples created by the SEO team help get developers and product managers on the same page.
There are many ways that teams illustrate using examples:
🎨 Visual designs - Work with a designer to create a design of a page template.
🖍️ Sketching - Use a tool like Excalidraw to sketch a basic design or output.
💽 Code - Write the output of the JSON schema code you expect to see on a web page.
However, there is an old-school method many successful SEO teams don’t use enough.
That method is: Modelling your expected output in a spreadsheet.
A spreadsheet in Google Docs is still one of the most powerful ways to illustrate examples to any developer, designer or product manager.
It can be used to map out the expected patterns and help teams build a shared understanding of what is expected from the work.
A few examples (get it :p) include:
⏪ Redirect mapping - Putting together a 301 redirect map for a dev team to implement.
🍬 Canonical mapping - Mapping the canonical tags for a list of different page templates.
📄 Pagination mapping - Mapping the expected SEO end states for SEO-friendly pagination.
How can you use SEO data modelling to get your SEO projects executed?
When putting together SEO recommendations and working with developers. Try to map out your expected end state in a spreadsheet.
For example, when working on a pagination project. You can map out the following SEO data points in a spreadsheet:
URL Patterns (?page=2, ?page=3, etc.)
Title Tag Patterns
Self-referencing canonical tags on paginated pages
You can quickly help build a mental model with your development team about your vision. And more importantly, they can provide feedback.
For example, after speaking with the developers they provided feedback that the solution wouldn’t use query strings (parameters) in the paginated pages. They would use static URLs. Also, they also need requirements on how to handle the duplication page “page 1” in the series.
Refining your SEO requirements into actionable SEO dev tickets that can be implemented.
So, next time you are struggling to communicate with your dev team. Open a spreadsheet, map out your SEO data points and create your vision.
2) SEO Business Case
SEO professionals struggle to get buy-in from product and development teams.
Product and development teams will always ask for a business case. A reason why they should spend their precious time and resources on SEO projects.
Many SEO professionals create complex SEO forecasts and statistical data models. But from my experience, many teams aren’t looking for anything that complex.
They value evidence, experience and examples of success over complex statistical data models.
If you ask any senior product manager, they’ll say that the prediction they made was based on past experience, experiment or similar case studies from companies that have “done it before”.
As SEO professionals, we need to shift from spreadsheet forecasts to using comparisons to build a business case for our prioritised action lists.
To do this, we need to use two methods:
Let’s discuss how to combine these two methods to get SEO buy-in from product managers and developers.
First, we need to gather SEO case studies of the problem you are trying to solve.
A few good sources where you can find case studies:
SearchPilot (Free…a great collection of experiments)
SEO Case Study Database (Paid…there are over 400+ case studies)
Google (Free…but can take hours and hours to find anything)
However, you will find a relevant SEO case study. The information you gather must be relevant to the recommendation you want a product and development team to implement.
For example, if I were trying to reduce crawl and index bloat on a website, I’d be looking at using the following third-party case studies:
Once you have gathered your third-party case studies or experiments, it’s time to use them to calculate the estimated impact.
We need to calculate the % increase in SEO traffic from each case study. For example, 22%, 200% and 50%. But once those percentage increases, it can be hard to be confident about the level of impact from the project. A 200% increase seems too high, but a 22% uplift seems too low.
Instead, we need to use the geometric mean. To quote Andrew Charlton:
“Taking ‘the average’ will likely be well off, but you can use something called the geometric mean instead. The geometric mean is better suited to data with outliers or extreme variance.”
To use the geometric mean, we need to use an online calculator. And input the results from the third-party crawl and index bloat case studies.
When inputting the percentage scores, we get a geometric mean of 60% rounded down.
Now we can use this to estimate the uplift in SEO traffic from our crawl and index bloat project.
10,000 * 0.60 = 6,000 extra monthly SEO visits
However, most product and development teams aren’t going to get excited about 6,000 extra visits per month. Remember, product and development teams are looking to work on ambitious growth projects, not fixing bugs.
This is where we need to apply Tom Critchlow’s multiply monthly numbers by 12.
Many SEO professionals forget that our work has a compounding impact over time. We should be framing our work in yearly growth, not monthly.
To quote Tom Critchlow:
“…correctly framing your growth as yearly (or perhaps longer!). SEO is a compounding growth activity and should be presented as such. And it’s much more compelling to multiply your monthly numbers by 12, obviously.”
Now let’s multiply our crawl and index bloat project estimated impact by 12.
6,000 * 12 = 72,000 extra SEO visits per year.
Suddenly, that crawl and index bloat project sounds like an ambitious growth project.
Now we can start to calculate the sales or leads based on the new levels of SEO traffic. And we also need to build in the assumptions, requirements and caveats to achieve this growth in 12 months.
This method isn’t perfect.
However, it can quickly help you build an SEO business case that will give you more confidence based on evidence and comparisons.
3) Trust Battery
When you work across multi-disciplinary teams, it is important to be a team player.
The reason is simple: trust is the energy that powers team collaboration.
When you engage in behaviour that reduces the trust between you and other team members, decisions and collaboration take longer as people don’t trust you.
If you engage in behaviour that increases the trust between you and other team members, the decisions and collaboration are much faster.
This concept of depleting and charging is called The Trust Battery.
A mental model created by Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lütke. It’s a mental model for how to think about relationships with people.
How does this trust framework help you get more SEO projects executed?
The more team members trust you, the faster decisions are made in a project.
Nothing gets buy-in faster than a developer who trusts you. Based on years of experience working with you.
I’ve got a lot of SEO projects implemented from building up trust with product and development teams.
But how can you keep charging the trust battery with your development and product teams?
Start by asking yourself these questions when interacting with team members:
Are the SEO recommendations you’re putting forward feasible and viable?
Do you have evidence they will drive more SEO traffic or revenue?
Are these recommendations solving a business problem?
Do you show up for meetings on time and with an agenda?
Do you send around actions after a meeting?
Do the projects you work on get results?
Do you clarify work when it is asked for?
Do you learn to sh*t the fuck up and listen in meetings?
Do you schedule regular calls and listen to others’ problems and how SEO can help solve them?
Do you help others in your team?
Do you align SEO projects with other team roadmaps or projects?
Do you send SEO tasks via email or follow the team’s delivery process?
Do you help set up processes or documents that help make other team mates lives easier?
If you answered no to a lot of these questions, then it might be a sign you’re behaviour is depleting the trust battery.
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