Alright. You know, on this podcast, I’ve spoken on why it’s important to have SEO evangelised across your business.
Today, I want to reiterate this sentiment, with a story.
A story of how the actions of non-SEOs can massively drop the traffic to your website, due to a lack of awareness of SEO.
Some time ago, a large organisation, let’s call them Rosey, went through a redesign of their website – a website that was heavily reliant on SEO traffic.
Now, a website redesign isn’t particularly an issue.
Organisations improve their website design quite regularly – I’m talking yearly.
Designs are iterated, modules are upgraded, created – what have you!
Rosey underwent a redesign of their site, launched it, and within a few days, the most important generic keyword the business tracked, dropped from the number 1 position on Google.
This damn near launched a civil war at Rosey!
The CEO, who claimed to know SEO, but only cared about keywords and rankings, went berserk!
He came down hard on SEO – demanded answers, like yesterday! He even hired an SEO agency to investigate the cause of their most important keyword dropping to the number 4 position.
He had the agency reporting directly to him.
The in-house SEO department was under threat!
Of course, the SEO department weren’t fools – at least not completely.
They carried out their own investigation.
On-page. Off-page. Technical. They went in!
All hands on deck, in. Working till late everyday, in. Spreadsheets-galore, in!
They had to figure out why Rosey had lost the number 1 spot on Google.
And they did!
It took them a few days but they had their hypothesis, which was of course, backed by data.
You see, folks, in a big-arse organisation, it’s not uncommon for departments to operate in a very siloed manner.
It’s not uncommon for departments to have absolutely no idea how the agenda of their department will impact another department.
Even when information is shared, it’s not uncommon for the operational details to evade one department to another.
And unfortunately for Rosey, they saw the effect of this –
So, the in-house SEO department were able to pinpoint what caused them to lose the number 1 spot for their most beloved keyword.
You see, the website redesign had focused more on the aesthetic look of the site, and individual pages.
The redesign, in fact, was keen on having less content on pages.
Less content on pages translated to less Copy on pages.
And for the landing page of the most cherished keyword, what this translated to was having less mentions of the keyword.
Less Copy on pages also translated to the removal of internal links to this page from other pages on the website, including the homepage.
What seemed like a great change from a design point of view was actually a massive set of changes for SEO.
Changes that led to the landing page of the targeted keyword no longer being regarded as the best, most appropriate page by Google.
Hence, the drop to position 4 in the SERPs. Oh, dear Rosey!
The in-house SEO department had findings to share with the CEO.
They had their story straight – and the headline was clear: ‘Rankings Drop After Site Redesign!’
They knew it was going to be an uphill battle to regain the number 1 position.
But first, they had to prove the drop wasn’t something they had caused, directly.
Frankly, they had to prove why they shouldn’t be dismissed from their roles.
In a climate where factions are siloed, they knew their fighting chance was to show the details of the site redesign were not communicated.
SEOs saw two threats: the external SEO agency and, the design department.
With this in mind, they went forth with the report of their findings.
A report they hoped would show the CEO that they hadn’t been involved with the site redesign, whilst simultaneously, wiping out the external SEO agency.
Their plan worked!
The external SEO agency were easy to get rid of.
You see, whilst the agency provided several theories to the ranking drop, the in-house SEO department focused on their site redesign story.
A story the CEO found to be a lot more compelling, and thus, he bought into it.
This buy-in, however, meant the design department had to strike back.
Their defence was an immediate offence against the SEO department.
They had mentioned the redesign a couple of times but, outside of the design department, had not shared the details.
Their stance was an unawareness of what needed to be shared with SEO.
Both SEO and Design had meetings for days.
Accusations were thrown back and forth. Emails were un-archived. Threats were made with guises. Pitfalls, and even sabotages, were planned.
When both departments started to ally with other departments, the CEO had had enough!
He was between a rock and a hard place.
He could let the civil war continue, pin the ranking drop on certain people and have them dismissed.
Another option was to get his departments in order to begin the monumental task of regaining the number 1 spot for their beloved keyword.
Tell me, if you were the CEO in this predicament, what would you do?
How would you tackle this issue? Or issues?
What would you identify as the major pitfalls the business fell into…?
How would you avoid such pitfalls?