You know, when it comes to technical optimisation, us SEOs won’t get very far without the Dev department.
The relationship dynamic between Dev and SEO can be combative at first.
And, being an SEO guy, I can say, generally, when it comes to working with other departments, we don’t do ourselves any favours, especially when it comes to the Dev department.
Look at it from their point of view. They work their backsides off to create a website, and here we come, pointing out things that are “wrong” with how it’s been developed.
It’s no wonder why Devs sometimes can’t stand us!
And, hey, look, we’re not purposefully trying to show problems.
Well, we kind of are…let me explain…
The Typical Working Relationship Between Devs and SEOs
Our (SEO) mindset is always to make improvements.
I’ve said it many times before. SEO is all about improvements.
In order to make improvements on a site, we first have to identify the state of it.
This involves understanding the site’s current organic visibility, and the things on the site that are negatively impacting it.
We HAVE to figure out the issues, and present solutions for them.
When it comes to Technical SEO, these issues and solutions involves the Dev department.
Now, the issues are not the fault of the Dev team. They are simply issues that need to be addressed. Fixed.
Heck, a lot of the times, the issues are inherited, pre-Dev and pre-SEO.
And to fix them, we (SEOs) need the Dev team to make the changes we recommend.
So we create work!
And you know what? We’re wrong for this! We’re wrong for this!
In our drive to increase organic traffic, we don’t consider cultivating a prosperous working relationship with the Dev department, even though we rely on them to implement changes.
We pretty much just expect Devs to execute what we recommend, disregarding their work priorities.
No wonder why Devs have such disdain for SEOs – sometimes! Well, many times!
This is why they sometimes push back on SEO.
Or aren’t in a hurry to work on any SEO projects.
Or simply don’t bother with SEO tickets.
I’ve worked with many organisations, I can tell you this –
When it comes to Technical SEO, your website is not going to improve until the relationship between SEOs and Devs improve.
Believe this, you can actually get to a point where Devs love SEO!
If the working relationship between Devs and SEOs is not as smooth as can be, tweaking the way they communicate will alleviate any tension or disdain.
Let’s think about the frustrations Devs have with SEO.
Influencing Devs to Love SEO
From their (Devs) point of view, after having worked on a site, having to update it can seem like a slight on their work.
Imagine having spent weeks and months on a project only to have it ‘shit-canned’ to work on SEO tickets.
The influence SEOs have over Devs can be suffocating.
It can sometimes seem as though they are being bossed around by SEO, and this is very demoralising.
With this sense in place, the dynamic between SEOs and Devs is always going to be troublesome.
Let me ask you this –
Why should Devs give a damn about SEO? They’re not SEOs, they’re Devs.
Why should they have to do any SEO work?
These are the types of questions that should be considered with every SEO work that requires implementation by the Dev department.
What I’m suggesting here, as I’ve touched on in previous podcasts, is that the why of SEO needs to be clear to Devs.
Rather than only having a ticket that explains the Dev work needed for SEO purposes, the big picture should be shown as a first step.
The why lies in the big picture, and not the task ticket.
Showing the ‘Big Picture’
When you show the big picture of a project, and how Devs contribute to it, they’re a lot more likely to buy into it.
So what is the big picture?
The big picture is showing how a project, or task, contributes to revenue.
After showing the big picture, showing the role Devs play in realising it will be met with warmth, as opposed to push-backs.
The dynamic will then be that of working together to achieve what both departments want to realise.
Doesn’t this sound a lot better than simply telling Devs what to do?
You know what else fosters a great working relationship between Devs and SEOs?
Sharing SEO results!
Showing the big picture of what you’re aiming to achieve, and then showing results along the journey, is a sure way to get buy-in, earlier, when it comes to the next project.
If SEO results aren’t something that you share with your Dev department, and you rely on them to implement SEO work, I suggest making a change here.
Think of the delight you share with SEOs when a major piece of work is carried out and it leads to more traffic.
Let’s take a site’s XML sitemap as an example. Your site doesn’t have one.
SEOs recommend creating one to help the site gain more organic search visibility.
It takes a while but Dev is finally resourced to create this.
The XML is launched, and after 2-3 months of monitoring, SEO is able to show the site has increased in ‘X’ amount of organic visibility.
This has contributed to an increase in organic traffic. From this increase, revenue from SEO has grown by ‘X’ amount.
Why wouldn’t you share this story with the Dev team?
All of it. Not just the metrics. The entire story!
This right here will be an excellent motivator for the next project.
If this project took several weeks to get buy-in from the Dev team, the next will take significantly less time.
Do you know what this type of story does to the Dev person who worked on the project?
When they SEE what their work has allowed the business to accomplish?
Something like this can make a Dev person’s year!
Devs rarely get to see the big picture of what they do. It’s typically ticket after ticket. They have to be very operational.
Being able to see this type of story is a HUGE motivator for the Dev person to work on more SEO projects.
Guess what happens when one Dev person shows keenness in SEO?
What influence do you think this has on this person’s colleagues? Think about it!
Improving the relationship between SEOs and Devs is necessary in order to achieve technical optimisation of your site.
Think of the way both teams are communicating in your organisation.
If you primarily have a ticketing-based approach, and this isn’t producing results, it’ll be worth considering making adjustments.
Showing the big picture of what you want to achieve and how individuals fit in making the goal a reality is a great way to get buy-in.
Show the big picture. Tell the success story!
Be consistent with this and you’ll be sure to have both teams performing together.
You’ll even have Devs loving SEO, and being keen to work on all technical optimisation projects.