## How to Work Better with Developers as an SEO: Part One
Working effectively and collaboratively with developers is crucial for SEO professionals. Developers have the power to make our lives easier by swiftly implementing necessary fixes or inadvertently make things worse by deploying code that negatively impacts organic traffic. On the flip side, SEOs can provide invaluable data on usability and accessibility to developers. It is vital to cultivate a strong working relationship with developers that goes beyond bribing them with doughnuts. In this three-part series, we will explore strategies to establish a productive partnership with developers while safeguarding organic traffic and the overall website.
### Understanding Processes and Effective Communication
To improve collaboration with developers, it is essential to understand their processes and communicate in a way that aligns with their workflow. Begin by learning how developers prioritize and plan their work. Do they use ticketing systems or have other methods to track progress? Tailor your requirements and requests to fit their preferred format to ensure they receive and prioritize your needs.
Review past instances where communication and briefing have failed to identify areas for improvement. Analyze previous tickets to identify any misunderstandings or rejection of requests. Seek inspiration from other teams within the organization or industry to enhance your briefing process. Take note of their ticket structure and specialized terminology to optimize communication with developers.
Gain insights into your developers’ work cadence to align your expectations accordingly. Understand whether they commit to work weeks or months in advance or follow a more fluid approach. This knowledge will help you navigate timelines and prioritize urgent tasks within their established workflow.
Prepare for scenarios where urgent fixes are needed, such as critical issues or website malfunctions. Determine the appropriate escalation process for these situations. Identify the correct channels to notify and collaborate with the necessary stakeholders to ensure immediate attention and resolution.
### Training and Knowledge Sharing
To foster collaboration, provide training and knowledge resources to developers. Identify common SEO requests and challenges faced by developers. Consider offering training on topics such as pagination optimization and SEO-friendly link implementation to equip them with SEO insights. Create a repository of documents detailing best practices and historical implementations to encourage consistency and streamline future processes.
Consider the developers’ preferred training methods and adopt similar approaches. Explore whether they prefer videos, written guidelines, or brief 15-minute information sessions. Align your training delivery with their preferred learning style and upskilling routines.
### Implementing SEO Quality Assurance
Establishing an SEO quality assurance (QA) process is crucial for smooth collaboration. Request developers to tag you in tickets to ensure you can review potential SEO impacts and provide input when required. Designate a point person within the development team or agency who can serve as a liaison between both teams. Having a reliable contact who can clarify priorities and resolve doubts without imposing multiple voices simplifies communication and reduces confusion.
Ensure you possess the authority to prevent the implementation of changes if they are detrimental to organic visibility. Collaborate with the necessary stakeholders and secure the power to halt deployments that could harm organic traffic. Proactively exercising this authority prevents corrective measures and rollbacks after a negative impact has occurred.
### Gaining Buy-in from Developers
To gain buy-in from developers, focus on providing context alongside your requests. Developers often appreciate understanding the reasoning behind SEO requirements. When requesting changes, clearly explain the intended outcome and the purpose behind it. This allows developers to contribute their expertise and propose alternative approaches while ensuring the changes align with the overall website objectives.
Adapt your communication style according to the developers’ preferred methods. Whether they communicate through emails, instant messaging platforms, or within the ticketing system, strive to align with their established channels. Consistent communication ensures that your recommendations, advice, and questions reach the intended recipients and are not overlooked.
Identify an SEO champion within the development team. Seek someone who is genuinely interested in SEO and motivated to improve their understanding and skills. This individual can serve as an ally when advocating for changes or new processes. Mentor them in SEO principles and leverage their enthusiasm to strengthen the collaboration between both teams.
Share valuable SEO tools and data that developers may not possess. Consider granting them access to tools like Google Search Console or providing them with relevant data. By communicating data that they find valuable, you can engage developers and gain their support. Demonstrating the positive impact of their work, such as improved Core Web Vitals results, further motivates developers to align with SEO objectives.
Consider providing regular updates and feedback on the outcomes of their work. Share the impact their efforts have had on rankings, usability improvements, or other SEO-related metrics. Feedback helps developers improve and understand how their work contributes to the overall SEO strategy.
In conclusion, establishing a productive partnership with developers is vital for SEO professionals. By understanding developer processes, communicating effectively, providing training, implementing QA processes, and gaining buy-in, SEOs can collaborate seamlessly with developers, safeguard organic traffic, and beneficially impact website performance.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series, where we will delve deeper into effective ways to collaborate with developers and enhance SEO efforts. In the meantime, break time! I’m off to find a doughnut…