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How many people should be on your SEO team? The factors to consider

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This is the second installment of our series on in-house SEO in which we dig into the operational challenges and opportunities that managing search engine optimization in-house presents.

As a consultant who specializes in in-house SEO, I’m often asked how large the SEO team should be. Most people think it has to do with revenue numbers. While that comes into the equation, it’s not a leading indicator of what size SEO team a company needs.

Let’s explore some of the factors I consider when making recommendations for SEO team size. They’re typically surprising to most SEO teams! The reason is I look at the operations, not just the revenue. Revenue can help justify (or limit) the team size, but it’s not an indicator of the SEO hours needed in a week.

Factor #1: Complexity of the website

If your site is simple, you typically need a smaller SEO team. The reason is that your SEOs are likely chasing fewer fires.

More complex websites have a higher risk of introducing SEO problems with even small changes. Most SEO teams spend a good chunk of their week chasing projects, putting out fires, and trying to minimize SEO problems rather than increasing SEO revenue.

All this means, if you’re doing SEO for a site without a lot of complex functionality, it’s one factor that would make me consider a smaller SEO team.

Factor #2: Number of developers, number of agile development teams, and frequency of launches

Hands down, this is one of the leading factors for determining SEO team size at a larger corporation. Some companies I have worked with have 150+ developers working on the search engine-facing aspects of the site. In these situations, you need more than one technical SEO person to guide each of these releases to ensure they will be SEO friendly.

Factor #3: Number of product managers

Product managers are one of the most influential roles on a website, and they are constantly spinning up projects. SEO teams need to be tied at the hip of product managers and have an intimate understanding of what product managers are proposing to change on the site.

If you have one or only a handful of product managers, you need fewer SEO hours allocated to work with them. But, if you have 12 product managers, then interaction with product managers will take a lot of SEO time. 

Factor #4: Number of merchandisers who create pages/content

Merchandisers in each company take on different roles, and at many companies, they have the authority to create new pages, write new content, and change links within the site and navigation.

If you have a couple of merchandisers it’s easier to stay on top of what they’re doing, but if you have 8 merchandisers it’s going to take a lot more SEO resources to guide them on keywords for their new pages, the type of content needed to rank, and ensuring they’re not making changes to existing pages that will hurt SEO.

Factor #5: Number of UX designers

The number of UX designers focusing on search engine facing pages greatly influences the number of new page designs that are being cranked through the development machine.  I typically find the more designers, the more SEO requirements you’ll need to define for development.

Factor #6:  Number of writers and their writing experience

Once writers understand how to optimize content for SEO (and have bought into it, or incentivized to do it) they can really start impacting the website from a content perspective. 

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have a lot of writers for the website, and creating this content falls on the shoulders of roles that are not experienced writers. For these non-professional writers, it’s often more of a challenge for them to account for all the business needs, conversion needs and SEO needs in content and still make it sound elegant and on-brand. This means the SEO team will spend more time reviewing content, and the SEO team may have to write all the title tags and meta descriptions. 

Factor #7: How much analysis and reporting is needed

Some companies are so metrics heavy that SEO teams can easily have one person dedicated to cranking out reports and estimates for revenue lift/drop based on proposed changes.

For perspective, I spent a week with a client on-site and watched her spend an unexpected three solid days preparing metrics for a company quarterly business review and two days analyzing a proposed A/B test that, if launched, would shrink the site navigation by 30%. This doesn’t even account for regular reporting that executives and other teams wanted to see. At this company, there are a lot of SEO hours spent on analysis and reporting.

Another client knew their product managers need a significant amount of SEO data broken down by category of their e-commerce site as regular monthly SEO reporting. They realized it would take two to four SEO data analysts to support the reporting requests. Of course, they were making almost a billion dollars in SEO revenue a year so they could justify the expense of such a team. 

Factor #8: SEO knowledge of each role listed above

The last factor I wanted to talk about is where each role is in terms of SEO knowledge. Do they know a lot or practically nothing?

I’ve seen many non-SEO teams with enthusiasm to work on SEO (Factor #8), but they knew so little that their enthusiasm couldn’t compensate for expertise enough to make SEO time investments efficient.

If your non-SEO teams don’t have enough SEO knowledge (nor enough enthusiasm for SEO), the solution is effective SEO training and toolkits, because:

  • If your non-SEO teams know little-to-nothing about SEO, and you’re not able to get them trained on the 20% of SEO that makes 80% of the impact for their roles, then your SEO man-hours for each of the previous factors will increase. It’s going to take more time to communicate SEO requirements, chase projects, manage rework, etc.
  • If your non-SEO teams have a solid grasp of the 20% of SEO that makes 80% of the impact for their roles, then the SEO team will spend less time chasing projects and putting out fires. It should also mean, in many instances, that teams will come up with SEO friendly suggestions for the SEO team to review. Lastly, it means SEO conversations are shorter and more effective, which in turn means you spend less time spent accomplishing more, have fewer misunderstandings (thus, less rework), etc.

Next Steps: Determine the SEO team size your company needs

  1. Estimate the man-hours needed for each factor above, and use that to start figuring out what the size of your team needs to be in order to pull off great SEO.
  2. Break the SEO man-hours defined in the previous step into the following — these are radically different skillsets.
    • Strategic/Non-technical SEO (content, keywords, etc.)
    • Link Building
    • Reporting
    • Technical SEO
  3. Total all the man-hours by function, and divide each function by 30 (with the assumption they could perform 30 hours per week of actual SEO work). You may be able to combine a few of the functions listed above. For example, a non-technical/strategic SEO could do reporting.  But breaking this up really shows you how much of each SEO skillset you need month-to-month.
  4. Add in any management hours needed for this team.
  5. Determine the number of people needed to pull off the SEO hours needed and determine the salaries/budget for each.
  6. Compare the total cost of everyone on the SEO team (current + new people you just identified) with SEO revenue to see if it makes business sense to even pitch your team size. If you can use SEO profit numbers (or estimated profit based on a percentage of revenue), then this will give you even more insights.
  7. For many, the SEO team size you just identified is too big. Your next step is to plan a management conversation:
    • Show management why what you’ve estimated is actually needed.
    • Point out that this isn’t realistic based on current SEO revenue.
    • Discuss that this means you need each non-SEO role to master their 20% of SEO that makes 80% of the impact for their roles so that you can effectively manage/lead SEO company-wide with reasonable SEO headcount.
    • Show the headcount you would need if each team actually knew when to pull the SEO team in for projects if there wasn’t rework, etc. (Redo your numbers for this scenario.) 
    • Lastly, talk about the budget ask being:  An SEO team of X people *AND* $Y for solid SEO training for each role touching the website, company-wide.

Now you’re set to have a really good understanding of what size of SEO team you should have for your company. And more importantly, how to discuss growing the SEO team with executives.


About The Author

Jessica is Editor at Large at Search Engine Land and the founder of SEOinhouse.com, a company on a mission to make in house SEO simpler. She is a leading advocate of in house SEO, started in house SEO programs at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Business.com and Yahoo! Inc.



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Speed and performance of Web dev, SEO, and marketing agencies websites

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30-second summary:

  • The research shows most agencies failed when it comes to the performance of their website.
  • Search engine ranking is a multi-factor game, and performance, while it matters for many reasons, is just one piece in this puzzle.
  • Nebojsa Radakovic shares insights.

Ever since Google announced that page speed would be a ranking factor in its mobile-first index in 2018, the need for speed became one of the most important aspects of web dev trait. A lot of businesses jumped onto the speed train. 

Sure enough, one year later, Google reported that sites are faster, and abandonment rates are down since making page speed a ranking factor.

With performance being one of the top-selling points of a modern-day web dev architecture Jamstack that we are so into, it was only natural to take a deep dive into the industries that tackle website performance and see how we stand against our peers.

TL;DR: Key findings

Don’t have the time to read through the research? Here are the key findings:

  • 27% of websites from our 20K sample still run on HTTP
  • 65.7% of the websites are built with WordPress
  • Only 2.7% of websites have good performance scores
  • 2.9% of websites provide good user experience to their users, ie Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) occurs within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading

What data was I interested in, and why?

Lighthouse performance metrics. There are a couple of popular speed testing tools, but most people use Lighthouse. While it may not be perfect because it provides a mix of both lab and field data about a page, I’ve used Pagespeed Insights API as described in James McNulty UpBuild post here, although updated to show core web vitals.

CMS. WordPress or not. 37% of all websites are powered by WordPress. Being the most popular web dev solution, it would be interesting to see and compare different solutions in terms of speed and performance.

Where did I get my URLs from?

Gathering URLs is a time-consuming work. But I managed to get 20k URLs (20397 URLs to be exact). I’ve cross-referenced results I got from scraping the first-page organic results of a set of keywords (like SEO agency, web dev agency, etc.), results I got by using tools such as Phantombuster to scrap review websites, and results I got from hiring virtual assistants on Upwork and Fiver.

There are a couple of issues I had to take care of first. Amazingly 27% of websites from my 20K sample still run on HTTP. That’s not good at all. On top of that, I had a bunch of URLs coming up with NET::ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID error message in Chrome. Once those were taken care of, I ended up having results 13945 URLs instead of 20K.

The data

Popular CMS- Speed and performance research

Of course, the most popular CMS is WordPress, with 65.7% of websites from my sample using it. For 18.8%, I was not able to detect any CMS. 2.58% run on Squarespace, 1.6% are built with Drupal, 1.41% are on Wix, and so on.

The results should not come as a surprise given that WordPress powers 37% of all the websites on the Internet or 63.6% of all the websites with known CMS.

Performance scores – How scores are color-coded by Google

The metrics scores and the perf score are colored according to these ranges:

  • 0 to 49 (Red): Poor
  • 50 to 89 (Orange): Needs Improvement
  • 90 to 100 (Green): Good

You can read more about it here.

As far as the performance scores for all websites are concerned, 77.1% of the websites are in the poor range, which means there is a lot of room for improvement.

URL performance - Speed and performance research

Pretty much the same story when we check only WordPress websites, 83.9% are in the poor performance range.

Performance WordPress - Speed and performance research

Core Web Vitals

By now, you probably are well aware of Core Web Vitals. Their importance is twofold:

  • Google considers them essential in a webpage’s overall user experience, and understanding them can help you improve the quality of experience you are delivering to your users,
  • Google plans to make a page experience an official Google ranking factor with Core Web Vitals being an essential part of it.

The current set for Core Web Vitals focuses on three aspects of the user experience: loading (described with Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric), interactivity (described with First Input Delay (FID) metric), and visual stability (described with Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) metric).

For this research, numbers follow the performance scores. For example, check out the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) results.

Largest-Contentful-Paint-(LCP): Speed and performance analysis

Conclusion

Being that I’ve tested only 20k URLs (actually 13945), let’s not generalize conclusions. However, the general ‘feel’ is that the ones required to think of speed and performance failed the test.

Performance, while it matters for many reasons, is not and should not be the end goal. It depends not only on the tech used but also ‘features’ you’ll have on a website, which pretty much depends on the industry/theme your website is in. And balancing performance and functionality successfully depends on the value a feature brings to your business versus the reduction in speed that results.

The thing is, whatever tech you use, you can end up with good scores (some easier than others). The real question is, how important are the scores for your client, their business, and their audience?

Nebojsa Radakovic is an SEO wiz with 20 years of experience. He is also an extreme sports enthusiast. He can be found on Twitter @CookieDuster_N.





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Top 10 Tools to facilitate web development

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30-second summary:

  • Web development is very essential for guiding you past the traditional methods of website development and approaching to other more unique and efficient prospects in the IT field.
  • Building an app or website is real but sometimes can be better facilitated through the testing and implementation phases of web tools.
  • Entering the new age of the digital world is just impossible without proper deployment, scaling, and database management. And this where the best web development weapons are on standby.

Web development tools are necessary to adapt and integrate in the development environments since they help you create a webpage, gather metrics, discover layouts and designs. Web development is all about evolving and stepping up the game you are currently very proficient in. Along with that it doesn’t demand much money,  require enormous sources or expect big money. The only thing development tools are incorporating is your boosted ultimate website performance. What is simply left is finding the right assistant on this journey. Here are the top 10 we have picked for you:

1. Chrome DevTool

If you are searching for a web assistant that would ensure your safety and optimize development, Chrome DevTool is sincerely recommended in this case. Taking into account that this is the most popular cross-platform browser of all, you should be certain that such a Chromium-based development technology will allow you to inspect, debug, and guide you through the browser.

While varied development tools are primarily focused on setting up websites, creating online stores, and launching blogs, Chrome DevTool is highly helpful in inspecting and tweaking. Although it is a bit hard to navigate through so many tabs and functions, Chrome DevTool offers you numerous panels for boosting productivity, analyzing load performance, and enhancing better user-friendly experience:

  • Elements panel
  • Console panel
  • Sources panel
  • Network panel
  • Performance panel
  • Memory panel
  • Application panel
  • Security panel

Such a division gives you a more fixed structure on elements and commands that you can apply depending on the existing page you are willing to diagnose. In order to access Chrome DevTools, you won’t even need to pay for anything, as it is built into the browser itself. Here is how you can open it.

2. VironIT

Good software development company’s support can facilitate your user experience with its comprehensive and all-inclusive approach even more. VironIT offers you a list of the new age web development tools and services to create a highly adaptable website or attractive web application.

If you wonder what kind of development tools are combined in one software, it might actually vary from AR&VR development (augmented and virtual reality) to IoT Software development (data visualization and analysis). Such a useful package of cross-platform tools in one place makes it easier for you to write, maintain and promote better development and react to possible vulnerabilities. In addition, it guarantees you rapid functionality of apps, programs, websites and its well-organized software designs.

There is nothing more efficient than a versatile service providing the fast and most secure web frameworks. You share the main goal.

3. React JS

React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces and reusable UI components. Why do many developers use this web development tool is mainly because of the ease of breaking a developing application into several simple parts. Moreover, the style of application code derived with the help of React components can be used for any program’s interface which significantly speeds the process up.

Obviously, if you are willing to learn ReactJS, you need to know how to work with JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS. The solid knowledge of any of these markup languages makes the optimization journey with ReactJS more helpful and enjoyable:

  • It is faster because it performs optimization while drawing up code to JavaScript.
  • It is also error-free since all technical mistakes can be spotted during compilation.
  • It is easier to write templates, especially when you are familiar with HTML.
  • It is entirely automated since it can handle the JavaScript code, which is suitable for many browsers.

4. Github

You have no clue what the new age of web development means if you don’t try out GitHub. This web platform enables you not only to manage the web applications by coordinating the tools and its usability, but also to deploy regular teams and campaigns to the completion of these same applications or projects. GitHub accesses you a lightweight, branch-based workflow that helps you experiment with taking over new tasks and managing the existing workflow.

  • It helps you make changes, reviews without affecting other involved branches.
  • It offers a smooth documentation process that often complements the quality coding process.
  • It can modify pages’ content and style remotely via the web or locally on your computer

Why GitHub? The suggested privileges of breaking down barriers within a team when the project is implemented and keeping everyone focused on having the best performance. In the same way, it can let your business flow run smoothly and consistently at any point in time.

5. Novi Builder

You can’t even imagine what excellent sophisticated features you have been holding back when you were not a member of the Novi Builder community. This easy-to-use development tool offers you facilities for HTML drag and drop builder, access to all existing and future templates including free of charge themes. Also, it provides you with 20 must-have plugins and elements, such as Social Plugins, Contact form, Sliders, Countdown, Google Maps, and more.

The functionality and designs are exactly built for beginners developers who want to evolve and rise up on their IT working ladder. It is a great chance for deepening your understanding of website creation and ensuring solid knowledge of application development.

Along with the above-mentioned features, here is what else Novi Builder has to offer:

  • It offers advanced code editor support.
  • It supercharges your projects just from scratch
  • It can install an app and make it live in several hours at low cost
  • It empowers and modifies your existing HTML website with additional application integration facilities

6. BugMuncher

The BugMuncher’s list of integrations includes GitHub, Jira, Trello making it more accessible and easier to edit packages and manifest files. The toolkit enables you to draw the problems captured on your website and send it across as a screenshot. Generally, BugMuncher teaches developers how to make visual highlights and get immediate feedback with the most accurate details. In addition, this feedback comes not just from random visitors but your current customers when they interact with your service and share the reports of JavaScript and AJAX errors.

Unlike the rest of the feedback tools, this one doesn’t misuse or distort gathered information. It does exactly the opposite by testing development phases and saving your existing project from bugs. If you are quite hesitant it takes too long to collect BugMuncher feedback, you should remember that it is not about your colleague’s professional suggestion, a customer as a prime source of feedback. They can deliver you the most constructive criticism that would help you hone your business’ website or app development.

7. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is low-key the most popular HTML, CSS, and JavaScript framework for developing responsive, mobile-first websites. Its open-source toolkit stores different templates and designs for creating common user interface components. These elements usually include forms, buttons, navigations, dropdowns, alerts, modals, tabs, accordions, carousels, tooltips, and so on. Basically, it allows you to build mobile-friendly websites with a smart drag and drop facility.

Moreover, ready-made blocks of code and flexible layouts needed for HTML, CSS can be easily customized and used in accordance with your project’s requirements. The greatest Bootstrap’s features of all are:

  • Extensive list of components
  • Solid guarantee of the project’s responsiveness
  • Useful icon library

8. Notepad++

Notepad++ is your great assistant in text editing, syntax highlighting, plugin maintaining and this list of handy features can actually go on. Although it is available on Windows only, it can still be supported by GitHub, a primary distribution party.

Additionally, Notepad++ supports 27 programming languages. If you go to the Binary Translations page you can easily choose the language you need. Alternatively, you can open User Language Define System to help you define the definition of keywords or regular expressions. Moreover, if you are advanced at coding in languages like C++, Batch, and HTML, Notepad++ is just an ideal service for you. Imagine that:

  • You can find every instance of a word and perform actions on it.
  • You can access the replace function and get a change reference for each word.
  • You can also save time by typing the keyboard shortcut and skipping the appeared code next time or previous time.

Doesn’t it sound amazing to apply a word-search and text-editor tool like this with just a quick installation and some default language setting? You should definitely try it out.

9. Source tree

We wouldn’t bet on the wrong horse if we said that most of you are intermediate or even advanced developers who’d rather focus on coding than interacting with the Git repositories. SourceTree is a free web development tool available for Mac and Windows and perfect for database visualization and management. However, Source tree equally claims to serve both powerful experts, as well as absolute beginners. Yet, understanding the interface specs is easier than you can even think:

  • Bookmark windows represent database you are aligned with
  • Toolbar lets you take action without any command line
  • The sidebar is where you access the information about your current project
  • Repository history and code diffs share control to monitor previous changes

From now any coding changes will be demonstrated in real-time and with the aggregated view on all of your work.

10. Lambda Test

Certainly, before displaying your website to the users’ eyes, as a developer you are in charge of rendering it over different browsers. Depending on the coding language you use (like HTML, CSS  & JavaScript) they should be tested beforehand. Lambda Test is your main guide to ensure that your web application is adaptable for any browser even after you push code changes. Such cross-browser test automation offered by Lambda Test has a very simple and easy to understand interface. Even more, better addition is a vast collection of integration facilities (screenshots screen recording, plugins, and so on). All in all, this unique rendering mechanism is less complex, time-consuming, and instead much cheaper and faster in use.

Conclusion

Now, you are completely forearmed to successfully lead the war of web development. Getting an application done or an advanced code supported has never been easier. Try these top tools out and you will not regret it.



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Why behavior analysis is important online business

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30-second summary:

  • A typical consumer now owns an average of 3.6 devices which means a person’s journey may start from a laptop and end on a mobile or a tablet.
  • In the ecommerce business, the cart abandonment rate is the thing that haunts most of the business owners.
  • Developing analytical skills can help you better manage these obstacles.
  • MD of SEO Discovery shares a guide to help you understand Cohort Analysis and Behavior Analysis to eliminate roadblocks and improve engagement.

In today’s digital age, the customer journey is getting complex day by day and if you are doing online business then it’s vital to understand your customer journey. A typical consumer now owns an average of 3.6 devices which means a person’s journey may start from a laptop and end on a mobile or a tablet.

In the ecommerce business, the cart abandonment rate is the thing that haunts most of the business owners. According to Statista, 88.05 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned in March 2020 worldwide, which means over 88% of people added selected products into the cart and left without buying for various reasons. This is a massive business opportunity loss for ecommerce players.

Developing analytical skills can help you better manage these obstacles. Without adequate knowledge of analytics, your marketing won’t work because you won’t know what worked and what didn’t work. All the marketing suits come with analytics tools to help perceive the behavior, engagement metrics, and demographics of the visitors coming to a website. The most common web analytics tools are Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Kiss Metrics, and Mixpanel. They generally come with the following features and capabilities:

  • Real-time analytics
  • Mobile analytics
  • Attribution modeling
  • Segmentation
  • Ecommerce tracking
  • Funnel analysis
  • Cohort analysis
  • Cross-device tracking
  • In-page analytics (Session recording, click tracking, heatmaps)
  • Goal conversion tracking
  • Event tracking
  • A/B testing

Every feature has its own data sets which can be compared to help you make informed decisions. Today we are going to understand Cohort Analysis and Behavior Analysis to eliminate roadblocks and improve engagement.

What is a Cohort Analysis and why is it important?

Cohort analysis is a subset of users grouped by shared characteristics. It simply allows you to compare the behavior and metrics of different cohorts over time.

Cohort Analysis Example – Finding Engagement Drop

Let’s suppose you have an online food ordering website/app and using acquisition date (when users started their first sessions) cohorts you can find out when in the customer lifecycle your users tend to drop off.

Cohort table for behavior analysis

The best way for visualizing this data is to chart out the retention curve, portraying retention over time.

Cohort Curve - Behavior analysis

This retention curve clearly reflects the most important insight – around 75% of the users stop using the website after the first day. We can see a downfall in the engagement. Hence, it’s evident to improve the overall experience and abet customers through daily offers/coupons to boosting retention.

Cohort Analysis Comparison – Organic vs Direct

The below cohort analysis indicates that organic traffic has a better retention rate than direct.

Cohort - Organic vs Direct - Behavior analysis

 

Visitor behavior analysis and its importance

It’s a process of tracking user behavior on a website and there are some great tools in the market that give accurate information. Tools like Hotjar, MouseFlow, Crazy Egg record visitor sessions to see how visitors are navigating on the website. They also offer click tracking and heatmaps to analyze the most engaging and ignored (skipped) elements on a page.

Screenshot - Mouseflow - Understanding visitors' behavior analysis

If you look at the above heatmap, you would notice that no one bothered to click on “PORTFOLIO” in the top menu, which means people aren’t interested in see the portfolio. Maybe we have to replace it with something more interesting (like Case Studies, Achievements, and more) which grabs a visitor’s attention. These kinds of insights help you add/remove elements to improve page engagement.

Using filters, you can further segment your audience to dig deep and pull out actionable insights, see those filter below:

Screenshot - Mouseflow_Filters

In Google Analytics, behavior flow gives you a visual presentation of how people are navigating on your website. You can apply segments to get a deeper view of their behavior and it also enables you to apply different dimensions on top of these segments to get actionable insights.

 GA Behaviour Flow

The power of these analytical tools lies in the fact that it allows you to view which customers leave and what’s making them leave your website/app – so that you can fix it. You can also hire a professional digital marketing agency that can help you find these hurdles and remove them to enhance your overall engagement.

Mandeep Singh is the MD of SEO Discovery. He’s mission is to provide affordable digital marketing services to startups and SMEs. He’s an official member of Forbes Agency Council. You can find him on LinkedIn.



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