I've seen some fantastic case studies in the past year from in-house teams who have radically reduced the number of pages on their sites and seen increased traffic as a result. Quality over quantity is best in my opinion, and the reduction in respondents working on sites over 100k pages looks positive to me.
Without a doubt, COVID has had a lasting impact on how businesses operate.
More companies are investing funds and energy into growing their presence and offerings. In parallel, there has also been a wave of entrepreneurialism, leading to a rise in internet-oriented ventures.
It makes sense to me to see more companies with 'smaller' websites hiring in-house SEO experts. Every website can benefit from technical SEO, and I think there is an increase in the understanding of these benefits for smaller companies.
Technical SEO is crucial for the success of any site, so it's great that there is a relatively even split amongst these responses.
Even though the most popular answer is on the range of 1k-10k, it's also worth noting that large enterprise websites with 1m+ pages are now getting the attention in implementing technical SEO. A few years back these kind of websites have trouble with prioritizing SEO because of the amount of effort needed to support such a huge number of pages.
Do you use external agencies, freelancers or contractors for technical SEO?
The majority of technical SEOs (76%) said that they didn’t use any external resources such as agencies or freelancers to support their technical SEO efforts.
This is an increase from last year's results where 70% of respondents said that they didn’t use external resources for technical SEO support.
No surprises that once again the majority of technical SEOs aren't using outside agencies to support their technical SEO efforts as this isn't generally the first task to be outsourced.
I wouldn't be surprised if the number of SEOs using external agencies decreases this year with companies tightening their belts in difficult economic conditions - external agencies are often the first thing to be cut leaving more work to fall to the in-house teams.
I'm hoping this decrease in external support vs last year means that more companies are recognising the value of SEO (and are building out in-house teams that don't need external support), rather than this being due to reduction in budget for SEO.
From my experience, companies hire in house SEO experts mostly to work on SEO strategy and technical SEO issues and have other SEO aspects like digital PR, linkbuilding, content writing worked by freelancers or external agencies. Part of the reason is security - technical SEO experts need website accesses for implementation and that cannot be always shared with freelancers or agencies.
This is an interesting phenomenon, which is tied with the economy at the moment, and will arguably be something that could change in either direction over the upcoming years. As more companies are worried about costs, they might discontinue support from external resources (i.e. agencies and freelancers), which is what we've seen. However, in light of recent news of layoffs, we might also see a greater dependency on external resources in the upcoming years, as many organizations have completely cut their marketing and SEO departments, yet are still in need of servicing those functions of the organization.
With so many amazing tools and resources available in this industry, many specialists in SEO have learnt how to research and figure out almost any technical SEO problem, and to prioritise - it's likely that external resources often only come in when there is limited capacity in-house to do everything
I don’t find the result here surprising. Although businesses are hiring more in-house SEO roles these days, (which is great to see!), many still see it as a choice of one or the other (in-house or agency).
When you use external agencies, freelancers or contractors, how much budget, on average, do you invest per month?
For those who answered yes, we asked how much budget they invested per month on external technical SEO support. The most popular answer with 43% was $1,000 - $5,000 per month. The least popular answer (6%) was the largest budget range of over $50k per month.
I am not surprised the most popular answer was $1,000 - $5,000 per month. For many businesses in many countries I would guess the investment is even lower than that. People still tend to believe SEO is free without realizing the knowledge of people working in the industry and having proven results behind them costs but also pays off.
Martina Zrzavá Libřická
These results would seem to suggest that smaller sized companies are investing more in external freelancers or contractors to boost their SEO efforts - maybe smaller one man SEOs can benefit from having added support on the technical side to get things resolved more quickly or perhaps tackle bigger or more complex tasks.
There is a greater understanding of the cost and value associated with SEO. Unfortunately, this has aligned with a time of financial difficulty for many businesses.
To strike a good balance of knowledge and affordability, more companies are turning to consultants and small agencies that fall within the $1,000 to $5,000 price bracket.
How much real value could you get with an SEO budget under $1,000 per month? I'd love to see what's being delivered, and how the return on investment compares with the next bracket of retainers.
Following on from this, are you expecting this budget to increase, decrease or stay the same next year?
The majority (67%) of respondents said that they expected budgets to stay the same over the next 12 months. Whilst this is positive, we have seen a change in that fewer technical SEOs are expecting their budgets to increase, with 15% saying that this would be the case for them, compared with 30% last year.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, because I'm sure a number of suppliers, partners, freelancers and tools will be increasing their costs due to rising inflation, continued supply chain issues and mortgage rate increases. Budgets should probably have the same kind of cost-of-living indexing as employee raises.
Again, an unsurprising result considering the current economic climate. I wouldn't be surprised if these budgets are also clawed back over Q1 next year.
We know that when SEO is done well, it can be an extremely (if not the most) cost-efficient channel. If anything, the economic situation we're facing should see more people turn to SEO.
With less than 15% of respondents expecting SEO budgets to increase over the next year, this tells me that SEOs need to get better at showcasing the value of what we do.
We have seen strong growth within the SEO industry in the last few years, it will be interesting to see if this levels out by either staying the same or reducing slightly with the looming recession. Sadly, marketing, rightly or wrongly, is often one of the first areas to be cut back.
Businesses will likely look for in-house talent, especially those that hold multiple skills complementary to SEO such as SEA, CRO, analytics, and UX.
I'm quite surprised to see that over 85% of respondents won't see an increase in their tech SEO budget. It seemed that during COVID, business owners increasingly realised the importance SEO work, so I would have thought that this would carry through to a post-pandemic time.
Which element(s) of SEO do you typically outsource to agencies or freelancers?
This year, we asked in-house SEOs which elements they typically outsourced and the most popular answer was technical/on-page SEO at 72%.
I wonder how much technical work freelancers are able to get done, if it's execution based. Technical changes can often be one of the most closely guarded elements of a business.
Honestly, I was quite surprised with this one.
I would have imagined that Link building and content production would have been more likely candidates to outsource as they are both time consuming activities overall.
Also, I feel that digital PR/ link building are skillsets that many technical SEOs feel that they are lacking and so are likely candidates for outsourcing.
By 2022, you might think in-house technical SEO would be more common, but unfortunately a lot of companies aren't able to invest in the training or salaries required to attract people with any type of specialist skill-set.
In my experience, if you have specialist technical SEO skills, or want to develop them, working in an agency or as a freelancer is more attractive than working in-house.
I expect this is due to the fact that many marketing departments' SEO efforts start and end with "technical/on-page SEO," so that's what they focus both their in-house and external partners' efforts on. Content production likely sits with a slightly different team, and link building/off-page SEO may be off the radar for many brands.
I'm intrigued to see such a low percentage of respondents answering link-building and off-page, considering this being one of the areas, where multiple agencies specialize in, which often appears as a booming niche. As SEO consultants, we know that gradually and surely, the role of link building is shifting towards a discovery-based function, as opposed to a value-attributing function, and I expect organizations in the future to invest less and less in link building and off-page, and more into strategic content development, aimed at link capture (digital PR).
Personally, I love working with SEO agencies on technical SEO because they give a different perspective on doing things. They also bring in their diverse experience working with different companies and industries so I am able to explore fresh ideas and learn new techniques that I might never get to work on by staying as an in-house SEO
I am not surprised that Technical SEO has 72% of the vote! It is a complex area that can remain untouched for years until a Tech SEO comes on-board.
From my limited in-house experience, this one surprises me. I would have thought content and link-building would have been higher than technical & on-page
I'm pleasantly surprised with this statistic. In my experience, a large number of companies in the Indian subcontinent outsource link building and off page SEO activity. But learning that 72% of the On Page/Technical SEO is outsourced produces a huge opportunity for freelancers across the globe.
Yes, we have seen an increase in the project requirements on the content/on-page optimization, followed by content production. But, most of our customers have tech SEO in-house or with freelancers/consultants even before reaching out to us. Companies might prefer individuals over agencies for Tech SEO in 2023.
In your organisation, in which team does accountability for technical SEO sit?
Most (75%) in-house technical SEOs said that accountability for their function sits within the marketing team, followed by engineering/tech at 14% and product at 10%.
Despite technical SEO being one of the most blended functions of SEO from a skills standpoint, we see that it still sits with the marketing team in most organizations. This can, depending on the organization, slow down implementation times for SEO fixes, by increasing the hurdles technical SEOs have to jump through (from a cultural, and operational standpoint, but also bureaucratic) to get their recommendations in the sprints of tech and engineering teams. Organizations that want to ensure good SEO hygiene of their websites, should acknowledge the multi-faceted function of technical SEOs and enable a cross-functional team structure, which ensures that the product development does not overshadow the role of site hygiene or search visibility fixes.
Would be interested to see how this has changed year-on-year. A lot of folks I've spoken to have found the most productive placement for SEO to be in the tech team, so I'd hope to see that it's grown YoY.
Collaborating with the rest of the marketing team and campaigns is really important for an in-house role in my experience, but I do see a need for technical SEO roles to fall under Engineering/Tech or Product depending on the website's functionalities and the role of SEO in the organisation.
The biggest, and well-known challenge is getting technical SEO implemented, which can be especially difficult when SEO sits under marketing. I would be curious to see if this changes over time, especially seeing as roles that fall under Marketing is up from 70% last year
It is often by default that SEO sits with the Marketing team since SEO is a revenue-driving channel. However my experience shifting the SEO team from Marketing to Product or Ecommerce team have been a good experience in gaining more support and understanding, especially on why SEO issues should be fixed.
Where people sit is not so important. However important is how they are able to cooperate across departments in an effective and efficient way so technical SEO is implemented accordingly and in timely manners. In my experience I can see a very positive change over the past few years where web developers do not perceive Technical SEOs as enemies but rather allies. In the end we all have mutual goals and targets we intend to meet.
I see that the MarTech department is very popular, especially in large companies.
Martina Zrzavá Libřická
Not surprised that accountability sits mostly with marketing as it often seems the most logical place for SEO to sit as an acquisition source if it is content and on page heavy.
However, having SEO sit as a part of product actually makes a lot of sense - especially having SEOs sit as functional experts within squads or teams in product.
Working closely with the product and engineering teams means that getting investment in your activities is much easier and implementation happens much more quickly.
Including yourself, how many people are responsible for SEO in your organisation?
35% of in-house technical SEOs are solely responsible for SEO in their organisation, closely followed by 32% who have a team of between 3-5 people.
For the many SEO is a one woman/man show which is not necessarily bad but can be frustrating at times. To those who experience it, I would suggest to hang in there and become a part of many wonderful SEO communities worldwide who can truly provide a helping hand when needed.
Martina Zrzavá Libřická
These one-person SEOs have around 2 to 4 in-house websites to work on, and as per my experience with such SEOs, I feel they love it if there’s someone who can guide, direct, mentor, validate, or execute their actions and experiments. If organisations are adding SEO consultants, freelance strategists, or an agency to help them it would be a good collaboration, and if not, they should start doing it because a well-aligned team or collaboration can help the organisation scale up their SEO efforts and performance faster and smoother.
I'm very surprised to see so many 1-person SEO teams! Having team mates can be so valuable because you can spar, bounce ideas off each other, and learn from one another. This just makes supportive online SEO communities all the more important in our industry.
Being a sole technical SEO expert is tough - even more as an in-house SEO! I have had that experience and it was hard getting SEO issues fixed, while also being dragged to different meetings because you are the sole expert who can speak and advocate for SEO. Kudos to those 35.8% of respondents!
Which areas of SEO do you focus on in your day-to-day role? Tick all that apply;
To try and understand how in-house SEOs spend their time, we asked them to share where they typically spend their days. Nearly all (97%) said that they spend day-to-day time on technical and on-page SEO. Three quarters (75%) spend time on content production. Whilst only 35% spend their time on link building.
Which areas of SEO do you focus on in your day-to-day role? Tick all that apply;
In my experience, link-building is a totally separate part of SEO from tech or on-page SEO, so I'm not surprised to see that most SEOs don't spend much time on link-building. That usually gets taken care of by digital PR experts (just like there are tech SEO experts!).
Echoes my comment above. Companies today seem to be earning more links through digital PR, which has earned its own function within many organizations, rather than having SEOs spend time on it specifically. I've never been an "xyz is dead"-style commentator, but traditional link building is at death's door.
This is not surprising because SEOs have always given high and fast-impacting tasks more priority than content production and link-building, which take a little longer to show the impact. With ChatGPT3 or ChatGPT4 (which might come very soon in 2023), SEOs may invest less time in technical/on-page SEO and more time in content production and link-building in 2023, considering AI solving 50-60% of Tech/on-page SEO tasks.
It's interesting that Technical SEO is the most outsourced task and also the one people are working on most. We're all very busy with technical SEO it seems!
The separation between SEO and content production is an interesting one. In some companies, the SEO role definitely merges with the content manager and SEOs are not only developing the SEO content strategy but are also responsible for the production of the content.
It seems that is maybe what's happening here with 74.8% of respondents involved in content production.
Please rank the following in order of which ones you spend the most time on, with the task requiring the most time at the top:
To get more specific, we asked in-house SEOs to order common SEO tasks by which ones they spend the most amount of time on. The most popular task was the proactive improvement of known issues, followed by examining the website to find more issues..
Proactive improvement of known issues
Examining the site to look for issues
Incremental improvements/testing of new opportunities
Reactive handling of issues introduced by site updates
Both in-house and agency SEOs spend the most time working on the proactive improvement of known issues - not surprising since technical SEO requires working cross-department if the in-house SEO sits in the marketing department (as illustrated in this survey data). SEOs need persuasion skills to be successful in moving the needle and I think the industry needs to provide more help to SEOs that want to acquire those skills. That's why I focus on all of the areas involved in interpersonal persuasion in my Digital Marketing Victories podcast - my attempt to help the industry be more successful in the most challenging part of our jobs.
Katherine Watier Ong
It would be great to see testing of incremental improvements/new opportunities higher here, this paints a realistic picture of in-house resource availability for most companies, requiring a more prominent focus on proactive improvements and not having time/resource to spare for innovation and testing for potential future opportunities.
It would be great to see testing new opportunities further up in priority. However I understand that improvement of known issues are on top - given that there is a huge number of in house technical SEO who are working solo, they may not have enough time to work on SEO tests for growth and discovery.
I'd be interested to know how this breaks down by size of site as well. I expect that larger sites require more proactive improvement of known issues, while smaller, less complex sites allow for more incremental improvements and testing.
It is reassuring to see that most Technical SEOs take a proactive approach over a reactive one. Whilst algorithm updates can introduce issues, these should never derail your current focus.
I incorporate new issues introduced post-update into my roadmap. This way, I have a note of them and can weigh up their importance/impact in relation to all strategic elements.
It's really nice to see reactive tasks are last on this list, it shows that there must generally be good communication between the SEO specialist/team and development. I would hope this was the case for an in-house role!
I also think incremental improvements and testing should potentially be higher up, this is often where the best long-term SEO results come from, and in-house SEO's should be provided the time to do so in their role, despite this sometimes being difficult to prove ROI
How do you handle implementing technical SEO tasks that require developers?
Over three quarters of the respondents (81%) said that they used an in-house development team to handle technical SEO tasks. Only 8% of technical SEOs said that they fix issues themselves.
One of the most important skills for any technical SEO is being able to work effectively with in-house dev teams as we can see that this is something that we spend a lot of time doing.
Working in-house is a particularly good way to get familiar with different different types of website builds and really get to know the technology in depth.
I would guess that the 7.7% are working on smaller sites that don't already have dev teams working on them or are working as part of the product or engineering team as mentioned above with easier access and better knowledge of the tech stack being used.
This is criminal. SEOs, especially "technical" SEOs, learn to code!!! Imagine how much more competitive you'd be as a job applicant, or as a salary negotiator, if you could say that you'll require fewer dev resources to implement your recommendations because you have the knowhow to implement them yourself.
I love that some SEO specialists are provided the opportunity to implement some of their dev implementations themselves. For obvious reasons I know this is rare, as multiple teams working on one website can very easily cross wires. But I believe we should have the opportunity to take ownership of tasks we are able and capable of implementing ourselves, get things implemented faster, and free up development time for other priorities
I handle on-page SEO and backlink strategy. I partner and collaborate with developers for maintenance or web vitals, XML sitemap, breadcrumbs, etc.
It’s great to see such a large percentage of in-house dev teams that work collaboratively with SEOs. Having collaborative processes in place helps to mitigate the risk of incorrect implementation, with SEOs trying to either juggle everything themselves or risk costly, long release times with external devs.
Some sites can have a very intricate and complicated setup, so an in-house development team is oftentimes a necessity. Those that answered "I do it myself" are either Devs that went into SEO at a later stage, or another type of super-humans!
When you work with web developers to implement SEO tasks, do they have time set aside regularly for this, or do you need to request it ad hoc?
55% of in-house technical SEOs said that they need to request web development time as when they need it for SEO tasks. 22% are amongst the most fortunate and have quick access to web developers who can make changes straight away.
I have to request time as and when I need it
I have constant, quick access to developers who can make changes straight away
I have less than a day a month set aside for developers
This issue is one of the biggest roadblocks we have for scaling SEO efforts among our clients and I think if companies really want SEO success, it's worth creating a dev role dedicated solely to SEO related tasks. When you constantly have to request dev time, it makes the SEO feel like a nuisance and the dev often has a zillion other priorities, so SEO-related tasks just sit there and never get done. I've experienced this with clients even for primary conversion landing pages, so companies are really losing out here.
Having reliable access to web development time can make all the difference in a technical SEO program, so it's sad to see that over half of in-house technical SEOs don't even have a day or two per month that are dedicated to SEO tasks. I feel like I've seen more SEO Product Manager roles get posted over the last few years, and I think this role is a viable solution to the challenge of SEO implementation and development resourcing. An SEO Product Manager acts as a bridge between the SEO subject matter expert and the web development team to communicate priorities, user stories, and project impacts. Essentially, an SEO PM is a technical SEO's best advocate. I hope to see more SEO PM roles get created in the future so that SEO can get the prioritization and resourcing it needs.
I imagine that those who answered they "request time as and when they need it" have Dev teams that operate in a sprint format, and within a given sprint a variety of tasks (including SEO) can get picked up. If that's the case, then it is up to us as SEOs to communicate the importance of the task(s).
All the more reason to learn and practice implementing web dev recommendations yourself.
I believe having quick access to developers can prove to be beneficial for the overall SEO efforts of the organization. More companies should emphasize fostering these inter-departmental relationships.
It makes sense that most people use developers on an ad-hoc basis. SEO is vast, and some months can be far more development-intensive than others. During these months, the main struggle is getting ad-hoc SEO requests to the top of a developer's to-do list!
I've worked on 15+ full funnel website projects so far and I had to request time to work on tech SEO 100% of the time. Clients usually think what they see is what they get. They have no idea about what goes into a page to optimise it for sales, conversions, SEO, and UX.
Which of the following teams do you typically work alongside when it comes to technical SEO? Tick all that apply.
Next, we wanted to understand to what extent technical SEOs crossed over with other areas of their organisation. The most popular answer was the Engineering/Tech team with 86% of respondents saying that they crossed over with them.
Love to see collaboration with so many teams! It does look like there are a few missed opportunities here though. I think there's a large amount of data and insights that can come from both Paid Search and Customer Support teams that SEO could use in their strategies.
Technical SEOs are typically extremely collaborative by the nature of their role. Proper technical SEO implementation in an in-house role would require constant communication with at least 2-3 other teams, as the responses here demonstrate. The issue lies in organizations, where this collaboration is not enforced in the operational design, which can hinder the productivity of conversations and outcomes, which can make the role of in-house SEOs more challenging.
Tech is to be expected on top since there is only so much a Technical SEO can do to implement changes. However for me it's surprising that UX/Design is on the second spot. While it makes sense, I would think that Copy will come next because of the need for content for a lot of SEO elements needing optimization.
I think one of the most interesting things about SEO is that it crosses over with nearly all departments within an organisation.
Hoping to see more SEOs start having more crossover with UX design and departments dealing with accessibility. I think SEO input on issues which make pages more accessible for everyone is an important issue and one we should be taking a more active role in.
This is great to see the range of different teams SEOs are collaborating with. I'd love to see more SEOs working with sales teams though - the amount we can learn from them via the likes of feedback on lead quality is really useful.
What's the longest timeframe you've had to wait to get a technical SEO change made for a website that you’ve worked on?
Whilst the top four answers were relatively evenly distributed, the most popular length of time that respondents waited for a technical SEO change to be made was a month, closely followed by over 12 months..
This is also an issue related to the dev not having time for SEO tasks. If you're waiting up to 6 months for small changes (which I've seen quite regularly for our clients), that change the SEO originally requested may not even be relevant anymore by the time the dev gets to it. It's another example of why SEO and marketing teams need a dedicated dev role.
I'm surprised that a month was the most popular answer to this question, and I congratulate all those that have not had to wait months on end to see an SEO update get implemented! While I'm sure that several of those who responded with having to wait 6, 12, or 24 months are likely not receiving the prioritization they need to accomplish their tasks, I'm sure others experienced long wait times due to complicated projects that required several stakeholders to weigh in. When you have to get SEO, UX, brand, and development teams all to work together on a single project, it's naturally going to take much longer than getting a simple redirect implemented.
SEO is a rapidly changing field. Delays in implementing Technical SEO changes can be detrimental to the website in the long run.
Almost a tie between a month and twelve months! Quite a difference there but more weight behind why technical SEOs should form part of product or engineering teams. Hopefully that would make implementing changes much faster.
The state of tech SEO 2022 results stated 23% of SEOs declared the longest wait time was 12+ months, in 2023 results 12+ months wait time had shrunk to 19.9%. Potentially a reflection of larger in-house dev support, allowing for faster rollouts. It's great to see this is slowly changing for the better but at nearly 20%, companies still have a long way to go.
The difference between the delay in the agency's recommendations being implemented and in-house SEO's recommendations is stark. I think this supports my bias that brands are more successful at SEO when they have in-house SEO resources + champions, and why I help my clients hire those resources and build their internal SEO capacity to execute SEO across departments.
Katherine Watier Ong
I envy those that responded with 'a day'!
What's the shortest time frame you've had to wait to get a technical SEO change implemented within your organisation?
To look at the other end of the scale, we then asked in-house SEOs about the shortest amount of time that they have waited to get a technical SEO change implemented. The most popular answer with 68% was a day.
Thankfully there are barely any responses for 3+ months!
What's the typical timeframe for a technical SEO change to be made on a website that you’ve worked on?
In terms of the typical timeframe for technical SEO changes to be made, the most popular answer was a month with 37%, closely followed by a week at 35%. Fortunately for most technical SEOs, waiting over 12 months was only the case for 1% of respondents.
Super important for those who work agency side as consultants to remember coming into a company. Things take time to get done!
Really encouraging to see two thirds of respondents have had implementations done within a day!
It's sad to see that majority of technical SEO issues are resolved within a month. I would think that competing priorities with development teams is the reason, but it can also be because of the lack of understanding of technical SEO and its importance that is why it's pushed down to be implemented.
What is typically the main blocker in getting changes made to the site?
When it comes to reasons why technical SEO changes can’t get made, by far the most common answer was existing non-SEO development tasks with 68% of respondents citing this reason.
While any blocker can be frustrating, it's encouraging to see that "lack of buy-in" is only cited by 16% of respondents. This number should keep decreasing as "technical SEO" becomes more and more understood as an integral part of overall website management.
This data demonstrates the need for development budgets to be re-considered in light of the importance of search visibility for websites. Search visibility for many businesses plays an essential role in client acquisition, yet in practice developer hours are often budgeted for product-related fixes, leaving technical SEO fixes in a backlog or lower priority by design.
Existing non-SEO development tasks have always been here and will be. I think it is always beneficial to establish great relationships between SEO and dev.
If the dev follows any agile framework they often have some buffer left and this buffer can be great for some SEO technical changes (minor) to be done. It is recommended to have regular stand-ups with dev and Tech SEO.
Bringing on the table what these changes may bring to the website/organization works perfectly well and there is much bigger will to implement such changes faster.
Large changes have to be planned in advance and dev team needs enough time to implement, test and deploy.
Martina Zrzavá Libřická
It saddening to see a lack of buy-in from stakeholders increase from last year, and existing non-SEO development tasks being the biggest blocker - as individual specialists and as an industry we need to learn how to communicate the value of our tasks better!
Having external devs and limited dev hours can drive blockers to get SEO development tasks implemented, especially in larger enterprise-level businesses. Improved understanding and collaboration between devs and SEO teams can be key to smoother, faster implementation. Each department often has its priority, the difficulty to prove clear ROI for tech-SEO can hinder buy-in.
I think this is down to SEO not being properly integrated into product and engineering.
Placing SEOs as functional experts within teams give SEOs a priority that sometimes they may not have as they are often in between product/engineering and marketing.
Often colleagues in marketing and engineering don't understand the impact changes we ask for can have on website functionality or KPIs.
It's up to us to advocate for ourselves and the impact our work can make both on the technical side and from a marketing perspective.
How do you present your technical SEO recommendations to your stakeholders? Pick all that apply:
In-house technical SEOs generally prefer using ticket systems such as JIRA or Asana to present their recommendations to stakeholders, with 69% of them saying this. The next popular answer was Google Sheets or Excel, with 54%.
I run a quick SEO recommendation audit on Loom and send the checklist in a Google Sheet. This way, the stakeholders know that they're not shooting in the dark. They can refer to the reasoning behind these recommendations in the video and tally its implementation against the checklist in Google Sheets. This by far has been the fastest way to get SEO recommendations approved without pushback from stakeholders.
My experience very much aligns with the votes. When I am working with a client ongoing, I use a combination of ticket systems and spreadsheets. Sometimes, where things are more complex, I provide a supporting Doc or Slide deck too.
As SEOs, it's in our best interests to make things as easy and efficient as possible for Devs, so using whatever system they are accustomed to is probably the right way to go.
If this process included impact estimations or clarification of value, it would probably get prioritized much easier. When this stakeholder involves a CEO, they may not understand why it's being done without this.
Do you also schedule a call or meeting with stakeholders to discuss your technical SEO recommendations?
Keeping on the theme of presenting recommendations, we then asked in-house SEOs if they followed up written recommendations with a call. The majority of respondents (77%) said yes.
Good communication helps achieve faster implementation of recommendations. It’s a great move to follow up with a call, allowing you to answer any queries/uncertainties and get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Yes, the stakeholders may not fully understand why we're making these changes. They're mostly afraid of affecting their existing traffic with these new changes, so explaining to the stakeholders that the changes won't impact the traffic is a major task. Scheduling a call to de-risk the recommendations is easier than emailing back and forth.
It's useful for in-house SEOs to have regular meetings with stakeholders - whether this is on the technical side or marketing - especially important if tickets aren't moving as you'd expect so you can identify blockers and get your changes implemented in good time.
I strongly believe this is necessary when providing recommendations. This creates more transparency into the SEO process and fosters collaboration.
It's incredibly important for SEOs and Devs to have a positive working relationship, and when you have a call or meeting, not only does it provide an opportunity to clarify the task, but also to build a rapport.
How do you prioritise technical SEO tasks in terms of implementation? Please rank the following, starting with the most effective:
In terms of prioritising technical SEO tasks, most in-house SEOs said that they did so based on which ones may yield quick wins, leading to big impact but with little effort. This was followed by Expected impact on KPIs.
The least popular way to prioritise SEO tasks is to use industry changes and algorithm updates.
For any technical SEOs that are struggling with prioritization, I'd recommend the ICE Framework. It takes the most popular prioritization tactics that are listed in this survey (effort, expected returns, and impact) and helps you quantitatively prioritize your tasks.
This is so energizing to see! As in-the-know SEOs, we shouldn't be following the algorithms — we should be at least a few steps ahead of them at all times. I do hope to see "impact on users" increase in importance, though, as this will continue to be the #1 way to stay ahead of Google's updates.
It’s good to see ROI and KPIs leading here, SEO’s should be prioritising users within key metrics. Having clear goals helps to maintain focus and deliver improved results. It’s also great to see the SEO industry switching to a people-first approach.
I would argue these responses are not a result of SEOs not understanding or knowing how to use industry changes or algorithm updates in prioritizing technical SEO tasks, but more the function of in-house SEO and the understanding of stakeholders of these updates. Often, as an in-house SEO, you are the subject-matter expert, or work within a small team of experts (as demonstrated by a previous question), which means that despite the importance of your knowledge on search visibility on the growth of the organization, this knowledge is niche, and often inaccessible for other stakeholders in the organizations. As such, SEOs often use more accessible and shared way of communicating with other sectors of the organization (e.g. through ICE frameworks, quick wins, KPIs, or user experience) to ensure that they are understood and the importance of their recommendations is well translated in other departments.
This looks like a really healthy order of priorities - we've had a lot of algorithm updates in quick succession this year so it's good to see the focus is still on building a functional and helpful website for its users and not playing algorithm catch up!
Going for quick wins with little effort is an effective way to win over stakeholders in a short amount of time, so if you're lacking buy-in this is the route I'd go for in order to build trust.
Typically, are your technical SEO recommendations deployed to a staging environment prior to live?
The vast majority of respondents (78%) said that they deploy technical SEO changes to a staging environment before pushing live.
I wish I could do A/B testing every time to understand the effect of the tech changes that I'm going to make. Sadly, it takes time to understand what works for the website. All clients don't agree to wait for a longer period just to see what is working.
I hope this percentage changes in the future because it's a direct way to see what is working for the website and thus, we can more wisely spend the resources.
I find this statistic quite interesting, because most of the respondents are working with quite large websites. When you're scaling SEO over time, that goes hand in hand with CRO. So I'd definitely suggest doing A/B testing to understand if there are any areas of improvement.
Although it may seem SEOs do not want to test, I would rather say it has a lot in common with many SEOs not being able to implement and run tests on their own. Considering for a test you often need dev team, UX/design team and permission from a stakeholder, this becomes really tricky. Therefore I guess many SEOs rather invest their time and energy into activities they can manage and impact directly on their own.
Martina Zrzavá Libřická
This definitely seems like a missed opportunity! A/B testing is a great way to figure out what makes the most impact - but I get it, there isn't always the time available for additional testing.