What do you think is the biggest risk to technical SEO success?
The answers here were pretty close but a lack of resources was the most popular answer with 28% of respondents citing this as the biggest risk to technical SEO success. Second in the list with 23% was technical debt, followed by lack of buy-in/authority at 17%.
What the experts think…
I see #3 (Lack of buy in) as a cause for organisational lack of resource and technical debt, because if you were able to get your leaders bought in to maintaining the website, of which SEO is a part of it, more people would be brought in to do the work, and they'd encourage conversation around resolving debt so the real optimisation can start.
I completely agree with this. I've been working as a consultant for many years, and this is an issue that keeps repeating itself, no matter how big or small the company is. It's more than just a proper lack of resources; it's also a lack of awareness which leads to lack of resources.
I have yet to work anywhere in SEO where there is an abundance of resources. I think the lack of resource demands an ever growing need to priortise tech SEO tasks based on the largest ROI first.
Realistically, you will never have the time to fix every issue, so consider each issues impact to prioritise importance of tasks and don't sweat the small stuff.
All of these definitely resonate - I think lack of dev manpower is an issue at a lot of companies - especially for back-end work so I'd have to agree that would probably come out tops for most people.
It's our job to get technical SEO implemented. If something is a risk to technical SEO success, it's a risk to business performance entirely and we should be making clients aware of this at the earliest stage possible.
These can be uncomfortable but extremely necessary conversations to have - if you go about them professionally and productively, it can have a hugely positive impact to your daily working life and the results you're able to achieve.
The answers are not unexpected but the results are somewhat alarming. SEO without technical SEO is like a car with a flat tire, it can drive but not much further therefore organisational lack of resources is frustrating. SEOs don't often do only the job they are hired for but they are the ones trying to change processes within an organization so things may work.
If organizations adopted the same or similar approach with SEO as they use when maintaining for example their fleet - rather prevent potential problems and issues than face them - their technical SEO would be in great state.
The first and second most popular responses here match with my main experiences.
Again, it's great to see that less than 5% of respondents cite "changing guidance from Google" as a risk. Being on top of SEO best practices means understanding Google's overarching mission (better user experience) and aligning our own with it.
What ONE metric do you think is the most effective in measuring SEO performance?
Here, we asked respondents which metrics they used to measure their performance and the most popular answer with 42% of the votes was organic traffic, followed by conversions (37%) and rankings (14%).
What the experts think…
I’m pleased to see conversions high up on the results! When measuring SEO performance, keep your main goal in mind. Each scenario can vary, when setting up a new project what are you aiming to achieve? Increased conversions, increased brand awareness etc:
Is the content created to convert? If so, measure organic conversions and conversion rates and work to improve.
If the page is for brand awareness, say a top of the funnel blog post, at this point in the customer journey, you are not aiming to convert, instead the goal is to get more traffic through the door - measure organic traffic metrics.
Ultimate goal of content/project plays a huge role in deciding metrics for measuring effective SEO performance.
I think while for SEOs organic traffic is an important metric in reality for most businesses conversions are really what matters.
It doesn't matter in most cases how much traffic you bring in if in the end it doesn't convert and has an effect on the company's bottom line!
I'm surprised that indexability isn't higher on this list. This definitely has felt like a year of "Crawled but not indexed" so it'll be interesting to see if this changes for next year's results. I think that's definitely a key metric for enterprise websites at the very least.
Organic traffic is the only true metric for SEO, in my opinion. With the change in SERPs, looking at rankings only has becoming less accurate in measuring organic visibility.
Conversions through SEO definitely prove the business value of SEO, but I don't believe that should ever be a stand-alone metric of success.
I’d suggest conversions are probably most important here in showing ROI to a client, but as the exact sources can be hard to track at times (or rely on other factors), then organic traffic is a fairly proven metric to show improvements based purely on SEO work carried out.
Great to see conversions up there, at the end of the day we're trying to get more of the 'right' traffic to the website through SEO, not just more traffic, and the right traffic should eventually convert in some way or another.
Team conversions all the way. What is the point in increasing the number of users if they aren't ever going to become a customer? I'd rather have 100 organic users that spend than 1000 that don't.
The definition of success and what metrics are essential in SEO depends on many factors. For example, a year-on-year increase in organic traffic is the aim of a new or smaller business. However, success differs in the case of a big or established business with solid SEO performance. Increasing lead and traffic quality matters most, and extra traffic is a bonus.
It is important to remember that the audience for a product or service is only so big. Despite algorithmic change and expansion, you are always contending with market limitations.
Extremely surprised to see organic traffic first! To me, it should always be conversions, but showing a client or your team leads that you're getting traffic is more accessible than showing conversions. Still, it really surprises me!
When setting expectations with stakeholders, how long do you say that it can take for technical SEO changes to have an impact on traffic?
46% of technical SEOs set the expectation that it can take up to three months to see an impact on traffic from technical SEO work. Next up was up to six months with 30%.
What the experts think…
From my experience, you can generate great results with SEO in 3 months, as this survey reveals. The core roadblock to that is simply getting things done and live, such as content published and technical SEO changes. SEO is perceived to take 6 months on average, because that's most often how long it takes businesses to implement a small foundational strategy.
My general response is somewhere between the top 2 and I tend to state 3-6 months. If I had to choose one category, I would say ‘hopefully’ the impact would be seen in less than 3 months but that it would depend on Google, etc.
Wow, people are incredibly faithful! I never set expectations regarding the timeline because it would be impossible and misleading. I would love to see the types of sites the respondents work on because that could be the reason behind that answer.
It depends… (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) - If three months needs to include resource allocation, budget, stakeholder buy-in, execution and impact then this is unrealistic, if this is the time it takes for results to show once executed then I’ve seen results in under a month and even under a week in some cases, dependant on size of site, scope of change and how often the site is indexed.
This is tricky as there are many factors influencing the impact. To stay on a safe side, every SEO may use the answer from Google official documentation "typically from four months to a year from the time we begin making changes until we start to see the benefits".
We all know that some technical changes can have an almost immediate impact on traffic, but I'd never tell a client to expect that. Part of that is expectation management, but it's also allowing enough time to pass to collect data - I don't think anything less than a month would be reliable.
Please rank the following in order of effectiveness in measuring SEO performance:
Next, we asked technical SEOs to rank options for how they prefer to measure SEO performance. The most popular answer was to use actual organic traffic to measure SEO performance, followed by conversions and then rankings.
|1||Actual Organic Traffic e.g. GA|
|2||Conversions e.g. Leads / Revenue|
|5||Search visibility e.g. 3rd party tools|
|6||Time on site|
What the experts think…
I think it's important to differentiate what we look at as SEOs as a measure of success, and what we report on to clients - and we should even be tailoring what we report on to different stakeholders (as long as we're aligned with business KPIs).
This might be an unpopular opinion, but reporting to clients on rankings feels like a waste of time unless you can prove they're having an impact on the bottom line.
Traffic and conversions are always my go-to - but if you can take it a step further and report on the ROI your clients get from the work you do, that's even better.
I agree that actual organic traffic is always a good clear performance indicator, as it’s less reliant on other aspects of a site than a metric like conversions. Plus, clients are always happy if you can show your work is improving organic traffic consistently!
Happy to see the bounce rate in the lowest position here, this is a very subjective metric. High bounce could mean the person got what they needed quickly or it could mean they couldn’t find what they needed at all, two totally separate ends of the spectrum.
Once again, I was surprised to see GA traffic instead of conversions here. Traffic is easier to achieve, but qualified traffic leading to conversions is harder. So I get the answer, but it still astonishes me...
Does Google’s formal announcements surrounding upcoming algorithm updates influence your SEO planning and roadmap?
Here, we wanted to understand where formal announcements from Google regarding updates have a material impact on the plans of technical SEOs. Answers were relatively evenly distributed, with the slight majority (53%) going to yes: such announcements change the roadmap of technical SEOs.
What the experts think…
Yes, Google's announcements on algorithm updates have a big influence on SEO Planning. Consider the Page Experience Update and the Helpful Content Update.
There will always be algorithm updates and I think we need to avoid the panic that often sets in as soon as we hear about them. If you stick with the premise of good SEO - helpful content, human writing, easy to read and skim - you'll likely be just fine.
On one hand, a good technical SEO strategy shouldn't really be shaken up by algorithm updates. That being said, I would never completely ignore a huge upcoming algorithm change (thinking back to CWV) because if all your competitors are improving an aspect of their websites and you aren't, it's easy to fall behind.
Google's advice on what to do if you've been impacted by a Core update is always the same: ensure you are creating quality content (not just words on page!) for users. I think it's pretty futile to stress out and change strategies any time there's a new announcement, so as long as you are focused on creating high-quality content for your users then you're golden.
This is an interesting split given how low most respondents have ranked "guidance from Google" as an influence on their activities. I'm surprised to see this many modern SEOs feeling they need to change their plans based on Google's announcements rather than being confident that their roadmaps already have search engines' tendencies and direction incorporated.
I wonder from which countries and in which language people who answered "yes" optimize. Why am I bringing this up? Some algorithm updates are in the first stage focused mostly on English speaking countries or large countries and gradually rolled-out to other countries and languages. In many cases when you do not optimize in large and English speaking countries, there is no reason to change a roadmap.
In general I would also say if you follow the best practice, changing an SEO roadmap because of algorithm update is not necessary.
That is not a surprising answer. Still, changing strategies following Google should not be an option for SEOs. Why do we want to be hamsters riding a wheel we don't control?
With so many updates in such quick succession this year it's bound to make anyone stop and think, and is a really great way to gauge where Google is headed in the future too. I feel like each update is a little hint at what's coming in the future.