Agile & SEO

The most common problem corporates experience in achieving success in natural search is inefficiency in implementing appropriate and effective technical & structural site optimisations. This problem usually stems from two places.

1. Corporates and established businesses have legacy systems in place that are not flexible enough to allow for rapid change. Developers by nature are also reluctant to overhaul code and configurations and will discourage the business from implementing sizeable site optimisations.

2. Businesses often struggle to find a source of optimisation recommendations that they are confident enough with to invest the resource required to have optimisations implemented. When the SEO process goes on for a period of time and the agencies or consultants reporting on ROI do not show compelling results, confidence in the SEO process is lost and efforts stall.

Agile methodologies and tools used in the agile process do give SEO agencies, consultants and businesses the ability to quantify the execution of SEO initiatives and provide clients with granular reporting on the effectiveness of technical implementation.

SEO by nature is a cyclical process. Analysis is done, recommendations made, optimisations implemented and the impact of that implementation is then assessed. This cycle can be seen as an ongoing production line and businesses that wish to succeed in natural search should take the speed and output of this production line seriously.

The Right Recommendations:
Agile scrums are the perfect forum to filter SEO recommendations prior to scheduling for implementation. The Scrum provides a platform for stakeholders to discuss the potential impact of optimisations and prioritise accordingly. If the discussion is focused on prioritising the highest impact optimisations and checking these against the businesses objectives, a process is formed that ensures a continual stream of high value optimisations enter the production line for implementation.

Visualising your production line:
The agile cardwall system gives businesses a way to visualise the SEO production line. As teams focused on SEO implementation move tasks or ‘stories’ across the cardwall, the team and the business have a constant view of the current state of production. Teams can move tasks to ‘in progress’ as they are worked on and put them ‘on-hold’ when they hit roadblocks. This visual, structured workflow gives teams flexibility while also keeping them focused on closing or ‘shipping’ optimisations that enter the pipeline.

Source: Wikimedia Commons Cardwalls give teams the ability to visualise the entire production pipeline.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Enough Implementation?
Businesses that are concerned as to whether or not their optimisation process is moving fast enough should be measuring the rate that development teams work through and completely close optimisations to the point that the optimisations are live and in the search engines cache. Commonly used enterprise tools such as Jira provide in-depth tracking and can be customised to reflect the entire production process including testing, staging, compliancing and any other process that is required to achieve implementation.

Source: AtlasssianCreated vs closed chart shows development environments effectiveness in implementing optimisations.
Source: Atlasssian

Toolkit:
Jira: is a robust enterprise project tracker available in the cloud and as a download. It includes graphing features that help you visualise progress on your projects and a range of plugins including agile card walls.

Mingle: is an agile cardwall with an advanced feature set including analytics and forecasting charts.

Trello: for those who want to try using an agile cardwall to begin organising their SEO process, Trello is a free hosted cardwall that has a bunch of great features and can be customised to suit any project.

Conclusions:
As businesses continue to shift budgets into natural search in order to claim their share of organic visibility, budget holders are increasingly going to require understanding of what impact site optimisations have on search performance and their bottom line. Using agile tools and methodologies to track the technical implementation process through the whole SEO cycle lets businesses identify bottlenecks in the implementation process and understand early on if optimisations going through the production pipeline are effective.