Raleigh startups, as well North Carolina startups in general, have specialized digital marketing needs that can be a bit different than those of many traditional brick and mortar businesses. To understand what makes startups different in regard to what they often need in the way of services such as search engine optimization (SEO), web design, and so forth, a bit of brief discussion about the startup life cycle is needed.
What's a Startup The term startup generally refers to a venture capital funded business that has a strategic business plan of sufficient potential ROI that investors have supplied the money that the company needs in order to develop a new product or capability that isn't in the market yet. In many cases it's fully expected that the startup won't be profitable for some time because they have to first develop their new product or service and then bring it to market. Let's dig a little deeper into that.
Early Lifecycle of Raleigh Startups Startups developing a new business to business service will often engage in a process of organically identifying suitable prospects and contacting them in order to solicit their involvement as beta testers during the development cycle. You likely won't be staffed or organized internally just yet to support a large onset of customers, because you're in development mode instead of production. Your primary concern will be ensuring that when you reach out to a prospect, whether in Raleigh or elsewhere, that what that prospect sees online doesn't kill the deal.
Web Design for North Carolina Startups Your web presence needs to convey that your startup has something worth taking a closer look at. This requires not only the right type of content and messaging on the website, but also a visual style that says “we have something special.” To convey that, some startups may want to venture away from conventional approaches to web design and be deliberately different. Others may have a quicker cycle and prefer to build their website to support runtime operations and visitor conversion. I'll try to explain the difference.
A traditional business providing home services, such as a plumber, for example, may benefit from well-studied designs based on neuroscience conversion principles in order to achieve the highest probability of converting a website visitor into a customer. This is done through conversion-oriented design that looks at the composition of the page to ensure certain things are in the right places and that key things aren't missing. Color and messaging are very important as well. The idea is to create subliminal trust and funnel your visitor into taking a specific action.
In contrast, the startup has a different spin on this at this point in the life cycle of their business. The startup often wants to be seen as a potential market disruptor with something new and different to offer. Something noteworthy and compelling. The design challenge is to convey their essence and messaging in a powerful way so that prospects imagine themselves benefit from the product while potential investors alike find themselves wondering, “What if?” and envision the possibilities.
SEO Foundation From the perspective of SEO, a strong brand presence should be established early so that when people search for the business by name, they will hopefully see a lot of results about you on page one. This serves several purposes. First, it will allow the various digital assets involved to begin earning trust and authority in search engines. The authority of these properties will be increasingly important to the startup down the road if they plan to move into the mode of delivering their service to the general market. Further, it will also ensure that key digital properties are claimed so that they aren't hijacked by either a competitor or someone else hoping to siphon off some of the potential website traffic. By properly creating and linking essential properties through specific methods, the startup can avoid some potential problems, eliminate entity ambiguity, and create trust with search engines. I think of these early steps as the most critical foundation of SEO for a business.
Brand Search Feasibility An essential service I can provide as your Raleigh SEO expert before your business is even instantiated is to analyze the online search feasibility of your proposed brand and ensure that you aren't going to be competing to be found for your own brand name against other established, high-authority websites whose branding may be similar enough to create problems for you. You can get a high level view of the process on this page.
For example, think about very famous shoe brands named after the gods of Greek mythology. Now, imagine that their main brand word is part of your company name. Even though you may not be competing with them on products or services, you may very well be competing with them to be on page one of search results for your own brand name.
For example, let's say your business is called 'Brand Marketing' because you're in the marketing business. However, there's a company simply called 'Brand' and they happen to have a marketing department of their own, and they've invested in SEO to be sure their marketing department is getting top billing for the search phrase 'brand marketing.' You're competing with them in search engines even though you might not be competing with them for customers. A preliminary competition analysis can help you understand the difficulty of being recognized in Google for your own brand. Being recognized in Google search will cost less and be significantly faster if you select a brand name with good SEO prospects.
SEO for Products and Services An on-going SEO campaign may or may not be called for at this early stage, depending on when the business needs organic search engine traffic to sustain operations. Such campaigns often require anywhere from four to twelve months, though very competitive industries may require even longer than that. Further, because the product or business service itself is still in development, it may not be possible to fully map out all of the taxonomies and naming conventions needed for SEO at this point. For example, if the product or service has a special name they want to rank for, that isn't possible until it's name is nailed down. Instead, you'll have to focus on generic search terms to start creating some authority and come back to product naming later.
Paid Search Advertising Paid search, such as Google AdWords, can potentially play a role in the early lifecycle of Raleigh startups. This would potentially come into play if the startup is having difficulty identifying and reaching out to beta partners. A possible solution is to use paid ads to get traffic to the website. In such case, it is critical that the website landing page be designed in such a way as to maximize the probability of a contact request via the website.
This post originated on the DunnTek website at http://dunntek.com/seo/seo-project-management-considerations-part-3/ and is the third and final installment in a 3-part series about special considerations in SEO project management. This is the third and final installment in this particular series about certain special considerations with SEO project management. This isn't intended to be a guide on how to perform SEO project management, since that would be quite a lengthy document. Rather, my aim in this series is simply to shed light on certain areas that project managers used to working in other disciplines might want to consider, as well as to help business owners understand things that make SEO different from other types of Information Technology projects. Without further ado, let's begin. SEO Project Management Model
As mentioned previously, a fairly standard set of activities will generally need to be performed at the start of any SEO project. These activities include the identification of digital assets, an assortment of various on-page tasks, competition analysis, and early off-page tasks such as link clean-up, just to name a few. Custom SEO agencies may apply their own secret sauce during this phase as well. While the general nature of these activities will tend to be consistent within an agency in how they handle client SEO, the exact details and level of effort required may vary greatly from one project to the next. Once these baseline tasks are complete, the project will likely go through a series of progressive cycles until the desired results are achieved. A project management methodology that supports this approach of iterative work through successive cycles is recommended in order to maintain flexibility and avoid a constant stream of change orders that would likely result from trying to hold to a traditional waterfall approach. SEO ROI
There are a lot of opinions and approaches to calculating the ROI of an SEO project. Certainly, every project requires a clear and compelling reason why the business would invest money in it. The bottom line is that SEO is not simply a marketing cost due to the fact that it potentially creates residual value in a way that other forms of marketing do not. SEO is a strategic investment that a business owners makes to help ensure a regular flow of inbound customers that don't depend on paid advertisements. While beginning to realize the ROI may take anywhere from two months to a year or longer depending on your particular industry and location, this varies widely depending on the level of competition and the skill of your SEO. Perhaps most importantly, SEO creates an exit-strategy for the business owner. It has an incredible ability to transform a business that's just getting by into a valuable target for corporate acquisition by a larger company. Simply put, if you're sitting at the top of the search results for things that generate revenue, someone's likely to be interested if your business is for sale. From such a perspective, the potential ROI is possibly much higher than when simply compared to alternative marketing strategies. Project Communication
A communication plan is an important part of a project that details how communication is going to occur. This is important in order to prevent a free-for-all of instant messaging, email, phone calls, and cellular text messages that may result not only in complete chaos and missed deadlines but also the potential loss of important project data. A communication plan brings structure to how different types of communication will occur, both internally within the project team and with stakeholders, with the goal of ensuring that the project is successful. In this instance, my particular focus is on certain things that can come into play during communication between the client and the SEO provider which must be considered. Having managed projects of so many different types, one thing I'm certain of is that SEO is... different. One thing you may encounter in an SEO project is that semi-technical people are very likely to try and understand things which are simply never going to make sense to them. While that could be said for IT in general, what makes SEO a bit unique is that we deal with a lot of things that people are used to looking at constantly, and, being smart people, they will be quick to think they understand them – but they've never looked at any of those things from an SEO perspective. This can potentially lead to a lot of conversation because it arouses people's curiosity when they suddenly discover that the online world that's been right in front of them has immense depths of subtlety they never previously imagined. Analytical people will be naturally inclined to want to get their heads around it, so to speak. Creative people may suddenly find themselves having no end of ideas they want to contribute. For all of these reasons, business owners should decide up front whether they want to pay for their staff to have kind of this extra dialogue or simply let the SEO firm do their thing. As an example, consider a scenario in which the project is moving into content marketing. Suppose an appropriate piece of content can be sourced by the SEO for $50. Creative staff employed by the client, however, want to hold additional meetings to discuss the content to be used, possibly create their own content, and then invariably have to conduct additional meetings to discuss changes required to make the content suitable for SEO purposes. That type of dynamic creative process takes much longer, and the additional hours required are usually not going to be covered in a standard engagement. As a result, the client needs to determine in advance whether a creative engagement is worth the cost and schedule risk, or whether they prefer to simply let the SEO procure an appropriate piece of content to keep the project on-target in regard to both time and money. Neither approach is right or wrong; it's a question of cost and preference, and it's something that needs to be established during project inception to avoid any potential heartburn later. Because SEO may take anywhere from three months to a year or longer, some type of regular contact is certainly needed to assure the customer that something meaningful is happening. I caution, though, against the standard inclination to produce detailed activity reports with tons of detail. If you go into too much detail, what may well happen is that when people read a report with a bunch of activities listed of things you did and digital documents or properties that you created, for example, people are going to try to look at those things online and try to understand both the individual activities as well as how they all fit together. It's human nature to do that. Unfortunately, there's a huge potential for them to end up feeling confused and frustrated for several different reasons. First, some of the things we do in SEO can be counter-intuitive or go against many common misconceptions. Second, they simply lack the years of experience to understand the strategic approach behind why these things are done the way they are. Unless you're dealing with another actual expert, consider the level of detail that's really going to be beneficial to the customer. More is not always better. Seek to provide meaningful indicators of progress while avoiding the inclusion of unnecessary data-points. There is another reason to consider keeping reports at a high level, though. A critical consideration for any SEO firm is intellectual property and trade secrets. No one expects to walk into a major brand fast food restaurant and walk out with anything more than the vaguest understanding of their secret recipe, and SEO is no different. Within the field of SEO, there is a great amount of highly specialized tradecraft that changes on a very frequent basis. This tradecraft represents an SEO firm's secret recipe in how they address the 200+ ranking factors. Accordingly, if you want anything more than a high-level report, don't be surprised if you're asked to execute a legal Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which attaches a hefty financial penalty for violating the terms of the agreement. I prefer to avoid such a situation entirely and keep trade secrets and propriety business processes strictly on a need-to-know basis. As long as you can deliver results, people will not only understand that you've got something special, but they'll also appreciate the fact that you don't take just anyone as a client. Conclusion
SEO should be seen more as a capital investment than a marketing cost. It can create residual value and lead to a possible exit-strategy for a small business owner looking to sell their business. An SEO project can meet the criteria to be considered a project according to industry definitions, depending on the approach taken by the SEO agency. In selecting an SEO project management methodology, an SEO company should consider modern iterative approaches that will accommodate the dynamic nature of competitive SEO. Finally, if you're a business owner and need a local SEO company to help you get the potential additional inbound leads associated with having an improved organic search engine rank, and you've either tried other approaches that didn't work or maybe you just want to get it right the first time, contact us so we can discuss your goals and find out whether our DunnTek SEO services are a good fit for your business.
The following blog post http://dunntek.com/seo/seo-project-management-considerations-part-2 is courtesy of DunnTek Blog and is Part 2 in a series about SEO project management. I recommend reading Part 1 first if you haven't already done so. SEO Strategy
My intent with this section is not to articulate any sort of one-size-fits-all SEO strategy, because such a thing simply doesn't exist in any actionable form, but, rather, to explain some of the associated issues that are going to affect which project management methodologies are used and how they're applied. You've probably seen ads where marketing companies say they'll provide SEO services for $200 per month. Having reviewed many such services myself, I can say that, at this price point, what you're usually going to get is a pre-formulated package of specific items like X number of blog posts, articles, and so forth, which are all done the same way for each and ever client. In the case where a business may be close to the tipping point in ranking, it is possible that such a formulaic approach might be all they need to tip the scales in their favor. In my mind, that's really just a nailed-down business process rather than a strategy, because a strategy to achieve a particular result has to be specific to that result. If it's generic, then I consider it to be a conceptual approach - not an actual strategy. It also doesn't meet the industry definition of a project.
In most moderately competitive industries, the people that I encounter who've tried such offerings generally didn't get the results they hoped for. This could be because they bought SEO services rather than SEO solutions. In other words, they paid someone to come do some plumbing and carpentry, but not to actually build them a house. Unfortunately, customers really don't have any way of knowing whether what's being proposed by a potential provider is going to work or not. How is a customer to tell whether the technical lingo in fancy looking Power Point presentations represents an actual bona fide SEO solution that's going to create results, or just a bunch of paid hours keeping someone busy? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this which is why it's important to select real business partners who have a vested interest in your long-term success. Let's dig into some nuances of SEO strategy a bit further.
To begin, boiler-plate programs may not meet the commonly-held definition of a project since you are simply paying someone to provide a predefined commodity service that they sell the exact same way to anyone that asks. Within the field of project management, we refer to this as manufacturing since you're simply following an existing process that you do the same way each time. Is your company and situation exactly the same as everyone else's? The question to ask yourself is whether you expect to beat a medium to high level of competition with a low-dollar service that does the same thing for everyone. I am not, by any stretch, disparaging this approach. In the right situations, boiler-plate services can achieve results. They may even create a good foundation on top of which more advanced services can be built. You just have to be careful in setting your expectations based on the level of competition and the degree to which the approach has been customized for your particular business. In moderate to high competition situations, a custom SEO approach will almost always be needed. When you get right down to it, the goal of SEO is to help a website to achieve organic rank in search engines so that you get more traffic to your website, which leads to more customers and more revenue for your business. As a business owner, that's the result you're after. If that's the case, why do many companies sell standard list of pre-defined services? Because people keep buying it, hoping that it will work. Whether their service works or not, a single month's payment covers their cost of having acquired you as a customer, so they come out ahead whether you keep paying them or not. When your business model is mass-production, your focus is different than when you cater to a small number of clients determined to grow their business successfully. As an SEO service provider, when you are working with such clients in your local area, you need to concern yourself with establishing a reputation for quality.
An SEO strategy is not simply developing a standard business process and using it the same way for everyone, knowing that it's going to produce variable results for different clients since their situations are different. A strategy requires looking at what it's really going to take to rank a given website based on the competition and, at a high level, mapping out the pieces involved. Several hours are needed to perform such an assessment. Due to the rapid evolution of ranking algorithms and the resulting adaptations made by SEO experts, any SEO strategy should be understood to be conceptual and that changes will be made over the course of the project.
Insofar as what project management methodologies to apply, traditional waterfall models that try to map the whole out from start to finish may lack the flexibility required for moderate to high level competition situations where the effort can span several months or longer and require adjustments at each step. At minimum, you'd be facing the high probably that two particular risks are going to manifest at any time without notice. These are search engine algorithm changes and additional actions taken by competitors. More iterative project management approaches should be considered.
Timeline and Milestones
Assuming that you aren't simply following a manufacturing blue-print which follows a rote schedule, SEO is going to occur over a period of phases during which you will see website rankings fluctuate greatly. A process called the “Google dance” often takes 2-3 weeks for things to occur, during which time you will almost always see your website rank drop initially – sometimes quite dramatically – and then fluctuate for a short period of time. This is completely normal, is no cause for alarm, and can take a month or longer at times. After this period, if your SEO was successful, your website will return to a higher position than it was before. Your SEO activities should be organized around these cycles.
While the role of milestones in a more agile project management framework is a bit different than in a waterfall approach, there will almost always be certain things that need to be done early. It's quite likely this will include such things as on-site website optimization, social media profile creation and optimization, and other such fairly standard activities that might need to be performed prior to moving on to content marketing and other activities, depending on your SEO expert's analysis and recommendations.
In SEO, we are trying to woo Google to like our website. Like any romance, sometimes it requires more work and determination than you expected, and we aren't in control of the timing. We have to take things as they come and be fluid. This can present a challenge in asset allocation for larger SEO firms that follow an IT governance structure such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and want to perform demand management. Resource scheduling is difficult when you don't know when the next round of activity will need to commence.
Enter the SEO Expert
The role of your SEO expert is to guide you through these shark-infested waters to help you get your website ranked in the way that hopefully results in great long term results. This requires an intuitive understanding of SEO, an ability to assess risk, the application of technical skills, and the ability to keep things organized and on-track. Where the average lay-person will go wrong is mistakenly thinking the actual application of technical skills are the difficult part of SEO. In fact, once you know those things, they're the easy part.
You are paying a real SEO expert for knowing what's actually going to work, and for having the kind of understanding needed to adapt as required throughout the course of the campaign. In practice, what a real SEO expert does may appear on the surface to be very similar to what a low-dollar provider might have done. For example, both might perform some content marketing such as writing blog posts as part of the engagement. The difference lays in the nuances of both how and when the techniques are applied and how it's all knitted together. You may end up with just a bunch of digital tidbits floating in cyberspace, or you may get a well-orchestrated cohesive framework unique to your business that shows Google that you're the real deal.
With Google's algorithmic updates happening on such a constant basis now, everything that you think you know is subject to change without notice. On any given day, you may be waking up to an entirely new set of rules. The SEO expert is on top of these changes and will make adjustments as needed based on knowledge that isn't publicly available.
People want to know what they're going to actually get. This is just human nature, and it's the reason that standardized services are so easily sold. They readily cater to the basic human desire to eliminate uncertainty. It seems more of a "sure thing" when you're told that you're going to get A, B and C, and you can cancel at any time. I take the view, though, that's it's crucial to be crystal clear that the one and only primary deliverable of an SEO project is an improved search engine rank, and other secondarily deliverables may be provided as needed over the course of the project. Such secondary deliverables may include the creation or optimization of such things as:
- Social media profiles - Social engagement campaigns - Primary business websites -Images - Videos - eBooks and other digital content
Every project is unique; no two clients need exactly the same thing. The thing about these secondary deliverables is that they may well change over the course of the project, and they should not be recorded as obligations. Note that this will be in direct contradiction to the approach taken by firms that take a mass-production approach.
This is the crucial difference between generic SEO that gives everyone the same thing and a customized SEO plan. With a customized SEO plan, the focus is on achieving rank – not checking off boxes for doing work and hoping maybe it helps boost rank. Secondary deliverables are going to be a natural result of the SEO process, but they should not be its focus. Trying to nail them down in advance and put them into a contract is setting both the customer and the SEO agency up for serious heartburn when the dynamic changing environment necessitates a shift in the approach or timing. This is a very realistic scenario that is best avoided by letting your customer know up front that while you may advise them on your activities over the course of the project, no specific secondary deliverables are guaranteed to be provided because your goal is to help increase their rank, not to create digital artifacts for their own sake. The right customer will understand this and value having a professional in their corner with the know-how to make that happen.
It really comes down to whether the customer is focused on an improved website ranking and trusts you to do what's needed, or whether they're more concerned about secondary deliverables that may not lead to increased ranking if they're set in stone. Unfortunately, many customers will have had prior experiences with the second scenario and thus have it in their minds that's what they need to ask for simply because it's all that they know. Their prior experience shapes what they think working with an SEO expert should look like. Unfortunately, that way of thinking will undermine their success so the SEO provider may need to re-educate their customer prior to beginning work.
This concludes part 2 in this series about SEO project management that will be continued.
The post http://dunntek.com/seo/seo-project-management-considerations-part-1 was first published to DunnTek Blog
Welcome to this first part in a series about SEO project management and some factors that make it different from what some customers and project managers alike may have encountered. As a Raleigh SEO services (visit our company website) provider and certified project management professional working in the field of Information Technology, over the years I've managed a wide variety of information technology projects including both big projects such as multi-million dollar system installations, the relocation of large corporate data centers, IT in new construction of 30+ corporate buildings, live football TV broadcasts, and of course software and infrastructure projects such as web development in everything from ASP.NET and WordPress to custom Linux sites using API's to manage legacy systems. Out of it all, I think that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has to be the trickiest for project management because there are certain things which are virtually impossible to put numbers to with the kind of precision you might expect from other types of projects. Before we talk about project management, though, let's make sure you know what SEO is.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO strategy is about getting websites to rank in Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. so that a given website will show up near the top of the search results. SEO methods have different nuances based on whether you're selling services to local home-owners, products on the Internet, or electronic books on Amazon, and not all SEO experts are equally versed in these slightly different disciplines.
Origins of Project Management
It's generally held that project management, at least as most people think of it with a traditional waterfall approach to planning, was born in the construction industry to provide a structured process to follow in first developing a design, and then building what you put down on paper. Once you had a design and developed the specifications, it became possible to nail down exactly what things had to happen in what order to finish construction on schedule and within budget. The catch is that it was all predicated on the idea of being able to accurately depict the duration of work streams and obtain hard bids for the labor and materials based on knowing exactly how much you need of every component. The thing to keep in mind about construction is that once you finish putting in the last nail or screw and pass inspection, that's when you're finished.
Suppose, though, that you were supposed to not only build some houses, but win a quality award that you can't control whether you get or not. All you can do is try to understand what they look for, do your best to give that to them, and then cross your fingers. Now, suppose that you didn't get the award on your first pass, but that you know you'll have another shot at it in a week, if you can figure out how to make them like your house better than the others, who are also trying to make their better than yours as you try to out-do each other a constant competitive struggle. That's SEO.
Why SEO Project Management Has to Be Different
First, the desired end result of search engine optimization â¤“ improved website rankings â¤“ occurs at the whim and mercy of commercial search engines that do what they do in order to make money. They'll rank your website when and if they feel like it based primarily on automated analyses. It isn't under anyone's control but Google's. SEO is simply a deliberate attempt to woo their favor with things that experience tells us that they usually like.
The good news is that with experience, we can often at least guestimate how long it's probably going to take to rank a website at least on page one for a given search term or keyword, and we can often guess at the level of effort required as well, but what we can't do is say either of those things with any guaranteed certainty.
Second, you aren't putting up a building on a fixed plot of land. You're working in a dynamically changing landscape that's not only highly competitive where people may try to out-do you with every step you take, but the very rules of the game itself are subject to change without notice. Search engine algorithm updates are constant, so every day you can be waking up to a new set of rules.
SEO Risk Management
A key activity within project management is risk management, the purpose of which is to identify and assess potential risks and present options to the decision maker on how that risk might be addressed, so that the decision maker can decide what level of risk they are willing to accept and allocate any additional resources that may be needed to mitigate that potential risk. Within SEO, there is an ever-present risk that the project may take longer and cost more than anticipated since results occur at the whim of Google, and there is furthermore a risk that Google (or Yahoo or Bing) may, at any time, decide that they think you broke their rules and delete your website from their search engine entirely, a process called de-indexing. This is potentially disastrous for a business that relies on inbound leads through organic search results.
Were this risk to manifest, the website in question would no longer appear in search results. If you previously held a top ranking, you wouldn't be anywhere to be found which would mean inbound customers would stop coming. They would no longer be finding you online through organic search. At minimum, your costs would increase greatly since you'd have to replace that free traffic with paid traffic, but even that might not generate sufficient volume to sustain your business at its previous level. Simply put, the effects could be devastating.
Additionally, in creating any sort of digital content, there is always the associated theoretical possibility that someone might decide they think they have grounds for a lawsuit. In hiring an SEO professional, realize that they are probably going to create and publish content on your behalf. Because you're the one that wants it done, you have a choice to make. You can either:
1. Review literally everything before it's done at a much higher cost due to the time required for so much back and forth communication and changes, or, 2. Accept that's how it is up front, assume any legal risk, and give your SEO professional the green-light to create and publish content.
This particular risk can be partially mitigated by using various tools such as those at http://www.copyscape.com
If you do want to include such reviews as part of your project cost, you need to understand:
1. What it is that you hope to accomplish; 2. Who's going to conduct the review; 3. What standards you'll apply; 4. How they're going to actually determine whether the content meets those standards; 5. What will happen if they don't; 6. Whether it's worth what it's going to cost you both in terms of the labor to perform those tasks within your company as well as the additional cost with your SEO provider.
In other words, is it really just something that you think you want to do in order to make yourself feel better while slowing down the project and increasing the cost, or are you actually going to perform a thorough and proper analysis at the level that would be required to have the effect of appreciably reducing risk? Very few customers will have either the budget or expertise required in order to undertake successfully this due to the level of effort involved, the cost, and the fact that they'll invariably end up holding up the project.
Virtually all SEO companies will call out that the paying customer accepts any and all such risk. That's just how it is, but the likelihood of this happening is reduced tremendously by relying on local providers who have a true vested interest in seeing you succeed.
SEO Work Breakdown Structure
A work breakdown structure is simply a logically structured grouping that depicts the individual tasks needed to create the final end result. That's possible to create once you have plans for a building and a firm commitment on exactly what you're going to build and how you're going to build it. SEO, though, by its very nature is like performing surgery on a battlefield. Everything is moving and changing around you, and what you thought you'd need to do next month might be very different when the time comes due to changes in both search engine algorithms and the competitive landscape itself. When it comes to SEO, you aren't just being paranoid. They are, in fact, out to get you. Your competitors will try to actively out-do you for top rankings when those top spots mean incoming customers for a business, and they may well do so right in the midst of your project. Your project management methodology needs to be nimble and provide fluidity if you want to not only get to the top but stay there.
Is SEO Really a Project
People often use the term project management fairly loosely to refer to keeping things organized when you have something that you're trying to accomplish, but there is a very specific definition of a project set forth by industry authorities. Some people might debate where SEO is or isn't really a project according to the definition - and potentially with good reason. I submit that it depends on who's doing the SEO and their approach. If the SEO company is following a standard methodology in providing a set of services such as X number of articles each month, that may not meet the definition according to industry guidelines. That particular scenario represents the application of a manufacturing process. Not all SEO is like that, however. In fact, I contend that true results-oriented SEO does, in fact, represent a project. Each competitive situation will be unique and the path needed to achieve results will vary from one client or website to the next, as I'll explore in more detail as this series continues.
This concludes the first installment in our series about SEO project management.
DISCLAIMER: No parties referenced in this post should be construed as endorsing any statements made. Links are provided only for the reader's convenience should they wish to research these subjects further. Subject to terms and conditions as posted at http://dunntek.com
What you start designing your website, it can be tempting to put a lot of graphics on it. You need to be careful about graphics and use them correctly, though, to avoid a problem of slow page load time, and confusing your visitors. Let's dive into those things. PAGE LOAD TIMEYour page load time is how fast it takes for your site to show up on your visitor's device. Your pictures take much longer to transmit than plain text, so the more pictures you have, and the more detailed the file is with data, the longer it takes. That all said, there are a couple of ways to reduce page load time.
1. LESS PICTURES
One way to cut down on page load time is simply reducing the number of pictures. For example, if you have a slider, don't load up 9 slides and overlay them all with a bunch of dense text. I've seen this done, and it's like trying to cram an entire website into a slider. It just isn't something I personally recommend in almost any situation.
One case where you can't necessarily cut back too far on the number of images is a picture gallery. In the case of a gallery, the rest of the steps below become even more critical.
Often, modern digital cameras take extremely high resolution pictures suitable for printing out as a photo. That's great if that's what you're going to do with them, but on a website, you don't usually want that high of a resolution. In fact, you want to get the resolution to the bare minimum that's still going to look good on a typical screen size. When working on several pictures such as for a gallery, you might want to check out IrfanView.
3. EWWW Image Optimizer
This handy WordPress plugin will create multiple versions of each image in your library, and then deliver lower-resolution (less pixels) versions of your images if warranted. The downside to this is that you end up with a bigger file folder due to the additional images, which will use more of your allowed storage space and make your backups bigger. This may or may not be an issue.
Use a tool like either JpegMini or Kraken to resample your images. What they do is fairly technical, but the idea is that they look at the colors in the image and find ways to do some averaging on things and reduce the overall number of pixels, but in ways that the human eye cannot often see. For example, if there are hundreds of shades of yellow, you can imagine that many of them would be so close you'd have to look extremely close to tell the difference. So these programs look at pixels that are right next to each other and if they're only slightly different, it might blend them together in a way that makes the file smaller. There are also lossy and lossless options, but I'll save that for a rainy day. I often get anywhere from a 25-50% size reduction. Well, if a picture is half the size it used to be, the new smaller picture will now load twice as fast as the old one – and you probably won't even be able to tell the difference.
JpegMini does the work off-line on your computer prior to uploading, while Kraken is a pay-per-month service that does all the work in the cloud and automatically optimizes any new images that you may add.
If you aren't using a cache, you need to be. These come in different types, and it's quite a discussion of its own. For now, the important thing to know is that by using a cache, your website will be served up even faster still.
USING PICTURES PROPERLY
Too many pictures on the page will pull your visitor's attention in multiple directions. Usually, a web page should be funnelling your visitor toward taking a specific action. If their attention is going in multiple directions, though, they may become a confused buyer, and confused buyers don't buy. Your pictures should either part of your overall story, in which case they need to be layed out in a way that flows properly, or parked in properly strategic places, such as where you expect to see a company's logo.
You need to also be mindful about colors and your overall page composition. Everything needs to all look good together.
Pictures can either showcase your best work, illustrate a problem to grab their attention, or be used as part of a discussion about your materials or work processes. Which is best really depends on the purpose of that particular web page.
Thanks for reading! I didn't actually realize how much I had to say about pictures until I sat down and began to plot this out. I hope the information was helpful, and, as always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me on my website at Website Design Raleigh NC