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It takes a great project manager or developer and when folks ask where SEO is going I think thatís the direction weíre moving in. A well optimized site is a well planned and developed site.
I agree, and what a trip it is.
Rapidly vanishing are the days of bare-bones doorway pages, domain farms, keyword tags, keyword stuffed alt attributes and a host of other relatively basic tricks. There's not even any real hope of precise algo busting today - the most you can hope for is an approximate idea of how a search engine massages what their spider picks up.
But for those riding the wave, the more that search engines find ways around the simple tricks of yesterday, the more our skills have had to grow into every corner of web development.
The challenge is, we don't have that kind of industry recognition at this point. We suffer an image problem!
SEO is often seen as a marketing step that a company takes AFTER their site is created. How much more effective our work can be if we manage the project from the very start.
No more all graphics Home Pages where we need to find workarounds for the search engines. No more marketing copy devoid of any keyword substance. No more file names created in geek-speak code strings. No more site structures that bury key pages 8 directories down.
How can we get our message out there - Come To Us First!
I know Iíve been stretching myself to learn all I can and how then to work with experts in their fields that I just donít want or need or even can learn. Give me land and Iíll create a beautiful garden but donít ask me to design a website cause it will be ugly. Let me write about what I know and love and it will probably make enough sense for others to understand but donít expect me to write your copy so your product sells, wonít go there. When it comes to techie stuff I think all those folks deserve whatever they want cause itís beyond geek to me and Iíll pay or Iíll praise but I know where my limits are.
Does this mean I canít act as a project manager, no. See thatís the beauty of what we know as SEO. Itís magic. All that I donít know about what else it takes to put a site together is all that those other talented folks do know. I DO have to know the various parts though. And more. I have to know keywords, the importance of content, the placement of these aspects on a given page, and how to link it all together so it doesnít get busted. If Iím really good I know how to take it a step further and promote the site. I know how to figure out the industry, understand the client, know their client and then optimize their placement so they Ė well Ė spend their money in the most effective manner. Ultimately it makes me the what Ė optimizer Ė look good.
However, now some of them are bringing me in early in the design process and all the geeks are impressed of how I can drive traffic to their site just by making their content management system search engine friendly.
Unfortunately for many my service are still 3rd priority and that really bothers me. I know that I have got the solution to their problem but they just wonít learn. Why? I think Iíve got the answer and itís very simple. Whenever an Internet agency recommends my services to their client they are putting money from their clients budget into my pocket. Even though they get a cut of my share they prefer to keep it all for them selves.
Earlier we have discussed the role of an SEO (PPC/PPA vs. pay per hour) [webmasterworld.com...]
I believe in the PPC/PPA model and I just got an interesting idea. If you are an sub-contractor, wouldnít it make sense to your contractor a revenue share of the PPC/PPA. Until now I have only used the PPC/PPA model when dealing with the client directly.
If Internet agencies / web designer know that they will get a nice cut out of the revenue, wouldnít that motivate them to use an SEO early in the process?
Old news or unchartered area?
We look to provide a full service for companies. I personally feel comfortble project managing a site development and think that it is definitely the way to go.
SEO starts with design concepts, and includes site structuring, search engine submission is one of the later tasks in the SEO process as far as I am concerned.
The difficulty for us is getting in at the start of projects, we don't have the flashy graphics and animations to present that wow the clients marketing manager. (I see Torbens problem of SEO being a third priority all the time and lose potential clients because they donot see SEO as a number one priority)_
Most of our design is neat and tidy, but nothing that says 'Wow' that looks great. We have taken up the catchphrase 'Make your website work for your business, not your business for your website', but it is still very hard to sell the concept.
It is like going to a client who wants a company vehicle trying to sell them a sturdy reliable effective 3 ton truck, when your competitors are offering Ferraris, Corvettes and Porsches. The difference being that if they were buying a vehicle they have a reasonable understanding of why they are buying and an understanding of what the vehicle is capable of. In the world of websites, in general the buying customers are ill informed and easily swayed by the outward appearance.
Good one, paynt. I'm new at SEO but I've been a consultant for over 15 years on multi-million dollar projects. Seen a lot of different project management styles, effective and ineffective. I've been pretty effective as a PM (if I do say so myself).
Anyway, the point is that the PM doesn't have to know every detail of every aspect. He/she needs a really good understanding of how it all fits together and the ability to communicate that understanding to the project team. How to work with the client <b>and</b> with the techies. How to develop and maintain a plan - and that means being able to adjust when the curve-balls start coming (and they always do).
Web Design and Development has acquired a bit of a "fly by the seat of your pants" image for one reason or another. I firmly believe that we will benefit greatly from learning about development methodology.
I tried 2 Google searches:
1) development methodology
2)"system delivery methodology"
This is not a plug. Got no idea who the guys are. I learned my methodology working with Logica and DMR Group (now Fujitsu Consulting).
Bottom line: we need a solid, substantial methodology. Projects will take longer and cost more but we'll get them right. And it <b>always</b> costs even more still to fix it later.
... went on a bit there. This topic is dear to my heart.
(edited by: Marcia at 1:51 am (utc) on May 26, 2002)
I take the issue of SEO first, as if that is done, hence the research into competitors, keyword finding, then embodying in a structure that is adaptive, but can get to the top with out too much additional work.
Hence it is Project Management, its the planning and the research that bring the customers, the rest is implementation that if it is correctly developing upon the reasearch then it should be extremely effective, in its task.
I think the more critical point is the scope of the PM. A ten page site, is a heck of a lot of different to a corporate website, that is presenting a multifacited view of a company.
The deeper a site, the more important the PM has to be. Agreeing with Aussiestu, if you get it wrong, it can cost a heck of a lot of time, resources, and ultimately money in additional costing and lack of earnings.
After all, these days you can't (as Tedster said) build tons of cloaked doorways and nail every keyword on your list (you can still do it, only you don't get all the keywords, and then your stuff gets booted after a while, lol).
Some people, unfortunately, still think 'good design' has to clash with the ideals of search engine promotion. This is not my perspective, nor of the majority of the forums here, but take a look at some 'expensive sites' and it looks like they don't believe in SEO. Then they wonder, 'why aren't I getting visitors'?
Currently the last few projects I've been working on, and one I'm actually finishing up a proposal for, involve SEO as a part of an overall marketing strategy to accomplish the goals of the commercial site.
I think what has helped make the transformation for all of us professionals is the digging through log files: once you start really seeing what's going on, anybody with a curious mind is naturally going to start asking "why didn't they click past the product order page?" or "what was it about the site that made them abandon their shopping cart"?
Agreed. And I agree that SEO can and usually should be a driving force early in the process. The rare exception would be intranet and extranet sites where SE placement amy not even be a requirement.
For a larger and more complex site, there should be business case, business requirements and architecture before we get to the design phase. SEO can be considered during the business requirements phase and you could even list the most important keywords at this point. SEO should remain a live discussion right through the design phase and the strategy can be fully refined before beginning construction.
Of course, with the landscape changing so rapidly, long-running projects should even keep the SEO discussion alive throughout construction so that the strategy can adapt to the changing rules of play.
(edited by: Marcia at 1:49 am (utc) on May 26, 2002)
When I come to a project late in the game, I often find that the biggest problem is not the decisions which were made poorly. Those often can be adapted because there is a logic and guiding sense behind them, even if it is a bit off target.
The biggest problems I run into come from the decisions which were not addressed at all, but should have been. Then there are whole areas of the project that are each growing with a "mind of their own" - areas that somehow need to be reigned in and made to toe the line, which may put them nearly back to square one.
Case in point - what response is a website aiming for? It's amazing how many companies will develop a substantial web project giving no thought to their expected response and related response mechanisms.
That could have and SHOULD have been handled very, very early. I've been involved in projects where, after 2,000 pages were launched, suddenly the point of the site was to get online purchases! And up to that point it was only support information for existing clients.
Ah...Yes indeed, without traffic, what is there to "manage"?
I have found that there is a lot credibiltiy bestowed on the guy/gal who can deliver traffic, how you leverage that credibility is up to you.
If your only skill is SEO, obviously that is where the bus stops, if you take the time to understand usability, conversion,design and how the project "fits" into your clients goals, you can go far.
The great thing about SEO is if you do it right, you already have a good insight into the other areas.
... with due respect, I think not. Rather, I agree with your subsequent statement "If your only skill is SEO, obviously that is where the bus stops, if you take the time to understand usability, conversion,design and how the project 'fits' into your clients goals, you can go far."
SEO can be an important skill for the project manager but it will never be the whole story. Here's an example:
The National Safety Code (NSC) Program in Canada oversees safety performance of commercial carriers. Each jurisdiction gathers and maintains a profile of all their carriers (accidents, contraventions and roadside inspection results). BC wants to take their Carrier Profiles online and we're going to put together a proposal for that.
Consider what part SEO will play in that project and how many other things the PM will need to think about.
At the end of the day, most of the traffic driven to the site will be sent there by mail-outs to the carriers, verbal directions in response to their telephone inquiries, brochures handed out at weigh-scales, advertisements in trucking magazines, newspapers and on TV. SEO will still be a part of this project but it's a small part.
Granted, for many Web projects, SEO will be a larger part of the picture.
I heard this somewhere and thought it was cute:
"when I grow up, I want a big government contract".
All good sense goes out the window when dealing with that entity.
Anyway the SEO question is moot on that subject, the site already does okay:
I just wanted to make the point that there are so many more things for a PM to think about. Even on a project where SEO is very important.
A web site is an application, so you've got to consider what happens when your SEO does its job and people get to the site. What data are you presenting to them? What functionality will the site provide?
I would suggest:
Business Case (include project plan here)
And the PM has to know his/her way around all of that. You can scale this down for a smaller project and one person can wear many hats. The mistakes that are being discussed here, including the lack of importance assigned to SEO, arise from not thinking about some of these parts of the picture.
What do you reckon?
I fully relate to that. One thing we struggle with as an SEO industry transitioning to full project management is a lack of any obvious "knock your socks off" product we can point to that will impress the "lay" person.
In fact, the better we do our job, the more it may become seamlessly invisible, except for the server logs of previous clients, and they may be understandably reluctant to share such things.
The sites we develop may not be flashy because our research showed that the market we were aiming for responded better to basic stuff. We may not be going after the apparently obvious keywords but bringing in many times more traffic on hundreds of well targeted multi-word phrases.
A site we developed may have a brilliant Information Architecture, but only someone extremely conversant in that particular industry can appreciate it. In short, the exact target audience digs it a lot, but not someone from an unrelated industry.
I think we need to use strong testimonials from happy clients. They need to talk about improved results, fine tuned targeting, better ROI - things a marketing manager can relate to that are beyond the slick surface.
We also need to show the kind of marketing savvy points I mentioned above, in "knock your socks off" charts and graphics. In short, we need to champion the results we can get -- in exactly the kind of language that the marketing department (or even the CEO) can understand. And we can address those exact areas that may have been stumbling blocks to our prospects in their past efforts.
SEO is a very new segment to a very old industry. "Marketing" and traditional marketing principles need to be built into any SEO strategy.
Overall creditability, lags this industry segment because exceptional marketing lags behind.
This is a four-fold problem.
Marketing to the potential client to design for a potential online market while at the same time trying to market to the clients potential online markets so that the design creates the desire to buy. (in the case of sales and ROI)
Isn't this a paradox?
I've been working on this problem for sometime now, trying to take all the various requirements and place them into word pictures that a client could easily understand.
But I need help and other perspectives. Check out my sticky domain and click on SEO Diagram, copy and save, save as (whatever and give feedback).
The first diagram is my visualization of an overall SEO strategy built to delivery qualified visitation to a web site.
What is wrong with it and how can this be improved?
If we can project management this paradox so that it improves the SEO segment (in both marketability and creditabiltiy) then maybe as Tedster suggests...
"We also need to show the kind of marketing savvy points I mentioned above, in "knock your socks off" charts and graphics. In short, we need to champion the results we can get -- in exactly the kind of language that the marketing department (or even the CEO) can understand. And we can address those exact areas that may have been stumbling blocks to our prospects in their past efforts."
On completion of each "chart, graph, diagram" ... for those who participate I will email the original PSD to addresses in your sticky. My original will be maintained as public domain.
That is a busy diagram, Rod. My feeble intuition is not able to divine exactly what concepts the diagram is depicting. Of course, in presenting such a diagram you would give a bit of commentary and maybe that's all that's needed.
So, please could you help me out with a bit of explanation. For example: why are all the input and output arrows attributed to the competition? To me, that makes it seem as though you are a cork bobbing in an ocean of competition - your fate is entirely in their hands.
Was trying to give some visual explanation to why SEO was so important!
But more likely confuses the issue. Better to focus only on the clients web site and not make them choose SEO because everyone else is doing it! Point taken.
I actually have a full written dialogue which is light of terms and acronyms AussieStu, but attempting to get feedback picture accuracy that can say more when we are not there.
On the net, the search enigne is the fourth circle that comes into the picture. In a perfect world, these four align and everyone finds your site every time. Since it is never perfect, the job of the SEO is to get as much overlap as possible.
>> 4 circles that need to overlap. Information Architecture includes the user (searcher), business goals, and content. If a website existed in isolation, these three would be fine.
On the net, the search enigne is the fourth circle ... <<
It sounds like the original topic ...Is SEO evolving into full Project Management?
I agree that business goals and content are extremely important. If I am assuming your meaning correctly ... you're saying these consideration precede this diagram. If so ... and a larger (for visualiation only) diagram was created would the connect be at the SE, the searcher or only at your web site.
In the diagram provided "business goals and content" is assumed. In reality as most web sites on www are "orphans" both in goals and connectivity.
Skibum do you agree that the competition should not be a factor displayed to a client (or your boss) but an assumed risk know only by the SEO'er.
If Internet agencies / web designer know that they will get a nice cut out of the revenue, wouldnít that motivate them to use an SEO early in the process? - Torben Lundsgaard
Iím reading back through this thread and thinking about whatís presented here. I think you have a point here Torben, though what Iíve seen and in much of my own experiences with designers is that when it comes back to them from their clients that their site is great looking but no one is visiting is when the designer seeks out help. Often they come here to Webmaster World and we do what we can to help with advice and direction, others then realize that it might be in their interest to hire on professional help.
None of use really can or should do it all. I canít, wonít, and probably shouldnít design and the same goes for the technical aspects. The difference is I really respect those skills and realize that hooking up with good folk who have a similar approach to development acts more as a win/win than not. We can also take on more work with a greater variety which really makes life interesting.
Most of our design is neat and tidy, but nothing that says 'Wow' that looks great - IanTurner
Boy Ian, thatís for sure why I hook up with designers. You really have to find the right ones though, that will respect what you have to offer and what you can bring to their clients. Iím on the quest for the Ďwholesomeí client who wants it all to look good and either has all the money it takes to promote the bells and whistles or simply accepts that ultimately their pocket decides.
Bottom line: we need a solid, substantial methodology. Projects will take longer and cost more but we'll get them right. And it always costs even more still to fix it later. Ė AussieStu
I think what has helped make the transformation for all of us professionals is the digging through log files: once you start really seeing what's going on, anybody with a curious mind is naturally going to start asking "why didn't they click past the product order page?" or "what was it about the site that made them abandon their shopping cart"? - jeremy Goodrich
The biggest problems I run into come from the decisions which were not addressed at all Ė tedster
How could you possibly not agree with that?
It's amazing how many companies will develop a substantial web project giving no thought to their expected response and related response mechanisms. tedster
Marketing to the potential client to design for a potential online market while at the same time trying to market to the clients potential online markets so that the design creates the desire to buy. (in the case of sales and ROI) - fathom
But if we start talking too much in our own industry's lingo, we mystify rather than clarify.
The end goal - create a conversion (of something regardless of what)
To establish this goal whatever processes are incorporated must evolve from the market need. And to emcompass that into outsourced web project management our market's, market's needs must therefore be the deciding factors.
The client may know his markets in the traditional sense but this is an extremely vague understanding of them on the web.
I agree with what you are saying however, but I don't think you can avoid the factors of lingo, terminology or whatever.
Business processes are the same on- and off-line but in lieu of that why would a company need web project management. (same thing as what we do now ... "in the real world" ... "nah don't need it".
Businesses today must be aware of both the threat and the opportunity that the web represents. To attain a competitive advantage companies must widen their business vision to encompass more than just a Web presence. A business must embrace the fact that rising customer expectations are dependent upon a host of technologies that help fulfill and drive that business to them.
The use of E-commerce, security, privacy, encryption, authenticity, web portals and hubs, real-time tracking and web intelligence, CRM, SEO, ranked position and PR, linking in, out, reciprocating, cross-linking, banners, upsell doorways and hallways, remote, hand-held, palm and virtual reality will equally impacts on their companies.
You really can't hide this or tone it down, it's the technology and knowledge of how to use it that makes it so pervasive and therefore the need WPM. Every decision made in advance of the conversion will impact on that conversion.
Ultimately, recognizing the face of "geographically" now means - everyone.
In an "always on" environment, businesses must capitalize on consumer impulses and whims.
The very tools that make all this possible have presented a new set of issues, unprecedented volumes of data, additional processing requirements, complicated transactions and unprecedented interconnectivity.
Turning off the "industry's lingo" keeps the technology mystified.
Business is business and they just generally don't know web business.
Who is "they"? I don't know I'm just rambling.
But a really good topic!
In our prospect's eyes and ears, we often come off like the second "type". And in our view, they often come off like the first. How to finding the meeting ground where we can really communicate is what I'm pondering.
finding the meeting ground where we can really communicateis mostly up to us. We're the ones that want this change to happen. So, I figure we must broaden our knowledge base beyond SEO, Web design .. etc to include an understanding of all aspects of a project. Only then can we fully understand the place and importance of our craft in the whole and only then can we communicate that understanding to our clients.
include an understanding of all aspects of a project.
Yes, and especially the marketing aspects, inculding how they are determined and measured, and the general vocabulary of marketing as a discipline. When we can explain our services in those terms, not ours, then we catch the attention of the people who can make a change.
The need for WPM assumes total accountability for decisions made on behalf of the client, since the client is being told "in business and marketing terms" that he/she or they understand to de-mystify the technology, and therefore the client really doesn't apprepriate the online matrix.
Measuring online market potential can be accomplished with a certain degree of accuracy however, this market guage assumes international markets.
SEO assumes reach and visitation from a global market, and SEO would likely consider Google optimization and many others into the mix. New market penetrations would also be global. Competitive Analysis would need to be considered globally as well since positioning is based on this.
Will fulfillment be global (I know companies would like to think they are), can this be serviced, does the company support issues like foreign duties, border fees, customs, import tax, VAT, and international customers wanting and needing products that they currently do not have access to. (Having done alot of exports these are real issues that unless large volumes are sent and warehoused some single orders can assume $50 - 100 (US) in taxes + shipping costs). I can send products worldwide and overnight for $20 (US) but not everyone.
Unless this already exists in the company it wouldn't be common knowledge therefore marketing departments, distribution, and financing would need some educating.
SEO is but one point of one marketing consideration "market position" but it is a huge point.
If WPM is outsourced and the knowledge level does not exist in the company for globalization then the web project manager will assume alot.
Sorry, if I sound abrupt, I went to "BIG BLUE's" new marketing campaign (conference) for SME's e-business and really frustrated now. Never guess what they call it!
"Integrated Web Management Services" Hmmm... sounds vaguely familar.
Obviously their approach is "technology enhancements" but they will install for free and train for fee.
I do think your on the right track though Tedster.
An exit strategy such as knowledge building and skillset development would probably need to be considered as well. Otherwise the PM would never be able to maintain pace with changes in the online world, too busy trying to run the show and unlikely to be able to divide attention between projects.