One of the challenges
facing in-house SEO
to acknowledge the
importance of SEO
business processes —
from the conception
of ideas to actual
Not only must you excite others about the potential
benefits but also be able to address why
it matters by referencing core SEO approaches
and how they influence a project’s success.
“The quickest way to ensure that SEO is
not left out of the process is by including it as
part of documents like creative briefs, PRDs
(product requirement documents), initial
project plans and so on,” says search engine
marketing expert Bob Tripathi. “Find out
what those documents are in your company
and identify ways you can integrate SEOrelated
requirements, tasks and processes into the existing documentation.
Within these project documents it is critical for SEO to
have a presence; as most project/product managers and developers
treat them as concrete specifications.”
If in-house SEO teams want more control — down to the
specification level — they need to start at the very beginning.
Let’s look at how SEO as a whole can be integrated in something
as fundamental as PRDs (or any underlying business strategy
document), how and why it should be integrated, and the
language that should be used.
Get Inside the Purpose and Scope
Knowing the intention or purpose of a product or service
quickly reveals how much those involved and the project itself
will rely on SEO for success. The scope of the project (a new
product or an entire shift in business direction) and the work
that needs to be accomplished are related but also distinct.
There is a noticeable difference between project scope (which
is more strategy-oriented) and product scope which is
more focused on the actual functional work requirements.
In-house SEO teams need to understand which situation they
are dealing with so that they can determine the best strategy
For example, if a company is planning to expand its local
office to support regional branches, knowing this at the onset of
the initiative will provide the SEO department time to establish
broad local search marketing efforts. Consider the difference a
project of this scope has to something along the lines of providing
SEO guidance for a mobile application serving a local area —
very different purposes and thus obligations for SEO teams.
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Identify the Stakeholders
Every project (or company) has stakeholders — the people,
groups, organizations or systems which can be affected by an
enterprise’s actions. PRDs, for example, routinely address how
the project impacts these stakeholders.
In order to support stakeholders it is imperative to understand
their challenges. If a sales team is identified as one of the
primary stakeholder groups of a new product, reach out to the
team leader to offer support in the form of content optimization;
perhaps including whitepapers, blog posts, video presentations,
slideshows and case studies.
Not being “aware” that the project is approaching is understandable,
in some instances. But not finding ways to enable
SEO to improve the chances of project success once the project
comes to light is inexcusable in every case. And that requires
knowing exactly who or what teams need SEO support.
Focus on the Requirements
In the planning stages of a product or project, SEO departments
must be keenly aware of what requirements are being outlined.
This includes core functionalities, technical elements and even
For example, you have decided to develop a new forum that
will let website visitors earn points for sharing your content. In
this case, SEO departments (or individuals) will want to have influence
or control over how the shared content will appear; perhaps
in terms of titles, descriptions, short URLs or anchor text.
The MoSCoW Method
Of course, different rules exist for different businesses, their formal
documents and approaches. When you understand the language
for something as particular as a PRD, however, you are
better able to communicate the importance of what strategies or
techniques are most appropriate for the given situation.
This comes down to a process of aligning the SEO tasks that
you are confident are fundamental to the project’s success and
distancing yourself or your department when you know time is
better spent on other, high-priority tasks.
One way to define the levels of requirement
and emphasize the importance
of a particular approach, feature
or functionality is through the use of
the MoSCoW Method — a prioritization
technique used in business analysis
and software development to reach
an understanding with stakeholders on
the importance they place on the delivery
of specific requirements.
• MUST: Implies an absolute requirement
of the specification.
• SHOULD: Requirements that, while
critical to success, will not influence
• COULD: Items that are not critical
but do add value to the underlying
• WON’T: Requirements that will not
provide value initially and will not be
included in the initial release but are
still ‘wanted’ by stakeholders.
This use of MoSCoW was first developed
by Dai Clegg of Oracle UK
Consulting; in CASE Method Fast-
Track: A RAD Approach (2004). Under
this method, all requirements are
important but they are prioritized to
deliver the greatest and most immediate
For SEOs (in-house or otherwise) knowing what requirements
are assigned which value is useful not only in the success
of the project itself and in determining what SEO factors will
demand the most attention, but also helps other departments
understand the value and challenges of SEO moving forward,
in other projects. In time, you might find that proactive SEO,
combined with the MoSCoW method, actually begins to shape
business initiatives altogether.