Both SEOs and developers work in an everchanging landscape that might make their work redundant when there is an algorithm change or a new software update. The constant change in both industries means that those working within them must learn to accept the changes and adapt quickly.
Our SEO Director, Jon Goodey, has spent several years working as a developer and within SEO, and he knows all too well what it’s like to get the SEO tickets coming in when you’re already up to your eyeballs in requests, and you’re at that 90% stage of a project.
He mentions there is nothing worse than having to go over the work you have already done, and unfortunately for developers, the work SEOs do are kind of like an application QA. You can almost guarantee that the tasks that come in will mean the developer has to go back over the work/pages they have already produced. This can be disheartening for anyone, especially those in charge of SEO testing and quality-assuring their own creations.
SEOs need to understand that they can inform the developer when their work hasn’t been sufficient because both professions are under constant pressure to evolve and continue making changes that improve their respective fields.
Why does communication breakdown occur?
Communication breakdowns can occur when both groups are so focused on their own goals that they forget to take a step back and explain things to the other party.
How can you solve this communication breakdown?
SEOs need to remember that developers are not mind-readers, and developers need to remember that SEOs are not always familiar with the technical aspects of a development environment or the intricacies of AWS.
However, SEOs can better communicate with developers by:
- Providing precise and succinct instructions on tasks that need to be done.
- Ensuring that the communication channels are open so that both parties can easily discuss an issue
- Use proper terminology when making requests. It is worth understanding the developer’s procedures, language, and tactics if you are wanting to request something from them
- Learn the basics of HTML and CSS. This way, you can use the proper terminology when making a request, and the developer will know exactly what you're talking about. You can visit sites such as Code Academy or W3Schools to learn the basics.
- Make your requests specific. Be as detailed as possible when making a request. This way, the developer will know exactly what you need and won't waste time figuring it out.
Here are some examples of ineffective and effective communication approaches:
SEO: We need to add alt tags to all images on the site.
Dev: Sure, no problem. Can you please provide a list of all the images that need alt tags?
SEO: Ok, will do.
SEO: We need to add alt tags to all images on the site; here is a spreadsheet with all the images with missing alt tags.
Dev: Sure, no problem.
Most effective communication:
SEO: We need to add alt tags to all images on the site; here is a spreadsheet with all the images with missing alt tags. I have filled out an additional column with all the descriptions we would like to be placed in the image alt tags.
Dev: Sure, no problem. Thanks for filling that out.
The most effective communication style is more concise, and the developer won't feel as though you are bombarding them with requests. This same example can be used with other issues such as site speed, title tags, etc.
If that doesn't work, you can try:
- Provide adequate information. For a developer to fulfil your request, they will need all the necessary information. This includes things like screenshots, URLs, etc. The more information you can provide, the better.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you're unsure about something, don't be afraid to ask the developer. They will appreciate and probably enjoy explaining to you about the working of the application they have built. Most developers are proud of their work and likely to be willing to discuss it.
- Say thank you. Always remember to thank the developers. A simple "thank you" can go a long way in maintaining a good relationship with them.
- Get to know their workflow. Developers have a process they go through when working on a project; whether JIRA Tickets or Trello Boards, it's essential to understand how they work so you can make requests accordingly.
- Foster a collaborative environment between SEOs and developers. Try to see if there are ways you can assist the developers or if there are processes you can put in place to make their life easier.
Communication is critical when working with developers, and both parties need to be open and honest with each other to get the best results. It's important to remember that developers are often asked to multitask. In some cases, they can be working on requests where a business line application is not working and not know what time they are finishing (it is rare that they will want to leave a significant issue unfinished). It's essential to be respectful of their time and not bombard them with requests.
SEOs and developers need to understand that they are working towards the same goal of providing an excellent experience for the user. If they can keep this in mind, it will be much easier to communicate and work together effectively.
Hopefully, this article gave you a better idea of how to build and maintain a good relationship with your developer. If you would like to know how our SEO team can work effectively with your developers, contact us here.