Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen


How many times as a search engine optimization consultant do we run into the situation where there’s multiple hands working on a website, one where you’ve been contracted to improve ranking results?

For me, it’s been one time too many.

You accept responsibility for a less than strong performance, one with a poor ranking result on several focus keywords.

You’ve evaluated the content for keyword usage, proper synonym usage page titling, meta description creation, h1 tag usage, inbound anchor text linking and internal linking structures. You’ve taken the time to properly implement alt and title text on your page images.

The basic steps aren’t working.

In one case, I discovered the client was paying another source to create and post blogs, over and above our content creation efforts.

This source would post two blogs per month.

Each blog post would contain numerous, non-relative links off the page or to off-topic internal pages. In many cases, they would build internal links on our top level pages’ keywords to completely off-topic, non-relative deeper pages on the site.

The off page links would never have a rel=”nofollow” tag.

The images would contain non-specific alt=”” and title=”” text, if they contained any alt=”” or title=”” text at all.

In addition, the use of the <b> tag was over the top and usually not related to the page topic.

There weren’t any proper page titles or meta descriptions created.

The lesson we’ve learned here? You need to demonstrate your authority, be the chef and control the cooks. Dig deeper for reasons out of your control.

There have been times where I’ve had multiple contributors to a site(s). Each contributor had their own objective; to get more case leads, sell more products and close more deals. Fair enough. Ultimately this is the goal for all of us.

If we don’t generate more quality leads, ones that lead to more products being sold and deals being closed, then we simply don’t have a job.

This scenario can lead to some frustration, as in many cases, no search engine optimization pre-prep work is done.

What does that mean?

You should assist the client’s contributing content creator with identifying a proper keyword and keyword sets, one’s that are appropriate to the content up front, before the content is created. At the very least, conduct a search optimization review before the content goes up on the site.

At this time, we can create a proper page title, meta description and <h1> tag. We can provide guidance with proper <h2> tag creation and possible internal link building on focus keywords. Also, proper assistance in creating appropriate alt=”” and title=”” tags and title=”” text for anchor text links.

The client’s point of contact identified the problem, and we were able to resolve the issue going forward.

The majority of new content for search engine optimization recommendations, more often than not gets reviewed, before the content is posted to the site.

So, if you’re struggling, you may want to have a frank conversation with your client, and ask them, who else is working on the site, and if you can play a role in the content creation from a search engine optimization perspective.

Recently, a completely different scenario arose for this client.

We’d been tasked with providing search engine optimization recommendations for two new sites. We were provided a working template from the web developer. This template allowed us to indicate the proper keywords for each page, an area to create a proper page title, meta description, <h1> tag and even a subheading for the <h1> tag. Each element had its own field in the template.

When the site was finally built and launched, this was an extremely shortened time frame so there was no time allowed for a thorough search engine optimization review, we discovered that in many cases the fields were overlooked or just not used when they were uploaded.

Slowly but surely, through proper implementation of search engine optimization practices, we’ve seen a stunning improvement in overall ranking results.

The Lesson we learned here? You should place an emphasis on double-checking the work before the site goes live. You need to take charge and be the chef, making sure you review the work of the cooks. You should make sure you’re not getting locked out of the kitchen.

We’ve previously found ourselves locked out of pre-launch reviews. Again, it was because of unreasonable deadlines.

We’d provided all of the necessary instructions to properly rebuild a site, with the intent of preserving as much as possible, of the site’s current ranking results.

The developer had agreed to our instructions and would provide everything we had requested.

What was delivered wasn’t what we had agreed upon.

We had dedicated months of work to simple things.

We found ourselves going back through and setting the rel=”canonical” tags on product pages, so they can be navigated to in multiple ways, generating multiple and different urls for the same content.

It was also through our findings, that the disallow of crawl of the dev site in the robots.txt file was never removed after launch, thus blocking the search engine spiders from crawling the site, and causing the previous rankings to drop from the search engine results pages.

Our discoveries yielded that the 301 redirects were created improperly generating 404 page not found errors and, even worse, those using bookmarks or trying to visit the site from still indexed organic search results for the old urls, were not finding the page and receiving a page not found error, providing a poor user experience.

We discovered that there wasn’t a .xml sitemap, even though this was one of the search engine optimization must haves, that we had agreed upon before development even began.

After the creation of the .xml sitemap, we found that it didn’t work and Google would not crawl it. It was a source of frustration for the search optimization team and the client, making things challenging for two to four weeks.

We also identified that the shopping cart had not been tested for tracking performance. The Google Analytics tracking code was not implemented with the merchant service provider, so there’s no way to apply value to either our search engine optimization or ppc campaign efforts.

The merchant services provider has flatly denied the implementation of the necessary tracking code to track product sales and revenue. This issue has yet to be resolved for the client.

What is the lesson here? Again, be the chef and control the cooks. Be firm with your client, but not rude, and make it known that things happen when others are involved. There must be a final run-through to ensure that all is working pre-launch. Identifying errors after post-launch is a losing scenario for everyone.

We’re already challenged in the search engine optimization industry with just the algorithm changes, however, by tackling these other issues, we bring value to the table over and above just search engine optimization.

When your client sees a positive return to their ranking results and their bottom line, because you found that their blogger was diluting the strength of some of your focus keywords, you can just remind them that, “this is why you have us.”

They may also see the same improvements because you reset their rel=”canonical” tags. Either way, you’ll then be able to get back to your scheduled search engine optimization work.

Just remember, when you’re facing a bind, and have too many cooks in the kitchen, look for other areas over and above your standard search engine optimization elements. You should consider places where you may not have explored regularly.

-Mark Gray
Senior SEO Consultant