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SEO 25 min read

How Long Big-Company SEOs Wait For Their Important Technical Changes: Serpstat Research

how to learn seo
Stacy Mine
Editorial Head at Serpstat
Are you an SEO specialist? Then you are definitely familiar with the problem of implementing your technical changes and prioritization of SEO tasks. We at Serpstat noticed this "bug" in the SEO sphere and decided to conduct a survey of SEOs to find out how long they are waiting for the introduction of technical changes to the site. Are you intrigued? Then check the survey results!

About the survey

What do you say if I tell you that most SEO specialists working on large projects (about 60%) wait for the technical implementation of important changes for about six months, and more than 10% — from six months to a year. Not very optimistic numbers, right?

If you work in such an environment, you probably won't be surprised by these numbers. Unfortunately, this is a widespread problem, and it hinders the achievement of the fundamental goals of large companies.

We decided to survey SEOs to understand the problem better and get expert recommendations on how to solve it.

What are the difficulties with the implementation of edits on large projects?

We asked SEO specialists about the problems they face in the process of implementing edits on large projects. Some experts also left detailed comments on the issue. What did they share? Let's take a look.

What technical changes are you implementing on your site?

First of all, we asked what technical changes they most often implement/try to implement on their project.
Typical tasks
Edits after a technical audit: 4XX, 3XX, broken images, incorrectly configured canonical, duplicate content, changes to the site structure.
Correction of errors that Google Search Console sees.
Bug fixes from SEO specialists, moderators, content managers.
Increasing PageSpeed indicators for desktop and mobile: replacing or using new image formats to increase site loading speed, setting up a CDN, CSS/JS minification, image compression, connecting a lazy load script.
Implementation of several types of markup on site pages.
Output of meta tag templates: H1, Title, Description.
Output of canonical, hreflang tags, pagination correction.
Various improvements for the admin panel.
Юлія Рубець
Yuliya Rubets
Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) at Barb
Typical tasks:

1. Simplifying and improving the service for users - these are tasks for the user's account, adding and displaying important information for customers (for example, work experience, surname), navigation. Some of them can only indirectly affect SEO, but a user who was comfortable working with the service and found what he was looking for will return if a similar task arises. In-house's SEO project is always more than the generation of landing pages, metadata, and technical audits.

2. Edits after site audit: deleting 400 and 300 errors, closing pages, etc.

3. Correction of errors that Google Search Console sees and work with excluded pages from the development side (I take this point separately from the technical analysis since we work with this constantly and tasks are set as soon as the problem appears).

The rest of the tasks are experimental.
Юлія Рубець
Bill Hartzer
Part of the process of figuring out which SEO tasks to implement is understanding who is going to implement them and if they can be implemented.

In my technical SEO audits, I will make sure I understand who is implementing and their level of expertise.

If something is an issue I don't hesitate to mention it. There is no sense in making something a priority if you know it will never be implemented though.
Experimantal tasks
Bulk loading of pages to the site.
Bulk uploading of offers to the site and automatic distribution to relevant categories. Automatic offer tracking.
Sorting by categories algorithm.
Tasks to improve Core Web Vitals. These are metrics of site visitors' experience that signal how quickly users can interact with a page.
Implementing AMP for Google.
Server-side rendering to improve SEO on pages.
Migration of sites to WordPress, development of templates for sites and their customization, front-end edits.
Semi-automatic internal linking mechanisms.
Moving sites to a new CMS.
Creation of additional landing pages.
A/B testing.
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How much, in your opinion, does the technical implementation of the edits that you suggest take?

Now let's see how SEOs estimate the time it will take to make the necessary edits to the site. Most specialists (63%) believe that it will take from 1 to 6 months to implement the changes; 21% believe that the improvements will take six months to a year. Only 16% think it's a matter of weeks.
technical changes diagram

How long do you think it will really take to implement the changes that you suggest?

But experts estimate the actual implementation of the edits as follows: more than 60% think that it will take about six months, 28% - that the changes will be made within a few weeks, 11% believe that the implementation will take from 6 months to a year.
technical changes diagram
Юлія Рубець
Yuliya Rubets
Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) at Barb
Our implementation speed depends on the type of tasks:

1. Bugs (especially if it is a user request, or the error may interfere with the regular interaction with our service). Tasks with the highest priority go to work immediately; as a rule, they are fixed on the same day or the next.

2. Technical errors take a week to several months to implement from the moment we set the task (depending on the tasks in the queue and the number of bugs arising along the way).

3. Service improvements and experiments are pre-evaluated and prioritized. For example, if we can solve the issue with one line of code or it is an important improvement that will be 99.9% useful, the implementation takes up to a month. On the other hand, suppose the task is complex, and it is impossible to assess the benefits unequivocally. In that case, we put it in the backlog in order of priority (implementing such tasks takes from several months to six months).

4. There is also a label "Urgent". Tasks with this label are done out of turn.

For most tasks, you can estimate how long the implementation will take, and according to the place in the queue, this task will go into work. If you haven't encountered the task before, we ask the developers to estimate the time to complete it.
Юлія Рубець
Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR
Founder at Holistic SEO & Digital

It is totally about the source and technical need. But, usually, any development team that I see needs education from an SEO. So, educating is taking more time than implementing and auditing the improvement. Thus, I would tell 1-6 months :)

What, as a rule, prevents technical changes?

The next question is about the issues that prevent you from making quick edits. And here three main reasons are leading:

Long development queue - 43.75%;
Edits are in the queue for changes with a higher priority - 25%;
Making changes "is not possible" on the current platform - 18.75%.
technical changes diagram

How serious is the problem of introducing changes for your company?

And now the main thing - how serious is this problem in the companies where our respondents work? Imagine, half of the respondents believe that the problem is not just serious, it is hindering the achievement of the company's goals. This is a reason to think about, isn't it?
technical changes diagram
How would you advise drawing the team's attention to solving the problem of investing in SEO projects?
We have collected 6 main recommendations from experts, as well as their comments on this matter.
1
Provide an analysis of competitors' websites that will show how they manage the company's website. A competent promotion strategy using and testing various tools and promotion channels will also be a weighty point. Periodic monitoring of the results will allow you to assess the effectiveness and return on investment.
2
Show real cases. Everyone loves the experience. Yes, SEO is time-consuming and resource-intensive, but if you show the value of SEO for business, then management will be willing to invest in this channel. The best way to prove it is to show a similar site of your competitors/your other clients who are already doing SEO. Demonstrate what results from similar sites have achieved in terms of traffic and positions — and you will be able to argue the value of SEO using accurate data.
3
Develop a KPI system and introduce additional motivation for achieving good performance.
4
Conduct an assessment, form a strategy and derive metrics that will be evaluated in money. That is, 1 task = n money to show the importance of implementation and achieving the goals.
5
Develop a strategy for internal and external site optimization, both with long-term goals (based on examples of top competitors or sites in near competitive niches with equal budget conditions, time spent and other conditions), as well as with short-term goals, the result of which can be demonstrated in the shortest possible time. Thus, showing the importance and necessity of performing SEO tasks.
6
Bring management's attention to business performance metrics such as profitability, quarterly and annual sales, customer LTV, etc.
I want to add Rand Fishkin's thoughts on this matter that he shared on Moz research:
Анна Бойко
Rand Fishkin
CEO at SparkToro
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common problem. The solutions I've seen work best (keep in mind, I'm at a software business and don't do much client convincing directly these days) are the following:

Data-driven, experimental approach - basically, you identify the key challenges or goals the business has for the next year or few years (usually CEOs and executive teams set these out) that digital marketing can positively impact. Then make a case for how much you believe it can affect the goal if given a big budget and the freedom to do the work. But, don't pitch that. Say, instead "make me prove it to us all. Let us run a test with a small amount of budget and a few changes, and if we see X amount of impact within 6 months after releasing, then approve the full project." This often creates a lot of goodwill and trust, and lets everyone know that you want the numbers to validate your work - execs tend to love that, and they can sell it to their superiors, too. Even engineering teams like this approach, since they will only be asked for a small amount of resources upfront and then if they do what you ask and it doesn't work, they won't be asked to do more.

Competitive-jealousy approach - this is where you show off the performance of competitors in search results and in search traffic. Sometimes, seeing leading competitors ahead of you will trigger a "what do you need to beat them?" mentality in execs that wasn't previously there.

You can try combining these, too :)
Оксана Жилка
Oksana Zhilka
SEO Team Leader at WePlay Esports
In the era of flourishing digital marketing, you can digitize any hypothesis and calculate, albeit approximately, the ratio of costs to profits. It is enough to explain the value of implementing changes for the business to draw the attention of company management to SEO projects. If you can't explain the value of an SEO project, but simply implement the edits intuitively, then this is hardly as effective a strategy as it could be.
Anastasia Semianova
Anastasia Semianova
Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) at Bitmedia.IO
Whatever the product is awesome from the inside (as you know it), very few people will know about it if Google doesn't. You can invest as much as you want in design and development, but does it make sense if no one sees the design and no one uses the functionality? And why? Because SEO, just like design, development, and PR, works to attract users and involve them in your product and idea.
Анна Бойко
Anna Boyko
SEO at Zefirity
From my own experience, I can say: you don't need to convince anyone, you just need to list the advantages and disadvantages. Explain the goals that the business can achieve. SEO is not only organic traffic but also awareness, brand, authority.

Common problems in the technical implementation of edits: expert opinion

Анна Бойко
Jonas Sickler
SEO Manager at Terakeet
You might think that moving from SMBs to disruptors to billion-dollar companies would unlock infinite developer resources, but large companies have just as many implementation blockades.

Here are a few things we've done to improve implementation at large companies dramatically:

1. Go to the source. Yes, developers will do the work, but they rarely prioritize projects at larger companies. So find out who does, and get their buy-in.

2. Align with their sprints. Find out how your customers' dev team works, and schedule your recommendations within their workflow. Do they have 3-week sprints? Quarterly deliverables? Do they work on one project at a time? If you can alight your projects with theirs and get time on the books your work will be prioritized with theirs.

3. Get an executive sponsor. The reason your rec's don't get implemented is often that an executive steps in and prioritizes an internal project. It's also much easier to say "no" to an SEO company than your boss's boss. Executives can quickly clear the runway to make sure your work is top priority.

4. Align your rec's with your customers' current business goals. If their top priority is a big project, then explain how your rec's will drive better outcomes for it.

In terms of timelines, usually within 3 – 6 months due to the large scope of changes on complex enterprise sites.
Ksusha Demchenko
Ksusha Demchenko
SEO Specialist at MacPaw
At MacPaw, we don't have any difficulties with implementing technical edits, but I know that this problem is quite common and severe.

Developers often delay SEO tasks because they are not familiar with SEO and do not understand its value. Here the SEO's task is to convey this value to the team together with the PO/PM of the product. A manager's participation is highly desirable, as it is the manager who can set priorities in development at the project level.

Ideally, all teams should understand the role of marketing in how successful the product will be (as well as understand the importance of development or testing) and took tasks from marketers as willingly as they take new features into development. If the task cannot be done exactly according to the description because the platform does not allow it, it is better to try to find a compromise solution together with the SEO that will work.
Karolina Velychko
Karolina Velychko
SEO Specialist at GambLizard
In my opinion, the main problem in the development/revision of projects in companies is a long queue for the development department. Our task is to influence the speed of implementation so that other projects do not suffer.

To solve this problem, you must plan the project (website) promotion strategy for at least 6 months.

What will we get from the strategy?
  • competitive analysis;
  • work plan (divided into tasks);
  • indicative budgets;
  • goals (traffic/conversions);

To correctly form priorities, it is necessary to set up the appropriate processes with the development department. As a basis, I would recommend taking the PIE Framework, which Chris Howard developed.

We took 3 main criteria for this framework and added one depending on the specifics of our company with a rating scale from 1 to 10.

1. Potential (Influence) - means how much the implemented task will affect the project . (landing page, category, entire site) where 1 - slightly affect, and 10 - affect the whole site (for example, redesign).
2. Importance - means how much of the traffic we will affect when we complete the task. Where 1 = insignificant part, 10 - significant part.
3. Ease - means ease of implementation - for example, change the color of a button or make edits in the footer where 1 is easy and quick to implement, and 10 is hard.
4. Priority - this criterion is taken following the specifics of the department. Since there are many projects, I recommend giving them a priority within the company. For example, there are 9 projects in your company, 3 of them bring the bulk of the profit, respectively, we will assign them the highest priority, and all the rest below.

When setting tasks for a project, employees evaluate them. For example, Task 1:
Potentiail (Influence) = 10
Importance = 2
Ease = 1
Priority = 5.

The PIE Score of this issue = (10 + 2 + 1 + 5) / 4 = 4.5. That is, the development department already sees how important the task is.

With many tasks, these estimates will help correctly form the backlog and take tasks into work gradually.

So, what we get in the end: an SEO specialist has a task plan, which he formed following the strategy. He assesses these tasks when assigning tasks to the development department, and the development department takes on tasks with a high priority in the first place. Thus, the most basic tasks are solved in the first place).
Оксана Жилка
Oksana Zhilka
SEO Team Leader at WePlay Esports
In my opinion, SEO optimization does not start with the site or search engines but with the competent establishment of SEO processes within the team and the company. It is important to include search engine optimization at the stage of creating a page layout or planning the launch of a new section or site. Over the years, I have come to the logical conclusion that it is much easier and more efficient to take into account all SEO aspects at the design stage rather than release an MVP product and make changes sprint by sprint.

Of course, SEO goals and their achievement cannot be independent of the company's global marketing goals, but it is still worth setting optimization goals above those required at a given point in time. It is critical to build a structured workflow, first in the team and then in the company. I like the esports niche as it is dynamic and far from simple as it might seem at first glance. During my work in the WePlay Esports holding, I concluded that it is essential not to use templates in my work, but to experiment and evaluate work much more often than management requires.
Anastasia Semianova
Anastasia Semianova
Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) at Bitmedia.IO
Everyone knows that the basis for the effectiveness of website promotion is a clear, logical branched site structure that meets two requirements - ease of navigation and relevance to search queries. Most sites are "complex", consist of parts written in different languages - Angular JS, React, and a part in WP. It can be difficult to technically assemble sites into a single logical structure that works the same (the user will not notice this, but Google does). Recently we implemented a pre-renderer on one of the projects: it allows bots to return ready-made html-code, which is obtained after rendering the JS-code. It is laborious and time-consuming and slows down other SEO tasks, even if they are simple and take a few minutes.
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10 recommendations for speeding up the process of implementing edits from SEO specialists working on large projects

1
Start by analyzing the market and getting predictions on the success of a particular product.
2
Learn to convincingly justify the importance of technical changes on the site.
3
Make a clear plan.
4
Divide activities into a set of tasks. First of all, we give to work tasks that will affect the business.
5
Prioritize tasks.
6
Build up professional project management.
7
Allocate a separate development team for SEO tasks.
8
Contact outsource specialists if the team within the company does not meet the deadlines.
9
Show the importance of implementing edits to the management / team. For example, build a graph of two axes, where X is the complexity (time, resource consumption), and Y is the importance (the effect of implementation). This will help you prioritize your goals correctly.
10
Communicate more with programmers to find compromise solutions to problems.
How serious is the problem of technical implementation of edits for your company and how do you solve it? Share in the comments to the article, it will be useful to your colleagues!

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