I heard Dennis speak at the BlueGlass Tampa conference last month where he mentioned relationships with IT departments. Dennis worked at Ebay for nearly 10 years and he is now the VP of Internet Marketing at Geeknet. I thought he would be the best guy to ask about creating good and effective SEO /IT working relationships.
There is much talk in the SEO industry about negative issues with IT departments. What are your theories on why these problems seem to occur?
My experience with working with several large IT departments, is that developers and engineers are usually proud of their My work. When an SEO comes in, and starts talking about how bad a site is ranking based on specific SEO best practices in coding, which are missing, the engineers instantly get defensive.
It’s the SEO’s job to put on the shoes of the developers and engineers, and learn how to speak in their language, if you want to get your projects done! Ultimately, you have to work together as a team and work together getting code shipped that will do good in search engines.
Are they steps that can be taken to make the SEO and IT relationship better?
Pizza & beer… no for real, every SEO should pick up a book about coding, and start to think more like an engineer. Learn how to speak their language, start hanging out on sites where they hang out, and learn the secret handshake. That will get you more respect from engineers, and they will start to listen what you actually have to say. And buying pizza and beer also helps!
You mention SEO’s needing to understand coding. How much do you teach IT departments about SEO?
I do regular SEO trainings with engineering teams. SEO is changing so fast, but the basic concepts do not change that much. You just need to continue to remind teams of these best practices on a continuous basis.
Are they any common IT mistakes SEO’s should look for when they start working with a new department?
I honestly believe SEO should be integrated in the product design from the first stage of the product process. If the concept for the project is discussed in a brainstorm, your SEO should be there to shine a light on how any of the ideas can contribute to the overall SEO of the site.
Many times I’ve seen that SEO is an after thought. I used to get a call or email from a tech department, asking me to SEO a project which they were launching the next day. That is too late! If your code is complete and ready to ship, it’s more costly to think about SEO at that moment, than to design with SEO in mind. That is a common mistake I’ve seen so far.
Any additional tips you can provide?
Make sure SEO is a company priority from the top down. Your biggest priority when it comes to get people on board with SEO, is the top management or C-level executives. If you get these folks on board with you, you can work on the second piece: aligned and shared objectives. People tend to run harder, or do a better job if their paycheck, bonus or personal performance is at stake.
Can you give us two bits of SEO advice?
1) Log files, there is a hidden treasure in your log files. Learn how to read, process and get information from your raw log files
2) Don’t believe everything you read online or hear at a conference. Take the learnings, do testing yourself, and validate. Every site is different. What might have worked for one site, does not always works for yours. And sometimes you need to read between the lines, what the hidden agenda is for people to speak so publicly about their best practices. Case in point: read the interview of Eli from BluehatSEO by Aaron Wall on SEObook. If you read the article, you will know what I mean.
Some Personal Questions
Mac or PC? I recently went all Mac with my new job at Geeknet. I already had Mac at home, now also at the workplace.
Iphone or Droid? Both, I have an iPhone for work, android for personal.
Tweetdeck or Hootsuite? Tweetdeck.
Favorite beer? This is easy: Heineken…
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star wars…Never watched Star Trek. I guess I was afraid of the ears of Capt Spock.
Dennis Goedegebuure is Vice President Internet Marketing of Geeknet Inc. In this position he is responsible for traffic for Slashdot & SourceForge. Prior to Geeknet, Dennis spent almost a decade at eBay. Originally from The Netherlands, but working in the US since 2006, you can find him at TheNextCorner or follow him on Twitter: @thenextcorner.
A Big Thanks to Dennis
I want to thank Dennis so much for taking the time to answer questions for us. I really believe that when Dennis gives advice everyone should shut up and listen. On a side note, Dennis is a really nice guy, so if you see him at a conference go say hello.