Here’s a recap of Splitt’s presentation.
Why Is This So Hard?
Oftentimes, many SEO professionals complain about developers building things that are broken in terms of SEO.
The pushback coming from developers stems from SEO professionals coming up with ridiculous requests that require developers to break good solutions or take so long to make.
When this happens, take a step back and think about what you’re trying to achieve.
SEO pros are trying to build websites that can be found by potential customers when they need the services or the products you’re offering.
And developers want to build a product that works great, makes users happy, and does the things that it needs to do without failing.
SEO professionals and developers are actually building toward the shared goal. We’re just looking at it from different perspectives.
We need to figure out how we can converge our journeys to make better solutions.
It also brings powerful features to web experiences.
When we talk about web development, we definitely talk about HTML and CSS.
A service worker that makes her website work offline is great for users who are on bad connectivity.
It isn’t inherently good or bad.
The way that it’s being used by you and your developers determines how good or bad your page will come out on the end of the user.
SEO is not necessarily a requirement for developers.
It’s a specialty that SEO professionals are good at.
At the same time, developers are experts in their field.
They know a lot of stuff that SEO pros don’t know.
The truth is, SEO professionals and developers are both incomplete.
We need each other to complete each other’s skillset.
How Websites Actually Work
Websites basically start off with a recipe.
The “ingredient list” for an HTML page has:
- A title.
- A headline.
- An image.
- A few paragraphs of texts.
But that’s not what we actually see. This is the recipe.
To use an analogy, when you are buying something from a bakery, you’ll want the actual product, not the recipe.
But this is what we are doing. We create the “recipe” that is then being sent to a browser.
And the browser now actually makes the “dish” by:
- Creating a document tree.
- Creating elements and inserting them into the tree.
- Putting them on the page (layout).
- Painting all the pixels (rendering).
This is more or less how a website is being displayed and what Google bot does when it renders.
Crawling gets the “recipe” and then rendering “bakes the actual cake” or renders the actual website.
- Interrupt the browser while parsing HTML.
- Interact with the DOM tree, including:
- Creating new elements.
- Removing elements.
- Changing elements.
- Respond to events such as clicks, failed downloads or API calls, etc.
- Interact with the network.
He details how things can go wrong:
“What we know is this [implementation of overscroll event] doesn’t seem to work in Google bot. Why does it not work in Google bot? Because the implementation of this is wrong.
Infinite scroll is not a problem, but this one was implemented incorrectly. Maybe because developers didn’t really care about SEO and didn’t know that Google bot doesn’t scroll.
Google bot doesn’t scroll, which is why this function would never be crawled.”
Fixing the Friction
To overcome the gap between SEO pros and developers, you need to know how your developers work.
Their typical workflow involves:
- Defining requirements.
- Making decisions.
There’s a lot of decision making that happens during this process.
Developers need to make decisions all the time. And many of them are very small.
Yet, lots of small decisions can end up being an accumulation of decisions that sometimes lead to problems.
Here are just some of the ways to avoid them.
Include SEO When Defining Requirements
The earlier SEO professionals can influence the decision-making process, the better it is for everyone.
If you’re part of setting up the requirements, you can help your developers define what is important and what is needed for the solution to work from an SEO standpoint.
This could potentially prevent issues to begin with.
Provide Guidance When They Are Making Decisions
As developers work on things, they usually sink quite often on the decisions they make to the point where they’re actually making different decisions.
Let them know that you are there for them to give guidance on how to make decisions.
Offer Documentations & Tools on How to Make the Right Implementations
As developers work on implementations, help them by showing them the documentation that is available on developers.google.com/search.
Offer tips on what kind of tools to use to make sure that their implementation actually works the way they had intended.
As They Are Testing & Validating If Their Solution Works, Do the Same
Test the solution and check for any red flags.
Give them feedback, as well as the guidance and requirements to keep working.
Participate in each stage of the cycle rather than only jumping in when things are burning to put out the fire.
Watch this Presentation
You can now watch Splitt’s full presentation from SEJ eSummit on June 2.
More Resources From Google:
- Google Search for Developers (Google)
- Google Webmasters Channel (YouTube)
All screenshots taken by author, July 2020
What can SEO professionals do to support developers in dealing with technical issues?
To help developers, Splitt advises SEO professionals to:
- Offer support early and often.
- Hang out with your devs.
- Prioritize your input.