Olesia Korobka tells SEOs that you should prepare for the worst but hope for the better, so that you know your website can weather the inevitable storms that will arise in 2023 and beyond.
Olesia says: “To properly prepare yourself for the worst, you’ll need to make a backup, write a workflow, and prepare to report on the circumstances that might arise.”
From an SEO perspective, what might be the worst?
“Lately we’ve seen natural disasters, and some SEOs have even had their personal circumstances brought under fire. There have been lots of things happening and, as we shift into recession, we could expect the next year to be very bad for businesses in many ways. We have seen people getting laid off and this trend is likely to continue, if not get worse.
You might face circumstances and think ‘at least I can use my own brain’, however, there’s a good chance you’ll choke on your food or bite your tongue. Your lifelong experience chewing and digesting food won’t necessarily protect you from this failure. The best way to prepare yourself for what might happen is back up your files, including a physical backup and cloud storage. These should be kept separately from the natural files you’re working with each day. You can then create a written workflow of your typical daily tasks.”
What specifically should you back up and why do you recommend taking a physical backup as well as a cloud backup?
“With cloud backups, some companies may decide to stop working with you. Some companies may get burned down, servers may get burnt, and you wouldn’t have any access to your files. Alternatively, servers might be in a country that’s experiencing difficulties. You can lose access to them. You may also find that people are storing backups along with their files on the same server. In these cases, whatever happens to the files happens to the backups.
A physical backup means that when anything bad happens, you can grab the disk or whatever files are stored on and recover them.”
What data should you specifically include in the backup? Should you include your website and visitor data?
“All of your documents - your website, SQL tables, documents, passwords, and data entries. Most sales teams have lots of accounts and there could be multiple passwords to consider. It can be difficult to even remember the names of the tools you’re using because they’re all programmed into Chrome or elsewhere. You should have these stored independently to avoid forgetting about them.
Have backup data about all of your domains, and the links that you need to pay for after some time. Sometimes you won’t get notifications that something is going to expire and you might lose access to your website, lose domains, backlinks, and lots of data in general. That should be a big part of your backup.”
Is it an SEO’s responsibility to think about all of this?
“Yes. You are someone who drives traffic and money to businesses. It’s all about the money you can provide to businesses for them to maintain and grow. You should at least ask the questions because the success of the website will radically impact whether or not the SEO has been successful.”
Could you elaborate on the importance of workflows?
“Some people think they’re good to go just because they have backups of their documents and websites. They think they can use their brain because they have experience bringing up websites and assume they can remember everything. However, if anything unforeseen were to happen, they could become so concentrated on survival that their cognitive functions suffer.
Let’s say you’ve always known how to perform a routine task and you’re very successful with that. When the harder times come and you’re under stress, you can’t operate properly. You should also have these workflows written down for you. This might sound very basic and you might assume you know everything, but you won’t. It’s easy to forget everything. When you have your workflow written down you can open it in your backup and follow it.”
If you have those documented workflows already, is it going to be much easier to get people working with you to replicate what you’re doing?
“Sometimes very ordinary tasks will help you because you can forget how to do them under some circumstances. That might sound primitive, but that’s the reality of what happens. Many people find this out for themselves. If you have that written down and you just open it from your backup, you’ll be able to proceed with your work regardless. If there’s a hurricane and you have your tasks written down, you could still execute them.
When something bad happens, pick one thing you’re especially good at - something you’re much better at doing than others. Write it down and make it something distinctive to you, something you can offer to other people in circumstances where’ve lost everything and need something fast to work with. Also, document everything.”
You also talked about automated tasks, what are some examples of automated tasks that you should be backing up?
“Some tasks require you to do some very basic things, like tracking performance over time in terms of rankings. Set up alerts in the event of anything happening to a website, for example, losing a big portion of your organic traffic for some cluster. Something else that you can automate is adding content and optimising it. Look for entities and schema markup. These are mostly technical tasks, like monitoring alerts for your backlinks.”
What are some specific automated alerts that every SEO needs to have set up?
“One of the most important is that your domain is up and running.”
How do you go about setting up and receiving an alert if you’ve had a dip in organic reach? Should you target overall reach or specific key pages?
“Make your developer do that for you if you can. If you can do it yourself, that’s great - you can automate it with Python or Console. Some people have very small websites, like local business websites, where there are very few landing pages that aren’t specifically tracked. These are usually the pages that are bringing in customers. For bigger websites, you can automate that in clusters. If you see a significant drop in one of those clusters, you’ll know that you need to go and see what’s happening there, and why it’s happening.”
How do you bring everything together and turn it into a report that you can action?
“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for this. Most people turn to one of two options. Firstly, you could use Google Data Studio and get all the APIs in there. Others use Power BI, which is very useful when you have lots of projects - for example, you’re running lots of websites and they are more or less in the same niche. You want to see the performance for each of them at the same time because you’re selling around the same across the board. You want to understand how they’re performing altogether, not separately. Power BI is useful when you want to see all of your projects and track their performance in one place.”
What reports are key to building inside Google Data Studio?
“Organic traffic. You’ll want to see how many people come from Google and other search engines, and what their flow is like across the website when they convert. You should also look at all of those associated conversions that brought them to buy. Some of them will be lifelong customers, so they will either subscribe to your newsletters or not. Analyse things like this by bringing them to the attention of the marketing department, or whoever else is responsible.”
What are the key metrics you would recommend sharing with a general marketing department?
“If you have a service company, one of the key metrics would be sign-ups, the calls to your service, and how leads convert into customers. You should look at the leads coming into your system and how they convert afterwards. You should look at where they are diverting to and which clusters are the most popular. Do they all come to one specific page and are you dependent on that page or are you able to bring them to various pages? These are important considerations for eCommerce when you have lots of different pages but still want to see what customers are buying the most.
You can also work out if they buy anything else with that, and add that as a proposal to other customers to sell even more. It will be dependent on the type of business you’re in, but you can look at things like sign-ups or things that people buy or add to their cart and how they convert after that. As an SEO, you’ll see the correlations for pages and where they rank in terms of Google and everywhere else. How much traffic is brought from that system to that specific page?”
What shouldn’t SEOs be doing in 2023? What’s seductive in terms of time, but ultimately counterproductive?
“SEO in 2022 was about AI. Now it’s really happening, and lots of people are over-engaged in this. They try to invest lots of effort and resources into AI. This can consume significant energy and effort.
AI tools are only based on one or two of the same resources around the globe. It probably won’t generate many benefits because, after testing, you’ll end up spending more money than if you were to work with a human. Maybe in 2025 or 2024, AI will become less resourceful and more beneficial. In 2023, they’ll still be testing a lot and the fact-checking for these types of content will be difficult, to say the least. You’ll end up spending more on AI if you invest in that over real humans. Do not invest too much into AI in terms of content.”
Olesia Korobka is the Founder and SEO Leader of Fajela and you can find her over at fajela.com.
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