SEO and IT: Besties, Not Frenemies

by Ruth Burr July 14th, 2011 

Most of the time search engine marketing takes place in, well, the Marketing department.  However, good SEO is impossible to do without making at least some changes on-site, and that means eventually you’ll need to enlist the services of the IT team. 

Even though we’re working on the same team (team Successful Business), the SEO/IT relationship has historically been fraught with mistrust: you feel misunderstood, they worry you’ll break the website, and you’re both operating with two very different ideas of what a “simple change” is. 

Here are some simple ways to go from frenemies to BFFs with your IT team – and get good SEO done in the process.

3 ladies sitting in a hot tub, laughing

Lend a Hand, Don’t Reprimand.

Education is the best tool in an SEO’s arsenal.  Don’t worry about guarding your preciously held secrets; we’ve come too far for that (besides, most of the good stuff is stuff you won’t need IT for anyway, amirite?). 

It’s easy for SEO projects to get stalled because not everyone involved understands what’s going on or why it’s important.  Make sure IT gets an education in SEO basics (especially relating to site architecture/back end issues). 

It accomplishes two things: it gives everyone a frame of reference for your future projects, and it gets a whole lot more eyeballs looking out for back-end changes that could have catastrophic SEO consequences. Win.


Feel Their Pain.

You know how sometimes, someone wants results on an SEO project right away, and you’re all like “You just don’t understand how long that takes”?  IT’s life is like that, only times a million. 

Be appropriate with your requests and reasonable with your expectations and you’ll make everyone’s life a lot easier. 

If you get pushback on a project, work with the team to find a solution rather than going over their heads right off the bat.  Same team, people.  Same team.


Be Realistic.

Nobody expects you to be completely aware of all of IT’s projects, but sometimes your changes just aren’t as important as other stuff they’ve got in the hopper – your title tag changes aren’t going to get priority over a security flaw in your SaaS product. 

Additionally, the benefit for some SEO tasks won’t be worth the time and effort it will take to complete them, and you should try to learn and accept that when you have to. 

That said, if there are things you feel are actively hurting the website, make sure everyone knows the ongoing costs of leaving them unfixed.  If you can tie a dollar amount to it, you can bet it’ll get fixed eventually.

Be Available.

If you submit a list of changes and then wander off, don’t be surprised if IT doesn’t want to meet up at the flagpole after school anymore. 

Part of being BFFs with IT is making yourself available for follow-up and clarification questions.  Yes, as many as it takes. 

Do NOT take the attitude that once you hand off the tasks to IT, they become IT’s problem.  If the site SEO fails because your project was implemented incorrectly, you will look bad, not IT.  That means that your projects continue to be your projects and you’re available to provide them with all the TLC they need until they’re completed.

The Ol’ Booze and Cookies.

Make sure IT doesn’t just see your face when you need something right away.  Take some time to hang out with the team – bring cookies to their team meetings once in a while, get everyone out to happy hour, and then talk about the website. 

This is a great time to revisit some of the SEO basics you’ve already taken time to teach them about. If anyone on the team expresses an interest in learning more about SEO, for God’s sake make them your lunch buddy. 

Sooner or later you’re going to need a favor from these people.  Wouldn’t you rather be their pal who brings cookies than that needy jerkface from Marketing?

Ruth Burr

Ruth Burr has been working in SEO since 2006, both in-house and agency-side. She's currently working as the Lead SEO at SEOMoz. Ruth's passions include data-driven decision making, quality content, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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One Response to “SEO and IT: Besties, Not Frenemies”

  1. Ruth you are so correct, IT can be the bane of an SEO's existence, or they can open doors to a wildly successful optimization job.