6 Lessons for In-House SEO that the IT Dept. Learned the Hard Way

In-house SEOs can learn from The Wall St. Journal’s advice for IT by Amit Basu and Chip Jarnagin.

“Too often, there’s a wall between a company’s information-technology department and everything else. That wall has to go.”

Replace “IT” with “SEO” and you’ll find valuable lessons for in-house SEO. Here are the blueprints from that article adapted for SEO.

  1. Begin with SEO literacy — and commitment — at the top
    In-house SEOs need to make the case and tie SEO directly to performance metrics, particularly in dashboards and management reports. If you don’t, no one else will make the connections.
  2. Hire an SEO leader who sees the big picture
    Sure, it’s important to know what’s hot on Sphinn, but you also need to understand marketing and technology-and to have strong relationships with the staff in those areas. And if aspects of SEO are outsourced, it’s important for you to closely manage those vendor relationships. As the article says, “Outsourcing simply shifts the emphasis of [SEO] management away from everyday operations and toward broader business considerations such as contract, relationship and performance management.”
  3. Create demand for SEO solutions
    Help business areas understand that SEO improvements make their units perform better. Use workshops, brown bag sessions or team meetings to get your SEO points across.
  4. Make sure nothing gets lost in translation
    “A company must have people at all levels who can translate [SEO] for those outside that department and translate the language of management for those in [SEO].” All parties should understand the inevitable trade-offs involved with SEO. Sometimes the brand needs to come first, sometimes Legal wins and sometimes the money isn’t there for the technology, but everyone needs to recognize what is and isn’t at stake.
  5. Rationalize SEO spending
    Review and justify SEO spending as carefully as you do other technology investments and have an SEO disaster recovery plan.
  6. Create a portfolio by evaluating risks and returns
    “There is a myth that IT investments can’t be evaluated because many of the advantages are intangible or can’t be monetized.” Sound familiar? Ensure your results are measurable.

Those are just some of the ways in-house SEOs can take heart in and learn from the challenges their IT colleagues face. What will you add to the list?

Mark Alves, SEO Expert

Mark Alves, SEO ExpertHaving just completed the SEOmoz SEO quiz, should I be flattered by the title or disturbed by the implications? Really, I’m on the creative white hat side of the spectrum.

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Get Your Photos Labeled By Google

My post on SEO for photos included a tip on adding your photos to Google’s image labeler. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Log into your Google Webmaster Tools, the free application that gives you a glimpse into how Google sees your site.
  2. Select “Tools” from the left navigation.
  3. Mark the checkbox next to “Enable enhanced image search” and hit OK

Your pictures are now available for tagging through the Google Image Labeler, which gives you a better chance for them to show up in search results.
Google Webmaster Tools Menu
Google Webmaster Tools includes an image option under “tools”

Google Webmaster Tools menu for images.jpg
Select the “Enable enhanced image search” checkbox.

More SEO Tips for Images

Happy Web Diva offers three SEO tips for images based on a PodCamp presentation by John Ellis in response to Google’s universal search. Here are her takeaways along with a few I’d add to the list.

1. Use keyword-rich file names separated by hyphens.

2. Use the alt attribute with keywords.

3. Add an image caption.

To that great list, you can add:

4. Set the title attribute in addition to the alt attribute using the same text. Some browsers require such an attribute to get the tool tip to pop up. Do not use “Photo of Danny Sullivan” or “Picture of Danny Sullivan.” The search engines already know it’s a photo, they just don’t know who/what’s in the photo. Instead, use:

<img src=”/directory/something/danny-sullivan.jpg ” width=”200″ height=”250″ alt=”Danny Sullivan in full rant mode” title=” Danny Sullivan in full rant mode”>

5. Turn on “Enable advanced image search” in Google Webmaster Tools. (Here’s how.) Doing so makes your images available for tagging through the Google Image Labeler which in turn helps with SEO.

6. Link your thumbnail to a larger, higher resolution version. Put it on a separate, optimized page–so you can track your traffic–rather than linking directly to a JPG. You might also use Flickr, although as Natural Search Blog and SEOROI have pointed out, the site has started no-following most of their links. Nevertheless, it’s still an opportunity to drive traffic.

So, what photo optimization tip are you going to add to the list?