How to Win Buy-in for Technical SEO Initiatives with User Stories

When you’re employed in SEO lengthy sufficient, you begin noticing that the success of your SEO technique doesn’t solely depend upon how good this technique is. It’s solely a part of the entire image.

What issues most is correct implementation.

In truth, in accordance to the ballot I not too long ago did, most SEO professionals say that lower than 40% of their SEO suggestions are applied:

Twitter poll on SEO recommendations that get implemented.Things get even tougher while you’re not the one who controls and does the implementation.

Many duties, particularly technical ones are reliable on builders. And that’s the place many nice suggestions meet harsh actuality and keep buried someplace on a Google Drive or JIRA.


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SEO Is Not Only About Recommendations – It’s About People, Too

One cause why many SEO suggestions are usually not applied (or not applied correctly) is as a result of there’s a misunderstanding between folks.

If you phrase your suggestions utilizing the language builders don’t resonate with, will probably be onerous to persuade them and likewise give detailed and simple necessities.

That’s the place SEO consumer tales are available in.

Communicate SEO Recommendations with User Stories

The first time I heard about consumer tales was greater than 2 years in the past. I used to be working as a part of an company group serving to a giant shopper with a fancy migration undertaking.

There have been many groups concerned – together with a number of builders that we didn’t have direct entry to. But all the pieces labored out effectively.

That complete expertise confirmed me the ability of consumer tales so I’ve been utilizing them with my shoppers since then. It has considerably improved the communication with builders, too.

Why is a consumer story a extremely good software for speaking technical SEO suggestions or necessities?


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Because consumer tales:

  • Are concise.
  • Are actionable.
  • Are clear and simple.
  • Are straightforward to observe.
  • Account for consumer testing.

What Is an SEO User Story Exactly?

In the event world, a consumer story is a casual description of some function within the software program. It’s a part of an agile course of.

An SEO consumer story is a small advice that has a transparent motion and consequence and helps to break down massive methods into smaller steps.

A consumer story consists of three elements:

  • A consumer sort (“As a {user}”)
  • An motion (“I want, {action}”)
  • An consequence (“so that {an outcome}”)

When put collectively, a consumer story template seems to be like this:

As a {consumer sort}, I would like {an motion}, in order that {an consequence}.

Here’s an instance of an SEO consumer story:

As an SEO supervisor, I would like the robots.txt file to be added to the web site in order that Google and different engines like google can crawl the pages that want to be ranked.

Acceptance Criteria? Yes, Please

What’s subsequent after you’ve a consumer story?

You can even want a manner to clarify when the consumer story will be marked as “Done” – the acceptance standards.

Acceptance standards present how issues ought to look when the consumer story is applied accurately.

Let’s get again to the instance SEO consumer story above:

As an SEO supervisor, I would like the robots.txt file to be added to the web site in order that Google and different engines like google can crawl the pages that want to be ranked.

It says that you simply want the robots.txt file. But you additionally want a manner to clarify the place it ought to be positioned and what directives it ought to have. It’s what acceptance standards do.


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Here is an instance of acceptance standards for this customers story:

  • The robots.txt file exists at {URL HERE}.
  • The robots.txt file URL returns a 200 HTTP standing code.
  • The robots.txt file permits the crawling of all vital web site pages and matches the directives:
User-agent: *


It helps to talk to a developer what you need to obtain in your SEO advice. And it’s up to a developer how they’re going to implement it because it’s their space of experience.

How to Write SEO User Stories & Acceptance Criteria

There are a couple of steps that you simply’ll want to do to write a very good SEO consumer story and acceptance standards for it.

Step 1: Identify a Small Part of the Recommendations You’re Going to Write a User Story For.

You don’t need to use an enormous advice like “I want to fix all canonicalization issues on the website.”

Instead, you break down the advice into smaller items. For instance:

  • All URL variations ought to be redirected to the canonical URLs.
  • All canonical URLs ought to have self-referencing canonicals.
  • All inner hyperlinks ought to level to canonical URLs.


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Step 2: Then You Take One of the Pieces and Answer the Following Question:

“Why is this important?”

You want to be concise right here, reply in a single phrase.

Lets’s use the third piece for instance:

“All internal links should point to canonical URLs.”

Why is that this essential?

So that we’re sending the correct alerts to Google.

Step 3: Write a User Story Based on Step 1 and Step 2

You want to begin with a consumer sort, and it’s going to be you.

So ultimately now we have this consumer story:

As an SEO supervisor, I would like all inner hyperlinks to level to the canonical URLs, in order that we’re sending the correct alerts to Google.

Step 4: Describe an Ideal World Where Your User Story Is Implemented

The description could be your acceptance standards.

In this instance consumer story:

As an SEO supervisor, I would like all inner hyperlinks to level to the canonical URLs, in order that that we’re sending the correct alerts to Google.


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What are the canonical URLs? Should they be adopted?

Here are the acceptance standards that may reply these questions and describe a great state of affairs:

Acceptance Criteria:

  • The HREF attribute of all inner hyperlinks ought to be formatted utilizing the next guidelines:
    • It makes use of HTTPS*.
    • It makes use of the “www” subdomain**.
    • It doesn’t embrace a question string, a hash fragment or monitoring parameters (together with UTM tags).
    • It is fully decrease case.
  • Internal hyperlinks are adopted (i.e. don’t embrace a rel=nofollow attribute).

* if the web site makes use of HTTPS
** If the web site makes use of www. If it doesn’t, you then would say ‘It doesn’t use the “www” subdomain’

Your purpose is to present as a lot context as attainable however hold it related on the similar time.


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The smartest thing about Acceptance Criteria is that they’ll later be used for testing the implementation.

Let’s create one other instance of a consumer story.

It’s going to be not for SEO however you’ll prefer it and it’ll assist to summarize all of the steps.

As a Search Engine Journal writer, I would like you to learn this whole put up so that you simply perceive the ability of SEO consumer tales and may use them in your each day job.

Acceptance standards:

  • You learn every phrase, not solely subheadings.
  • You shared the put up on Twitter and added “Done” to your tweet.
  • You adopted me on Twitter.
  • You subscribed to @sejournal.
  • You wrote your personal SEO consumer story for your subsequent advice.

Where Can You Use SEO User Stories

User tales will enable you in varied conditions the place you want to write SEO documentation or suggestions for builders.

You can alter your consumer tales for particular situations, too.

For instance, after I create a narrative in a technical audit, I additionally want to clarify what’s at the moment not working correctly. So as well as to the consumer story and acceptance standards, I add extra context of the problem the web site is experiencing and why it’s a problem.


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So you should use SEO consumer tales:

  • In technical audits.
  • Domain migrations.
  • Content Management System migrations.
  • Any documentation (for instance, if a brand new CMS is being constructed).

Final Bricks

When used correctly, SEO consumer tales are a robust software that helps get extra suggestions applied by speaking with builders extra effectively.

So begin experimenting with this strategy and share your outcomes.

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