Every time you have a release, do you have a test (automated or manual) that you perform to make sure that everything is good to go from an SEO perspective? This is what we call a deployment SEO strategy. Odds are you might not have one, but you should.

You need a deployment strategy for two reasons: first, accidents happen. Second, not everyone knows SEO. This posts highlights problems to look for when when you’re testing a deployment and tips on how to create a deployment SEO strategy that works for you.

  • Nofollows being added to all internal links
  • Meta robots noindex added to pages
  • Robots.txt updated to disallow: /
  • All title tags being set to the homepage
  • Product canonical tags set to category URLs
  • 301s used for canonicalization being removed
  • H1s disappearing
  • Content disappearing
  • URLs being changed
  • Analytics tracking code removed

All of these issues can have significant impacts on SEO. The reasons for this are far and wide, ranging from the wrong code being copied from the dev server to designers forgetting that title tags are important. As SEOs, we can do things to reduce the likelihood of these things happening by creating systems and processes, but sometimes accidents will happen. Sometimes, something is bound to sneak by. This means you need to have a system in place to find problems when they arise rather than down the road.

Automated vs Manual

When I was working in-house, we had all of our internal links become nofollowed; the nofollow tag was copied over from a dev environment. After learning from this experience, I began doing manual testing following every deployment to ensure that each one was rolled out properly. With weekly releases and multiple sites, this task quickly became quite time consuming. Fortunately, we had a QA team that I trained to handle the testing themselves.

I started the manual reviews by going to pages that needed to be tested and verified that the SEO elements were all in proper place. To automate the process, I oversaw the development of test scripts built by the QA team to verify everything was in order. This was a much more efficient solution.

Big sites with frequent releases should be doing automated testing. Work with your dev team to get these tests created for you. Further, you should also have a QA team that should be capable of running the tests once they are trained. If you’re unable to get the resources necessary, well…try to persevere until you can. You’ll still have to do the work manually, but this issue is far too important to ignore. If you can gather the dev resources, you’ll still need to perform manual tests until automated testing is created.

If you run a smaller site or don’t have frequent releases, manual testing is probably the better solution for you. Sure, it takes some time, but if you aren’t doing it every week, odds are the manual reviews won’t drive you insane.

Which pages to test

Do you need to test every page? In general, no. If your site runs off a CMS or a template, you should be testing every type of page (product, category, homepage, education pages, etc.). Additionally, if you have important landing pages that are one-off creations, you should test them as well.

Do I really have to do it every time?

Yes, you do. It is important. Again, you’re the SEO, and unfortunately you’re to blame if something goes wrong.

Automated vs Manual

When I was working in-house, we had all of our internal links become nofollowed; the nofollow tag was copied over from a dev environment. After learning from this experience, I began doing manual testing following every deployment to ensure that each one was rolled out properly. With weekly releases and multiple sites, this task quickly became quite time consuming. Fortunately, we had a QA team that I trained to handle the testing themselves.

I started the manual reviews by going to pages that needed to be tested and verified that the SEO elements were all in proper place. To automate the process, I oversaw the development of test scripts built by the QA team to verify everything was in order. This was a much more efficient solution.

Big sites with frequent releases should be doing automated testing. Work with your dev team to get these tests created for you. Further, you should also have a QA team that should be capable of running the tests once they are trained. If you’re unable to get the resources necessary, well…try to persevere until you can. You’ll still have to do the work manually, but this issue is far too important to ignore. If you can gather the dev resources, you’ll still need to perform manual tests until automated testing is created.

If you run a smaller site or don’t have frequent releases, manual testing is probably the better solution for you. Sure, it takes some time, but if you aren’t doing it every week, odds are the manual reviews won’t drive you insane.

Which pages to test

Do you need to test every page? In general, no. If your site runs off a CMS or a template, you should be testing every type of page (product, category, homepage, education pages, etc.). Additionally, if you have important landing pages that are one-off creations, you should test them as well.

Do I really have to do it every time?

Yes, you do. It is important. Again, you’re the SEO, and unfortunately you’re to blame if something goes wrong.

Minimizing problems

Earlier we discussed that you can minimize the likelihood and frequency of problems by implementing systems and processes. Typically,creating these steps take two shapes: training and reviews.

Training

SEO impacts many different teams and job functions throughout a business. The impact ranges from developers and product managers to customer support. What this means for the SEO is that you have a fair amount of people who can either help you out a lot or make your life a lot more complicated. My advice is to use this cross-team collaboration to your advantage.

Obviously not all of the people in these positions needs to be well versed in SEO or have watched every Matt Cutts webmasters video, but it’s probably important that they know how their roles can impact SEO. Discuss the impact each role has with your team to make sure everyone is on the same page, and it will help you define your strategy.

SEO sign-off

In addition to training, you should create SEO checkpoints in project processes where you (or another member of the SEO team) will have to sign-off that the project meets the SEO requirements you have established. I recommend implementing checkpoints as frequently as possible. This ensures that someone with an SEO mind has thought about the project at each step from idea to execution. This “big picture” mentality will not only help to prevent problems, but will help to capitalize on opportunities.

Deployment of an SEO checklist

The following is a basic list of SEO items to check in every deployment. Use it as a guide to what to look for in each deployment, and feel free to customize based on your specific needs.

On-site

Page titles exist and are correct

H1s exist and are correct

Meta descriptions exist and are correct

Alt text is targeted

Content exists and is correct

Correct version of site is being shown to search engines (if you do that sort of thing)

Accessibility

Meta Robots are correct

Robots.txt file is correct

Tracking

Analytics code is correct on every page (type)

Ecommerce tracking is properly set up

Technical

Canonical tag is correct

Internal links are followed (unless otherwise stated)

301 redirects are in place

Site is canonicalling properly

URLs are absolute (or there are no problems with relative URLs)

http:// / https:// are correct

Response codes are correct

Article Via: SEOMOZ

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