Before we get into all of the ways that web governance can help improve your SEO, let’s clarify that web governance is not the same as web management. As we talk about in our post about What Is Web Governance:
“Website management is all of the tasks which go into running a website, such as posting new articles or updating product pages. By contrast, web governance is all of the policies and procedures which say how management should be done. It is the supervision behind the management.”
Coming up with a clear web governance model isn’t exactly the most thrilling part of running a website. However, when you take the time to establish a solid web governance structure with well-defined policies, standards and procedures, your entire website benefits – including your SEO in these 6 ways.
1. Web Governance Means All Content Creators Know What the Goal Is
SEO is often treated as a goal in and of itself. However, as any good SEO will tell you, simply increasing traffic shouldn’t be the goal. Good SEO strategy is all about generating targeted traffic. In order to do this, your content creators need more than a list of keywords and on-page SEO tactics. They need to know what the ultimate goal is.
When your web governance system is in place, you will have mapped out a clear structure. At the top is a “central manager” or a committee which is in charge of steering the website in the right direction. Each department may have different goals with SEO, but good web governance allows them to come together cohesively.
You will know that your web governance is working when all content creators are upholding brand message and voice. All content creators will know who the intended audience is, including how the audience thinks and speaks about the subject. They will then create content which is structured in this way, such as using the right keyword terms. Doing so will improve your SEO for the right type of traffic so you meet your larger goals.
2. Web Governance Allows for Better Keyword Management
Most large institutional or enterprise websites are well-designed and may have great features. However, when it comes to content planning and organization, they usually fail miserably. This is a major problem for SEO.
One of the first steps in SEO is to do keyword research. A large institution may be given a list of 500 words to target, of which 20 of them are considered “golden” and will provide the best conversions. Content creators then start creating content based on the golden keywords.
Here is where things get sloppy and require better governance.
- You end up with a bunch of articles on the topic of Keyword A but no articles on Keywords X, Y, and Z.
- Duplicate titles and H1 tags abound.
- Internal linking gets very messy.
- Users get confused. So do search engines.
Jesper Astrom does a good job of describing why this is just a big problem in this article about keyword property rights. He uses in analogy where a friend tells you that, “The answer to all your questions is inside this building.” You enter the building and find a million doors. On each door, you see a sign saying, “The answer to your questions are inside.” Yes, the answer to your question may be inside the building, but you don’t have time to open every single door looking for the answer!
Instead of opening each door to find your answer, you get the heck out of that building. On your way back to your friend, you see another building. It has a sign which says, “The answer to your question is inside.” You decide to give it a chance. When you enter, you also see a million doors. The difference is that all of the doors except on says, “Not in here.” Only one door says, “Come on in, here is your answer.”
In the analogy, the friend is a link and you are a search engine spider. If a search engine spider can’t figure out where to go, they are going to get out quickly. No amount of links can save the website! You must be able to make your content unique and specific so the search engine spiders know where to go.
Astrom recommends assigning important keywords to individuals in charge of parts of the website. That person can then decide where, when and how the keywords are used. If anyone else wants to use the keyword, they need to ask permission. This can only be done if you have a clear web governance model mapped out.
3. Web Governance Means Content is Structured Clearly
A big part of web governance is establishing procedures and standards. This includes the SEO steps which must be taken before publishing any new content on the website, such as:
- Optimizing titles
- Using heading tags
- Adding ALT text to images
- Making sure content is adequate in length
- Adding relevant links to content
All of these steps help search engines better crawl your site and understand what pages are about. The better they can do this, the better they will be able to rank your website for the appropriate keywords.
Usually these web governance procedures only need to be established one time and aren’t changed. Once they are established, hiring new content creators and editors becomes much easier because you can provide them with clear instructions on how to best optimize their content for SEO.
4. Web Governance Means that Your Website Stays Fresh
Your teams are doing a great job of creating killer content that search engines and audiences love. They are following all of the best practices for SEO, like setting meta tags and optimizing titles. So, you don’t have anything to worry about – right?
The problem is that the web is constantly changing. And chances are that your business goals are changing too.
Content which may have been fresh when it was posted may be outdated by the time a user finds it through a search engine a year later. At Monsido, some of the most common issues that our customers see are:
- Broken links
- Content which mentions products or services which aren’t offered anymore
- Old phone numbers, email addresses, or other outdated contact info on pages
Fresh content is incredibly important for SEO. Not only do search engines favor fresh content, but having a high number of crawl errors sends signals tells the search engine spiders that your website is of a low quality. Even broken outbound links may harm SEO. Further, if you’ve got inaccurate info or 404 errors on your website, you’ll have a higher bounce rate. This is bad for your conversions, and is also bad for SEO.
Over at Moz, there is a good article about how to deal with outdated content, such as delating the old content and then redirecting it to a fresh page. In order to take these steps, you must have clear web governance system in place. Your web governance procedures and policies will outline when and how your website will be maintained, who is in charge, and what should be done with the different types of outdated content.
Unless you have a really small website, chances are you won’t be able to revisit every single page on your website to check for freshness and broken links. This is where web governance tools like Monsido come in. Monsido scans your website on a weekly basis looking for broken links, quality assurance errors and other signs of old content. You can even set your own policies, such as to search for an old product, to make sure it isn’t found anywhere on the website. Yes, this is a shameless plug You can learn more about Monsido's features here.
5. Web Governance Means Better Interdepartmental Communications
When creating content, one of the goals may be to get more leads through search engine visibility. But chances are that your content also has many other goals – such as when content is used as part of social media marketing campaigns, for increasing conversions, or for brand image.
Unfortunately, few organizations excel at interdepartmental communications. In some severe cases, they even compete for resources and funds. Many issues also arise when different departments rely on each other, such as when your social media marketing and SEO departments rely on your content department. Instead of focusing on their individual goals, each department needs to be made aware of the larger enterprise goal and actively participate in helping to achieve these goals.
Think of it like a dance troop where each dancer is doing their own routine on the stage. Sure, they each might look good on their own, but the entire scene looks chaotic. What they need is a choreographer to put all of the movements together in a cohesive way.
Web governance is the choreographer which pulls everything together. At the head of the web governance structure, you have a central manager or committee which establishes goals. Each department below this level is given its own goal and clear procedures on how to achieve them, as well as the procedures and resources they need for communicating effectively with other departments effectively.
6. Web Governance Creates a System of Accountability
Web governance means having clearly defined goals, resources, and roles. Collectively, this makes it possible to analyze how effective your methods are so you can see what is working – and what isn’t – and adjust your strategies to get the best results.
Over at Diffily, there is a good article which talks about how to audit web governance. Here are some of the questions that Diffily suggests asking when auditing your website and creating accountability:
Did the issue arise because the policy was ignored? For example, if there are H1 errors on your website which are negatively affecting SEO, is it because an employee was negligent?
If not, then did the issue arise because a process isn’t being followed or because the process isn’t up to scratch? If the H1 wasn’t the result of negligence from an employee, was it because the policy wasn’t clear. For example, do you have a clear policy as to how to use H1 tags versus Title tags? If this is the root of the problem, then you need to make a clear policy for the issue.
If not, then did the issue arise because of inadequate resources? If you don’t give your employees resources like tools (such as a good keyword research tool) or adequate time, then you can expect issues like H1 errors. You may need to shift your resources around to fix the issue.
If not, then did the issue arise because of another problem with web governance? When the issue isn’t caused by any of the above, you may have a severe dysfunction in your web governance structure. A big cause may be lack of authority. Without a central manager or committee to steer the teams in the right direction and facilitate communication between teams, issues are likely to arise.
You can see how this auditing system could be applied to achieve SEO benefits. All content would be created in a way which follows policies about keyword use, Title tags, linking, etc. If a SEO issue occurs, you’d be able to identify the reason it occurred. Was the SEO error made because a staff was lazy? Was the SEO error made because the policy isn’t clear? Are staff members missing resources like time or tools? If you can’t answer these questions in regards to SEO issues appearing on your website, then your web governance needs improving.