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Content Marketing & SEO Blog

Blog about startup growth strategies revolving around content marketing, SEO, CRO, and social media marketing.

Why SEOs need to make the development team their best friends

Sean Smith

"Developers make an SEO’s job a dream if you can only bridge the gap of the psychological presuppositions that are carried on both ends"

I'm writing this post because I notice a trend in how SEO's are viewed by developers and how SEO's deal with developers; case and point, not the right way. This is just a short post about the psychology that needs to be applied behind your development staff with your marketing department. This is mainly on the agency side where you will have a marketing guy running down to the developers asking for direct implementation of updated best-practices and what-have-you.

So to circumvent this psychological block that seems to happen between SEO's and developers we need to first objectively look at the individual psyches of both parties.


Searches through his (or her, not sexist here) CSV site crawl export from Screaming Frog or from SEOmoz identifying problems such as duplicate content or 404 crawl errors. Maps out all of the technical problems that can be solved from an on-site development standpoint and puts it all down in notes. Searches online (most likely through SEOmoz or another SEO resource) for best solutions to these problems and attributes the solutions he finds on the blogs to the given topic in his notes assuming he is right on all accounts. Schedules a meeting with the developer that corresponded to the problems at hand, walks in with an uppity attitude like he knows what he is talking about in regards to the technical solutions. Lays out the notes he took and essentially demands that the developer fixes the problem in this exact way.

The developer sighs with an annoyed and disgruntled face because the solutions laid out by the SEO are just not the best solutions or perhaps don't even make sense towards the problem at hand. Perhaps there isn't even a problem, it is only how Google is rendering the "problems" and some minor adjustments can fix them. The developer is hesitant to put any of these implementations in to the task list because some could be detrimental to how the site is laid out, some are just obliviously nonsensical and the others have a much simpler solution. The SEO gets annoyed because the developer seems to give off disgruntled body language and the SEO takes it as the developer is just not wanting to put forth the effort required to fix these issues. There is a diffusion in how the two communicated and the problems do not get solved because no correct course of action was reached.


  1. the quick research and assuming that those answers were correct in the given case
  2. the approach, acting as if we know perfectly how correct implementation should be handled
  3. not asking, telling how these corrections should take place instead of asking "what would you recommend"

The Developer

Sitting at his (OR HER) desk, creating websites that undermine his true potential. Dealing with menial support tasks and receiving client calls requesting changes that only inspire more aggravation from people oblivious of what they request. Wishing that he had something truly motivating to work on, something that tested his salt as a developer and as an intellectual. Gets a notification that a meeting has been scheduled with the SEO dude regarding a client website he built. Interested in getting away from the support tickets but annoyed that he has to sit through a meeting when he has a full task-list to knock out he goes to the meeting.

Walks in to see a smug SEO with a sheet of paper with some jotted notes on it. Sits down and then is basically demanded to fix problems that he knows have better solutions. He gets annoyed that he had to get up from his task list of undermining tasks to come to a meeting where someone who doesn't know what they're talking about gives him a list in person of a new set of undermining tasks with a coupled smug attitude.


  1. already annoyed at not being given the opportunity to do some cool shit
  2. has a smug SEO giving a nonsensical task list to him after clients have been doing the same thing all day
  3. is not able to put in his word of hesitation without outwardly questioning the SEO's methods

The Solution

SEO's need to not believe that they know everything there is to know about programming and development. Unless you were a full on developer who then became an SEO, don't wave your ego around like you know what you're talking about. Be humble and ask questions. Developers are timid to work with SEO's because we have a habit of acting like we know far more than we do. Just because you read SEOmoz and you can kick ass in excel doesn't mean you can deconstruct a webapp built on Ruby. When you come original (excuse the 311 reference) and genuinely ask for help in a way that puts the developer in a position to create artful solutions beautiful things can happen.

Like 9000 crawl errors being fixed in a day.

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 1.33.58 PM
Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 1.33.58 PM

Developers make an SEO's job a dream if you can only bridge the gap of the psychological presuppositions that are carried on both ends. Developers don't like to deal with people thinking they know everything because it's an hourly occurrence for them. SEO's don't like dealing with people who don't like to make fast changes on the fly because Google pushes out changes rapidly. SEO's think that the annoyance developers feel when they bark orders at them is caused by laziness in that developer. Developers would love to help but need the respect of the SEO's before they can work their hacker magic.

Developers should be an SEO's best friend, not whipping boy. SEO's take note, because you're job will get a whole lot easier once you get over yourself.