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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

How the Implementation Gap Hurts Your SEO Campaigns

Experts (SEOs or any other flavor) are great at identifying problems and highlighting what needs fixing. Recommendations are often ignored or left behind due to a huge gap between what's suggested and how it gets implemented.


This disconnect between excellent audit recommendations and frustrating reality? This is the SEO implementation gap.


Table of Contents:


What is the SEO Implementation Gap?

The implementation gap refers to the space between a recommended course of action and the ability to make it happen.


One circle represents the ideal solution, the other your team's capabilities. The overlap in the center signifies the feasible part of the implementation, while the non-overlapping circles are the implementation gap.


The SEO Implementation Gap Diagram

The smallest gap (or best fit) means feasible implementation is possible and your chances of success are high.


An Example of a Great Implementation fit

Conversely, a large gap (or a poor fit) means you'll not see any results.


An Example of a Poor Implementation fit

Why the implementation gap matters


  • Focus on Feasibility - Great recommendations are valuable, but practicality is key. This ensures you focus on solutions that can be implemented with your current resources and capabilities.

  • Improved Success Rates - By acknowledging the gap, you can proactively address challenges and tailor the solution for a smoother rollout. This leads to a higher chance of successful implementation and achieving the desired outcomes.

  • Better Communication - The implementation gap framework fosters communication between subject matter experts and the team responsible for execution. It ensures everyone is on the same page about the ideal solution, its feasibility, and the steps needed to bridge the gap.


When a Lack of Feasibility is "Helpful"


Sometimes what is recommended is so far from being feasible it can stand to show that something else fundamental needs to change; you could often argue for a new web platform or technology investment. This shouldn't be an approach for every situation as these projects are large & slow - what will you do while you wait for completion?


Closing the Gap


Closing the gap is relatively simple, but how you do this without skimping on the quality of the initial recommendation is key!


Give yourself time to understand implementation limitations


Build in a discovery phase to run in parallel with the audit where you learn what is/isn't doable. Speak with CMS or Merchandising teams, content writers, marketing managers, and developers.

It is too easy to assume that every issue you have spotted is unknown by the organisation...

It is too easy to assume that every issue you have spotted is unknown by the organisation and that is why they haven't addressed them. What if the issues are known, but they've just not established an achievable way around them?


If you always assume every SEO problem could be paired with an implementation issue and spend your time equally between the two, you will be more successful.


Prioritize effectively with PIE Scores


PIE scores are a simple yet powerful tool to prioritize recommendations based on three key factors:


  • Priority - How important is this recommendation to achieving your goals?

  • Impact - What is the potential positive impact of implementing this recommendation?

  • Ease - How easy or difficult will it be to implement this recommendation with your current resources and capabilities?

By assigning 0-10 scores to each factor (10 = high priority & impact and easy to execute), you can prioritize recommendations that offer high impact and are relatively easy to implement.


SUM the x3 areas & divide by 3 to get your score. For example:


Changing all PDP <title> tags = 8 Priority, 7 for Impact and 4 for Ease PIE SCORE - (8+7+4)/3 = 6.33


Calculate this for all your recommendations and sort in Descending order and you'll see those which will have the greatest impact but are likely the most achievable. To get these numbers accurate you have to speak with various teams to understand the "ease".


This ensures that you focus on what will deliver the most significant results.


Embrace the Power of Short(er) Cycles

Break down large projects into bite-sized chunks that can be completed in shorter cycles (weeks, not months). This allows you to:


  • Fail Fast & Learn Faster - If something isn't working, you'll discover it sooner rather than later. This allows course correction and avoids investing significant time and resources in a hopeless solution.

  • Proof of Concept - Sometimes, even the most compelling recommendations struggle to gain buy-in. That's where Proofs of Concept (POCs) come in. By showcasing the benefits through a smaller-scale project, you can build confidence and secure the buy-in needed for full-scale implementation.

  • Maintain Momentum - Shorter cycles keep teams engaged and motivated. They can see progress more frequently, which fuels enthusiasm and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

If you are using shorter cycles, you have to ensure you can clearly see how they contribute to the overall picture. Discipline is needed to maintain the long view and stop each cycle from becoming disconnected.


Peer Review Your Approach

Great ideas often benefit from a healthy dose of skepticism. Don't be afraid to seek out a peer review from colleagues or external experts. This allows you to:


  • Challenge Assumptions - Peers can help you identify potential flaws in your thinking or blind spots you may have missed.

  • Validate Your Methods- External validation from respected sources can strengthen your arguments and increase confidence in your recommendations.


For some, this step may be the hardest - if you're the subject expert, surely this is all down to you? An expert who doesn't seek input from others risks failure, so swallow that pride, and seek challenge to validate your approach.


Minding the Gap

If you take away anything from this, then let it be this:

... assume every SEO problem could be paired with an implementation problem and spend your time equally between the two.

Then focus on shorter cycles, PIE scoring, and peer reviews to ensure that when you overcome implementation challenges, your recommendations have the greatest chance of being effective!


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