Updated: Aug 20
Since I joined Indeed in April 2021, I wrote around ~0.7 SEO tickets per day. Most of these are requirements for engineers – new features, improvements, data science, bug fixes and more.
We know SEOs in general struggle with their requests not being a priority by dev teams. I’m lucky to get SEO tickets completed every sprint, but if an engineer looks at your ticket and doesn’t know exactly what to do, your ticket will get deferred. It happens to all of us.
Over time, I got better at writing and estimating them. Here are four tips to write beautiful tickets that will make your dev/engineering team deliver more:
It might be obvious to an SEO what something means or it has to be done, but it’s NOT obvious to everyone. For instance, if you say Structured Data in SEO, we all know you’re talking about adding Schema.org elements to explain a page to search engines. But “Structured Data” without context might mean a lot of things.
They need to know why they’re doing something to find the best way to execute that task. Another simple example – I’ve had to explain many times that internal links in SEO have an impact to increase rankings, not just from users clicking on a link – The win comes from “outside”, as a result of an internal change. If you don’t live in the SEO world, this doesn’t make any sense.
Suggested ticket line: “Doing […] will allow search engines to […]”
Work to be done
Be very specific about what has to be done and how. Over time, you’ll learn what your developers need clarity on and you’ll start thinking ahead to deliver the best ticket possible. Give examples, tools to test, etc.
Let’s say you’re giving a template for structured data – Show exactly where each element will come from. Or if you need a list of fields/data to appear in a report, list every field. Think how IKEA makes manuals and pieces that are almost fool-proof.
Suggested ticket line: “This ticket is completed when […]”
Is there a way to measure the impact of this activity? In this case, it doesn’t need to be measured in traffic or conversions.
It could be that this change will make sure pages load the right information or will prevent human error. The impact is the motivation for something to be done. Having this reason might allow a developer to find a better solution.
Suggested ticket line: “This will save us […]” or “This allows search engines to […]”
Does a ticket depend on another one to get completed? Or are they part of a wider initiative? Use Epics (on JIRA) or equivalent to add them to a project. You can also add specific dependencies between tickets (B can only be done after A is complete) or get “connected” tickets to be executed by the same person. Aim to do this as soon as the ticket is created – This builds trust.
Tips from other SEOs
This blog post was originally a LinkedIn post that got some good attention. There was plenty of good advice from other SEOs in the comments that are worth reading as well:
From – Vanda Pokecz, SEO Team Lead at Ladenzeile GmbH
I learned during my time as interim PO and of course SEO PM that context goes a long way. Offering to join refinements is also an option to be available for any outstanding questions Vanda Pokecz, SEO Team Lead at Ladenzeile GmbH
From Ivan Dragovic, SEO Specialist at Holistic Digital Solutions
Whenever possible, include screenshots, diagrams, or examples to visually explain your requirements and make them more digestible
From Shri Vidhya, SEO Manager at Spiceworks Ziff Davis
Add screen recordings to my tickets on exactly what needs to be done,
From Nélia Silva, SEO Lead at Sonae MC
Including “negative” requests – details that might be part of the dev solution but I know in advance that will lead to an SEO problem, so we discuss it before it goes ahead.