Developers have to add another tool to their arsenal in order to keep up with the ever-changing times. Search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever now as more consumers are home and are turning to online businesses. Being able to find, and easily and quickly navigate through a website can make or break a business. 

“At its core, SEO is working on your site to help site rank better in Google or Bing….This can help get more users to click on the site when they’re searching,” James Leisy, senior technical SEO at DeepCrawl, said in a webinar on SD Times. 

While there are a number of different ways users can stumble upon a website, Leisy explained 53% of all trackable web traffic comes from organic search. If the website doesn’t behave properly or is too slow, it can damage a company’s direct revenue and even it’s brand reputation, added Cosmin Elefterescu, head of product management at DeepCrawl, who also spoke during the webinar.

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As a result, Leisy and Elefterescu say it’s imperative SEO be included in the overall QA testing strategy. “At the end of the day, SEO is becoming mandatory to the success of a website and to the success of the company,” said Elefterescu.

SEO tests can cover a range of 404 errors, content, and even complex custom extractions.  “These things could have a huge negative impact on your SEO program,” said Leisy. “If you have broken links on your page, users can’t get to the right pages, and bots potentially can’t even find some of the content so that’s a big issue.”

However, when Leisy and Elefterescu asked webinar attendees how often they work with SEO teams when releasing new code, a majority of respondents said they had either no interaction or very little interaction. 

Because “SEO teams and developers don’t sit together and don’t have this constant interaction, some of these issues or defects can really get pushed to the live production site,” said Leisy.

The reason development and QA teams haven’t included SEO up until now is because teams haven’t realized the impact it can have on the business, and there is a limited amount of time and resources. But “the cost to fix a bug found at the implementation stage is approximately six times more expensive then one identified during production,” the speakers explained. 

For instance, SEO defects aren’t something that are easily identifiable because it might not impact the overall functionality of the website so it takes time to be noticed and time for search engines to reindex the site from the initial release. During this time development teams are doing multiple releases and if they don’t notice the defect immediately, traffic is going to start dropping, revenue growth is going to start dropping. From there, the SEO team, marketing team, and QA team have to scramble to figure out what is happening. 

Even if the teams do find the problem and manage to fix it, that doesn’t mean the business will automatically get the traffic back. There is an opportunity cost they have to deal with. During the time it took to find and fix the problem, teams could have been building a new strategy to attract more customers and building new features. Leisy added that if a business has a larger website or content that is always being updated and changed, then search engines might be reindexing the website daily instead of taking a couple of weeks, which gives teams even less time to scramble and get everything fixed while prioritizing other projects. 

If they were able to catch this before production, there wouldn’t have been extra costs or drama. Practicing good SEO QA can help protect revenues, act as an insurance blanket, and reduce defect fixing, said Elefterescu. “Doing this will enable organizations to build successful testing strategies around all the tests that are required to be performed in order to mitigate potential issues,” he said. 

Elefterescu recommended equipping QA teams with tools that enable SEO automation and provide full clarity about a defect, and alerts teams of new defects. If a business drives revenue through their website, is an ecommerce company, hotel company, airline company, publishing company, a highly regulated company or anyone who requires customers to directly interact with their website in order to generate revenue, they have to practice SEO QA, Elefterescu explained.

DeepCrawler provides an automated SEO QA solution called Automator, designed to avoid traffic and revenue loss, mitigate risks, and ensure harmful code isn’t introduced in new releases. It can be integrated with a CI pipeline, performs more than 160 tests when new code is released, has Slack and Jira integration, notifies team members about potential issues, and provides in detail what happened and why it happened.

Other best practices the speakers provided included: integrating SEO checks into CI/CD systems; testing code for SEO impact before it’s released into production; and making inforuced data-driven decisions based on SEO patterns and trends. 

“Automating [SEO QA] makes the most sense because you can kind of set these tests, and then just let them run so you know any code that you’re going to launch to production can kind of go through this pipeline and make sure that it meets these standards that you’ve set up,” said Leisy. “Then that will allow developers to release things more quickly, and SEO [teams] to not have to worry so much about double checking things that may affect the SEO program on the site.”