Building an SEO Machine with Kevin Indig of Atlassian

Nov 27, 2018 4:40:27 AM
Author: Kieran Flanagan

What we cover in Episode 19

Atlassian is a growth machine, valued at over $10 billion with near 132k customers; their path is one all software companies would like to follow.

Like any high growth company, Atlassian has leaned into Google generating over 2 million organic visits each month (source: Ahrefs).

In this episode, we talk to Kevin Indig, head of technical SEO for Atlassian on what they've done to make Google a principal source of growth.


Happy Growing!

1. You should tie the output of SEO to business goals

A lot of challenges you find in scale-ups across different teams are often caused by having the wrong goals, or goals that don't create the right behaviors from people on the team.

Goals create focus, so not setting the right goals results in a focus on the wrong things.

"Goals are what helps to set the right priorities across everything you do. Whether that's your personal goals or work-related goals".

For example, focusing on just SEO traffic isn't a good goal. You could easily increase traffic without having any real impact on the business. Instead, setting a goal on the number of conversions or amount of revenue you expect to generate is a better goal more aligned with the company goals.

Another essential part of setting the correct goals for an SEO team is their goals often cross multiple teams, and those teams need to collaborate on SEO to be successful.

So, how does Atlassian manage this?

"SEO at Atlassian is integrated horizontally and not vertically, so it's more of a consulting function. We manage SEO for ten products across all countries, and we have a mix of our own goals and shared goals with other teams. 50% of our time is spent working with other product managers to help them hit their goals, and 50% is spent on projects we initiate."


2. Your SEO strategy should be a mix of proactivity and reactivity

Atlassian is a multi-product company where each product manager has their own goals around new user acquisition. How do Kevin and his team manage their wants, along with the overarching SEO goals like getting more traffic and signups?

"Every quarter we sit down with everybody who wants anything from SEO, it's called our 'Quarterly Planning Process.'. We invite all product managers, and other stakeholders who have asks from us. They provide us with context on what they need, and we give an estimation of how big of a task that could be, and we also consider the importance of their goal on the business."

Kevin also looks at how big of a task is it and what resources they need from other teams to be successful, for example, a technical fix may require very little concerning resources, but other tasks may need developers, writers, and designers.

At the end of this process, Kevin and his team have a stack rank of the critical projects they're going to work on for other stakeholders (reactive) but also leaves a suitable buffer for projects they want to initiate (proactive). The projects they launch are all focused on their north star metric, which is conversions from organic traffic.

A crucial part of Kevin and his team's role is the education of those stakeholders on SEO, so the quality of the requests they receive get better over time:

"We make a real effort to educate everybody in the company about SEO. We provide writer workshops, technical workshops, design workshops. We document all of our work and turn it into tutorials, and guides we add to our internal knowledge base, so the better of a job we do educate everyone, the better the asks we get."

3. Great SEO research focuses on user intent

Researching the user intent of keywords plays a vital role in understanding which ones are the right ones for you to target.

There are four groupings that most keyword intent can be grouped by:

"Officially Google distinguishes between four user intents. You want to search for some information, you want to navigate to a location, you want to navigate to a certain website, or you want to purchase something."

If I'm researching a keyword and search for it on Google, I can see what Google thinks the intent for that keyword is by the what kind of content it returns, informational, transactional, etc.

The problem is how you do this at scale? If you're trying to research thousands of keywords:

"The best way to research the user intent of keywords is by looking at the knowledge graph, the answer boxes, shopping ads and all the other types of results Google returns. It's an accurate way to determine the user intent of a search term. So, if you can look at the search features that get returned for each keyword, you're able to scale up the identification of user intent and decide whether you can fulfill it or not vs. what currently exists."

The podcast provides a more in-depth look at these topics, so if you enjoyed reading the above, please do give it a listen.

And until next time,

Happy Growing!

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