Who’s responsibility is it anyway?

Over at Search Engine Guide, Stoney deGeyter recently wrote an excellent article entitled ‘Where does the Responsibility of the SEO End and the Client’s Begin? Stoney discussed a number of the issues that both the SEO and the client should consider before grabbing one another by the hand and walking the (often unpredictable) walk of client/SEO partnerships.

Stoney focused mainly on top level issues, such as whether the client has a solid business plan, whether the SEO understands the clients objectives and where responsibility lies for tasks such as copy writing. By focusing on such issues before the contract is even signed, the hope is that there will be fewer surprises further down the line.

I want to look at the title of his article from a slightly different angle by focusing on the day to day responsibilities, especially those that also involve the web developer?

For example, I have no doubt that if a typical SEO spotted that one of their clients sites was down, the first thing that they would do is to call the client and let them know. However, is this ultimately the responsible of the SEO? What about if you spot a broken link or two on the clients site? When you initially optimised the website a couple of months back, all the links were present and correct. Shortly after, the site is littered with broken links perhaps as a result of a technical error (the fault of the web developer?) or a human error (the fault of the client if they have made changes using a CMS?). In this instance, and presuming I spot this first, is it my responsibility to fix somebody else’s error?

These kinds of situations arise every day for us and it’s difficult knowing whether to have your staff spend their valuable time trying to fix problems of which they had not part in creating. At the same time though, they are a caring bunch and are dedicated to seeing their clients campaigns succeed; they will therefore jump all over anything that may stand in the way of this success.

Strictly speaking a web developer should have tools and alerts in place in case anything goes wrong but often they don’t. The client should be aware of making changes to their site and the implications this may have on their SEO campaign but often they don’t.

I therefore ask you, who’s responsibility is it anyway?

Until next time, enjoy your weekend!

4 Responses to Who’s responsibility is it anyway?

  1. One of our clients recently labeled such entry level workers as ‘grunters’!!

    …people who can come on board and get stuck in to the necessary but rather monotonous tasks that any business has to face!

  2. Hi Ben, Yes, you’re right about it can become cumbersome. That’s where it’s helpful to have a low paid, entry level person to do a lot of that kind of work… at least the stuff that can’t be automated. But automation is key.

  3. Thanks Stoney,
    We have exactly the same philosophy – these areas are not necessarily our direct responsibility but we do of course keep a track of them due to the potential impact upon a clients SEO campaign. I suppose the problem we are having at the moment is knowing how far to take it (because as we know, there are a plethora of factors that could be monitored) and also at which point tracking broken links, site downtime, etc begins to eat into other activities and therefore whether you should charge for such services.

  4. Hey good comments and thoughts. I’ll say this, there are a lot of little things that ARE NOT the SEOs responsibility, but if they SEO cares about performance they will do what they can to stay on top of such. You mentioned broken links. We do monthly broken link checks for all of our clients and send them a report. We can’t fix them, so it’s their responsibility to do that, but at least we are doing our due diligence in finding anything that we feel may be a hindrance to creating a top performing website.

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