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The Curious Relationship Between IT and SEO

SEO and ITImagine a scenario in the "Mad Men" era of marketing where the technicians who kept the printing machines running were invited into the decision room to critique and comment on the ads they would be printing. Frankly, it would never happen. Those mechanical engineers weren't generally going to provide the best insights on marketing, any more than the marketing personnel could solve ink spatter problems.

Fast-forward to 2015, and you may find that IT personnel are actively involved in reviewing and commenting on search engine marketing data for law firms. In fact, when presenting search engine marketing strategies, account managers often get instructions from lawyers to “explain it to my computer guy.”

The problem with this request is that your website and search engine optimization strategy fall under “marketing and communication” much more than they do "tech". Your IT personnel will be interested to know the specifications of your hosting environment, web data backup plans, and how the internal mail server will work with the website hosted on a different server. But it's time to bring in your marketing minds to discuss which strategies are for traffic vs. search engine rankings, or how to make a real connection with your local market and social audience.

Law firms that look at their website as a dominantly technical process are missing out on collaboration and planning opportunities. Since a firm is going to review multiple proposals with differing theories and strategies, you need to get the right experts from your team to get relevant input.

At the same time, a solid IT team is absolutely crucial to your online marketing company's success. The reliability of your website is critical to converting visitors to leads, so a firm's marketing efforts need to be backed by a team of qualified administrators and security experts who can handle anything that might get thrown at it. 

This need was made apparent last week when WordPress discovered a serious cross scripting (XSS) vulnerability.

On WordPress websites that were vulnerable, a user could post a comment and, receiving an administrator's approval for that comment, could gain access to to all rights and privileges of the approving admin. Then, that user was free to set up other administrators, insert malicious code, or do anything else he or she wished with your website.

Last Monday afternoon (April 27th), WordPress 4.1.2 was released, fixing the problem. But between the revelation of the bug and the release of the official WordPress fix, our clients were already secured. 

We crawled all approved comments to verify that no sites had been infected. Then, we temporarily disabled comments on all of our client's websites. Then, within minutes of the new WordPress version's release, we simultaneously deployed the new version on all of our clients websites using an emergency security procedure we created several years ago.

This isn't the first time we have responded to a major internet-wide security threat, and it probably won't be the last. The key takeaway here is that your online marketing company must have the infrastructure and procedures in place to turn to its IT experts when the need arises.

When considering your search engine marketing options, lean more on the input from your communications personnel than your IT group. But once you've made your decisions and launched your site, make sure your SEO company has the IT team and policies needed to make sure your website keeps performing and stays secure.