I think it is about time I revisit a post I wrote in 2006 named In SEO, What Changes Should You Track. We have a new thread over at Cre8asite Forums talking about what logs you should keep when making changes to your site, for the purposes of SEO.
Most of you know, I am a strong believer of using an automated method of documentation. By building in a required workflow, you can also build automated tracking systems to document any change made to the web site or link building activities, so that you can report back in time on those changes. Most development environments have something like CVS (Concurrent Versions System), which tracks all file changes automatically. But this is only good for file changes, it does not cover everything. So, if possible, you need to build out your own workflow for documenting what you do on a daily-basis.
Back in our original post, we said you should track the following:
- every change to robots.txt (CVS can handle this)
- every change to htaccess (or Internet Services Manager in IIS)
- site-wide template changes (especially menu changes) (CVS can handle this)
- DNS and hosting changes
- new outbound links
- ad purchases and run-times
- Server updates (especially reboots or outages)
- Config files
- Firewall block list
Based on this new thread, let's expand this list to include:
- Google AdSense changes (placement, targeting, etc.)
- Track your rankings at various engines
But the thread here really talks about what tools are used to track these changes. While some use the old fashion pencil and paper, many are using spreadsheets, versioning systems, file archiving, and some are even using custom systems - like I described above.
In my opinion, there is nothing better then building out a custom system to aid your employees in doing their job, at the same time, it builds in a certain level of quality assurance. Not only that, it gives you the data you need to theorize why certain changes impacted certain ranking fluctuations. Finally, and probably just as important, it gives your clients (if you offer SEO services) a method of seeing your deliverables.
Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.