Tag Archive | "Issues"

Google’s indexing issues are resolved

Google has just confirmed the indexing issues from yesterday are fully resolved.

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PWA: How to avoid partial rendering issues with service workers

When there are issues rendering pages server side to prevent correct rendering, the content can have discrepancies shown to end users (or search bots).

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How to Diagnose and Solve JavaScript SEO Issues in 6 Steps

Posted by tomek_rudzki

It’s rather common for companies to build their websites using modern JavaScript frameworks and libraries like React, Angular, or Vue. It’s obvious by now that the web has moved away from plain HTML and has entered the era of JS.

While there is nothing unusual with a business willing to take advantage of the latest technologies, we need to address the stark reality of this trend: Most of the migrations to JavaScript frameworks aren’t being planned with users or organic traffic in mind.

Let’s call it the JavaScript Paradox:

  1. The big brands jump on the JavaScript hype train after hearing all the buzz about JavaScript frameworks creating amazing UXs.
  2. Reality reveals that JavaScript frameworks are really complex.
  3. The big brands completely butcher the migrations to JavaScript. They lose organic traffic and often have to cut corners rather than creating this amazing UX journey for their users (I will mention some examples in this article).

Since there’s no turning back, SEOs need to learn how to deal with JavaScript websites.

But that’s easier said than done because making JavaScript websites successful in search engines is a real challenge both for developers and SEOs.

This article is meant to be a follow-up to my comprehensive Ultimate Guide to JavaScript SEO, and it’s intended to be as easy to follow as possible. So, grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s have some fun — here are six steps to help you diagnose and solve JavaScript SEO issues.

Step 1: Use the URL inspection tool to see if Google can render your content

The URL inspection tool (formerly Google Fetch and Render) is a great free tool that allows you to check if Google can properly render your pages.

The URL inspection tool requires you to have your website connected to Google Search Console. If you don’t have an account yet, check Google’s Help pages.

Open Google Search Console, then click on the URL inspection button.

In the URL form field, type the full URL of a page you want to audit.

Then click on TEST LIVE URL.

Once the test is done, click on VIEW TESTED PAGE.

And finally, click on the Screenshot tab to view the rendered page.

Scroll down the screenshot to make sure your web page is rendered properly. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the main content visible?
  • Can Google see the user-generated comments?
  • Can Google access areas like similar articles and products?
  • Can Google see other crucial elements of your page?

Why does the screenshot look different than what I see in my browser? Here are some possible reasons:

Step 2: Make sure you didn’t block JavaScript files by mistake

If Google cannot render your page properly, you should make sure you didn’t block important JavaScript files for Googlebot in robots.txt

TL;DR: What is robots.txt?

It’s a plain text file that instructs Googlebot or any other search engine bot if they are allowed to request a page/resource.

Fortunately, the URL Inspection tool points out all the resources of a rendered page that are blocked by robots.txt.

But how can you tell if a blocked resource is important from the rendering point of view?

You have two options: Basic and Advanced.


In most cases, it may be a good idea to simply ask your developers about it. They created your website, so they should know it well.

Obviously, if the name of a script is called content.js or productListing.js, it’s probably relevant and shouldn’t be blocked.

Unfortunately, as for now, URL Inspection doesn’t inform you about the severity of a blocked JS file. The previous Google Fetch and Render had such an option:


Now, we can use Chrome Developer Tools for that.

For educational purposes, we will be checking the following URL: http://botbenchmarking.com/youshallnotpass.html

Open the page in the most recent version of Chrome and go to Chrome Developers Tools. Then move to the Network tab and refresh the page.

Finally, select the desired resource (in our case it’s YouShallNotPass.js), right-click, and choose Block request URL.

Refresh the page and see if any important content disappeared. If so, then you should think about deleting the corresponding rule from your robots.txt file.

Step 3: Use the URL Inspection tool for fixing JavaScript errors

If you see Google Fetch and Render isn’t rendering your page properly, it may be due to the JavaScript errors that occurred while rendering.

To diagnose it, in the URL Inspection tool click on the More info tab.

Then, show these errors to your developers to let them fix it.

Just ONE error in the JavaScript code can stop rendering for Google, which in turn makes your website not indexable.

Your website may work fine in most recent browsers, but if it crashes in older browsers (Google Web Rendering Service is based on Chrome 41), your Google rankings may drop.

Need some examples?

  • A single error in the official Angular documentation caused Google to be unable to render our test Angular website.
  • Once upon a time, Google deindexed some pages of Angular.io, an official website of Angular 2+.

If you want to know why it happened, read my Ultimate Guide to JavaScript SEO.

Side note: If for some reason you don’t want to use the URL Inspection tool for debugging JavaScript errors, you can use Chrome 41 instead.

Personally, I prefer using Chrome 41 for debugging purposes, because it’s more universal and offers more flexibility. However, the URL Inspection tool is more accurate in simulating the Google Web Rendering Service, which is why I recommend that for people who are new to JavaScript SEO.

Step 4: Check if your content has been indexed in Google

It’s not enough to just see if Google can render your website properly. You have to make sure Google has properly indexed your content. The best option for this is to use the site: command.

It’s a very simple and very powerful tool. Its syntax is pretty straightforward: site:[URL of a website] “[fragment to be searched]”. Just take caution that you didn’t put the space between site: and the URL.

Let’s assume you want to check if Google indexed the following text “Develop across all platforms” which is featured on the homepage of Angular.io.

Type the following command in Google: site:angular.io “DEVELOP ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS”

As you can see, Google indexed that content, which is what you want, but that’s not always the case.


  • Use the site: command whenever possible.
  • Check different page templates to make sure your entire website works fine. Don’t stop at one page!

If you’re fine, go to the next step. If that’s not the case, there may be a couple of reasons why this is happening:

  • Google still didn’t render your content. It should happen up to a few days/weeks after Google visited the URL. If the characteristics of your website require your content to be indexed as fast as possible, implement SSR.
  • Google encountered timeouts while rendering a page. Are your scripts fast? Do they remain responsive when the server load is high?
  • Google is still requesting old JS files. Well, Google tries to cache a lot to save their computing power. So, CSS and JS files may be cached aggressively. If you can see that you fixed all the JavaScript errors and Google still cannot render your website properly, it may be because Google uses old, cached JS and CSS files. To work around it, you can embed a version number in the filename, for example, name it bundle3424323.js. You can read more in Google Guides on HTTP Caching.
  • While indexing, Google may not fetch some resources if it decides that they don’t contribute to the essential page content.

Step 5: Make sure Google can discover your internal links

There are a few simple rules you should follow:

  1. Google needs proper <a href> links to discover the URLs on your website.
  2. If your links are added to the DOM only when somebody clicks on a button, Google won’t see it.

As simple as that is, plenty of big companies make these mistakes.

Proper link structure

Googlebot, in order to crawl a website, needs to have traditional “href” links. If it’s not provided, many of your webpages will simply be unreachable for Googlebot!

I think it was explained well by Tom Greenway (a Google representative) during the Google I/O conference:

Please note: if you have proper <a href> links, with some additional parameters, like onClick, data-url, ng-href, that’s still fine for Google.

A common mistake made by developers: Googlebot can’t access the second and subsequent pages of pagination

Not letting Googlebot discover pages from the second page of pagination and beyond is a common mistake that developers make.

When you open the mobile versions for Gearbest, Aliexpress and IKEA, you will quickly notice that, in fact, they don’t let Googlebot see the pagination links, which is really weird. When Google enables mobile-first indexing for these websites, these websites will suffer.

How do you check it on your own?

If you haven’t already downloaded Chrome 41, get it from Ele.ph/chrome41.

Then navigate to any page. For the sake of the tutorial, I’m using the mobile version of AliExpress.com. For educational purposes, it’s good if you follow the same example.

Open the mobile version of the Mobile Phones category of Aliexpress.

Then, right-click on View More and select the inspect button to see how it’s implemented.

As you can see, there are no <a href>, nor <link rel> links pointing to the second page of pagination.

There are over 2,000 products in the mobile phone category on Aliexpress.com. Since mobile Googlebot is able to access only 20 of them, that’s just 1 percent!

That means 99 percent of the products from that category are invisible for mobile Googlebot! That’s crazy!

These errors are caused by the wrong implementation of lazy loading. There are many other websites that make similar mistakes. You can read more in my article “Popular Websites that May Fail in Mobile First Indexing”.

TL;DR: using link rel=”next” alone is too weak a signal for Google

Note: it’s common to use “link rel=”next’ to indicate pagination series. However, the discoveries from Kyle Blanchette seem to show that “link rel=”next” alone is too weak a signal for Google and should be strengthened by the traditional <a href> links.

John Mueller discussed this more:

“We can understand which pages belong together with rel next, rel=”previous”, but if there are no links on the page at all, then it’s really hard for us to crawl from page to page. (…) So using the rel=”next” rel=”previous” in the head of a page is a great idea to tell us how these pages are connected, but you really need to have on-page, normal HTML links.

Don’t get me wrong — there is nothing wrong with using <link rel=”next”>. On the contrary, they are beneficial, but it’s good to combine these tags with traditional <a href> links.

Checking if Google can see menu links

Another important step in auditing a JavaScript website is to make sure Google can see your menu links. To check this, use Chrome 41.

For the purpose of the tutorial, we will use the case of Target.com:

To start, open any browser and pick some links from the menu:

Next, open Chrome 41. In the Chrome Developer Tools (click Ctrl + Shift + J),  navigate to the elements tab.

The results? Fortunately enough, Google can pick up the menu links of Target.com.

Now, check if Google can pick up the menu links on your website and see if you’re on target too.

Step 6: Checking if Google can discover content hidden under tabs

I have often observed that in the case of many e-commerce stores, Google cannot discover and index their content that is hidden under tabs (product descriptions, opinions, related products, etc). I know it’s weird, but it’s so common.

It’s a crucial part of every SEO audit to make sure Google can see content hidden under tabs.

Open Chrome 41 and navigate to any product on Boohoo.com; for instance, Muscle Fit Vest.

Click on Details & Care to see the product description:


94% Cotton 6% Elastane. Muscle Fit Vest. Model is 6’1″ and Wears UK Size M.“

Now, it’s time to check if it’s in the DOM. To do so, go to Chrome Developers Tools (Ctrl + Shift + J) and click on the Network tab.

Make sure the disable cache option is enabled.

Click F5 to refresh the page. Once refreshed, navigate to the Elements tab and search for a product description:

As you can see, in the case of boohoo.com, Google is able to see the product description.

Perfect! Now take the time and check if your website is fine.

Wrapping up

Obviously, JavaScript SEO is a pretty complex subject, but I hope this tutorial was helpful.

If you are still struggling with Google ranking, you might want to think about implementing dynamic rendering or hybrid rendering. And, of course, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter about this or other SEO needs.

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New Google Search Console adds a security issues section

In anticipation of the old Google Search Console going away, Google has moved the security issues into the new version.

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SearchCap: Bing political ads & Google Search Console issues

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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New Site Crawl: Rebuilt to Find More Issues on More Pages, Faster Than Ever!

Posted by Dr-Pete

First, the good news — as of today, all Moz Pro customers have access to the new version of Site Crawl, our entirely rebuilt deep site crawler and technical SEO auditing platform. The bad news? There isn’t any. It’s bigger, better, faster, and you won’t pay an extra dime for it.

A moment of humility, though — if you’ve used our existing site crawl, you know it hasn’t always lived up to your expectations. Truth is, it hasn’t lived up to ours, either. Over a year ago, we set out to rebuild the back end crawler, but we realized quickly that what we wanted was an entirely re-imagined crawler, front and back, with the best features we could offer. Today, we launch the first version of that new crawler.

Code name: Aardwolf

The back end is entirely new. Our completely rebuilt “Aardwolf” engine crawls twice as fast, while digging much deeper. For larger accounts, it can support up to ten parallel crawlers, for actual speeds of up to 20X the old crawler. Aardwolf also fully supports SNI sites (including Cloudflare), correcting a major shortcoming of our old crawler.

View/search *all* URLs

One major limitation of our old crawler is that you could only see pages with known issues. Click on “All Crawled Pages” in the new crawler, and you’ll be brought to a list of every URL we crawled on your site during the last crawl cycle:

You can sort this list by status code, total issues, Page Authority (PA), or crawl depth. You can also filter by URL, status codes, or whether or not the page has known issues. For example, let’s say I just wanted to see all of the pages crawled for Moz.com in the “/blog” directory…

I just click the [+], select “URL,” enter “/blog,” and I’m on my way.

Do you prefer to slice and dice the data on your own? You can export your entire crawl to CSV, with additional data including per-page fetch times and redirect targets.

Recrawl your site immediately

Sometimes, you just can’t wait a week for a new crawl. Maybe you relaunched your site or made major changes, and you have to know quickly if those changes are working. No problem, just click “Recrawl my site” from the top of any page in the Site Crawl section, and you’ll be on your way…

Starting at our Medium tier, you’ll get 10 recrawls per month, in addition to your automatic weekly crawls. When the stakes are high or you’re under tight deadlines for client reviews, we understand that waiting just isn’t an option. Recrawl allows you to verify that your fixes were successful and refresh your crawl report.

Ignore individual issues

As many customers have reminded us over the years, technical SEO is not a one-sized-fits-all task, and what’s critical for one site is barely a nuisance for another. For example, let’s say I don’t care about a handful of overly dynamic URLs (for many sites, it’s a minor issue). With the new Site Crawl, I can just select those issues and then “Ignore” them (see the green arrow for location):

If you make a mistake, no worries — you can manage and restore ignored issues. We’ll also keep tracking any new issues that pop up over time. Just because you don’t care about something today doesn’t mean you won’t need to know about it a month from now.

Fix duplicate content

Under “Content Issues,” we’ve launched an entirely new duplicate content detection engine and a better, cleaner UI for navigating that content. Duplicate content is now automatically clustered, and we do our best to consistently detect the “parent” page. Here’s a sample from Moz.com:

You can view duplicates by the total number of affected pages, PA, and crawl depth, and you can filter by URL. Click on the arrow (far-right column) for all of the pages in the cluster (shown in the screenshot). Click anywhere in the current table row to get a full profile, including the source page we found that link on.

Prioritize quickly & tactically

Prioritizing technical SEO problems requires deep knowledge of a site. In the past, in the interest of simplicity, I fear that we’ve misled some of you. We attempted to give every issue a set priority (high, medium, or low), when the difficult reality is that what’s a major problem on one site may be deliberate and useful on another.

With the new Site Crawl, we decided to categorize crawl issues tactically, using five buckets:

  • Critical Crawler Issues
  • Crawler Warnings
  • Redirect Issues
  • Metadata Issues
  • Content Issues

Hopefully, you can already guess what some of these contain. Critical Crawler Issues still reflect issues that matter first to most sites, such as 5XX errors and redirects to 404s. Crawler Warnings represent issues that might be very important for some sites, but require more context, such as meta NOINDEX.

Prioritization often depends on scope, too. All else being equal, one 500 error may be more important than one duplicate page, but 10,000 duplicate pages is a different matter. Go to the bottom of the Site Crawl Overview Page, and we’ve attempted to balance priority and scope to target your top three issues to fix:

Moving forward, we’re going to be launching more intelligent prioritization, including grouping issues by folder and adding data visualization of your known issues. Prioritization is a difficult task and one we haven’t helped you do as well as we could. We’re going to do our best to change that.

Dive in & tell us what you think!

All existing customers should have access to the new Site Crawl as of earlier this morning. Even better, we’ve been crawling existing campaigns with the Aardwolf engine for a couple of weeks, so you’ll have history available from day one! Stay tuned for a blog post tomorrow on effectively prioritizing Site Crawl issues, and be sure to register for the upcoming webinar.

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SearchCap: Search trademark issues & search pictures

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Search trademark issues & search pictures appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Now Issues Hotel Price Drop Alerts – But Only For Googlers

Google Now is testing a feature to notify users when their hotel reservation price drops. Currently it is only an internal test for Googlers.

The post Google Now Issues Hotel Price Drop Alerts – But Only For Googlers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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The Structured Data Brouhaha At SMX East: Clarifying Contentious Issues

If you attended the Structured Data Superstars session at SMX East earlier this month, you probably witnessed a very brief interchange between myself and Googler Pierre Far at the end of the session. Pierre woke everyone up by stating that some of the semantic markup recommendations I’d…

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How Communication Resolves Internal Issues

Posted by RonGarrett

After working at a handful of consulting agencies, as well as starting my own businesses, I have learned how to anticipate, spot, defuse, and resolve different levels of issues and interpersonal challenges in order to keep teams focused and on track. When the stakes are high and everybody on the team is dedicating themselves to the success of their clients, their company, their team, and their own personal development, it is critical that it's somebody's job to own conflict resolution within the organization – even if that person is you!

Push yourself and your teammates to communicate early and often, even when the individual doesn't think the problem is easily solvable. From my experience, most issues arise from a lack of communication or a misunderstanding. Internal conflict and issues can lead to unhappy clients, unhappy employees, and unproductive teams.

Over the years, I have learned that keeping people happy, focused, and efficient at their job while still making sure they have the ability to be creative, be heard, and express their passion/ability in a meaningful way is an art form, and today I will share some of the specifics around how I have managed this process successfully to date.

This post was written for:

  • Individuals that manage their own team or company
  • Individuals whose job requires them to effectively interact with multiple teams/departments
  • Individuals that manage client relationships
  • Individuals who one day aspire to be managers themselves and want to set themselves up for success when they finally take that opportunity

Clearly communicate the company's mission, vision, and culture (values)

It's extremely important for a company to have a clearly defined mission, vision, and sense of culture (values). Equally crucial is to communicate these things on a somewhat consistent basis to the members of your team and to periodically review them to make sure that they are growing and evolving as your business grows. Regardless of whether you are a big fortune 500 company or a small three person team, it will serve you, your partners, and your employees well to have a sense of purpose, direction, and a core set of values from which to make decisions and keep everyone focused.

Here are times and places within the organization you should look to communicate this information:

  • During interviews, which can ensure that you are hiring individuals who are the right fit for your company
  • On-boarding processes for new hires
  • Company-wide meetings
  • Team meetings
  • Regular employee reviews (semi-annual, annual, etc..)
  • Posting it visibly inside the office (by the entrance, in lunch areas, etc…)

Grovo is a company doing a tremendous job at communicating their core values

Grovo Values

Company Values Board at the Entrance of Grovo

For smaller businesses or managers of a  team, it can be daunting to create a mission, vision, and culture. If this is not something your company has defined, you can start by making sure that whenever a new individual joins your team, someone is responsible for making sure that the employee has a clear understanding of why they were brought into the company.

An example of a clear "why" for a SEO company could be:

"We hired you as an SEO consultant to handle anywhere between 3-5 clients of your own, deliver value for your clients, and retain and grow the relationship over time."

Another example for an executive role could be:

"We hired you to research, build, and innovate upon a new marketing channel for our company. The goal for your role is to have this channel up and running within six months and expand into the European Market within 12-18 months."

This immediately establishes a clear definition and direction for that individual, as well as begins to paint a picture of how their role fits in within the rest of the team. By clearly defining and communication the "why" to that individual, you avoid potential confusion and frustration by this team member down the road.

Another added benefit of making sure every person on the team is clear in their role and what the company/team manager expects of them, is they will have a clear framework for making better decisions. They will know how to treat/work with their co-workers, have the ability to self reflect and up with solutions on their own, and encouraging others to live up to their full potential. This empowers people to solve their own issues by asking themselves “What would my company expect of me in this situation?”

Effective communication creates problem solvers, NOT problem creators

I often espouse to my colleagues that “just because we all speak English doesn’t mean we speak the same language.” I believe that taking into account the audience/person you are speaking to, as well as considering their specific listening, learning, and comprehension types is extremely vital in being an effective communicator. It is not enough just to talk AT someone. When you want a person or group of people to truly listen, process, and interpret what you are saying, you have to think about things from their perspective and demonstrate you've put thought into their considerations, not just what you plan to communicate.

Below is a list of questions I ask myself before I attempt to communicate with another individual.

  • What is this person's or group's communication type? (brief/succinct/to the point OR detail-oriented/needs lots of examples/very thorough)
  • How much does this person or group value me as a person?
  • How much do I think this person or group will value the things I say?
  • Have I earned this person's or group's trust and respect?
  • Is what I’m about to communicate applicable to this person or group?
  • Have I spent time listening to them when they have communicated to me in a way they deemed meaningful?
  • What mood is this person or group in?
  • If I plan to communicate something at this time, will this person or group be focused on what I’m communicating?
  • Do I want this person or group to find what I’m communicating to be memorable?
  • If I want this person or group to take action off the back of what I’m communicating, how actionable am I making it?
By creating a team of effective communicators and listeners, you create structured channels in which people can feel appreciated/understood and be effective. This is another efficient and productive way to instill a culture of problem solvers rather than problem creators at your company.

Building a successful framework for creating, setting, and reviewing expectations

Every company should build a framework for creating, setting, and reviewing expectations. This ensures that as people and teams grow, become more efficient/effective, and blow past existing targets, company expectations are growing alongside it in an organic way.  This is also a great way to encourage personal development and growth. 

What a framework for creating, setting, and reviewing expectations looks like:
Framework for Setting Expectations

Creating expectations (goals)

When creating expectations (goals) for those within your organization, it’s important to map out what is required from the position, from the individual/team, and from the business. This will help define what success looks like. When defining expectations, it’s always important to leave an area of flexibility so that the person can help define expectations that match also match their passion/goals/strengths. Don’t just look to meet your needs, but create a win-win situation for the individual as well.

Setting expectations for everyone at the company

In both the world of consulting and working in-house, there is nothing more important than setting expectations (with the exception being delivering on your primary job competency). This applies to setting a client's expectations, setting your boss's expectations, and even setting up your own expectations. It’s important to make sure all expectations are clear, consistent, and that you regularly revisit them to make sure they haven’t shifted over time, otherwise before you know it, this could be you (see below). Painful right?

Communication Cartoon

Image Courtesy of Savage Chickens

Below is a list of the items I find helpful when setting someone's expectations:

  • Make sure you set aside dedicated time in your schedule for this task
  • Pick an environment that allows for few or no distractions
  • Make sure everyone who needs to be involved is a part of the process
  • Be sure to preface the conversation by telling the individual the purpose of this conversation, why it’s important, who it’s important to, and how important it is
  • Be explicit/extremely clear
  • Make sure you are pacing yourself when you communicate expectations and aren’t speaking too quickly
  • Find appropriate places to pause and ask the person or group, “Does all of what I’m communicating make sense?”
  • Encourage and allow the person or group to ask questions should something not make sense (even if that means pausing the conversation momentarily)

Once you have communicated all of this information to the person/group, take some extra time to have them communicate the information back to you. This is a great way to make sure they were listening and also keeps them engaged, especially when stakes are high (such as when deadlines have to be met, when reputation is on the line, or any type of sensitive situation is taking place). Below is an example of something I would say:

“I appreciate your time this afternoon. Now that we’ve gone through expectations together, I wanted to make sure I was clear and we are all on the same page. Would you mind communicating back to me the expectations that I have laid out to the best of your ability?”

Once you feel the person/group has taken in all of the information you have provided them and processed it, be sure to ask if they feel comfortable/confident living up to or exceeding those expectations. For example, I would say:

"That is exactly what I had in mind. Thank you for communicating that back to me. Based on what I have communicated today, do you feel like these are expectations you feel comfortable meeting or exceeding?"

Once you have a sense of whether or not the person/group feels confident they can meet or exceed expectations, don’t hesitate to get a commitment from them. Getting a commitment makes it real for most people. Once it becomes real, the person feels both a moral and professional obligation to live up to those expectations. I would conclude by saying:

“That’s great to hear! We are proud to have you on our team. Can I get a commitment that you will work towards meeting or exceeding these expectations over the coming 60-90 days?”

It is VERY, VERY IMPORTANT that with any verbal/written agreement between people, you must also leave room for flexibility. Any time you are too rigid, it puts people off or makes them feel like they can’t bring challenges, mistakes, or missed targets up to you in instances when they can’t meet expectations. That damages the communication and relationship between individuals/groups of people. 

“I want to be very clear that although these are the expectations we have for you right now, I also expect things to change because I know that nobody is perfect. What is more valuable to me than meeting expectations is ensuring that we maintain an open line of communication, so that in instances when expectations change or you're struggling to meet expectations, we can openly discuss it together and figure out a way to ensure your success here. How does that sound?”

At the end of every such conversation, I want to ensure the person/group feels good about the meeting we had and feels like they have clarity, direction, and an open channel of communication to feedback on how they are doing moving forward. I will then find a way to talk about something a bit more light-hearted and loosen up the tone of the conversation. A great way to do this is to tell them something personal about yourself and then ask them something personal about themselves.

"Really appreciate you making time to have this discussion with me. Do you have any fun plans for this weekend? <PAUSE AND LISTEN.> Oh that sounds like fun. My wife and I are planning a trip to the mountains later this month to go fishing and get some fresh air. I can’t wait!”

Reviewing expectations (goals)

A great way to review expectations with people at your organization is to set-up a line manager meeting with them. This is an opportunity for each individual within the company to sit down in a one-on-one environment to discuss performance, personal goals, as well as struggles at work. Also set-up quarterly reviews to make sure that each individual is on track for meeting or exceeding agreed upon expectations (goals). Both types of reviews provide multiple touch points throughout the year to ensure things are on track and in areas where something is lacking, defining solutions to get back on track or reset expectations.

Scaling communication: what happens as offices get bigger and/or open up in multiple locations?

As companies grow and expand into new territories, communication, knowledge sharing, and time for one-on-one chats become more challenging to execute effectively.

Image Courtesy of SpaceToday

Make it easy
Many organizations invest into tools such as BaseCamp, Yammer, or Chatter (if you are a sales driven organization). At Distilled, we have selected the Google ecosystem as our preferred method of centralized communication. Between Gmail for email, internal Google+ for social communication, Google Hangout for video chats, Google Chat for quick back and forth conversations, and Google Docs for collaborative efforts, it has proven to be a great way to keep in touch and keep and stay informed no matter where we work or how busy the work schedule.
Example of how Distilled uses Google+ internally (to promote good work from employees)
+Michael has done an incredible job at creating value for his clients. I received a phone call today from Client A and they mentioned how helpful, forward thinking, and valuable his recommendations have been. I just wanted to flag it up to the company on how awesome this was. Keep up the great work +Michael.
Example of how Distilled uses Google+ internally (to crowd source ideas)
I was looking at examples of social campaigns on Pinterest that have done well over the past 90 days. I found an interesting article about the demographics on Pinterest (insert link), great examples of content that have done well (insert link), and the providers that created the pieces (insert providers). It would be great to get everyone's feedback on social campaigns that have inspired them. 
Google Hangout (video chat)
For conversations that are too complex for chats and email or require quick turnaround times/iterative feedback, I find picking up a phone or even better, using a platform like Google Hangout to video chat can be an effective platform for communication.
Creating office hours
It’s important to keep an open door policy and make yourself accessible to others within the organization, even if that means an open “digital” door policy. By creating office hours, you budget in time each week to have scheduled meetings/discussions with anybody who needs some of your time. This can be a great way to stay approachable, no matter your location or your schedule.
Ways to make office hours time efficient and effective:
  • Create 20 minute windows of time for each meeting (with the ability to request more time if needed)
  • Have the person requesting the meeting send over an agenda prior to the meeting
  • E-Mail any information or specifics over to the person should they need to do any preliminary reading or research

Keep it simple
I find keeping things simple is not always as easy as one might think, especially when communicating via text (email, chat, social, etc.).  It's important to ensure that the message doesn’t get misrepresented and that the person receiving the communication has all of the context he/she needs to stay informed. The trick is being able to identify what the most critical bits of information that need to be conveyed are for the message to make sense while staying focused and succinct
Start off by prefacing the most important part of the email with a to the point message. At Distilled, we use TL;DR, which stands for "too long; didn’t read." After TL;DR, put the point of the email in a one or two sentence snippet, so that even if the person doesn’t have time to read the entire email, they understand the important takeaways of the message
Keeping E-Mails Simple using TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)


TL;DR: We are hiring for a new position; I need someone to own this and would like to see if you are up for the task.
We have recently seen the amount of retained clients go up significantly within the past 12 months and would like to continue to grow each office by a rate of 30% per year. In order to accomplish this, we need to hire 4 more consultants over the next 6 months. We noticed you referred our company 2 out of the last 4 people we have hired and would like to see if you’d be interested in reducing consulting work in order to focus more of your time on recruiting. If this is something you'd like to be a part of, let’s catch up early morning Friday. Thanks in advance and speak soon!

Keeping a pulse on your organization

As organizations grow, mature, and age, it’s important to keep a hand on the pulse of your company and its ever changing needs. Find ways to figure out what your organization needs in order to be successful and invest in infrastructure. So many organizations depend on people in order to solve problems and as a result, it's crucial to find solutions that connect people, create engagement amongst teams, and facilitate learning.

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