11 Actionable Tips For Better SEO Project Management

11 Actionable Tips For Better SEO Project Management

Life as an SEO Manager Can Be Hectic at Times

ConductorI manage multiple projects with SEO.com’s Enterprise Search Engine Optimization team and there are times where if I didn’t stay organized and on top of the campaigns the projects would suffer.

Since becoming an SEO, I’ve learned that SEO project management is an acquired skill. In that regard, those skills are largely an amalgamation of tips, tricks and processes from other SEO managers that I know and work with.

I’d like to offer some tips on becoming a better at SEO project management:

Using a Google Docs spreadsheet is a great way to set a monthly and quarterly link building strategy. As a manager you can add keywords and mapped pages into the columns and specify which terms are priorities for the month. Since Google Docs are collaborative, your specialists can access the spreadsheet as needed.

Tracking built links is also relatively easy with a Google Docs spreadsheet and centralizing those links makes it easy to provide a report for the client.

Use a Google calendar to set deadlines for your team, track milestones and visualize the campaign strategy.

Clients need to see regular progress and reports in the form of a deliverable. Use Microsoft Word to create these deliverables and then create a PDF version to send to your contact. Keep the Word document for your records.

Keep track of rankings and Analytics metrics within an Excel spreadsheet and update those KPIs on a regular basis. Spreadsheets are also an easy tool to use for taking notes during a call with a client.

With Dropbox you can share folders and files with others on your team, which makes collaboration super easy. They offer a free basic account and more space is offered with a premium account.

“Tasks” are an integral part of any SEO campaign. Most teams have specialists dedicated to fulfilling those tasks, including follow-up with blogs for guest posts, graphics promotion and link acquisition.

Being able to track the progress of those tasks is essential because an SEO manager should know exactly where a project is at any given moment.

Trello is a free task management system that I use to track higher-level tasks and its collaboration feature makes it a flexible way to track multiple tasks across multiple projects.

Basecamp is a more robust project management system with the ability to upload and attach files to specific tasks. You can also launch discussion threads within each project and invite team members, vendors, contractors and clients to collaborate on specified projects.

Take a step back from one of your projects for a minute and analyze the project with a heat map.

Is the campaign successful overall? How are the rankings doing? How satisfied is your contact? Are you providing excellent customer service in their eyes? Are you on schedule?

These are questions you as an SEO manager should be asking on a regular basis.

Create a heat map in a Google Docs spreadsheet and track these values every week, using numbers from 1 to 3 for each question. “One” represents good, while “2” reveals the need for improvement within that area. “Three” is a “red alert” and immediate action should be taken to remedy the situation.

Be honest with the heat map and share the document with your supervisor. An accurate heat map will show you exactly where you need to apply extra pressure and allow you to better communicate with your contact.

Heat map

A survey conducted by The Center for Advanced Research at FranklinCovey revealed that 44 percent of American organizations don’t have annual goals established.

Maybe you have a set of goals, but do you constantly struggle to achieve them? Maybe they’re too large to handle.

Author and entrepreneur Lewis Howes recommends thinking small and ultimately creating super small goals. “The purpose of these smaller goals is not to get you closer to your goal, but to develop the skill of belief.  The belief that you can accomplish goals – not steps,” Howes wrote in a recent Forbes article.

In the realm of SEO project management get together with your team at the beginning of the week and come up with one small goal for each member (including yourself). At the end of the week, revisit those goals to find out if they were achieved.

The kickoff call with your client or contact is the time to hash out their expectations and goals, as well as an opportunity to communicate yours.

Set a monthly team meeting to talk about work completed the previous month, how the current tasks are being handled, and also new tasks to be handed out.

Hold a weekly meeting on Monday to set team members’ goals (as I mentioned in point #6), review the previous weeks’ work and the work that lies ahead for that week.

My team meets whenever a project or large task is completed, in a quick meeting that we call a high-5. This is usually between the specialist and the project manager or team leader and is a chance to debrief on the task.

Specialized trainings are offered as needed between SEO managers, team leaders and project managers, and are held whenever a custom task requires explanation. When someone from SEO.com attends an industry convention like Pubcon, Mozcon or SMX, we’ll gather as a company to get the information recap.

Updating your client or contact on the status of their SEO campaign is vital to the health of your relationship, as well as the health of the campaign in general. A campaign status update deliverable is the best method to communicate this information.

Dive into Google Analytics and pull out some wins. Even if the campaign isn’t going as well as you would like, there are always positives to be found.

Take screenshots of the metrics and paste them into update.

You should also include an update on keyword rankings as well as progress of the campaign’s tasks.

Finally, take a minute to communicate your action items. Specifically communicate the things you are going to do until your next campaign status update. Then explain the previous week’s action items and if you were or were not able to achieve them.

Create a few action items for your contact or client as well. Chances are  if they’re involved with the SEO process, they’re more likely to help you when you need it.

Yes, we’re SEOs who live, breathe and eat the Interwebz. There’s nothing we can’t do online, right?

Never underestimate the power of a phone call or in-person meeting.

If you have the opportunity to visit your client, tour their facility or take them out for lunch, do it! If an in-person meeting isn’t feasible then pick up the phone. Study their campaign and offer them a win. Build a relationship with them and communicate efficiently.

Having a thorough list of resources at your disposal is crucial to the success of any SEO campaign. A few of the best SEO tools include:

While not every SEO agency or in-house marketing team can afford to send their SEOs to a conference, a large number of the presentations are posted relatively quickly by those who speak. Monitor Twitter hashtags for live tweets during conferences and read blog posts from others in the industry.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment and test theories.

The single greatest way that I have developed my knowledge of search engine optimization since joining the field in 2010 was creating and maintaining my own websites.

I regularly test theories on them. Some produce positive effects and some produce negative effects on my rankings. But it’s all in the name of science. When I speak with a client, I’m confident because I not only talk the talk, but I walk the walk too. That speaks volumes.

I invite you to share your tips in the comments below.

Picture credit: A.Munich

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4 Comments

  1. Jim Zamichieli says

    Yes while SEO management is hectic, I thoroughly love the challenge of it all. Great tools to use but if you do not have one on one relationship with your clients and spend time in person or on the phone a lot of communication can be lost. I cannot stress enough about communication being a 2 way street. I do enjoy using some of these tools.

  2. David says

    Love the heat map idea — funny U can do 34 yrs at a job and there is always something to learn — thks for this one — REALLY GREAT IDEA — I have been using SEO ICE CREAM for our project management – tried base camp – but not ties closely enough to SEO for me — so helped heaps — they need to do more reporting but they got a great platform — so I am so happy to see the heat map idea — will tell the SEO ICE CREAM guys to create something like this … ha ha .. thank you Andrew – I feel great when I can actually read something and learn something NEW :)  I’m getting old in the teeth now so I love to learn new things — thank you

  3. says

    I would also recommend Workado (www.workado.com) for SEO project management. We had to build this ourselves when there wasn’t a solution out there to help us manage multiple campaigns. We can create a series of tasks for each campaign for every month and now we can easily tell which campaigns need attention and who is doing what. We’ll be in open beta here shortly if you want to give it a test run.

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