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An SEO Should Know How To Handle SEO Projects.

It was the last day of MozCon 2012, and what a ride it’s been. Thursday we heard from another round of great presenters and Friday’s lineup was just as awesome. Here’s a recap on Alyeda Solis (@aleyda) presentation on different scenarios (episodes) to help us effectively handle SEO project management.

Episode I – The SEO Client Who Always Complains

Have you ever had a client that isn’t happy with anything that’s happening in the SEO campaign, regardless of the results? Have you ever been subject to a constant barrage of complaints about link building, results, content, strategy, rankings and ROI? So what can we do to improve the communication and turn dissatisfied clients into satisfied ones? In her presentation, Alyeda tells us to first assess the SEO process and focus on giving realistic expectations at the beginning of any SEO campaign.

During your first initial meetings with the client, it’s important we meet all the stakeholders, decision makers, marketing team, product team, analytics team, social media team and anyone else that’s going to be involved in the SEO campaign. We need to determine their goals and objectives and how they believe SEO can help to achieve them. Having these answers will help us to define campaign strategy and objectives.

So what else? We need to agree with clients on the necessary resources and timings at the start of every campaign. Have you ever been in the position where a client has agreed to implement all on-page optimizations only to realize months into a campaign that most of it is beyond their capabilities and they feel it’s now your responsibility? Alyeda tells us that we need to be able to say to a client that a ROI could take a given amount of time depending on how quickly our recommendations are implemented. Campaign success is a team effort and most likely will require action items for the client. Alyeda also tells us that it’s vital to discuss the following with everyone involved in the campaign:

  • Explain the possible risks and restrictions of the SEO process and explain this to the client. Analyze and discuss these risks from a business and technical perspective. The biggest risk to a client can be not realizing an ROI within an expected or given time frame.
  • Establish smarter goals that all the involved parties validate and ones that you can always refer to. Alyeda tells us to focus on specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time based, ethical, recordable and achievable goals.
  • Define communication channels and workflow. Let the client know they will be hearing from you in follow-ups, recurring meetings and phone calls which will provide valuable opportunities to provide updates and feedback.

Aleyda offers the following tips for enhancing the SEO project assessment to make sure a campaign runs smoothly and on schedule:

  • Develop a qualification checklist and survey to use with each client at the beginning and save it!
  • Wait to accept the SEO project until the client is really ready to begin and all resources are in place. Potential setbacks could include not having a developer, copywriter or campaign manager on the client’s end.
  • Talk in the same language (voice, messaging) as the client. Understand the space and the brand.
  • Meet, talk and work from your client’s offices whenever possible to communicate directly. Educating all parties involved can help remove bottlenecks and help make processes more efficient.

Episode II – The Developer Who Made Mistakes

Did the developer not implement the canonicals correctly? Are the recommended redirects 302s instead of 301s? We’ve all experienced similar issues and understand this can be a huge bottleneck. So what can we do to make sure our recommendations are implemented? Alyeda recommends the following to enhance development performance:

  1. Developers should include SEO implementation as part of their work objectives
  2. Provide feedback to developers about SEO results and achievement to get them involved
  3. Use tools to facilitate workflow, communication and coordination internally and externally
  4. Ask for early tests to check before starting a project. See if a developer can start with one or a few pages. Check the work and if all looks good give the green light for site-wide implementation

Alyeda also suggests the following actionable items we can implement to ensure that everyone involved has access to the correct resources and tools available for a successful campaign:

  • Specify roles and responsibilities for each one of the client’s team members.
  • Record trainings and webinars and show them to any new team member who starts during a campaign.
  • Conduct SEO trainings for each one of the silos involved: SEO for developers, content, writers, link builders, social media, etc.
  • Share checklists, Q+A and cheat sheets to act as resources for any new development projects.
  • Create short, straight to the point, SEO recommendations that are focused on each area.
  • Make sure all SEO recommendations are easily accessible to all involved parties all the time.

Episode III – The SEO Process With No Control

So what happens when something does go wrong in a campaign? Are we keeping careful notes and documentation to help us identify an issue and quickly come up with a solution? Do we have accurate records of all on-page implementation and link building efforts? For our SEO updates, are we focusing on a specific set of elements each time – it’s faster to advance and easier to control effects and identify possible issues if you have been.

Alyeda tells us that having this documentation at our fingertips will help us be agile in our response and recommends the following:

  • Document all SEO related activities from strategy to implementation.
  • Provide examples along with your SEO recommendations that include screenshots or mockups for each scenario to avoid ambiguity. Visual examples can go a long way.
  • Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Develop an SEO reporting system that is consistent with KPIs for every stage of the process that is sent out monthly. Make sure to provide context for all KPIs
  • Automate SEO reporting and tracking
  • Don’t use agile only for technical optimization but also for content optimization and link building.

As SEOs we should know how to handle SEO project management. It’s important to remember that an SEO project is ultimately about the people, and the people are the key. Make sure you understand and connect with the people in the organization to ensure a successful SEO campaign.