Seven Quick Steps to Effective SEO Project Management
The competition for winning Google’s heart is fierce.
More and more companies are investing in search engine optimization (SEO). And there is a good reason why. In fact, research shows that in 93 percent of cases, people start their online experiences with a search engine. Obviously, if companies manage to please Google, they boost their online presence and increase their profits.
If you’re searching for helpful tips to carry out a successful SEO campaign, most probably your first question is: “How do I manage SEO projects so that I can beat my competitors more easily?”
The answer is straightforward: you should incorporate project management techniques into the execution of your SEO campaigns. By doing so, you complete projects faster and achieve results with higher precision and efficiency.
What is SEO project management?
SEO project management is the planning, coordination, and monitoring of any project related to SEO.
The use of project management in SEO may not be self-evident, but project management is a large and crucial part of effective SEO campaigns.
With so much happening simultaneously, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Just think about it. You need to connect teams and maintain full visibility across all aspects of the project while at the same time being crammed with minor tasks.
When you have project management for SEO, you bring much-needed structure and organization into your day-to-day activities.
Fine-tuning the processes enables your team to work within a set scope and access resources in a systematized way. This ensures proper management of your search engine optimization efforts and maximizes the results.
In a nutshell, project management for SEO means that you and your team can prioritize effectively, communicate better, and take the project to its successful completion.
What does an SEO project entail?
In essence, SEO entails three main tasks:
- Handling the technical side of the website
- Creating content
- Acquiring links
On the more detailed side of it, an SEO project encompasses several crucial tasks: content strategy, keyword research, content creation, link-building, content optimization, strategic outreach for backlink opportunities, competitive analysis, and more. Beyond that, you need to take care of website analysis, technical audit, technical SEO, UX design, etc. In other words, your SEO campaign covers all of the different factors that boost your online presence in search engine rankings.
The role of the project manager in SEO project management
It’s the SEO project manager’s responsibility to oversee the entire process of implementing SEO efforts. They should have the skills to set clear goals, assign tasks correctly, and keep the communication flowing across teams and departments.
Deep technical knowledge in SEO is desirable but not mandatory given that the project manager is aware of the SEO best practices and can monitor the process effectively. They should see the bigger picture of the project and ensure teams can focus on their specific tasks. Knowledge and skills in using SEO tools and project management software are also essential.
Knowing how to manage SEO projects means mastering the art of communication and prioritization. Effective project management keeps all relevant stakeholders in the know and identifies the top priority tasks at the moment.
Who else is involved in SEO project management?
It’s your SEO team who shoulders the responsibility of overseeing SEO projects. But they aren’t the only ones involved. Depending on the project requirements, you’ll most probably have to engage the marketing and web development teams as well. These teams don’t and shouldn’t work in isolation; completing the simplest task may require their orchestrated effort. For example, if a website redesign causes technical issues, it’ll hinder any further marketing or SEO efforts.
With so many stakeholders involved, how to manage SEO projects effectively?
How to manage SEO projects like a pro
Step 1: Set your goals
We wish we could have it done all at once. But the path to staggering success isn’t an easy one, and it starts with setting actionable goals.
Outline your targets and then develop an SEO strategy that’ll help you get there. The targets should be broken down into tasks and subtasks. Start by answering the questions below:
- What’s the number of site visitors you expect per month?
- When do you anticipate seeing the first results?
- Which keywords do you aim to rank for on Google (or other platforms)?
- How do you define a ‘good’ conversion rate (i.e., how many people should make a purchase after visiting your website)?
- How many backlinks do you want to secure by the end of the quarter/year?
- Do you have existing blog posts you want to boost traffic for? By what percentage?
The list, of course, may go on, but the takeaway is that you should set measurable metrics to give you a clear vision in your SEO project management. Beyond everything, this will ease the process of tracking and reporting later on.
Furthermore, you may also want to answer the question: how do these metrics align with my business priorities or the client’s requirements?
Some of your priorities might be: attracting more leads, building a strong online reputation, acquiring repeat visitors, or increasing brand awareness. Always ask yourself how to manage SEO projects so that today’s task brings you closer to achieving the bigger objectives.
At this point, you can already design the tactics that’ll help you walk towards your end goal. Some of those tactics could be:
- Optimizing and restructuring the already published content,
- Using strategically chosen keywords that are focused on one specific aspect (for example, to yield conversions),
- Simplifying the website and making it user-friendly,
- Redesigning the entire website (on the backend, this means optimizing and cleaning up HTML and CSS codes),
- Focusing on a link-building campaign.
Step 2: Bring in the right tools
Gone are the days of scattered spreadsheets and project management via email alone. Acquiring the right tools to pull off the SEO project can take a lot of stress out of your coordinating efforts.
SEO tools will open the doors to valuable data, help you build your linking strategies (both internal and external), collect information about broken pages, etc. And, by the way, when it comes to bragging about the hard-earned results, you can use the insights those tools have provided to show evidence for your work.
But how do you choose the right SEO tools? What are some of the criteria you should consider?
Keep in mind that there are no good or bad tools. It all depends on the type and size of your project and what specific needs your project has. Do your own research to find the perfect fit. Here are a few aspects you should look into when evaluating SEO project tools:
- Having an intuitive and user-friendly design.
- Offering custom workflows. These workflows can automatically assign a team member based on the task’s status.
- Giving an option for various permissions. Stakeholders may want to keep an eye on the project without active participation in it. A platform with different permission levels should be quite handy in this case.
- Offering file storage and organization. Make sure the tool allows you not only to collect information (which you’ll do intensively), but also to categorize and store them in an easy-to-access format.
Step 3: Specify roles and responsibilities
It’s time to figure out how to distribute tasks.
Part of being a successful SEO project manager is keeping all stakeholders in the loop and distributing tasks smartly. Your marketing team, outreach managers, IT specialists – everyone should have clearly defined responsibilities. You may even need to engage your legal team to ensure no efforts backfire because of compliance issues.
Train and educate everyone about SEO. Let them know what SEO is and is not so that your team can communicate more effectively with the clients and customers. For example, you might want to make it clear that SEO is a long-term competition. You don’t want to complete a single sprint; you aim to win the marathon.
Step 4: Communicate early and often
Seamless internal communication is key to SEO project management. Be open and cooperative. Your team members should have open channels to ask questions, request information, and share feedback. You’re never guaranteed from unexpected issues. You can, therefore, set up 10-minute daily meetings to discuss tasks and make sure everyone is on track.
Good communication is also the best way to understand what your stakeholders want. If you’re doing an SEO project for your client, you should also have processes to check, fix or revise something upon the client’s request. It’s helpful to ask them (and do it upfront) what their communication preferences are. The more specific the communication process, the smoother the project will run.
Step 5: Validate before launching
Take this scenario. Closer to the end of the SEO project, you or your client aren’t sure about the effects of SEO changes and need more input to move on. How do you proceed from here?
Not to mess it up, set up a validation process. Ask for early tests before proceeding to launch. You can also run a pilot project on one area of the website to test and confirm the effectiveness of the campaign.
For a seamless validation process in SEO project management, share checklists, Q&A, and cheat sheets to facilitate the approval of any new development. It’s also helpful to create short, to-the-point recommendations targeting a specific team or a single aspect of the campaign. Remember that no one reads long pages; create something that your people can read and implement.
For instance, you may decide to share a word document with your content writers, detailing the dos and don’ts of what you’re looking for in the final blog post. Anything related to the style and voice of writing, usage of internal and external links, certain things you want the writers to avoid or concentrate on should go into this document.
Step 6: Measure and report the results
Did your SEO strategy work?
To answer this question, you’ll need to collect information that’s accurate, valuable, and easy to understand. Some of the things you should keep an eye on are: monitoring organic traffic, tracking indexed pages, checking conversions, reviewing ROI, and assessing your rankings on SERPs.
The data will also pinpoint the areas for improvement. Once you’ve analyzed the performance of the SEO plan, you’ll be able to make adjustments to improve results and processes. By the way, it’s not only about discovering what went wrong; something can perform better than expected! That’s also something you should take into account and explore further.
Those who have years of expertise in how to manage SEO projects will attest that proper reporting also creates a sense of accountability and enables you to provide recognition and rewards whenever possible.
Step 7: Collect constant feedback
Even after the project is finished, you’re not done. SEO simply never stops. It’s evolving, thus urging you to constantly refine and revise your strategies.
To make matters worse, Google seems to be constantly busy launching new changes and updating its tactics for ranking content. Marketers and business owners have no other choice but to adapt. To stay on top of these revisions, make sure you have the latest information about the fundamentals of content creation, technical SEO updates, strategies for acquiring backlinks, and much more.
Challenges in SEO project management
Even if you’re equipped with skills, knowledge, and expertise to properly follow all of the above-mentioned steps, case studies indicate that sooner or later, you’re going to face issues. Read on to be informed about potential hurdles on the path to SEO project completion.
1. Creative (and unmanageable) team members
The content your team creates for SEO campaigns should be unique and creative. Yes, unique and creative. But these are also the qualities of the team who produces the content! Wait. Is it a boon or a bane?
Does your arts and design team respect deadlines? How do you persuade your designers and writers that creativity should go hand in hand with discipline?
The solution: First and foremost, you should have the timeline approved beforehand and make sure everyone follows the set deadlines. Despite the challenges, remember that creative workers are rare to find and are increasingly in demand. It’s smart to be patient and search for solutions to keep them motivated and engaged.
2. Rewarding team members can be difficult
One of the challenges of SEO project management is that SEO is a collective effort and requires a number of interdependent tasks for tangible results.
Therefore, sometimes it’s difficult to attribute a certain result to a certain action. This creates challenges when you want to reward certain team members for their efforts.
The solution: An effective solution is to recognize everyone’s input in the project. By doing so, you’ll create an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie.
3. Lack of knowledge about SEO
Inadequate knowledge about SEO and how it works can be quite a feat.
Aside from learning how to manage SEO projects effectively, you might also need to educate all parties about SEO.
Let’s take an example of you managing an SEO project for a client. Firstly, you should have a clear roadmap of what you can deliver in a given timeframe. For instance, it’s not possible to simply add keywords to a website and expect to immediately rank number one on Google. It’s not possible even if the client expects you to do exactly that.
Secondly, you can’t achieve reasonable results for SEO if your client doesn’t want to invest time and effort into their overall marketing strategy.
Furthermore, no one can give your client high ranking and tons of organic traffic through easy solutions. Successful SEO campaigns are, as a rule, carefully planned, meticulously executed, and thoroughly monitored. There are best practices, but no easy shortcuts in SEO.
Finally, your client should be present and take part in the process; continuous collaboration is important to achieve desirable results.
The solution: If needed, educate your clients about what SEO strategies you’ll implement and why. Clients will appreciate your thoroughness and will see that your services add value to their business. For instance, explain why you need to make an update on their website. Tell them that there is a new Google release, so you need to do an additional review. Rest assured that they’ll show gratitude for keeping them up-to-date with industry changes.
4. Lack of visibility for clients
Issues may also pop up because your team or your clients don’t have enough access to the SEO project plan, its execution, and monitoring.
The solution: Take the guesswork out of the process and keep all stakeholders informed about what you’re currently working on. Send them performance reports, quick summaries of what has been accomplished, and an outline of the next steps. By the way, that’s why it’s so important to set up an effective communication process right from the very beginning.
5. It takes time to show results
No secret that SEO is a lengthy process.
It may take 4-12 months for SEO to materialize. For high-competition keywords, the waiting time may even stretch to a few years.
The solution: Have a proper measuring and reporting system to track the progress and assess the overall efficiency of the project results. Despite the set goals, think long-term and remember that you need to win the marathon, not a single sprint.
6. Staying up-to-date on what Google wants
Google has more than 200 ranking factors against which each webpage is assessed. And these ranking factors are subject to frequent changes and refinements. One of the challenges of SEO project management is to stay up-to-speed with all of these changes and be flexible to make adjustments while the project is in progress.
The solution: Adopt a new habit. Try to stay on top of best practices in the industry. Luckily, you’ll find multiple online resources to keep at hand and consult periodically.
Managing SEO projects is not about acquiring cheap traffic.
It’s your commitment to creating an online presence that appeals to people and forces them to come back again and again. Eventually, it’s about propelling brand awareness, protecting your brand reputation, and gaining a strategic advantage in the market.
SEO project management is part of your business and marketing strategy; the more visionary and substantiated your strategy, the better your chances to make Google fall in love with you.