5 Steps to SEO Project Management Bliss
In this article, I’ll provide five SEO project management tips that we’ve found indispensable to client success. You can use these too to help make sure your SEO projects go smoothly.
- Have a repeatable process.
- Set expectations.
- Educate stakeholders.
- Manage the project.
- Report progress.
1. Have a Repeatable Process
First, make sure that you are clear on your service offerings and approach, and how you are going to carry out the work. That way, you aren’t reinventing the wheel every time you sign a new client or start a new SEO project.
To be clear, I’m not saying that your deliverables should be cookie cutter for each client or SEO project. But you need to have a framework for how you approach the work.
For example, your project template might include: Step 1: kickoff call, Step 2: research, Step 3: SEO audit, and so on. This is a huge time saver that also ensures tasks don’t get missed.
Pro tip: There will always be some tasks within the scope of an SEO project that are repeatable. Anything that you use again and again, create a template for and/or automate to save time.
For example, we have skeleton templates that we can run to set up various types of SEO projects in our project management software (we use Basecamp). Each contains dozens of steps with time-based to-dos that typically don’t change from client to client. Then we customize the rest.
2. Set Expectations
One of the main reasons projects go awry is that expectations were not set from the get-go. Whenever you start a new SEO project or sign a new client, have a kickoff call where you do this.
On the kickoff call, you might cover a variety of things that will ensure everyone understands the scope of the engagement, their roles and any other details that are helpful.
If you are signing a new client, this is a good time to go over the contract verbally (even if they signed it and supposedly read it ahead of time). That way, there is no room for confusion.
You will also want to share when and how you will communicate about the project. If you are flexible, you can defer to the types of communication that stakeholders prefer, for example, email versus phone calls. Then, set a schedule for your regular touch-base communications.
And even though you may have already discussed in the past what stakeholders want out of the project, it’s important to dig deeper on the kickoff call. What are their expectations? How will you measure success?
On this call, it might be appropriate to also dig deeper into the questions you have that will impact the SEO project. If the kickoff call is getting too long, be sure to set up another time to interview stakeholders to get what you need.
3. Educate Stakeholders
SEO is one of those things that sounds like a different language if a person has little to no experience with it. If people don’t see the value in what you are doing, projects can go wrong — and fast.
That’s why at every opportunity, you should educate stakeholders. Explain in layman’s terms how the work you are proposing or the work you are doing is going to benefit them. Support your recommendations with search engine guidance.
Remember, different stakeholders have competing priorities. So you need to change the content of your discussions based on your audience (the marketing team versus the CEO, for example). But we firmly believe an SEO consultant needs to educate their client for best results.
How you decide to execute the education piece is up to you. For example, here at Bruce Clay Inc. all our SEO consulting clients go through our SEO training. And we also use every opportunity to educate along the way, for instance, in our SEO audits, on our calls and so on.
4. Manage the Project
Depending on your business or company, project management may look different. It might just be you running the show, or you might be collaborating with others and sharing the load.
Whoever’s doing it, make sure you are implementing good time management processes so that you deliver on time, and tracking milestones along the way.
If you are collaborating with others to get the job done, have regular team check-ins to make sure the project is going as planned. If not, you will need to course-correct.
It’s a good idea to use the right collaboration tools to keep things running smoothly. For example, you might use a tool like Basecamp or Trello to keep all the details and files of the project in one place. You might supplement that with Slack to send quick messages to others about the project.
If you are managing a team, make sure you all come together on a regular basis to share what you’ve done and learned with one another.
Remember that every person has a different personality, set of skills and things they bring to the table. So you are not only managing tasks, you are managing people. And that takes good relationship skills, too.
For more, see 5 Powerful Soft Skills That Every SEO Should Have.
5. Report Progress
Earlier I talked about setting calls at regular intervals to discuss the project. These monthly-ish calls are usually a time to discuss outstanding tasks, share any obstacles (we call them “stucks”), exchange ideas about the project and ask questions. You can talk about progress on those calls, too.
Regardless, you want to establish a framework for when and how you will report on progress. For example, at the end of every month and quarter, you might deliver reports that show the progress on the project and any wins. Then you can go over those in your regularly scheduled Zoom call.
Then, at the end of the project, you could create a more in-depth presentation that shows what you’ve accomplished. Whatever reporting method you choose, be sure to communicate to stakeholders that they can expect reporting and when.
Reporting not only shows the numbers, but also helps keep the momentum of the project going and keeps people excited about the SEO work.
SEO Project Management Is Worth Mastering
You bring a lot to the table when it comes to your actual core SEO skills. But even top experts can fail at SEO projects when they don’t have a process, when expectations aren’t set or when the project isn’t managed well.
Taking the steps outlined in this article can help you keep your SEO projects from turning into hot messes. For more, read The 3 Reasons an SEO Project Fails and How to Turn It Around.
Let us know if you need help with your SEO project! Contact us today for a free quote and consultation.