5 Steps to SEO Project Management Bliss

Woman in prayer stance concentrating on achieving SEO project management bliss.
When an SEO project goes awry, most of the time it’s not the actual deliverables that are the issue — it’s the way the project was managed.

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.

  1. Have a repeatable process.
  2. Set expectations.
  3. Educate stakeholders.
  4. Manage the project.
  5. 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.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (16)
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16 Replies to “5 Steps to SEO Project Management Bliss”

SEO project management entails the planning and coordination of any SEO-related project. Technical audits, content audits, keyword research, content distribution, on-page optimizations, link building, SEO for video content, and other tasks are common in SEO campaigns.

Thank you, Bruce. What has helped me stay on top of my projects as well is using project management tools such as Monday or Asana. Especially if you are working with a team.

I read this full article and like it but the most I focused on is “SEO consultant needs to educate their client for best results.

This is a great reminder that having a repeatable process is the key to profitability. Reinventing the wheel each time ends up costing unbillable hours.

Hi Bruce, thanks for the helpful article. I will definitely return to reading more.

Best blog for SEO management.

Hi Bruce, thanks for sharing this article. Good work.

a very complete article on the whole strategy. I’m bookmarking your page! It’s perfect, thank you

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).

Well i have been learning and mastering SEO for quite sometime started back in 2012, that is the key with every online business these days, its a repetitive process, but the last 2 years is quite hell for me, every 2 weeks we get snippet issues, plenty of HTML5 updates, as a part of a big company we put more and more resources in adjusting more then ever, back in 2015-2020 it was ten times easier i guess the lockdowns contributed to the way the Google Algos works these days, huge flow of new websites, a total mess for Google to try and categorize every result for the client

Thanks for the read, had some fun reading it, i wish people who teach these stuff would talk about what you’ve said in the article instead of making everything look so simple…

Have a blessed week ahead Bruce!

An “SEO project” is, by nature, something that’s going to take quite some time to bring to fruition. Adopting project management methodologies into your SEO campaigns will help set them up for success by ensuring that every task is planned in advance and completed on time.

I read this full article and like it but the most I focused on is “SEO consultant needs to educate their client for best results.”

This article is a great summary of what you need to know about SEO project management. Short and to the point. Thanks

Hi Bruce, thanks for sharing this article. Good work.

Handling multiple SEO projects simultaneously is a hideous task. Nice article!

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