An SEO campaign may consist of many different components, including technical audits, keyword research, blogger outreach, content creation, and local SEO tactics. Each of these components must be carefully managed from concept to completion. But with so many moving parts, it can be very difficult to keep track of everything.
SEO is complex by nature, so you can’t simplify your campaigns just to make them easier to manage. Take an SEO project management approach to your campaigns instead. SEO project management is the practice of successfully planning, coordinating, and implementing SEO campaigns. How can you take this approach to your work? Here’s how to manage SEO projects:
Understand the Basic Project Management Principles
You must understand the basic principles of project management so you can apply them to your SEO campaigns. The main principles of project management are:
- Clear vision: Every project should have a clear vision, and everyone involved in the management of a project should understand this vision. Defining this vision helps your team see the big picture and understand what goals they are working toward.
- Measurable objectives: Defining specific, measurable objectives can help you keep your projects on track.
- Processes: Develop processes that can be used to complete many different SEO projects. Make sure you clearly define each of the different steps involved in the process. These processes should be scalable and based on repeatable tactics, tasks, workflows, or templates.
- Measurement: The only way to determine if a project was successful is to measure its results, which is why measurement is so important to effective project management. Before you begin, you must decide how and when you will measure your results.
- Communication: You cannot successfully manage a project without communication. An effective project manager must be able to clearly communicate their plans to all of the different parties involved in the project. Throughout the process, the project manager must continue to communicate with each of these parties to ensure everything remains on track.
Keep these basic principles in mind as you manage your SEO projects.
Communicate With the Client Early and Often
Communication is one of the keys to successful SEO project management. Communicating with your team is important, but communicating with the client is also crucial to your project’s success.
You should kick off every SEO project with a conversation with the client. During this conversation, make sure you understand your client’s goals and expectations. You may want to ask these questions:
- What metrics do you care about the most?
- What are your short-term and long-term SEO goals?
- How soon do you expect to see results?
- Do you want updates on the status of your campaign? How often would you like to receive these updates? How detailed should the updates be?
Asking these questions will help you understand what your client is thinking. It also gives you an opportunity to address unrealistic expectations.
For example, say your client has a very small budget and expects to see results within a week. Based on your SEO knowledge, you know that meeting this expectation is very unlikely. If you don’t address this unrealistic expectation now, you are setting your client up for disappointment. Explain why this outcome isn’t likely and help your client understand what they should realistically expect with their budget and time constraints.
You should also take the time to explain the tactics you will use to help your client reach their goals. Some clients want to get into the nitty gritty of how each tactic works, whereas others just want a general overview of what to expect. Ask your client what they prefer.
After this initial conversation, check in with your client on a regular basis. If one tactic is working and one isn’t, talk to your client about adjusting their budget to allocate more resources toward the successful tactic. Having these conversations ensures everyone is on the same page regarding the SEO campaign.
Set Goals and Objectives
You should have discussed your client’s goals with them during your SEO campaign kickoff conversation. Now, take the time to clearly define your goals and objectives for the project.
Many people use the terms “goals” and “objectives” interchangeably, but they refer to two different things. A goal is a specific result you want to achieve by implementing your SEO strategy. The result should be broadly defined and long-term. Some examples of goals for SEO campaigns might include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Establish authority and expertise in a specific field
- Generate online sales
- Improve the brand’s reputation
Objectives, on the other hand, are specific, measurable actions that need to occur to reach your goals. Some examples of objectives for SEO campaigns include:
- Increase organic traffic to the website by X%
- Increase conversions on the website by X%
- Acquire X new backlinks from credible, authoritative websites
- Secure the X ranking in the search results for primary keywords
- Increase the number of pages that generate traffic by X%.
- Increase the average user session time by X%.
- Decrease the bounce rate by X%.
- Increase the number of pages in Google SERPs by X%.
- Generate X new leads per month.
Let these objectives guide your SEO strategy. For example, say your main objective is to secure the top search results ranking for a primary keyword. In this case, your SEO strategy may center largely around publishing optimized content with this target keyword.
Determine Your Resource Requirements
At this point, you should clearly understand what goals your SEO campaign needs to achieve for your client. Now, it’s time to figure out what you need to reach these goals.
Obviously, one of the most important resources is the project’s budget. The size of the budget will determine the scope of the project. Once you know your client’s budget, provide them with an outline that explains how their money will be used. You may also want to provide them with an outline that shows how much more they will be able to accomplish with a higher budget.
Money isn’t the only resource that is important to an SEO campaign. Human resources are crucial to your campaign’s success. If you are a project manager, you may be responsible for overseeing the campaign, but chances are you aren’t the only one doing the work.
Depending on the size of the project, you may need to hire additional freelancers or full-time team members to handle the work. If this is the case, start searching for people right away so you have plenty of time to get them up to speed.
Break Projects Down Into Tasks
The next step is breaking down each of your SEO projects into smaller tasks. Doing this will help you understand what work needs to be done to complete each project, achieve your objectives, and meet your goals. Breaking down a project into smaller tasks also makes it easier to keep track of so nothing falls through the cracks.
For example, say creating optimized content is one of your SEO projects. This project might break down into these smaller tasks:
- Research primary and secondary keywords
- Create an editorial calendar based around keyword research
- Generate topics
- Assign topics to writers
- Write content
- Edit content
- Add images and internal links
- Get client approval
- Publish content
Determine the order the tasks must be completed. For instance, you can’t edit content before it has been written, which means the “write content” task must be completed before the “edit content” task.
Now, set deadlines for each of these tasks. One of the best ways to do this is to work backwards from the entire project’s deadline. For example, it doesn’t take long to publish content once it’s been approved, so the deadline for client approval could be one or two days before the entire project’s deadline.
But some clients take a long time to approve their content, so you want to get everything ready to send to them about a week ahead of time. This means the deadline for the previous task, adding images and internal links, should be about one week before the client approval deadline. Continue to work backwards like this until you have set deadlines for every task involved in the project.
As a project manager, it is your responsibility to delegate tasks. Although this might seem easy, it’s actually one of the most challenging parts of effective project management.
Don’t just assign tasks to your team members at random. You should delegate tasks to team members based on their availability and areas of expertise.
It’s best to start this process by checking in on each team member’s current workload. By now, you should know the deadlines for the tasks involved in the SEO project. If one of your team members already has a heavy workload around this deadline, cross their name off of the list.
Next, consider your team member’s areas of expertise. In the example from above, the writing tasks should obviously go to writers just like the editing tasks should obviously go to editors. But every writer and editor is unique. One writer might be better at writing white papers whereas another might excel at checklists and how-to guides.
Consider the topic, too. If one of your writers has years of experience in the health and fitness industry, you may want to assign all health and fitness topics to them.
Delegating wisely takes longer than assigning tasks at random, but it ensures that the right person is on the job for every task involved in the SEO project.
Use SEO Project Management Tools
There are a number of tools that are designed to help SEO project managers plan, coordinate, and implement SEO strategies. Using these tools will make the entire process of managing your SEO campaigns far easier.
Some tools are used to perform specific SEO tasks. For example, you can use SEMRush, Moz, and Google Search Console to perform keyword research to inform your SEO strategy. If your strategy involves identifying and fixing issues on your client’s website, you can use SEOlyzer or Ahrefs to perform a technical SEO audit.
There are also project management tools designed specifically for SEO campaigns. Gryffin was built by digital marketers for digital marketers, so it has all of the features you need to streamline your SEO efforts, including:
- Customizable templates
- Build-your-own editorial calendars
- Workflow automation
- SEO reporting
- Detailed analytics
- Easy-to-read dashboards
You can use Gryffin to plan, implement, and manage every aspect of your SEO campaign, including content creation, link building, blogger outreach, and more.
Gryffin also makes it easy to keep track of all of your SEO tasks. Log in and see the status of every task involved in your SEO campaign so you can ensure everything is on track to meet tight deadlines.
Gryffin houses all of your SEO work, all in one place. This way, you can spend less time managing your work and more time on the work itself.
Measure Your Results
An SEO project manager’s work is never done–even when the project itself is complete. Why? You need to monitor the results of your SEO campaigns on a regular basis. This is important for several reasons. First, it helps you show the client how your services have benefitted their company. Sharing results helps the client understand why they should continue to invest in SEO.
Measuring your results is also important because it allows you to see what’s working and what’s not. The world of SEO is unpredictable, so even if a strategy has worked in the past, it may no longer be effective. Monitoring your results will help you quickly recognize when something isn’t working so you can adjust your budget and strategy accordingly.
On the flip side, monitoring your results will also help you identify when something is working better than expected. This way, you can allocate more resources to this tactic to maximize your results.
You also need to measure your results to determine if you met your objectives. For example, say your objective was to increase traffic by 10%. You will need to compare pre-campaign and post-campaign results to see if traffic increased, and if so, by what percentage. If it was more than a 10% increase, you can proudly say you achieved this objective.
Meeting these pre-defined objectives is a sign that your SEO campaign, and your project management efforts, was a success.