The relationship between SEO and project management is riddled with small, repeating tasks, which simply need to be monitored, and top-level strategy revisions on the fly. When conducting SEO project management it is important to understand the intent behind these tasks and approach prioritization with a systemized process.
SEO is a “process of accumulation” where SEO companies are expected to do 4 things:
While some of these things do have a definite end, many of them fall into monthly, iterative tasks that need to be monitored for accuracy and optimization. With this iterative approach in mind, it is only natural to look to the processes web developers utilize. It has become common practice for web development teams to utilize Agile & Scrum Methodologies. These practices call for short “sprints” in 2-4 week periods depending on internal processes and execution. This translates to SEO project management if you view months as sprints. We have even tested out using half month sprints internally, with the first half of the month as the planning and reach out phase and the second half of the month being devoted to buttoning up the outstanding tasks such as link building and content optimization. We here at Firestarter SEO have found breaking these projects/tasks/sprints down into small pieces allows us to be much more intentional and focused rather than scrambling to tie up loose ends as the end of the month comes around.
Many times we hear clients who have previous SEO experience say they “felt like there was not much communication” or that there was “no real substance to the strategy”. With so much of the SEO world being some sort of mysterious cloud sitting over a business owner, this is an important gap to bridge. Monthly SEO packages can have a massive impact on the traffic, and leads, a business is able to acquire. Communicating what we are doing as an SEO firm is one of the most important and most difficult tasks we try to accomplish.
The other day I had someone on the phone discussing current happenings and strategy items. We were specifically talking about improving his site speed. One of his first questions when I brought up the minification of CSS, was “What is CSS?” Where do I even start? There are entire university courses related to CSS with everything from functionality to best practices. As a previous developer myself, my mind went to the moon with possibilities in the discussion. I attempted to break it down to something understandable and the client immediately said “Thanks for clarifying, this makes much more sense.” That is where it really clicked to me. The most important thing we can do in regards to client communication is break down complex tasks and explain them efficiently and with ease of understanding. It is important for anyone to understand where their money is going. This is especially important in the business world. We are collectively looking constantly at items like cost-per-acquisition, bottom line, and so on. Much of the style of communication falls down to the same way we have found success in our internal communication.
Clear and deliberate communication is the staple of internal SEO project management. Instead of someone saying “Can you please go in and clean up the technical errors on this site”, we make it a point to set up successful execution by saying something more along the lines of “This client has 74 technical errors currently. 10 of them are crawl errors that need to be remedied immediately. There are 7 redirect errors that are redirecting to dead pages. The ten crawl errors can be fixed by doing ________________ and the 7 redirect errors need to be changed to go to live pages. Let me know if you have any questions or need clarification. Please have this task completed by the end of the week and let me know if you see any reason that will not happen.”
As you can see, the difference between the two is astronomical and sets the project up for success from inception. The main focus is to align expectations related to the task at hand. Instead of giving general direction and allowing free reign for fixes, we clearly delineate what we are looking for, how to fix it, and when it should be done. Setting clear expectations from the start and refusing to assume a task will be completed to our liking has pushed our services to another level.
Imagine the alternative for a second: Your assignee has a different idea in mind for solving a problem, so he enacts his thought process and solution, which is where the branch from the project manager’s expectations take place. Before any work has commenced, we are already on the wrong foot and will end up with results different from expectations. The project manager would then have to go and basically explain exactly as exemplified above to remedy the situation, taking more time from their day and wasting the employee’s time. Clear and deliberate communication in SEO project management is where expectations can be set and the possibility of assumptions can be mitigated greatly.
This is certainly not the ideal position to be in and much of the situation could have been avoided with clear and concise communication.
SEO PROJECT MANAGEMENT: THE JUICE IS WORTH THE SQUEEZE
Collectively, we know there is no catch-all to success for SEO. Much of what we do as an SEO company is behind the scenes, technical, mundane, tedious, so on and so forth. It is up to your project manager or client relations specialist to understand complex topics and have the ability to break these tasks down into something bite-size and understandable for a client. It is equally important for a project manager to have the ability to clearly articulate the desires and expectations of a successful outcome. With a good combination of highly efficient processes and clear and deliberate communication, internally as well as with the client, you are laying the foundation for a successful and productive SEO campaign.
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