- SEO project management provides a framework to tackle enterprise-level search visibility projects with greater precision and reliability.
- Leverage technology to scale your efforts and achieve larger goals more quickly.
- There are at least 138 collaboration software packages and 105 project management/workflow solutions on the market. Which ones should you use?
- An SEO project manager must be organized, excel at clear communication, collaborate with others effectively, and think analytically about long-term organic search goals.
As an Enterprise SEO company, we work with a wide variety of clients, and sometimes we come across organizations that still manage SEO projects by email. Yikes!
When you need to coordinate different departments, people, schedules, files and communications, email simply won’t cut the mustard. You also need to consider how to manage competitive analysis, keywords and topics, site architecture and organization, content strategy, content management, technical SEO and strategic outreach.
And that’s if your SEO team is internal. When you partner with an outside company, effective SEO project management becomes even more critical. In fact, attempting enterprise search engine optimization without a roadmap is like changing your tires while driving down the highway.
To get the most out of your own team or an outside firm like us, learn the critical aspects of SEO project management.
In this post, I’ll reveal some key processes and workflow tools that will save you a great deal of time, resources, and effort. Stick with me and I’ll boost your project management capabilities from a “B-” to an “A+” by the time you’re done.
Benefits of effective SEO project management
SEO project management is a framework to tackle enterprise-level search visibility projects with greater precision and reliability. It’s about overseeing and guiding scope, team members, workflows, resources, time, and money to achieve project goals and KPIs.
In other words, your job is to man the crows nest and steer the ship at the same time.
SEO project management benefits include greater efficiency and productivity. When you implement structures, processes and protocols, you’ll achieve more in less time. Furthermore, when you manage your team well, you’ll uncover deeper insights and achieve better SEO results which boosts team morale!
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you properly manage your search engine optimization efforts, you’ll also be able to:
- Improve the likelihood of achieving your SEO goals and objectives
- Allocate resources effectively
- Stay on schedule, with deliverables going out on time, in line with the original budget
- Improve the quality of deliverables
- Automate repetitive tasks
- Automate workflows
- Maintain version control
- Improve communication among your team
- Increase visibility/transparency of tasks and progress
- Mitigate risks
- Track time
- Improve morale among team members
- Tackle the work more efficiently
- Be more productive, getting more done in less time
- Scale your efforts
- Achieve a compound effect of results
- And more…
SEO project management tools
It’s much easier to manage SEO projects when you leverage the right tools.
However, according to the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, there are at least 138 collaboration software packages and 105 project management/workflow solutions on the market. Do those numbers make your heart race?
Don’t worry. We sorted through hundreds of articles, tools, and suites of solutions to pick out the best ones for managing large-scale projects so you wouldn’t have to.
For example, a Search Engine Journal poll found that 41% of SEO professionals surveyed use Trello to manage their SEO projects, while 22% use Asana and 18% use Basecamp. The remaining 19% use a range of other solutions.
Although it’s helpful to know what’s popular in the industry, there are many other platforms that offer a wide range of benefits. So let’s jump into some of our top picks!
Trello is an easy-to-use kanban tool. The platform’s boards are comprised of lists, filled with helpful cards that help you to organize and prioritize your projects with plenty of flexibility. Additionally, the cards let you add comments, checklists, attachments, labels, due dates and more. As mentioned, Trello was the most popular SEO project management solution in Search Engine Journal’s survey.
Asana is a platform for managing goals, projects and tasks. With “Portfolios,” you can monitor the status of your SEO projects in real time which keeps your project initiatives on track. You can also turn recurring projects into repeatable processes with defined templates.
Asana was placed in the “Leader” quadrant in The Forrester Wave™: Collaborative Work Management Tools for the Enterprise, Q4 2018 report. It also landed a mention as a PCMag.com Editors’ Choice.
Basecamp helps you to increase accountability, communicate more efficiently, and keep team members on the same page. Beyond message boards, to-do lists and schedules, Basecamp includes real-time group chat, with a unique chat room for each project.
Basecamp Check-ins also reduce the number of project status meetings because they automatically ask your team questions. What’s more, all of the replies are rolled up into one consolidated thread. But keep in mind that Basecamp’s structure is more freeform than many other project management software packages.
With content, conversations and processes structured in one tool, Podio helps your SEO team to work in sync. The platform enables tight collaboration with clearly defined roles and a custom tool fitted to your team’s workstyle. With Podio, you can tailor your processes with automated workflows to accommodate your team’s defined steps. In addition, the platform is highly scalable, enabling you to oversee more projects and teams as your organization grows. Podio was named an Editors’ Choice by PCMag.com.
Wrike was another solution named a “Leader” in The Forrester Wave™ report we mentioned before. It was also named the Commercial Innovator of the Year at Microsoft’s 2018 Windows Developer Awards.
Wrike gives you greater visibility into SEO projects, simplifies planning, and centralizes communication. More importantly, it also helps you maintain context and streamline your workflows. Wrike’s Custom Workflows eliminate status-update emails and enable you to automatically assign the right work, to the right person, in the right order.
You can use the Wrike Proof tool to visually share feedback on digital assets. Wrike Dashboards offer a bird’s-eye view of task management, with the ability to analyze work by project, team member, timeline, and more via shareable reports.
Teamwork is project management software that enables you to collaborate effectively, hit deadlines, and achieve results. Teamwork’s Portfolios offer a high-level overview of multiple SEO projects at once. That’s invaluable insight if you manage SEO projects for an enterprise company. You’ll get quick updates on each project’s activity all in one view. Project Summaries give you full visibility and insights to analyze your team’s performance with just one click. Teamwork was named an Editors’ Choice by PCMag.com.
Airtable is an easy-to-use online relational database tool that allows you to track pretty much anything you’d like in its flexible framework. The software doubles as a collaboration solution. Airtable looks like a spreadsheet at first, and therefore is accessible and familiar to new users.
The database tool comes with a wide array of templates to expedite your team’s onboarding. It also offers flexible views so you can display your SEO projects as a grid, calendar, gallery or kanban. In addition, you can use Airtable Blocks, which boast app-like functionality (video blocks, map blocks, data visualization blocks, etc.) to expand your SEO project management capabilities quickly and easily. While this tool didn’t make the above lists, it’s quickly gaining in popularity.
The project management and collaboration solutions we covered so far can be used by organizations across many industries. In contrast, Function Point and Workamajig bill themselves as an agency solution for creative teams. The functionality supports any type of marketing agency, especially those that include external, outsourced resources.
The applications support not only SEO project management, but also resource management (workload forecasting, staff utilization, etc.), accounting, invoicing, and collaboration.
One major difference between the two platforms is that Function Point integrates QuickBooks into its solution while Workamajig has a built-in accounting program.
As an SEO project manager, you’ll need to create, deploy and manage defined processes so you can ultimately replicate them across teams, projects and departments. Enter Process Street, a business process management (BPM) solution. Process Street enables organizations to create workflows, checklists, forms and structured process documentation for recurring needs. This tool offers much-needed transparency into the progress of any workflow.
Process Street should not be confused with a project management and collaboration platform such as Trello, Asana or Basecamp. However, if you have recurring workflows, Process Street is a good option within your SEO project management technology stack.
Pipefy is another BPM solution, similar to Process Street. This tool doesn’t just allow you to configure workflows and structured processes. You can also create Pipefy Apps that let you customize card actions, as well as create a custom view to an external App. You can even tie relational database tables to your cards. This software automates manual, repetitive work, including the use of process automations, email templates, escalation, forms, connections and autofill. In addition, there are hundreds of plug & play “lean process” templates for your team to jumpstart its work.
Kissflow is like Process Street and Pipefy in that it helps you standardize workflows and structured processes. It comes with approximately 45 pre-configured templates to work from. Kissflow is easy to use and priced affordably. The software was named a “Leader” in the business process software category by G2 Crowd.
The skills of an effective SEO project manager
SEO project management technology platforms are fantastic tools to boost efficiency and oversight, but only if they’re used by capable teams that are armed with the right mix of skills and industry knowledge.
As an SEO manager, it’s critical to know your strengths and weaknesses so you can fill in the gaps and deliver better-than-expected results. How would you rate yourself on each of these core competencies?
Tools are useful, but you need deep SEO knowledge if you want to absolutely crush it in SEO. Industry expertise will help you to set the right strategies, guide your team, make tough decisions, set priorities, multitask, stick to deadlines and budgets, and understand which levers that will move the needle in the SERPs the most. To grow your expertise, read as many industry blogs as you can, and write plenty of articles yourself!
Knowledge of SEO tools and software
SEO technology will help you achieve more, faster, better. Lucky for you, the software ecosystem for SEO is extensive. There’s everything from the project management and workflow tools listed above, to software covering:
- Site crawlers
- Log file analysis
- HTTP/HTTPS header check
- HTML error checker
- Search engine spider view
- Page load speed testing
- Microdata generation
- Site health
- Mobile friendliness
- Website SEO audits
- Hreflang tags
- Search trends
- Content discovery
- Customer intent data
- Content performance analysis
- Identifying copyright infringement
- Copyright infringement prevention
- Competitor analysis
- Staging and live website comparisons
- Third-party publisher management
Organization and project management
If you want to be world-class at SEO project management, then you need to be organized. There’s really no way around this one. Fortunately, the project management and workflow tools listed above will keep you on track.
You’ll need to manage everything from competitor analysis to technical SEO upgrades, topics/keywords, content development, strategic outreach, and more. If you’re operating at scale, you’ll most likely oversee a multi-person team and you’ll need to ensure that deliverables are completed in line with the budget and on schedule.
Plus, on top of this, the more you Marie Kondo your SEO projects, the happier and more motivated your team members will be. Nothing like chaos and confusion to demoralize your best SEO analyst or all-star strategic outreach specialist.
You must be able to clearly and quickly communicate and guide team members when managing a firehose of data and tasks. It’s also just as important to communicate with executive management and other relevant departments, internally and externally. Fortunately, you can use protocols, templates and scheduled reporting to document important communications in a way that’s easily digestible.
As an SEO project manager you’ll frequently work across several team members to create deliverables, so it’s also important to have excellent listening skills. Where are the friction points? What’s unclear to team members? How can you support them more fully, etc.?
The ability to collaborate
Collaboration and communication go hand-in-hand. An SEO task manager must collaborate seamlessly with the team and across departments, including content, design and IT.
To aid with collaboration, build structure such as a daily scrum, weekly standup meeting, monthly review, quarterly strategy session, or whatever other type of interactive meetings make sense for your team.
Unlike digital marketing and PPC that deliver results as soon as you launch ads, SEO outcomes take time to materialize. In fact, search engine optimization is more like a freight train: it takes a while to get it moving, but it doesn’t stop as soon as you turn off the engine.
Since it can take twelve months or longer to start up your organic traffic flywheel, you’ll need to plan SEO projects in advance. In other words, don’t launch an SEO campaign to rank your bathing suits landing page in April.
Whether you want to improve e-commerce SEO, or to generate a library of high-quality content, or to earn backlinks to support off-page SEO strategies, think long-term. Will you realize results in time? Will target keywords still be relevant to your site in a year? Can you generate adequate ROI? How will organic traffic support other internet marketing efforts in a year?
Read more about the ROI of SEO vs PPC here.
SEO copywriting & editing
Quality content is one of the top three Google ranking factors along with backlinks and RankBrain. So if you want your content marketing to be successful, you must have a firm grasp on SEO copywriting.
That doesn’t mean you should write for search engines and bots. On the contrary, your copy must keep human users engaged in order to perform well in search. For starters, you’ll need to answer a user’s query, create engaging content, organize it logically, use long-tail keywords, make it easy to read, and ensure it’s error-free.
Basic understanding of HTML and CSS
OK, you’re not a web developer, no problem. You should still learn HTML and CSS. While that may seem overwhelming, it’s actually not as daunting as it seems. What’s more, you’ll have the ability to identify basic mistakes much faster than if you always need to rely on developers.
Analytics, analysis & reporting
SEO is incredibly resource heavy. Therefore, it’s critical to measure your SEO performance as well as your team’s productivity. To that end, an SEO project manager should have solid data analysis skills. You’ll need to distill large amounts of data into meaningful reporting for executive management, your team and others in your organization.