Why project management is THE key success factor in SEO
Search Engine Optimisation

Why project management is THE key success factor in SEO

12th August 2013

SEO is becoming more and more complex and the need for good project management is more important now than ever. That is why good project management can be the most important success factor in your SEO work.

As we all know, SEO is not magic. Great SEO work is always done with a perspective of months and years. A great SEO project manager should create both long term plans and more detailed short-time tasks to reach the long term goals. A great project manager is both well organized and great within her field, and can make or break an SEO project. So, what should you do to organize and drive the SEO work forward?

Getting your team together

The first thing a project manager should do is to create a great team. This team will work to reach the same goals, both through separate tasks and as one unit. Both for in-house and agency/client projects, the perfect SEO team should consist of:

From the agency (or from the inhouse team):

From the client (or the rest of the inhouse team):

  • The main contact / project manager
  • Web editor
  • Technical staff
  • The social team
  • PR department
  • Marketing department
  • Customer service
  • Web analytics team
  • PPC team members
  • PR agency
  • Media agency
  • Ad agency

Some members will participate in every part of the project, while some will be a part of it in periods of time.

Project plan

Long term and short term project plans are keys to a great SEO project. The long term plan should always work as a basis, even though it might change as you go. The short term plan is more detailed and driven by analytics, and change as the project moves on.

A long term plan could look something like this:

Month 1: Training and workshops. This is extremely important! Get all client team members to achieve a basic knowledge level within SEO, at least within their part of the SEO field. I do a lot of training through workshops with the relevant staff, and also ask them to study online through Distilled U.

Month 2: Analysis, strategy and planning. No SEO work can be done without the proper analysis of- and plans for the onpage content, onpage technical, external factors and social. All goals and KPI´s are set, but can of course be adjusted as the project moves on.

Month 3 -12: Ongoing SEO work. This means that all web analytics and project management systems needs to be in place, all staff are ready and have all the knowledge they need to do the job, and both agency and client is ready for action.

Quarterly: Update of all analysis and strategy, new training sessions and adjustments of strategy and plans.

Monthly: Strategy meetings with all staff. Monthly reports and strategy planning.

Weekly: Workshops with project manager and client representative.

Ongoing: OnPage SEO, OffPage SEO, Web analytics, Project management.

Visually, such a plan could look something like this:

project plan long term

Ongoing project management

The ongoing project management can be done in many ways, but if you ask me, there are a few key factors to make things happen. Which obviously are the most important in any project.

First of all you need to have done the basic training of all members of the client’s SEO team. For me, as an agency representative, this means I can say to the client: “This page is not optimised for the keywords we have chosen.” Or: “These pages are duplicate, can you fix this with redirects or canonicals?” Or: “You need to get more links to this great page, any way we can tell people about it through your social, media or PR channels?” And then the client will fix it, without me needing to go into detail on how and why. If the staff is ready, the project manager can focus on the big picture instead of micro managing everything.

Secondly, you will need a great project management system. My ideal project management system combines the following:

  • Reporting and analysis
  • Task management with a basis in the reporting and analysis
  • Document uploads and sharing
  • To-do lists
  • Customized dashboards

Lately I have used BrightEdge alot, both as an analysis tool and a project management tool. Basically, this system combines analytics data, ranking data, backlinks and social for your website(s) and your competitors. All analysis data and findings can be turned into specific tasks that can be given to any member of the team, complete with a due-date. Tasks can also be set manually. Reports are done automatically on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. All members of the project can create their own dashboards to keep track of their own KPIs, goals and to-dos.

brightedge screenshot

I have also used Evernote, Basecamp and Google Docs/Drive, and they all work pretty well. Obviously there are many systems, and as long as they help you organize everything and make things happen, they are OK to use. You can read about several other project management systems here

Regardless of the project management system, all plans and tasks are set with basis in the KPIs and the goals for each part of the project, with the long term plan in mind. Analysis, adjustments and more analysis is always key.

Learn to love to-do lists

My final tip: Learn to love to-do lists. I LOVE a good list. In fact, my life is basically organized through to-do lists:

This is my to-do for a weekend this spring:

to do glenneveien 16b

This is my to-do for my summer vacation weeks:

to do sommeren 2013

This is a to-do list from a client project:

to do fra brightedge

As you can see, I am a little more digital in my work-life than in my private life… And borderline autistic when it comes to lists…

Anyway, to-do lists help you organize your brain and your project, and it will make your life easier! Luckily, I usually tend to transfer my love for to-do lists to my clients and team members, so for me this system works perfectly.

And remember: All SEO projects have many unknown factors. The website might change. Google always change things, and you need to adjust your plans thereafter. People and teams change. Budgets will change. All plans will eventually need to be changed. But a great system and goals, both long term and short term, will make your project management easier and with even better results, regardless of the changes. And great project management is THE key to SEO success, I promise you.


Written By
Agnete Tøien Pedersen is Head of SEO in iProspect Norway and has years of experience within SEM, SEO, web publishing and journalism. She is also chairman of the Board of Ethical SEM in Norway, BraSøk. On a daily basis she is working with customers of all sizes, in Norway, the...
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