SEO Project Management: Ultimate Guide (2020)

Top Tips For Effective SEO Project Management

Published Under: SEO | Project Management
Last Updated: January 30, 2020
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Hundreds of keywords, dozens of URLs, and countless reports. Keeping track of all your SEO projects can be a massive challenge. One minute you’re dealing with your keyword tool, the other you’re creating client reports. I’ll do a deep dive into SEO project management in this guide. You’ll learn best practices, tips, and tools to get your SEO house in order. Read on to find out.

Alma Causey

Like any kind of projects, managing and seo project needs discipline.

when I started with SEO, I was managing around 10 projects at a time.

And projects varied.

  • Keyword research
  • Competitor analysis
  • Backlink profile management
  • Seo reports
  • Content calendar

You name it and it was definitely on my plate.

It seems like madness but I had a way to handle everything smoothly in an efficient manner, meeting all quality guidelines and project deadlines.

How was I organized ?

There is a way to bring method to this madness.

By adopting even the simplest of project management tactics, you can tame the chaos of SEO.

1. Understand Project Management Principles

Project management isn’t just a tool or tactic; it is a vast discipline that explores the science of managing complex projects.

The oldest project management (PM) theories date back to the turn of the 20th century when industrial processes were being formalized.

Some of these tools and theories are still in use today.

Gantt charts, for instance, were developed by Henry Gantt in 1910 but are still a widely used PM tool today.

In the US, project management is formally organized around PMI (Project Management Institute).

PMI offers education, seminars, and certifications for project managers. Becoming a PMI-recognized project manager is tough.

The popular PMP (Project Management Professional) certificate requires at least 7,500 hours of project management experience.

While you don’t have to earn a certification or spend hours mastering project management, it does help to understand core project management principles.

Some of these core PM principles are:

  1. Vision and Mission: Every project should have a clear vision (i.e. your broad goals) and a mission (i.e. your specific objectives). This brings structure and clarity to your activities.
  2. Measurable Objectives: A project without any measurable business objectives is a project that will go astray. Thus, it is crucial that you tie your SEO activities to a specific, measurable business objective.
  3. Processes and Standards: Successful project management focuses on developing scalable processes and standards. Your SEO projects should be based on repeatable tactics and templates, not one-off tactics.
  4. Measurement: Sound project management depends on accurately measuring your performance and activities. This way, you can optimize your future projects.
  5. Communication: Great project management and great communication are closely aligned. The more specific, timely, and clear your communication is, the smoother your projects will run.

2. Adopt a Structured Approach to SEO Projects

How does an SEO project in your organization move from inception to final delivery?

If you’re like most SEOs, there is a good chance that this process is largely ad-hoc and haphazard.

This might suffice for small projects, but as you manage more and more projects, you’ll find that you’re overwhelmed with information.

The solution? Adopt a structured approach to SEO projects.

This structured approach essentially builds a broad idea into specific goals and deliverables.

Then, in the spirit of the project management principles we covered above, it adds in a layer of accountability, measurement, and communication.

Under this approach, you’d divide the project into several phases, like this:

In each phase, you would tackle different aspects of the SEO project, such as:

  • Initiation: Understand the project vision, zero-down on specific goals, and build consensus on key deliverables and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
  • Planning: Build a list of deliverables, develop a timeline, and understand your project’s scope.
  • Execution: Build your project team, delegate tasks, and create schedules for each team member.
  • Control: Track the project’s progress, measure performance, and ensure that the project stays on-time and under-budget.
  • Closing: Evaluate the project’s performance to understand what worked, what didn’t and what you can improve in the future.

You’ll find that if you adopt this structured approach, you will have far better visibility into the performance of projects.

3. Use the Right Seo Project Management Tools

If you’re using Excel to manage all your SEO projects, you’re hurting your productivity.

Yes, you read it right.

As good as Excel is, it is not designed to manage SEO projects.

It is far too dependent on manual updates and can’t integrate well with the other tools you use to manage your marketing activities.

Do an audit of your current SEO toolkit.

Do you have purpose-specific software for managing SEO projects? Or are you simply “winging it” with ad-hoc solutions?

At the very least, you should have the following tools to manage an SEO project:

  • A time tracking tool to calculate hours spent on each project (bonus if it can also double as your billing tool)
  • A way to store and share documents seamlessly (such as Dropbox or Google Drive)
  • A way to delegate tasks and monitor their performance
  • A way to keep track of different deliverables and their current status (such as Trello)
  • A rank tracking tool
  • A reporting tool to bring in all data into an easy-to-create report for sharing with clients

Finally, consider creating a project dashboard to keep track of the project. This dashboard should bring in data from different sources so you know exactly what’s going on at any given time.

4. Communicate and Develop Better Relationships

Why do SEO projects fail?

If you said “Google”, you’d be partially right.

While the vagaries of Google can’t be predicted, far too many projects fail simply because the SEO didn’t have the right resources or relationships.

Unless you’re working for yourself (in which case - congratulations!), you will have some stakeholders to report to.

These might be your boss, a client, or frequently, both.

Each of these stakeholders will want something different.

Your boss wants results, but he also wants a dollar-to-dollar breakdown of expenses.

Your client might be concerned with results, but he’ll want them within a specific time frame to justify the expense.

The only way to understand what your stakeholders want is through better communication.

Ask your stakeholders:

  • What are the metrics they care about the most?
  • What are their top goals in the immediate-term (1-2 weeks), short-term (2-6 weeks), and long-term (6+ weeks)?
  • What are their communication preferences? How often do they want updates? What is their preferred reporting format?
  • How detail-oriented should your reporting be? Do they want details of exact links and keyword movements? Or are they only concerned with traffic and engagement figures?

Understand these preferences upfront and your SEO projects will be much smoother.

You’ll know exactly what to focus on - in your work as well as your reporting.

5. Know What Works

This is the ‘SEO’ part of SEO project management: knowing what works, what doesn’t, and how much time it takes.

For instance, a client with a limited budget wants immediate results.

You know from experience that the fastest way to get results is through sponsored links.

Given the client’s budget, however, you can’t fit this strategy in your time frame.

Understanding these constraints will help you make better predictions.

You can tell clients whether what they want is feasible or not. This will save you a ton of disappointment later.

More importantly, thoroughly understanding your tactics will help you plan your projects better, especially when it comes to delegating tasks and hiring resources.

For example, if you know a specific tactic requires lots of content writers, you can plan your hiring early in the project’s execution.

If it requires lots of time to execute, you can create room in your plan.

SEO project management is all about making the most of the resources available at your disposal.

Whether you can deliver the results your clients want will depend on how well you organize these resources.

Thoroughly understanding your work is crucial for achieving this goal.

6. Being An SEO Project Manager

If you are an Seo project manager, you're solely accountable for maintaining quality guidelines and delivery deadlines.

But, Like in real life, project task may appear endless, boring and difficult.

How do you maintain the level of motivation and standards?

The role requires you as the project lead, to step up when the times are hard and the sky is grey.

A few tips:

  • keep yourself in check.
  • Keep an eye on your attitude towards team members and clients.
  • Lead instead of giving orders.
  • Set and example for others to follow.
  • Don't be hard on your staff. A happy team means great results.

Actionable Tips


SEO project management is challenging.

You need to know your work, your clients, and project management principles.

By adopting the right tools and tactics, you can bring clarity to your SEO projects.

Not only will this help you serve clients better, but it will also help you execute faster and deliver results under budget.

Earn links that produce results. Create content that wins traffic

Meet The Author

Alma Causey

Alma Causey is a Freelance writer by day and sports fan by night. She writes about tech education and health related issues. Live simply, give generously, watch football and a technology lover.

Learn more about Alma Causey


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