The Challenges of Project Management in SEO
In any business, project management plays an integral part in running an operation effectively. However, project management in the SEO world is very different than in other industries. As an SEO Specialist, my job consists of a variety of duties, but managing projects is a very important aspect of my job in order for clients’ work to be completed and their expectations to be exceeded.
When I first enter the SEO world, it kind of threw me for a loop. In college and at previous jobs, I was always the well organized and “do everything way in advance” type of girl. Deadlines, schmedlines. I could always prioritize and management my time for projects, but I quickly learned that project management in SEO doesn’t always work that way and this was something I had to adapt to. SEO project management is a unique discipline and it requires a special set of skills in order to push out a ton of client work each month. Whether you’re a PM or an SEO at an Internet marketing agency that manages projects yourself, these are the challenges you may face:
- Every single area of a business is affected by SEO, either directly or indirectly. A company’s strategies in the areas of marketing, public relations, development, etc. all are influenced by and change according to the company’s SEO efforts.
- SEO tactics or strategies constantly change. Since these techniques are based upon a search engine’s algorithm, all SEOs have to be prepared to make changes at the drop of a hat. Therefore, so does the PM, who has to change the clients’ timeline and expectations as well.
- SEO efforts can take a long time and immediate results aren’t always achievable. This was something I definitely had to get used to when I first started. After doing a month of link building, I wanted to see the fruit of my labor and have my client ranking on the first page of the SERPS. Yeah, that doesn’t happen until a few months later and if I have to be patient, clients have to be too.
- As you establish a rapport with your client, they can sometimes go beyond the scope of a project and add “extras” to your teams’ to-do list. While customer satisfaction is your first priority, you can only be stretched so far until another proposal needs to be written up. If you constantly bend over backwards for all of your clients, you’re no longer being accommodating, you’re being taken advantage of and your SEOs begin pulling their hair out.
- Lastly, SEO efforts are also difficult to track and report than other business initiatives. Since results can take time, it’s important for an SEO or PM to monitor all progress and convince the client to stay on board.
Despite these challenges, the right PM or SEO can effectively handle anything that comes their way if they have a unique set of skills to match up with the requirements of the job. After all, their role is essential and they can be successful if they do the following:
- Try their best to create a plan of action. As mentioned above, things change. One day the SEO strategy is great, the next day, the team has to start from scratch, but even so, it’s important for the SEO or PM to keep all members of the team on the same page and for everyone to be working towards the same goal for each client.
- Speak the SEO language. Now if you’re an SEO, you know your stuff, but maybe the PM doesn’t know the terms you throw around on daily basis. In order to professionally propose a strategy to a client and manage their expectations, PMs have to know what they’re talking about too.
- In addition to knowing the SEO lingo, an SEO or a PM has to be able to break things down for clients who are not from planet SEO. It’s good to show the client your expertise, but if they look lost, explain things to them as if it were your mother.
- Judge the scope of projects effectively. This is where a little communication and your team’s ability come into play. A PM or SEO needs to plan a course of action for the client within a certain timeframe that does not overwhelm or puts restraints on other SEOs. Map out the steps that will be taken over the course of a few months and make promises you can keep.
After being in this industry a short time, I’ve seen companies make changes in how they go about managing projects. Larger companies prefer to have a bunch of PMs, while smaller firms tend to let the SEOs manage projects and engage with clients. It’s important to find the best method of project management for your business and I feel that anyone can adapt to the craziness of SEO as long as they’re determined and believe in what they’re offering to the clients.
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