Basic Project Management

Basic Project Management For SEO

Do you understand basic project management? As an SEO specialist or professional, most of the work you're going to do will be based on a period of time as well as numerous tasks.

The thing is, there are probably priorities and first level tasks that you need to do before advancing onto others. For example, you need to complete keyword research, match URLs to keyword phrases, then you can do on-page SEO. Not the other way around!

If you're new to project management, but not to SEO, here are some tips you can consider for getting your arms around your first project.

Basic Project Management To Get You Started

First, define the project. Are you auditing a large e-commerce site, or are you improving search engine visibility for a site that's only 20 pages?

Once you understand the big picture objective ("complete technical website audit," "apply on-page SEO to day care center site"), then you can sit down with pencil and paper and sketch out high level tasks. For the technical website audit, your initial list will look something like this:

  • On-page SEO issues
  • Off-page SEO issues
  • Website UX
  • Structured Data Markup
  • Google Analytics

Once you've outlined the large areas, fill in some of the blanks. This doesn't have to a be perfect, all-inclusive list in the first swipe, but capture as much as you can. So, for on-page SEO, you're filling in items such as:

  • Page Titles
  • Page Meta Descriptions
  • Content Optimization
  • Internal Linking
  • Image Alt Text

Now, you're going to add some details to each line item. For page titles, you'll want to know which ones are too long, too short or missing. The same goes for meta descriptions.

Once you've developed a decent sized list, you have to sort in order of priority. Generally, you'll run the audit crawl to find all the on-page issues, because these are directly controllable by you, marketing and the web dev team.

basic project management

You can do the same exercise for each of the major categories listed above. Throw in some time frames as well, and stretch them out. If you think it's only going to take you five days to run the on-page audit, analyze the results and create a report, that might be possible for a very small site, but if your audit shows thousands of URLs, you're going to need two to three times as much time to achieve this task completion goal!

But are you going to do everything on hard copy or what? Now it's time to talk about some software tools you can use.

Basic Project Management Tools

The simplest way to manage a project is by using a spreadsheet. You can create tabs for the different high level tasks shown above. Each tab will have the individual tasks, and a column can show approximately how long you think you'll need to do the task.

This is great if you're an SEO army of one...but what if several people have their hands in this project and are responsible for helping you complete the project? Is a simple spreadsheet going to work for you and them?

Probably not. Even if you put it on Google Drive and share it, this is not the most efficient, effective way to track progress and "git r done." I know. I've been there.

Instead, you'll need a project management tool that multiple users can access. You can go high end, whole hog with something like Microsoft Project, which is expensive, has a steep learning curve and requires multiple software licenses, or you can investigate these below:

Here are several that have been reviewed by PC Magazine. Among these, I've used Teamwork Projects and Clarizen. They have their ups and downs.

Techworld has several that are free, and they are well worth checking out.

In the past, I've also used Harvest. You can do a free 30 day trial and you don't have to surrender a credit card to use it. I like their time tracking application and invoicing. This was before I bit the bullet and started using QuickBooks Online (my accountant threatened to fire me if she had to suffer another amateur spreadsheet presentation of my yearly taxes), but for small budgets, this is doable.

Like so many other things in life, project management software that's cost effective isn't perfect, but if you know what you need, eventually you'll find the right fit.

And for being the most professional search engine optimizer out there, you will need to organize your work when you have multiple clients and projects. Trust me, you can't keep it all in your head.

I can't teach you project management, but if you need advanced SEO skills and knowledge, let's get together for a one on one, customized SEO class that unpacks your website issues and requirements!

You can learn SEO basics online in our new course!

Until we meet again, keep it between the ditches!

All the very best to you,

Nancy McDonald

Image courtesy of jk1991 at

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