How to Get Things Done, SEO Style

by Ruth Burr January 26th, 2011 

woman-seo-getting-things-done

Implementation is the hardest part of almost any SEO project.  You can make all the recommendations in the world, but if they don’t get implemented, you haven’t actually done anything. That’s going to be seen as your fault even if you’re not the roadblock to success.

For the project to succeed you need to take responsibility for implementation even if you’re not the one doing it, and you need to stop taking “we can’t do that” for an answer.

Start with your existing SEO projects

work-seo-projects

The beginning of the year is a great time to set up a “State of the Site” meeting. 

Instead of just meeting with your immediate boss or your usual client contact, try your darnedest to get a higher-ranking person like a VP or C-level executive in there.  These are the people with the money and the power. They're really invested in the company’s success and they can be your best friends when it comes to getting things done.

Take a big giant step back and audit the site like you’ve never even seen it before.  Pretend it’s not the site on which you’ve already spent months working and struggling and making compromises.  Treat it like a brand spanking new project, full of hope and possibility and unicorns and rainbows and puppies.  If you were brought on as a new SEO consultant on this project today, what would your list of recommendations be?

Next, go to the meeting.  Take off your “brand new SEO consultant” hat, put on your “Cuba Gooding Jr.” hat, and Show. Them. The. Money.

Let them know that uncompleted tasks are affecting site performance.  Show them how more money the site could be making if relevant site traffic increased by just, say, 15%.  Nothing gets an exec’s attention faster than money left on the table.

Present them with your findings from your audit.

It’s going to be a lot of information for them; keep it as brief as you can.  Respect everyone’s time, especially your new Super Special Executive BFF.
Avoid glazing their eyes over with too much data – remember, your mission here is to get things done.

For everyone’s sake, break it down to your top five priority tasks.

Think carefully about your top five.  Some factors to consider:

  • What will have the most impact on the site (obviously).
  • What will have the fastest impact on the site.  A quick win boosts stakeholders’ confidence that the project is worth doing.
  • The resources needed to complete the task.  Just need your items to be given higher priority with the IT team?  Totally doable.  Need to hire an additional team member?  Harder to do, so choose wisely and limit your big-budget asks to one or two.
  • Things you can’t just go and get done on your own.  This is like the Godfather’s daughter’s wedding, so ask for something good.

Present these tasks along with exactly what you need to get them done.  If you have to, suggest bringing in contractors or hiring vendors to do the stuff they just can’t do in house.  Someone, somewhere, can make this happen for you.

By now the stakeholders in the meeting know more about what you need, and why it matters, than they did before. They should be able to tell you what they can get you to help get things done.  You just need to follow up with them and make sure that help actually materializes.  Don’t stop until your change is live.

One more thing: unlike you, everyone else in the meeting will immediately start forgetting everything you said as soon as they leave.  Do not assume that because you’ve brought these issues up once, it’s understood that they exist.  Going forward (and this will work with future projects, too), include an “outstanding items” section in every report you send.  Even if you’ve gotten a solid “no” back, if you think an item is really important include it anyway.  This will allow your boss or regular client contact to have your tasks at top of mind when they have a chance for additional resources.

Let’s make 2011 the Year of Getting Things Done.

Ruth Burr

Ruth Burr has been working in SEO since 2006, both in-house and agency-side. She's currently working as the Lead SEO at SEOMoz. Ruth's passions include data-driven decision making, quality content, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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One Response to “How to Get Things Done, SEO Style”

  1. Ruth, I especially like your tip to 'include an “outstanding items” section in every report you send.' What a great constant reminder of the need for resources.

    Nice SEO Productivity post!