What is an SEO Project Manager?

Sean Dilger
By Sean Dilger

In today’s blog post, I will discuss what it means and the skills needed to be a successful Search Engine Optimization Project Manager, also known as an SEO Project Manager. This role combines marketing knowledge, strategy, some account management and execution skills for those that are highly motivated, organization and time management skills, and the ability to direct others on client deliverables.

An SEO project manager, in the simplest sense, ensures all deliverables related to SEO get completed within a specific timeframe. They make sure that the SEO plan of action is executed according to the strategy they have been given. The idea is to break down the deliverables into clear and well-defined tasks. Some duties of an SEO project manager, include:

  • Completing SEO deliverables from A to Z
  • Assigning and scheduling project tasks to other team members
  • Preparing and monitoring project schedules
  • Building weekly/monthly reports
  • Assessing and evaluating the success of the strategy
  • Implementing deliverables onto the client’s website
  • Drafting client meeting notes and much more

The other main objective of this role involves getting clients found on search engines like Google for keywords related to the client’s product and services. Additionally, the project manager must drive results like increased traffic, conversions, and revenue to the client’s website.

What Skills Does An SEO Project Manager Need?

There are many skills that will help individuals succeed as a project manager in SEO, including the thirteen listed below.

Project Management

The success of an SEO campaign is not only limited to your ability to execute on SEO deliverables, but your ability to work closely with account managers, juggle a variety of projects, and build great client relationships. In a forever changing industry, learning how to manage many projects is an excellent skill.

Copywriting & Editing

Almost every digital marketing position requires writing and editing skills. No matter the size of your team, it’s highly likely that you will need to proofread and review some content. Communicating efficiently with clients is also highly important, so having the ability to write emails that clients will easily understand is essential.

Use of Tools on a Daily Basis

You must use the right tools to manage your workflow on a daily basis. These are tools we use at Power Digital to manage our SEO projects and workflow management.

  • Hourstack.io to track time used to complete projects, meetings and more.
  • Google Drive to share and store documents.
  • Dropbox to share large files.
  • Gmail,  Gchat and Slack for messaging and communication.
  • Google Calendar for setting up meetings.
  • Asana for assigning tasks to team members
  • Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel and Word for spreadsheets, presentations and reports.

Related: 6 Mobile SEO Tools To Help You Optimize Your Site

Additionally, we use a wide range of SEO tools including Moz, SEMRush, Screaming Frog, Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.io, AWR Cloud, and much more.

Understanding HTML and CSS 

HTML and CSS are the languages of the internet. Having the ability to write code in HTML can be very beneficial to website developers or designers. For instance, a simple task like adding and formatting text can help take the pressure off a very busy web developer. To learn more about HTML, I highly recommend Codeacademy.com.

Reporting & Analytics

All SEO project managers must be able to collect and analyze data. The number one platform each project manager should learn is Google Analytics. You can learn all you need to know about Google Analytics with their free courses. Additionally, each company will have their own analytics tools they prefer to use on a daily basis so you will need to learn how to use them also.

Organizational and Planning Skills

SEO strategies are unique and often complicated, however, I believe at Power Digital we have an excellent process for ensuring client deliverables get completed before their deadline date. Some of our processes include:

  • Forecasting – We use an internal forecasting document to task deliverables out to each team member within the SEO department. By doing this, each team member will know what deliverables they are assigned and must complete within the month. It also helps the head of the department identify which employees have some extra bandwidth during the month. This process also helps ensure each team member gets assigned the same amount of hours within the department.
  • Asana – This exceptional project management tool has features built for all of your client projects as well as your overall workflow. We use Asana on a daily basis at Power Digital. Each team member can assign their workload to themselves for the month and can set dates for when each deliverable must be completed by. This ensures that they are responsible for getting their work complete. Once complete, they then assign the project back to the account manager for a final review before it gets delivered to the client.
  • Weekly Meetings – These are mini-scrums that happen on a weekly basis. These are quick meetings to review workflow, wins from the week, upcoming trainings, as well as tasks for the upcoming week.
  • Monthly Reports – At the beginning of each month, a report is sent to the client that discusses the deliverables completed in the prior month, the tasks planned for the upcoming month and overall results from the previous month, including keyword ranking gains, increases in traffic and conversions.

These processes are important to ensure everyone has clear direction on what needs to be done within the month.

Communication

Communication is of the utmost importance in any business. You should work hard to build a good relationship with your client. By building a great relationship with your client, you will better understand and manage your client’s expectations.

Ways to improve client communication:

  • A weekly recap email can make a world of difference. Updating your client on the status of their SEO campaign is vital to the health of your relationship. Provide your client with an update on a regular basis to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Go into Google Analytics and pull out some wins and use screenshots to highlight the wins. Additionally, call out some keyword gains and notify the client of the status of deliverables. This shows the client you care and are monitoring the campaign on a regular basis.
  • Finally, communicate the agenda and goals you are working on over the coming week.

Attention to Detail

Having great attention to detail for project managers is very important. Without final reviews, many campaigns go out with issues like spelling and grammar errors. Spend time reviewing deliverables before sending them to the client.

Knowledge of Content Management Systems

SEO project managers should understand how the popular Content Management Systems like Drupaland WordPress work. Both are fairly similar, so once you understand one, you will manage the other. You should be able to create, edit, and publish content as well as inserting images to help save developers time.

Flexibility

Are you comfortable with change? Flexibility at work is a requirement for employers and employees. Digital marketers work in an environment where the technology and trends change daily. This means we must be flexible to change. You may create the perfect project plan and therefore want to see it to completion, however, this rarely happens.

Related: How to Write a Google Reconsideration Request for a Link Penalty

For instance, new ideas come to light, deadlines change, and things may not be going according to plan, so a pivot in the strategy is required. You must have the ability to face unanticipated issues with a positive attitude and get your entire team on board.

Presentation Skills

Making presentations can be a very daunting task. With that being said, project managers must have excellent presentation skills. While it’s important to present well-designed visual slides, it’s more important to be a great communicator. Presenting information clearly is a skill. People remember great communicators and when you’re leading a team on a project, you must have confidence.

Positive Thinking

Positive thinking can give you confidence, improve your mindset, and elevate your mood. Having a positive outlook is part of being a project manager. One of the greatest things you can do as a project manager is looking for the positive in almost anything. When difficult situations arise, you will find something good. Project managers keep the workflow together. When the deliverables go well, people will give you praise, but when something does not go as planned, you must be able to deal with it with a positive outlook.

Leadership Skills

You are accountable for the quality of work being produced as the SEO lead on a project. When projects get overwhelming, having the motivation to keep going with the task at hand can prove difficult. It’s your responsibility to keep a positive mindset and maintain high-quality work. This means you must review work before it goes out to the client and stepping up when needed. A project manager’s attitude is contagious and can affect the whole team’s results.

Wrapping Up

Being an SEO project manager means you are always busy in the office. It is a very challenging position and one that I relish. Ensuring all SEO deliverables get completed on time and get completed wellkeeps me on my toes and challenged. Additionally, with so many skills required for the position, individuals must be prepared for whatever tasks are put in front of them on a daily basis.

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Sean Dilger is an SEO Project Manager at Power Digital with a passion for all things digital. He was born in Ireland and moved to San Diego in 2015. Sean has many years experience in the digital space and has worked in email marketing, PPC, social media and of course SEO. Sean graduated college in Ireland with a Master's Degree in Marketing and Management Strategy.