Getting to grips with the wonderful world of SEO? Wondering how SEOs get so much done in a day? SEOs who can’t scale and work fast aren’t going to get far – so they learn how to optimise their productivity levels and manage their time like ninjas. Here are some time management hacks that keep top SEOs so productive – hopefully they’ll help you keep on the right side of time in 2017!
Time Management Hacks to make your SEO rock
1. Break processes down into tasks
It’s good to learn how to take something apart before you try to put it back together again.
The first of our seven time management hacks is hard to crack, but well worth it! Instead of getting bogged down and overwhelmed with a huge process (like a massive technical SEO audit, or writing 3000 product pages), break down the process into smaller tasks. This way, individual tasks can be managed and outsourced, leaving you with a more cost-effective and less stressful production process. (This ‘breaking it down’ method is particularly valuable for people selling their skills and services).
- Writing lots of content online? Break down article writing into separate tasks like brainstorming, image selection, structuring, idea capturing, speed writing, and editing. Map these different phases out to get a better idea of where the process can be refined. Approach individual tasks like phases of product development at a factory. Here are some more pro content streamlining tips from Neil Patel (whose impressive output tells us he definitely knows what he’s talking about).
- Use checklists and task management tools like Wunderlist to help you (and your team) keep track of what needs to be done next.
- SEO success is all about following through to completion. A task-oriented method relies on consistency – you need to consistently complete tasks to reach the end goal. Don’t get sidetracked and keep on target. Going off-topic is a slippery road to procrastination
Learning and applying new SEO skills and tactics can seem daunting, so don’t just take the advice from us. Justin L. Morgan is known widely in the dental industry as the #1 ranking dental SEO expert on Google. Justin believes that while tools and systems are critical, sometimes teaching SEO to others is the best tool around. “Whether you’re teaching my SEO tactics to a client or employee, one of the best ways to get people on the same page as you is to teach them. Once someone understands how and why SEO works, it’s much easier to schedule tasks and set priorities,” says Justin, “employees and clients actually help you come up with new ideas that spark new, exciting content calendars.”
2. Time box tasks
One major source of timewasting in the online world comes from not fully knowing how long a task should take. Got do some research? Cue: a stressed you three hours and about a thousand Wikipedia pages later…
- Time box tasks and keep to them. Don’t allow yourself any wiggle room – time yourself on Toggl if you have to.
- Whenever you are delegating – give an expectation of how long something should take. You can’t get frustrated with people taking longer than expected to complete a task if you haven’t given them a clear parameter in the first place.
- Time boxing is all about being disciplined and learning how to be more effective in a short period of time. Optimal productivity levels are often achieved in short bursts, as shown by the Pomodoro method that chops the day up into 25 minute activity slots.
3. Be organised with your tracking
SEOs who aren’t organised will end up wasting time trying to find links at the last minute.
And the same goes for just about anyone – time is constantly being wasted because data isn’t captured accurately, or it goes missing during the collection process.
- Always save raw data like downloads and spreadsheets ( crucial when you’re constantly downloading keyword or analytics data). You never know when you might need them again. Develop a folder structure that allows you to find project-specific data fast.
- Learn how to love spreadsheets. Build out detailed spreadsheets that can act as live documents, capturing team activity and output.
- By properly tracking output, you will be able to properly benchmark your operations, allowing you to investigate overall company productivity. It will save you a world of pain and time when it comes to the reporting season.
4. Work with the timezones
SEOs are an international bunch and have a hard time managing teams across the globe. So far as time management hacks go, timezones can drain dispersed teams no end. How do you step up to the plate when it feels like your business demands you be on call 24/7?
- Keep track of different timezones – let people know when you will be available to them. Manage client and customer expectations with ‘business hours’.
- Get ahead of the game by working early (or late) to effectively deal with your international associates. Take time out during your normal working day to compensate – don’t work yourself to the ground.
- What are your personal time zones? When are you most productive? Find out what times are best for you and take advantage of your heightened abilities.
5. Embrace automation
Automation is a word that scares some people. In fact, automation is super clever time management hack that is being used by a wide range of brands and businesses. And SEOs love to embrace the latest time-saving tech….
- By outsourcing and investing in software, you are literally saving your business time; so don’t be afraid to embrace time-saving digital tools. By not investing in the latest technology, you’ll be wasting key business resources.
- Social media automation can be particularly useful, but make sure that you have brand guidelines in place before you outsource. And don’t outsource or automate to the detriment of your brand reputation either.
- Hiring virtual assistants is a great way to grow your business – they can help you with a wide range of business tasks that would otherwise use up a lot of time and sap your productivity. Hire a VA who you can trust and never share your IP lightly.
6. Use project management tools
Use project management tools to help keep yourself (and your team) organised. Go for tools that are easy to use and simple – you don’t want managing the project to be more stressful than the project itself! These tools are a godsend for busy SEOs who often manage teams across vast geographical areas – they help keep everyone up to speed.
- You can invest in a dedicated project management tool like Basecamp or Slack, or you can use Google Docs and Skype. Whether you go budget of bespoke – use these project management tools to encourage team communication.
- Design these tools into the process so that people can’t avoid adopting them. Getting people to change their bad admin habits (read: email overkill) is essential. Emphasise the importance of being streamlined.
7. Don’t waste your time
Sounds like one of the more obvious time management hacks, doesn’t it? Time is precious. Don’t waste it doing the wrong things. Smart SEOs learn how to maximise their time and spend it solely on useful tasks – cutting their losses when it’s time to move on.
- Learn how to cut back on procrastination. If you need a break – take a break. Want to break free? Do some niche research and read up on the industry’s latest and greatest. Don’t waste time agonising and stressing out over things.
- Learn how to recognise when you’re barking up the wrong tree – if something isn’t working, cut it. (In the search engine game, you have to be reactive and proactive, not passive).
- Have regular project updates to see how time is being spent. Social ties are important, but meetings can be a huge waste of time. Keep things on track and focused.
Use these tools and strategies to help you manage your time (and your business better). When time seems to be slipping through your fingers, what keeps you on track? Try these time management hacks and let us know how it improves your productivity and effectiveness!
About the Author: Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder
Gareth Simpson has worked as an SEO for almost a decade now and has recently started freelancing as an SEO. His SEO specialisms are content and blogger outreach…and he likes green tea. Follow him on Twitter.
Previously, he was Director at Comms Axis, a full service marketing agency specialising in content, social media & website services for businesses of all sizes.
Dan Purvis writes for a number of leading business, social media and marketing sites, including Smart Insights, MarketingProfs, Marketo, MarTech Advisor, Marketing Tech News, MarTech Today, MarTech Exec, and more.
Dan was also ranked by Brand Republic as one of the Top 50 UK Marketing & Social Media influencers.
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