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Improve Your Pitch to Close More Sales

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Improve Your Pitch to Close More Sales

SEO is one of the most popular types of digital marketing services. But it can be challenging to sell because there are many types of SEO services and service providers offering them.

That’s why we created this guide.

Learn the basics and then follow our five steps to help you craft and improve your pitch to close more sales and get more clients.

But before we do that, let’s discuss why people buy SEO services and what they’re looking for.

Why do people buy SEO services?

There are three main reasons why people buy an SEO service:

  1. They want an outcome or result.
  2. They need to fix a problem.
  3. Their business is growing (and they lack time, resources, and skills).

I’ll explain each with a few examples.

Outcomes and results

While organic search traffic is still the dominant traffic channel, many business owners don’t care about SEO (search engine optimization). They want profitable customers or sales.

Organic search traffic is the dominant traffic channel

When I worked in telecom marketing, the managing director wanted 2,000 new customers a month using the allocated £50,000 budget—regardless of the marketing channel.

Fix a problem

Your website can suffer from bad user experience due to slow loading times, and you need a technical SEO expert to help you prioritize and fix the issues.

Page speed performance

Scale

When a company plans for growth, this usually means scaling up its internal team or hiring an external SEO agency because it lacks the time, resources, and skills to grow its business through organic traffic.

For example, you can enter the following into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and filter by the last 90 days to identify growing companies you can try and sell SEO services to:

accountant AND ("raise" OR "launch" OR "open" OR "relocate" OR "acquire" OR "expand" OR "expansion" OR "new" OR "director of" OR "appointed" OR "change of" OR "hired" OR "recruited" OR "appointment")

Change the bolded word in this search query to a job title or industry, e.g., accountant, gaming, restaurant, marketing, property, etc.

Use Ahrefs' Content Explorer to identify SEO opportunities

What SEO services are prospects looking for?

The sales process begins by defining the services you will offer to potential clients.

In our guide to generating SEO leads, we mentioned that there are three types of SEO services that a prospective client is looking for.

  1. Full SEO service – For example, they want you to manage the entire process of keyword research, content creation, publishing, link building, reporting, and measurement for them.
  2. Industry-focused – For example, SEO for lawyers, SEO for SaaS companies, etc.
  3. Specialist service – For example, HARO link building, domain migration, etc.

Let’s now look at how to improve your pitch so you can get more SEO clients.

Step 1. Show results to establish credibility

To be taken seriously by prospects and get a foot in their door, you need to make them aware of the results of your SEO efforts in your emails, landing page content, forum posts, and personal conversations.

If you don’t already have proof or results, start creating them.

Show traffic or links earned with screenshots

For example, from Ahrefs, I downloaded the following image of the organic traffic of a company I did SEO and content marketing for and added it to my website:

Line graph showing spike in organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

If you worked on an effective link building campaign, enter its URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, take a screenshot of the referring domains, add it to your website’s testimonials page, and describe the objectives, process, and results of the campaign.

Line graph showing sharp increase in referring domains, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Show before and after results

Here’s an example showing how Will improved his site speed by 718% and ended up with more than two times the traffic.

In addition to outlining his process, Will shared a screenshot comparing December’s higher traffic with October’s traffic:

Line graph showing increased search traffic

Get client testimonials

Even better, if your customers give positive reviews about the results they got from your SEO work, you have established credibility in the eyes of potential customers.

The next step is to find and qualify potential customers.

Client testimonial

Step 2. Find and qualify prospects

You can find prospects using inbound marketing, e.g., your website, SEO, PPC, Facebook groups, communities, referrals, email marketing, and outbound techniques such as email and telephone outreach.

Then you qualify prospects using the right questions regardless of your marketing channel.

You can use a qualification sequence like the one below when pitching prospects.

  Their Goal  
More clients ↓ More customer sales ↓ Improve site ↓
Q2. How many clients? ↓ Q2. How many customer sales? ↓ Q2. What improvements? ↓
Q3. Revenue per client ↓ Q3. Average order value ↓
Q4. Keywords target audience search ↓ Q4. Keywords target audience search ↓
Q5. What’s your budget? ↓ Q5. What’s your budget? ↓ What’s your budget? ↓
Q6. Name, email, URL, and phone Q6. Name, email, URL, and phone Name, email, URL, and phone

Example 1. Inbound

In all, 60% of marketers say inbound marketing practices, such as SEO, are their highest quality source of leads.

60% of marketers say inbound marketing practices, such as SEO, are their highest quality source of leads

I’ve used this sequence to qualify new website visitors to my website:

Sequence showing how to qualify website visitors

First, I ask them if they’re looking for clients, sales, or website improvements:

Question with three options asking visitor about their goal

Then I ask a couple of questions related to the first question.

Then I ask if they have any budget:

Question with four options asking visitor about their budget

Then I offer a scheduled call:

CTA inviting visitor to schedule a call; below, a sign-up form

If they don’t have a budget, I invite them to subscribe to my newsletter, where I can pitch them services later:

CTA inviting website visitors to opt in to a newsletter; below, a sign-up form

For example, Fiona told me she’s looking for four new clients who spend around £1,000 but indicated she doesn’t have any budget:

ConvertKit custom fields

If they have some budget, I ask for their name, email, and URL, inviting them to a discovery meeting:

CTA inviting visitor to schedule a call; below, a sign-up form

Your email list

You can email your subscribers asking the first question and a similar sequence to qualify prospects:

ConvertKit email

In this example, Cecilia clicked the “More clients” option and indicated she’s looking for 11–20 more clients:

Example of ConvertKit subscriber

Then she scheduled a call by completing the form you saw earlier.

Example 2. Outbound

In this outbound example, I phoned Richard, a director in an insolvency practice company for whom I’d previously built a website.

In previous conversations, he told me that he gets paying customers from other marketing channels and how much he pays for a qualified lead and customer.

He is a qualified lead, as he told me he has a budget and needs more customers. Now it’s time to pitch to him.

Step 3. Pitch outcomes in discovery sessions

If you’ve qualified a prospect before a discovery call, you’ve already got the information you need to propose an outcome for them.

(Otherwise, the call is going to use the questions in step #2.)

How to pitch their outcome (more clients)

With Richard’s permission, I’ve done my best to recreate our telephone conversation to give you an idea of how this can go.

Me (text): Can I bounce something off on the phone?

Richard (text): Call me.

Me: Hi, Richard. So we’ve talked about how much you spend to get new customers. Ideally, how many new customers are you looking for each month?

Richard: 20.

Me: So you have a very high customer conversion rate from these other channels. But let’s say your website can generate qualified leads, and your team can convert 20% of those leads into customers.

That means you’ll need about 100 qualified leads from the website a month.

Richard: Correct.

Me: Let’s say the website can convert 10% of its traffic into qualified leads, meaning it needs 1,000 visits a month.

Richard: Yes.

Me: So I checked out Google Ads for target keywords like “debt management plans” and “business insolvency,” and your customers’ search. And the cost per click was £16 a click.

So you’d need to spend £16,000 a month with Google Ads to get your 1,000 website visits— based on the above calculations.

Richard: I’m not spending £16,000 a month (laughs).

Me: So let’s look at an alternative solution. I was looking at the website traffic of two of your competitors that generate qualified leads from their websites.

One gets 5,700 visits a month; the other 7,200 visits a month from the organic results, not the paid results.

So you’re a finance guy. You know it takes ongoing investment before you see a return, right?

Richard: Right.

Me: So to get that kind of traffic, I’d need to identify the right things people search for. I’d need to pay someone else with expertise in your industry to write the right content for those things. And I’d need to invest in earning links from authoritative websites.

Richard: And we only want people looking for company liquidation, not personal liquidations solutions.

Me: Exactly. So what would you invest each month instead of spending £16,000 with Google Ads to get the 1,000 visits?

Richard: Well, quickly off the top of my head, probably about £2,000–£3,000 a month.

Me: How did you come to that number?

Richard: I’m the finance director. We can afford to invest £24,000–£36,000 in a year where we don’t need to see short-term results.

A quick explanation

  • 20 clients
  • Divided by 20% conversion
  • Equals 100 leads
  • Divided 10% traffic conversion
  • Equals 1,000 visits
  • Keyword CPC equals £16
  • £16,000 Google Ad spend to get 1,000 visits

To calculate the CPC of the keywords your customer would target, go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, enter their target keywords, and look at the CPC column.

CPC of keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Ending the discovery call

When the call naturally ends, you can finish the conversation with, “So where do you think we should go from here?”

There are only three outcomes of asking this question:

  • They’re not interested.
  • They want to see the scenario you explained to discuss with others.
  • They want to schedule a follow-up meeting with others in their team.

So I wrapped up the call with Richard and said I’d draft up the scenario we discussed.

Step 4. Follow up with a one-page proposal

Fortunately, I’m working with the person who makes the final decisions and the one who approves payment.

So the next day, I emailed Richard this one-page proposal summarizing the objective, campaign, pricing options, and competitor traffic analysis. You can create a copy of it here.

One-page SEO proposal

Then I met up in person with Richard. After some small talk, I asked if he’d read the proposal.

He asked me to explain if the competitors’ growth was achievable, which led the conversation to link building.

I explained how he could ask for links from some of his industry contacts and accreditation websites, but the rest of the links would need to be earned.

Then I explained the keyword research and content processes (choosing which topics to write about) and the differences between pricing option A and option B.

Richard ended the conversation by stating that he was bought into the idea. But as one director needed to review, edit, and approve all content writing, he needed buy-in from all members of his team.

Your prospect may loop someone else like a sales, marketing, or web manager into the project to join a follow-up sales meeting and discuss the following:

  • Discuss how this SEO project will work
  • Plan the project duration, estimate costs, how to get started, and how you will report and measure results
  • References from other clients

Using our SEO contract template proposal, complete the details of the highlighted areas:

SEO proposal template

This contract includes:

  • Responsibilities, who does what, and more.
  • Scope of work.
  • Duration of work.
  • Payment terms.

In addition, you may also be asked to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) by the client before they share company information with you and your team.

Final thoughts

Here’s a quick recap. We covered how to approach selling SEO services by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Present the client’s desired outcome rather than your services
  2. Use psychology to pitch a higher anchor price against your price
  3. Provide a verbal price or one-page proposal before sending a contract 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.



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OpenAI’s Rockset Acquisition And How It May Impact Digital Marketing

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OpenAI's Rockset Acquisition And How It May Impact Digital Marketing

OpenAI acquired a technology from Rockset that will enable the creation of new products, real-time data analysis, and recommendation systems, possibly signaling a new phase for OpenAI that could change the face of search marketing in the near future.

What Is Rockset And Why It’s Important

Rockset describes its technology as a Hybrid Search, a type of multi-faceted approach to search (integrating vector search, text search and metadata filtering) to retrieve documents that can augment the generation process in RAG systems. RAG is a technique that combines search with generative AI that is intended to create more factually accurate and contextually relevant results. It’s a technology that plays a role in BING’s AI search and Google’s AI Overviews.

Rockset’s research paper about the Rockset Hybrid Search Architecture notes:

“All vector search is becoming hybrid search as it drives the most relevant, real-time application experiences. Hybrid search involves incorporating vector search and text
search as well as metadata filtering, all in a single query. Hybrid search is used in search, recommendations and retrieval augmented generation (RAG) applications.

…Rockset is designed and optimized to ingest data in real time, index different data types and run retrieval and ranking algorithms.”

What makes Rockset’s hybrid search important is that it allows the indexing and use of multiple data types (vectors, text, geospatial data about objects & events), including real-time data use. That powerful flexibility allows the technology to interact with different kinds of data that can be used for in-house and consumer-facing applications related to contextually relevant product recommendations, customer segmentation and analysis for targeted marketing campaigns, personalization, personalized content aggregation, location-based recommendations (restaurants, services, etc.) and in applications that increase user engagement (Rockset lists numerous case studies of how their technology is used).

OpenAI’s announcement explained:

“AI has the opportunity to transform how people and organizations leverage their own data. That’s why we’ve acquired Rockset, a leading real-time analytics database that provides world-class data indexing and querying capabilities.

Rockset enables users, developers, and enterprises to better leverage their own data and access real-time information as they use AI products and build more intelligent applications.

…Rockset’s infrastructure empowers companies to transform their data into actionable intelligence. We’re excited to bring these benefits to our customers…”

OpenAI’s announcement also explains that they intend to integrate Rockset’s technology into their own retrieval infrastructure.

At this point we know the transformative quality of hybrid search and the possibilities but OpenAI is at this point only offering general ideas of how this will translate into APIs and products that companies and individuals can create and use.

The official announcement of the acquisition from Rockset, penned by one of the cofounders, offered these clues:

“We are thrilled to join the OpenAI team and bring our technology and expertise to building safe and beneficial AGI.

…Advanced retrieval infrastructure like Rockset will make AI apps more powerful and useful. With this acquisition, what we’ve developed over the years will help make AI accessible to all in a safe and beneficial way.

Rockset will become part of OpenAI and power the retrieval infrastructure backing OpenAI’s product suite. We’ll be helping OpenAI solve the hard database problems that AI apps face at massive scale.”

What Exactly Does The Acquisition Mean?

Duane Forrester, formerly of Bing Search and Yext (LinkedIn profile), shared his thoughts:

“Sam Altman has stated openly a couple times that they’re not chasing Google. I get the impression he’s not really keen on being seen as a search engine. More like they want to redefine the meaning of the phrase “search engine”. Reinvent the category and outpace Google that way. And Rockset could be a useful piece in that approach.

Add in Apple is about to make “ChatGPT” a mainstream thing with consumers when they launch the updated Siri this Fall, and we could very easily see query starts migrate away from traditional search engine boxes. Started with TikTok/social, now moving to ai-assistants.”

Another approach, which could impact SEO, is that OpenAI could create a product based on an API that can be used by companies to power in-house and consumer facing applications. With that approach, OpenAI provides the infrastructure (like they currently do with ChatGPT and foundation models) and let the world innovate all over the place with OpenAI at the center (as it currently does) as the infrastructure.

I asked Duane about that scenario and he agreed but also remained open to an even wider range of possibilities:

“Absolutely, a definite possibility. As I’ve been approaching this topic, I’ve had to go up a level. Or conceptually switch my thinking. Search is, at its heart, information retrieval. So if I go down the IR path, how could one reinvent  “search” with today’s systems and structures that redefine how information retrieval happens?

This is also – it should be noted- a description for the next-gen advanced site search.  They could literally take over site search across a wide range of mid-to-enterprise level companies. It’s easily as advanced as the currently most advanced site-search systems. Likely more advanced if they launch it. So ultimately, this could herald a change to consumer search (IR) and site-search-based systems.

Expanding from that, apps, as they allude to.  So I can see their direction here.”

Deedy Das of Menlo Ventures (Poshmark, Roku, Uber) speculated on Twitter about how this acquisition may transform OpenAI:

“This is speculation but I imagine Rockset will power all their enterprise search offerings to compete with Glean and / or a consumer search offering to compete with Perplexity / Google. Permissioning capabilities of Rockset make me think more the former than latter”

Others on Twitter offered their take on how this will affect the future of AI:

“I doubt OpenAI will jump into the enterprise search fray. It’s just far too challenging and something that Microsoft and Google are best positioned to go after.

This is a play to accelerate agentic behaviors and make deep experts within the enterprise. You might argue it’s the same thing an enterprise search but taking an agent first approach is much more inline with the OpenAI mission.”

A Consequential Development For OpenAI And Beyond

The acquisition of Rockset may prove to be the foundation of one of the most consequential changes to how businesses use and deploy AI, which in turn, like many other technological developments, could also have an effect on the business of digital marketing.

Read how Rockset customers power recommendation systems, real-time personalization, real-time analytics, and other applications:

Featured Case Studies

Read the official Rockset announcement:

OpenAI Acquires Rockset

Read the official OpenAI announcement:

OpenAI acquires Rockset
Enhancing our retrieval infrastructure to make AI more helpful

Read the original Rockset research paper:

Rockset Hybrid Search Architecture (PDF)

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Iconic Bestiary

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Results-Driven SEO Project Management: From Chaos to Cash

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Results-Driven SEO Project Management: From Chaos to Cash

Making a profit in SEO relies on good project management. That means doing things that get results rather than just drowning yourself in endless tasks.

Below, I’ll walk you through a 7-step process to do exactly that.

Having clear goals keeps your team unified toward a specific direction. For example, if your boss allocates $5,000/month for the SEO project, you need to translate this into meaningful results and milestones you can report on. 

A goal you can easily set is to increase the website’s organic traffic value. This is a metric unique to Ahrefs that estimates a dollar value of SEO traffic. 

If you invest $5,000/month in SEO for six months, you could aim to increase your website’s organic traffic value by $30,000 ($5,000 ✕ 6 months). 

This isn’t the most accurate method because traffic value doesn’t necessarily correlate with real-world revenues, but it works as an easy starting point for setting targets. 

A better solution is to use conversion data and average order or deal value to set goals around delivering a return on investment. You can find these metrics in your analytics tool, like Google Analytics, if conversion tracking is set up: 

Tracking conversion rate and average order value in Google Analytics.Tracking conversion rate and average order value in Google Analytics.

Sidenote.

If you don’t have access to conversion metrics like this, to be conservative, use 1% as a ballpark conversion rate and the cheapest product or service price for the average order value.

Using these metrics, you can calculate the number of sales needed to break even on the SEO campaign.

# of monthly sales to break even = monthly SEO cost average order value 

Since this project’s monthly SEO cost is $5,000, we’ll need to grow sales from organic traffic by 32.25 for each month of the project’s duration. 

Here’s the formula to discover roughly how much traffic or projected organic sessions you’ll need: 

projected organic sessions = transactions needed to break even conversion rate

So in this example, we divide 32.25 transactions by the conversion rate of 0.86% to learn that we need at least 3,750 organic monthly sessions to break even. Of course, not all traffic is created equal, so keep that in mind going forward. 

So far, so good! (Save this number, we’ll need it in a moment). 

In many cases, the timeline will be decided for you by your boss or client. For instance, if you take on a client with a six-month contract, that’s the timeframe in which you generally have to deliver results. 

The question at this stage is whether it’s possible to reach your performance goal in that time. 

Truthfully, there’s no way to know for sure, but you can look to your competitors for an idea. 

Sure, you have no idea what their SEO budgets are (they could be spending 10x what you are), but if you see multiple competitors of a similar caliber getting similar results over a similar timeframe, that’s a good sign. 

For instance, in its first six months of SEO, Webflow reached just shy of 24,000 organic monthly traffic, with a traffic value of $76,510 (according to Ahrefs). 

Webflow's SEO performance in the first 6 months.Webflow's SEO performance in the first 6 months.

By comparison, Duda’s first-year performance is also fairly close to Webflow’s.

Duda's SEO performance in the first 6 months.Duda's SEO performance in the first 6 months.

So, if these are your competitors and your target is to reach a traffic value of $30,000 in six months or to increase monthly traffic by 3,750 sessions, it certainly seems achievable. 

If you don’t see competitors hitting your target in your timeframe like this, you’ll need to rethink your goals and communicate them to key stakeholders. Communication is critical for setting the right expectations with your boss or clients. 

Now that you’ve set an achievable goal for the project timeline, the next step is to plan what tasks actually need to be done to get you there. 

You’ll need to spend some time on strategic tasks to help you determine the correct implementations for the project. 

Don’t be tempted to skip this part!! 

If you don’t spend enough time on strategic tasks like competitor analysis, keyword research, and auditing the current website, no matter how much action you take, it’ll be useless if you’re heading in the wrong direction. 

But don’t overdo it, either. You need to balance strategy with implementation to get results. 

For example, there’s generally a notable difference in performance between a project that spends one month on strategy and publishes content ASAP compared to a project that front-loads strategic tasks and implements content a few months later. 

SEO project management strategy differencesSEO project management strategy differences

I recommend spending ⅙ of the project timeline on strategy and ⅚ on implementation for the best balance. 

As for what specific tasks you can plan, there are many things you could focus on here. The right things for your website will vary depending on your available skills and resources, plus what’s working best in your industry… but here’s where I’d start, given that the target is to increase traffic. 

a) Fill content gaps

Start by finding pages that deliver traffic to competitors that your website doesn’t have. 

Using Ahrefs’ Competitive Analysis tool, make sure you select the “keywords” tab and then enter your website along with a handful of your top competitors, like so: 

Adding competitors to Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis report .Adding competitors to Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis report .

Then check out the results to find topics your competitors have written about that you haven’t. Make sure you qualify the topics according to what has business value for you. 

For instance, let’s look at design-related keywords that Wix or Squarespace rank for but Webflow doesn’t.

Finding keywords competitors rank for that your website doesn't.Finding keywords competitors rank for that your website doesn't.

Many of these keywords hold very little business value for a company like Webflow, like any related to logo makers and generators. However, keywords related to design trends and principles might be topics Webflow can consider for its blog since designers are a staple part of its audience demographic. 

For topics that have business value, create new content targeting these keywords. 

There can be a lot of data to sift through here, so I recommend my content gap analysis template for a faster and smoother process 😉 

b) Boost authority of top pages

This task is about identifying which of your content is already performing well and sending more internal links and backlinks to those pages. 

You can find the best pages to promote by using the Top Pages report in Site Explorer. Here you’ll see which pages on your site get the most traffic: 

Using Ahrefs' Top Pages report to quickly identify pages with the most traffic on your website.Using Ahrefs' Top Pages report to quickly identify pages with the most traffic on your website.

Then, navigate to the Internal Link Opportunities report in Site Audit. You can set an advanced filter to narrow down the opportunities to the pages you care most about. Check out the suggested anchor text and keyword contexts and implement all the internal links that make sense in your content. 

Ahrefs' Internal Link Opportunities report.Ahrefs' Internal Link Opportunities report.

You should also build backlinks to these pages. You can use the Competitive Analysis report again, but this time, set it to referring domains or pages. 

Sidenote.

Setting it to referring domains will give you a list of websites you can add to an outreach list. Setting it to referring pages will give you the exact URLs where the links to your competitors are. These links can be included in outreach messages to make them more customized.

Also, instead of using the homepage, add the exact page you want to link to and compare it to your competitors’ pages on the same topic. Make sure you set all pages to “exact URL” to get the page-level (instead of website-level) backlink data. 

Using Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis report to find backlink gaps.Using Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis report to find backlink gaps.

There are many different backlinking techniques you can consider implementing. Check out our video on how to get your first 100 links if you’re unsure where to start: 

c) Update content with low-hanging fruit opportunities

For an established website with a decent amount of existing content, you can also look for opportunities to quickly update existing content and boost performance with little effort. 

In Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, check out your pages that are already ranking in positions 4-15 by using Opportunities > Low-Hanging Fruit Keywords: 

Finding low hanging fruit keyword in Ahrefs.Finding low hanging fruit keyword in Ahrefs.

Find pages with many keywords in this range and try to close topic gaps on those pages. For example, let’s take our post on affiliate marketing and look at its low-hanging fruit opportunities. 

We could isolate similar keywords that don’t already have a dedicated section in our article, like the following about becoming an affiliate. 

Example of low hanging fruit keywords to add to an article.Example of low hanging fruit keywords to add to an article.

These are already hovering around the middle of page one on Google. With a small, dedicated section about this topic, we can likely improve rankings for these keywords with minimal effort. 

Most tasks aren’t a one-time thing. For example, you’ll probably create or update multiple pieces of content during an SEO project. 

So, the next step is to create a library of repeatable task templates that you can duplicate in your project. 

Example of SEO task templates using ClickUp.Example of SEO task templates using ClickUp.
Source: Screenshot taken in ClickUp

If you don’t do this and just assume your team knows what to do, it can cause chaos, and there’s a high chance your project won’t succeed. 

Here’s what you should add to each task template: 

  • Who → assignees, reviewers, watchers, key stakeholders
  • What → what’s the goal of the task + what exactly needs to be done
  • When → dates to start and finish a task, estimated hours to complete
  • Where → what tools should be used, where should deliverables be added, where can templates/relevant info be found
  • Why → connect the task to a strategic objective
  • How → SOP or process outlined in a clear and detailed brief

Obviously, the exact details for some of these will need to be filled in on a task-by-task basis as you duplicate them into your project. For example, instead of assigning the template tasks to a specific person, indicate the role that is responsible for the task until you’re ready to assign it to someone. 

Likewise, with the due dates. In the template, instead of adding exact due dates, indicate an estimated length of time each task should take and a general rule for when the task is due after it’s been assigned. 

Not every project will need every task, so the idea is to pull in what’s required as needed and have the bulk of the info pre-filled to reduce the time it takes to brief the task. 

With your tasks set and templates created, it’s now time to start doing.

This is where things can often fall apart unless you distribute responsibility and ownership of tasks and processes throughout your team. 

SEO project management doesn’t fail because there aren’t SOPs and processes in place. It fails because the people executing the processes aren’t given ownership of them.

Mads SingersMads Singers

Here are 3 reasons why this can happen: 

  1. Without clear ownership, all team members rely on you for approvals before they can complete a task or start another. It slows everything down, and very little gets done efficiently.
  2. A “not my job” mentality can take root in your team. Unless team members take ownership of their tasks, you will be responsible for micromanaging everything to ensure your team is doing what it’s supposed to be.
  3. The people best placed to decide upon and update processes aren’t the ones doing so. They’re just doing whatever “management” tells them to do even if they see a better way.

You can solve the first two problems by clearly identifying who is responsible for specific tasks and processes and allowing them to get on with those tasks without having to run every tiny thing through you. 

You can solve the third problem by letting the people on the ground decide how their tasks are done and giving them responsibility for updating SOPs and relevant task templates. This again frees up your time and attention to focus on strategy, not micromanaging. 

PRO TIP

It also helps to break up bigger tasks into sub-components when multiple people are involved, like: 

  • Briefing → SEO Strategist or Account Manager
  • Implementation → often, a non-SEO professional like a writer, developer, or designer 
  • Review → Senior SEO
  • Final approval → Client
Example SEO project management timelineExample SEO project management timeline

For the love of all things good, please don’t manage SEO projects via email. It’s horrible. 

Invest in setting up a proper project management tool to scale with you. Consider your needs before you start planning all your tasks and projects. 

There’s no tool that’s best for everyone, but I recommend you check out Asana, ClickUp, or Monday to get you started. 

In any of these tools, you can easily set up separate projects and task templates. For example, here’s a basic setup of the first month’s tasks you can consider in Clickup: 

Example of Month 1 SEO tasks created in ClickUp.Example of Month 1 SEO tasks created in ClickUp.

Within each task, you can pre-fill certain fields and add a description, like so: 

Example of a task template for SEO project management.Example of a task template for SEO project management.

This is where you can add your brief, relevant links, and the essential details needed to turn the task into a template. Of course, there are nuances of how this works between different project management tools, but the basic idea remains the same. 

It’s worth spending time setting up your tasks and templates correctly so you can save time down the track as your project or team grows. 

The last piece of this framework is tracking resources spent and results achieved. 

Tracking resources

The easiest way to track resources is to create custom fields in your project management tool that measure specific resources allocated for each task. Some tools also let you build out reports to see how your resource allocation is going across different time frames, teams, or projects. 

The types of resources you might consider tracking include: 

  • Cost of the task
  • Planned time allocated
  • Actual time spent
  • Cost of tools required to do the task
  • Credits the task is worth (if you use a credit system)
  • Sprint points (if you work in sprints)

For more in-depth insights on where your resources are going, consider tagging tasks according to whether they’re strategic, implementation, or administrative. This way, you can quickly and easily spot imbalances like investing too much in tasks that don’t contribute to results. 

Tracking results

Measuring your results requires going beyond your project management tool and using a combination of your analytics software and an SEO tool like Ahrefs. 

When you start working on a new campaign, make sure you record a benchmark of the existing performance of the website. Then, keep regular tabs on the metrics that matter for the project and performance milestones you’ve achieved along the way. 

For example, you can use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools to monitor performance across your entire portfolio for free. 

The dashboard allows you to quickly see how performance is trending for key SEO metrics across all projects you’ve added: 

Ahrefs' dashboard showing quick performance stats across multiple projects.Ahrefs' dashboard showing quick performance stats across multiple projects.

Key Takeaways

Results-driven SEO project management starts with the end in mind and works backward. It doesn’t assume you’ll see performance improvements just because you’re doing lots of stuff. 

Instead, it is very intentional about figuring out exactly what needs to be done and linking those actions to realistic and achievable outcomes. 

In the words of Mads Singers: 

The starting point is figuring out how to deliver a return on investment. This is the most important thing. Then it’s about giving your team ownership and control over the tasks related to their roles. 

Once these foundations are in place, only then is it about documenting processes. But it shouldn’t be a business owner or manager who does the documentation. Processes should be owned by the people doing the work and who can keep SOPs current.

Mads SingersMads Singers

The process shared above allows you to do all of this and more. If you have any questions about your SEO project management goals or processes, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn anytime. 

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What Is Schema Markup & Why Is It Important For SEO?

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What Is Schema Markup & Why Is It Important For SEO?

Schema.org is a collection of vocabulary (or schemas) used to apply structured data markup to web pages and content. Correctly applying schema can improve SEO outcomes through rich snippets.

Structured data markup is translated by platforms such as Google and Microsoft to provide enhanced rich results (or rich snippets) in search engine results pages or emails. For example, you can markup your ecommerce product pages with variants schema to help Google understand product variations.

Schema.org is an independent project that has helped establish structured data consistency across the internet. It began collaborating with search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex back in 2011.

The Schema vocabulary can be applied to pages through encodings such as RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. JSON-LD schema is preferred by Google as it is the easiest to apply and maintain.

Schema is not a ranking factor.

However, your webpage becomes eligible for rich snippets in SERPs only when you use schema markup. This can enhance your search visibility and increase CTR on your webpage from search results.

Schema can also be used to build a knowledge graph of entities and topics. Using semantic markup in this way aligns your website with how AI algorithms categorize entities, assisting search engines in understanding your website and content.

This means that search engines should have additional information to help them figure out what the webpage is about.

You can even link your entities directly to sites like Wikipedia or Google’s knowledge graph to build explicit connections. Using Schema this way can have positive SEO results, according to Martha van Berkel, CEO of Schema App:

By helping search engines understand content, you are assisting them in saving resources (especially important when you have a large website with millions of pages) and increasing the chances for your content to be interpreted properly and ranked well. While this may not be a ranking factor directly, Schema helps your SEO efforts by giving search engines the best chance of interpreting your content correctly, giving users the best chance of discovering it.

Listed above are some of the most popular uses of schema, which are supported by Google and other search engines.

You may have an object type that has a schema.org definition but is not supported by search engines.

In such cases, it is advised to implement them, as search engines may start supporting them in the future, and you may benefit from them as you already have that implementation.

Google recommends JSON-LD as the preferred format for structured data. Microdata is still supported, but JSON-LD schema is recommended.

In certain circumstances, it isn’t possible to implement JSON-LD schema due to website technical infrastructure limitations such as old content management systems). In these cases, the only option is to markup HTML via Microdata or RDFa.

You can now mix JSON-LD and Microdata formats by matching the @id attribute of JSON-LD schema with the itemid attribute of Microdata schema. This approach helps reduce the HTML size of your pages.

For example, in a FAQ section with extensive text, you can use Microdata for the content and JSON-LD for the structured data without duplicating the text, thus avoiding an increase in page size. We will dive deeper into this below in the article when discussing each type in detail.

JSON-LD encodes data using JSON, making it easy to integrate structured data into web pages. JSON-LD allows connecting different schema types using a graph with @ids, improving data integration and reducing redundancy.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you own a store that sells high-quality routers. If you were to look at the source code of your homepage, you would likely see something like this:

Once you dive into the code, you’ll want to find the portion of your webpage that discusses what your business offers. In this example, that data can be found between the two

tags.

The following JSON-LD formatted text will markup the information within that HTML fragment on your webpage, which you may want to include in your webpage’s

section.



This snippet of code defines your business as a store via the attribute"@type": "Store".

Then, it details its location, contact information, hours of operation from Monday to Saturday, and different operational hours for Sunday.

By structuring your webpage data this way, you provide critical information directly to search engines, which can improve how they index and display your site in search results. Just like adding tags in the initial HTML, inserting this JSON-LD script tells search engines specific aspects of your business.

Let’s review another example of WebPage schema connected with Organization and Author schemas via @id. JSON-LD is the format Google recommends and other search engines because it’s extremely flexible, and this is a great example.



In the example:

  • Website links to the organization as the publisher with @id.
  • The organization is described with detailed properties.
  • WebPage links to the WebSite with isPartOf.
  • NewsArticle links to the WebPage with isPartOf, and back to the WebPage with mainEntityOfPage, and includes the author property via @id.

You can see how graph nodes are linked to each other using the"@id"attribute. This way, we inform Google that it is a webpage published by the publisher described in the schema.

The use of hashes (#) for IDs is optional. You should only ensure that different schema types don’t have the same ID by accident. Adding custom hashes (#) can be helpful, as it provides an extra layer of insurance that they will not be repeated.

You may wonder why we use"@id"to connect graph nodes. Can’t we just drop organization, author, and webpage schemas separately on the same page, and it is intuitive that those are connected?

The issue is that Google and other search engines cannot reliably interpret these connections unless explicitly linked using @id.

Adding to the graph additional schema types is as easy as constructing Lego bricks. Say we want to add an image to the schema:

{
   "@type": "ImageObject",
   "@id": "https://www.example.com/#post-image",
   "url": "https://www.example.com/example.png",
   "contentUrl": "https://www.example.com/example.png",
   "width": 2160,
   "height": 1215,
   "thumbnail": [
     {
        "@type": "ImageObject",
        "url": "https://example.com/4x3/photo.jpg",
        "width": 1620,
        "height": 1215
      },
      {
        "@type": "ImageObject",
        "url": "https://example.com/16x9/photo.jpg",
        "width": 1440,
        "height": 810
      },
      {
        "@type": "ImageObject",
        "url": "https://example.com/1x1/photo.jpg",
        "width": 1000,
        "height": 1000
      }
    ]
}

As you already know from the NewsArticle schema, you need to add it to the above schema graph as a parent node and link via @id.

As you do that, it will have this structure:



Quite easy, isn’t it? Now that you understand the main principle, you can build your own schema based on the content you have on your website.

And since we live in the age of AI, you may also want to use ChatGPT or other chatbots to help you build any schema you want.

2. Microdata Schema Format

Microdata is a set of tags that aims to make annotating HTML elements with machine-readable tags much easier.

However, the one downside to using Microdata is that you have to mark every individual item within the body of your webpage. As you can imagine, this can quickly get messy.

Take a look at this sample HTML code, which corresponds to the above JSON schema with NewsArticle:

Our Company

Example Company, also known as Example Co., is a leading innovator in the tech industry.

Founded in 2000, we have grown to a team of 200 dedicated employees.

Our slogan is: "Innovation at its best".

Contact us at +1-800-555-1212 for customer service.

Our Founder

Our founder, Jane Smith, is a pioneer in the tech industry.

Connect with Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Us

This is the About Us page for Example Company.

Example News Headline

This is an example news article.

This is the full content of the example news article. It provides detailed information about the news event or topic covered in the article.

Author: John Doe. Connect with John on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If we convert the above JSON-LD schema into Microdata format, it will look like this:

Our Company

Example Company, also known as Example Co., is a leading innovator in the tech industry.

Founded in 2000-01-01, we have grown to a team of 200 dedicated employees.

Our slogan is: Innovation at its best.

Contact us at +1-800-555-1212 for Customer Service.

Example Company Logo

Connect with us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Our Founder

Our founder, Jane Smith, is a pioneer in the tech industry.

Connect with Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Us

This is the About Us page for Example Company.

Example News Headline

This is an example news article.

This is the full content of the example news article. It provides detailed information about the news event or topic covered in the article.

Author:

Example image

This example shows how complicated it becomes compared to JSON-LD since the markup is spread over HTML. Let’s understand what is in the markup.

You can see

tags like:


By adding this tag, we’re stating that the HTML code contained between the

blocks identifies a specific item.

Next, we have to identify what that item is by using the ‘itemtype’ attribute to identify the type of item (Person).


An item type comes in the form of a URL (such as https://schema.org/Person). Let’s say, for example, you have a product you may use http://schema.org/Product.

To make things easier, you can browse a list of item types here and view extensions to identify the specific entity you’re looking for. Keep in mind that this list is not all-encompassing but only includes ones that are supported by Google, so there is a possibility that you won’t find the item type for your specific niche.

It may look complicated, but Schema.org provides examples of how to use the different item types so you can see what the code is supposed to do.

Don’t worry; you won’t be left out in the cold trying to figure this out on your own!

If you’re still feeling a little intimidated by the code, Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper makes it super easy to tag your webpages.

To use this amazing tool, just select your item type, paste in the URL of the target page or the content you want to target, and then highlight the different elements so that you can tag them.

3. RDFa Schema Format

RDFa is an acronym for Resource Description Framework in Attributes. Essentially, RDFa is an extension to HTML5 designed to aid users in marking up structured data.

RDFa isn’t much different from Microdata. RDFa tags incorporate the preexisting HTML code in the body of your webpage. For familiarity, we’ll look at the same code above.

The HTML for the same JSON-LD news article will look like:

vocab="https://schema.org/" typeof="WebSite" resource="https://www.example.com/#website">

Our Company

Example Company, also known as Example Co., is a leading innovator in the tech industry.

Founded in 2000-01-01, we have grown to a team of 200 dedicated employees.

Our slogan is: Innovation at its best.

Contact us at +1-800-555-1212 for Customer Service.

https://www.example.com Example Company Logo

Connect with us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Our Founder

Our founder, Jane Smith, is a pioneer in the tech industry.

Connect with Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Us

This is the About Us page for Example Company.

https://www.example.com/about

Example News Headline

This is an example news article.

This is the full content of the example news article. It provides detailed information about the news event or topic covered in the article.

Author: John Doe Profile Twitter LinkedIn

Example image

Unlike Microdata, which uses a URL to identify types, RDFa uses one or more words to classify types.

vocab=”http://schema.org/” typeof=”WebPage”>

If you wish to identify a property further, use the ‘typeof’ attribute.

Let’s compare JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa side by side. The @type attribute of JSON-LD is equivalent to the itemtype attribute of Microdata format and the typeof attribute in RDFa. Furthermore, the propertyName of JSON-LD attribute would be the equivalent of the itemprop and property attributes.

Attribute Name JSON-LD Microdata RDFa
Type @type itemtype typeof
ID @id itemid resource
Property propertyName itemprop property
Name name itemprop=”name” property=”name”
Description description itemprop=”description” property=”description”

For further explanation, you can visit Schema.org to check lists and view examples. You can find which kinds of elements are defined as properties and which are defined as types.

To help, every page on Schema.org provides examples of how to apply tags properly. Of course, you can also fall back on Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

4. Mixing Different Formats Of Structured Data With JSON-LD

If you use JSON-LD schema but certain parts of pages aren’t compatible with it, you can mix schema formats by linking them via @id.

For example, if you have live blogging on the website and a JSON-LD schema, including all live blogging items in the JSON schema would mean having the same content twice on the page, which may increase HTML size and affect First Contentful Paint and Largest Contentful Paint page speed metrics.

You can solve this either by generating JSON-LD dynamically with JavaScript when the page loads or by marking up HTML tags of live blogging via the Microdata format, then linking to your JSON-LD schema in the head section via “@id“.

Here is an example of how to do it.

Say we have this HTML with Microdata markup with itemid="https://www.example.com/live-blog-page/#live-blog"

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We can link to it from the sample JSON-LD example we had like this:



If you copy and paste HTML and JSON examples underneath in the schema validator tool, you will see that they are validating properly.

The schema validator does validate the above example.The schema validator does validate the above example.

The SEO Impact Of Structured Data

This article explored the different schema encoding types and all the nuances regarding structured data implementation.

Schema is much easier to apply than it seems, and it’s a best practice you must incorporate into your webpages. While you won’t receive a direct boost in your SEO rankings for implementing Schema, it can:

  • Make your pages eligible to appear in rich results.
  • Ensure your pages get seen by the right users more often.
  • Avoid confusion and ambiguity.

The work may seem tedious. However, given time and effort, properly implementing Schema markup is good for your website and can lead to better user journeys through the accuracy of information you’re supplying to search engines.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
Screenshot taken by author

 

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Chuck Price

Founder at Measurable SEO

Looking for a Content Marketing Solution to Increase Traffic and Revenue? I’m the founder of Measurable SEO and former COO ...

Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete Guide



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