It is not publicly said often, but during many SEO conferences, one topic is always going to be mentioned – working with customers, developers, content writers etc. Trying to explain to a developer, why H1 tags are not the best for footer links is never easy. Making them implement the changes properly, requires a lot of patience. Then, when technical issues are fixed, asking writers for interesting and creative content (and rejecting many articles) is not easy either. From experience, 90% of articles are simply written to fill the empty pages within a website, assuming that “people won’t read it anyways”.
Recently, I heard a very interesting story that in some of the largest corporations in the world, the board of directors hire firms, only to come to them every month to yell at them for all the things that are mediocre instead of fantastic. That story made me feel really good – this is exactly what I do every day! :)
Now – it may sound good, but you want to keep the team that work on your projects good and pumped. You want your team to win (with your client’s competitors), not to be miserable.
How do you do that?
Throughout many projects, I’ve had a few fails. I had to simply fallback to leaving the changes to the developers, and emailing them every few weeks with stuff that are still not fixed. It was taking weeks to implement what could be done within a few days. Through many experiments, I came up with a solution to motivate my client’s employees to work more efficiently than ever before.
Using this technique, I had some of my customers almost dominating the niche quicker than you would expect; due to a targeted and well guided group effort of the whole team.
Let me show you a few tricks that usually help me motivate people working on a project with me:
1. Use Google Docs to organize documents
I usually send invitations to the whole team I am working with via Google Docs. This way, we can work on Google Sheets that can be edited for every person invited.
2. Send “feel good emails” with team successes
This is something that I actually like a lot. Every now and then, I would email the team I am working with to pump-up their spirits and show them the effects of all the hard work. Of course, it only makes sense when you lead a large team.
Doing so is beneficial for both parties, as I also build up my motivation by reading some of the responses I get from those emails.
3. Use project management software with complex projects
If there are a lot of people involved in the process, it will be a good idea to move to a project management system. By doing so, it will be much easier to assign tasks to a certain team member and have a better control over the whole project.
The Project management system I use: Wrike
It is a project management tool that helps me coordinate our in-house team (11 people) with our customers, their employees, freelancers we work with (e.g. graphic designers, coders, writers, etc.)
Why is it useful?
Imagine that you work on a product/website launch. It ususaly involves up to 20 people more or less involved in the process. Each person involved in the process produces:
- New tasks
At the same time, each person involved in the process needs direct contact with others. With Wrike, users invited by you can
- see only tasks assigned to them
- assign tasks to other users
- chat/interact with other users
After each task is finished, all the conversations and files involved in the process are stored in your Wrike account. I had cases where people responsible for some tasks in my customer’s company were unreachable (left the company, were traveling, got sick etc.). Normally, it could cause a huge mess with the project. However, In this case, we had every single step/task saved in Wrike, which helped in quickly catching up on their work and replacing the team member without causing any delays.
Of course, there are many other Project Management tools available on the market.
Wistia, Trello, Basecamp, Zoho, Podio and many more.
I tried a few of them (Wistia, Trello and Podio), but the interface in Wrike seems to be the easiest to follow. Especially for newly invited usersmthat won’t go through any training etc..
4. Be flexible
Working with so many different people creates a lot of challenges. I am working with content writers (they usually write after hours of their daytime job), Developers (WordPress, Magento, Ruby on Rails etc.), marketing managers and sometimes other specialists required for the project. To make it even more complicated, I never had a team of people living in the same time zone, so time difference plays an important part here as well.
You have to be the person flexible enough to connect creative people (e.g. writers), analytic minds (e.g. IT team, developers) and help them understand the goal you want to achieve. On top of that, you sometimes need to talk directly to CEOs and answer all the difficult questions in a way that is easy to understand for non-SEOs.
To do that, I often work late, spend extra time to stop conflicts that will always happen in such a group, and what is most important. I also do whatever is possible to push the team as blaming delays on others won’t motivate them to work with you.
5. Send reports that are interesting to read
If your report is just a bunch of boring technical data, you must be really lucky to find someone willing to read it and implement it later. I know that many of you will say “it is not my problem”, but it is just an extra effort to make our work more understandable for others.
As an example, listing:
- Slow server issue
- Thin content issue
- Text/HTML ratio is too low
Is never gonna be good enough to fix the issue. Also your customers may feel disappointed in your and won’t use your services again.
I would go with a detailed report helping your customer understand and fix the issue.
- Slow server issue
Your server responds in 4 – 5 seconds on average. Your competitors are usually within 0.8 to 1.4 second. Not only is this an important ranking factor that could lead to lowering your positions in SERPS, it may also discourage users from waiting for your website to load fully. That might not only affect your sales, but also the users going back to Google and clicking at your competitors are sending a direct message to Google, that your website didn’t terminate their search, therefore its quality is low.
How to check if the issue is fixed?
You can either email me to check it for you, or dowload any on-page crawler. I recommend Screaming Frog – it is free to use for up to 500 pages crawl. It should be more than enough to check the average server response time.
One more thing I always do is providing the access to the full crawl done by Deep Crawl (you can generate a white label report published within your subdomain)
6. Within your report, include a “path” (Why, How, Benchmark, Expected Results)
Try to create a path that anyone reading your report can follow to self-evaluate his efforts. This actually helps you more and increases the chances that changes will be implemented properly.
Just as I showed above, try to make it easier for people implementing those changes to understand the exact outcome of the action recommended. This not only speeds up the whole process and makes it easier on you. It also helps them to work more efficiently and deliver better results.
Keeping the team working with you engaged puts you in a great position. You can deliver great results, while keeping the team you are working with and yourself motivated to win.