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SEO 19 min read September 16, 2019

How To Effectively Manage Your SEO Team: Asking Experts

How To Effectively Manage Your SEO Team: Asking Experts

Stacy Mine
Editor at Serpstat
Leading an SEO team is not an easy task, no matter if it's an in-house or agency team. You must know how to guide your SEO team and assess its performance effectively, and which tools can be useful for the brilliant result.

In this article, experienced SEO leaders talk about managing their teams and give tips on effective teamwork.
Meet our contributors:
Julian Redlich
SEO Product Manager
at Booking.com
Rodrigo Stockebrand
Vice President, Digital Analytics & SEO at Univision Communications Inc.
Sean Si
CEO and Founder
at SEO Hacker
Robbie Richards

Braden Becker
Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot
Vytautas Palovis
SEO Team Lead at Oberlo (Shopify)
Chris Makara
Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Insperity
Marcus Miller
SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing Consultant and Strategist at Bowler Hat

How do you measure the results of your SEO team and individual members?

Julian Redlich
SEO Product Manager at Booking.com
At Booking.com, we do not have SEOs in the traditional sense; rather my team consists of Backend Developers, Frontend Developers, Designers, Analysts and Copywriters. All of them contribute to a collectively designed vision in our agile environment, but approach this from a different angle.

As a Product Manager, I prioritize the tasks for the team in alignment with business priorities, although this isn't without input from the team. At Booking.com, we put the customer at the center of everything we do, and all of us are working together to leverage their own special skill sets to accomplish this collective goal.
Braden Becker
Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot
Our main KPI is organic traffic when it comes to measuring our SEO team's performance. However, a variety of factors can drive the results we see, and we go through a process of elimination to diagnose issues and attribute successes. When analyzing a period of low performance, for example, things like seasonality, international traffic, and updates to Google's ranking algorithm are often the first to be looked at.

We measure the work of individual employees by where they're spending their time, how they're thinking about team challenges, and what they're doing to address them. Everyone here has specific focuses, and this makes it easy to hold ourselves accountable when things go particularly wrong or right.
Vytautas Palovis
SEO Team Lead at Oberlo (Shopify)
We have monthly goals, as well as expectations for the rest of the year.

There are two main KPIs which we track:

  • organic traffic
  • conversions from organic traffic.

Also, we have several individual metrics for each SEO area we work on:

  • On-page SEO optimization — we check before/after improvements in terms of organic traffic change
  • For off-page SEO, we track how many unique referring domains we gained (when it comes to off-page SEO, we create a different type of content — linkable assets, as we call them). We also check how powerful are these links, DA/DR metrics, are these links contextual, did they move the needle and helped that page rank better.
Marcus Miller
SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing Consultant and Strategist at Bowler Hat
We try to take a more holistic approach to SEO than others do. We track various KPIs which are typically customized to the needs of each client. I talk about this in some detail in this post.

We tend to have two sets of primary KPIs:

SEO KPIs:

These are KPIs that show us that our SEO health metrics are all going in the right direction:

  • Rank for main converting keywords (local/organic)
  • Rank for secondary benchmark keywords (local/organic)
  • Majestic Citation Flow
  • Majestic Trust Flow
  • Majestic Trust Citation Balance
  • Moz Domain Authority
  • Moz Page Authority
  • Moz Spam Score

Real-world SEO KPIs:

We then track what we call real-world KPIs designed to tell us if the improvements in the SEO metrics are tracking to real-world results.

  • Increase in organic traffic
  • Increase in the number of pages on the site that generate traffic
  • Increase in non-branded search traffic
  • Percentage increase in organic conversions
  • Percentage increase in traffic from specific geographic regions
  • Organic Impressions (Search Console)
  • Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR) (Search Console.
Rodrigo Stockebrand
Vice President, Digital Analytics & SEO at Univision Communications Inc.
The main things that I'm looking to accomplish are:

Empower everyone to create their performance and task roadmap – you may know far better than I, what's essential and when it should be done. I want people to have the flexibility and freedom to choose.

Reward value where it's due – some of the most crucial tasks in our department have no impact (at least not directly) on organic search performance. Nonetheless, they are critical in getting other things (that do have a direct impact) moving forward. Therefore, for those individuals that are great at moving these particular pieces, we put less importance on the traffic growth side of performance. In general, I want people to do what they do best and measure them fairly for those tasks, whether they impact performance directly or not. Because in the end, it's even the stairs to the ship that make its voyage possible.
Sean Si
CEO and Founder at SEO Hacker
Through our KPIs. We have different teams that specialize in the various facets of SEO - content, tech, links, strategizing. Our team's results are measured by being able to produce a set number that coincides to their monthly quotas. So, that's the primary way we measure results, but for other select teams, we measure results through rankings since that is what we specialize in. So, if a client does not rank well, that means the team in charge of coming up with strategies/experiments/tasks to make a client rank are not performing well.
Robbie Richards
When it comes to measuring SEO performance for client and personal projects, I like to break it down by macro and micro KPIs. These will vary depending on the client, but here is an example:

Macro KPIs: these are the most important indicators of success.

  • Conversions from organic traffic
  • Total organic traffic
  • Brand vs. non-brand
  • Key pages
We like to monitor these on a MoM, QoQ and YoY basis to show trends and validate our work is moving the needle in the business.

Micro conversions:
these KPIs are generally campaign specific, and support the macro KPIs.

  • Keyword ranking distribution/ trends (# in top 3, 4-10, 11-20 etc)
  • Number of new referring domains built to priority pages
  • User engagement (time on page, bounce rates etc)

Tip from Serpstat #1: Manage tasks

For in-house or agency teams who run multiple SEO projects at the same time, it is particularly important to distribute tasks in the best possible way and to optimize processes. Serpstat's Multiuser Mode feature makes it easy for you to accomplish this task, and each of your projects can be easily managed by setting up team members' activities, so the team leader can allow access not only to specific projects for the team but also on individual areas: keyword research and competitor analysis, website audit, backlinks, rank tracking, clustering and text analysis, APIs, projects and checklists as well as sharing the limits between SEOs according to the needs of the projects in which your team participates.
 

Which CRM systems do you use?

Julian Redlich
SEO Product Manager at Booking.com
I'm using Jira as a project management tool with my team, but this isn't the only tool used across Booking.com.
Braden Becker
Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot
At HubSpot, we use our own HubSpot CRM. Of course, we recommend it to others, as it's completely free.
Vytautas Palovis
SEO Team Lead at Oberlo (Shopify)
We usually use Google Search Console.
Marcus Miller
SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing Consultant and Strategist at Bowler Hat
We don't use a CRM at Bowler Hat, and we manage most of our projects with the Asana work management platform, where we track leads and sales and manage all client projects. Great tool. :)

We have worked with a vast range of CRM systems - everything from Salesforce and Hubspot to bespoke CRMs.
Rodrigo Stockebrand
Vice President, Digital Analytics & SEO at Univision Communications Inc.
Usually Salesforce.
Sean Si
CEO and Founder at SEO Hacker
We use Pipedrive and Aweber.
Chris Makara
Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Insperity
I usually use several tools for SEO purposes: Serpstat, Google Sheets, Website Auditor, Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, and Reports.io.
Robbie Richards
We use Asana for project management, and started using HubSpot for more of the internal lead management.

Tip from Serpstat #2: Achievements of individual team members

KPIs and goals help the team leader evaluate the effectiveness of the activities, but how can you judge the performance of individual team members?

Multi-user mode has a feature that is extremely useful for you — the Team statistics section. You can monitor the progress of individual team member.

How do you build an incentive system and determine salary rates for SEOs?

Vytautas Palovis
SEO Team Lead at Oberlo (Shopify)
We offer a competitive salary (not only our SEO team, at Shopify as a company, salaries are on a high level, as well as other perks and benefits.)

In my team, we try to be results-driven. But when a team grows, all soft skills become essential: the ability to work in a team, culture fit, eager to learn, taking ownership and getting shit done – everything becomes important. As a team lead, I try to evaluate all these things and reward my team members when the time comes. Also, you need to set the right expectations to direct reports in the first place. What do you expect from them? What must be achieved to get a salary increase or promotion? Sometimes it could be a tough decision to make.
Marcus Miller
SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing Consultant and Strategist at Bowler Hat
We use client retention throughout the business as a primary metric for the bonus scheme and salary is always based on experience and performance.
Rodrigo Stockebrand
Vice President, Digital Analytics & SEO at Univision Communications Inc.
We use general market rates for salaries. For incentives, we take into consideration a variety of activities, including rank-a-thons and point-based "achievement unlocks."
Sean Si
CEO and Founder at SEO Hacker
We offer bonuses to sales managers every time they make a sale or close a deal. We strongly discourage overworking for our regular team members. A healthy worker can do a lot more than someone that has burned themselves out. That's why we have a relatively generous vacation system and we encourage our team members to take a break once in a while since it's an essential aspect of staying healthy.

The salary rate in the Philippines is pretty straightforward and we work around or use that amount as a standard since we never hired SEOs outside of the company. All our SEOs have been internally trained.
Chris Makara
Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Insperity
I typically pay for hours worked (provided tasks are completed in a reasonable time). As for the rates, it will depend on the level of work needed. For example, if someone is doing an SEO audit, that can take more skill than researching link opportunities.
Robbie Richards
I work in a small team, and we incentivize our full-time employees with percentage profit share after they have been on the team for a certain amount of time. This motivates employees to go above and beyond to ensure client retention and optimal resource utilization.
Serpstat is a multi-functional SEO platform for keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking, website audit, backlink and text analysis.
Would you like to get the trial version or successful use cases? Send a demo request and our support team will contact you;)

Get a quick overview and save your time with personal Serpstat demonstration!

How do your team members provide reports on their results?

Julian Redlich
SEO Product Manager at Booking.com
Objectives are crucial to reporting and results at Booking.com. As a team, we continuously align on objectives, spending time to regularly discuss how we are delivering against the objectives and whether these are still the most impactful priorities for us to work on. We really do believe that our performance is based on what we deliver, but also how we deliver it.

That may include factors like quality, velocity and resilience; but I think it also encourages an environment where everyone is empowered to bring their ideas to the table to anticipate issues and solve problems. When we do this, we really are showing our best talent and feel more invested a given project.

As a Product Manager, I am not in the line of management of the team and within this structure, we are able to build trust and improve performance across the team because people are encouraged to raise their hand when they have an idea or solution.
Braden Becker
Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot
We're a highly transparent team when reporting on performance. Because we're scoped on monthly traffic targets, we meet regularly to update a single slide deck and share our progress. Depending on an employee's focus, we also dig into page-level traffic, lead-generation data, and updates to projects that make our SEO strategy more proactive.
Vytautas Palovis
SEO Team Lead at Oberlo (Shopify)
We hold one-on-one weekly meetings and I think it is an excellent way to touch a base and track the progress. We also monitor monthly updates.
Marcus Miller
SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing Consultant and Strategist at Bowler Hat
We use Raventools to provide our reports. They include some manual feedback on jobs done and how they benefit the client to the traditional metrics and KPIs. The key point is that we customize this for each and every client.
Rodrigo Stockebrand
Vice President, Digital Analytics & SEO at Univision Communications Inc.
We generally the following results: ticket status, task pacing, and performance dashboards (macro/micro/nano) that we configure via APIs to bring real-time data. We also use Ryte.com to monitor site changes which are essential in understanding the ongoing evolution of the site. It's amazing to see the changes that happen to the site daily that would otherwise go undetected.
Sean Si
CEO and Founder at SEO Hacker
We have a monthly reporting system for all the teams. They write down all the tasks that were done for a specific client and we treat that as a progress and client report. It helps us keep track of every team's progress and it also enables us to know which teams are under-performing. It's also a great tracker to use to see if our efforts for a specific client is working and it allows us to know if our current strategy for the client is working.
Robbie Richards
Each month we report on the macro and micro KPIs via a Google Data Studio dashboard. But, we're gradually moving our reporting over to Databox.

On top of the KPI reporting, we also add clients to Asana Projects so they have visibility into what we are working on each month. We'll typically meet with clients bi-weekly to discuss progress, and address any potential bottlenecks.

Tip from Serpstat #3: Professional reports

Serpstat has a little recommendation that can help you create professional reports and gain customer loyalty. These are brand reports that look very professional and trustworthy.

So, your customer needs a report as soon as possible. No problem! In a few seconds you have the one with your beautiful logo.
We thank all our experts for detailed comments! I hope you find the information interesting and helpful :)

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