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Agile methodology in SEO: ultimate guide and how to

6 October 2016 Olga Svetchkar Leave a comment ALL-HANDS SEO

SEO challenges are the hardest ones not only for newbies but for the experts as well. Sometimes those methods you’ve been using for ages don’t bring the results you are willing to get. Maybe it is just perfect time for your SEO team to start using Agile principles. After reading the post you will see that such methodology is more effective and it simplifies day-to-day challenges that are tightly connected to what your team does.

For SEO in particular, Agile is valuable during times like now with the competitive environment which also can be volatile.
Agile methodology in SEO: ultimate guide and how to

What is Agile management

Agile methodology contains different principles that are alternatives to the traditional styles of project management.

One of those who first tried how the Agile principles worked was Harley Davidson. In 1985 the company decided to adopt Japanese management principles that were used by such big car manufacturers like Toyota and Honda. In two years Harley Davidson reduced inventory by 75 percent, also the scrap volume was decreased by 68 percent. The company management noticed the increase of productivity by 50 percent. Thanks to the new management, Harley-Davidson became agiler.

When the era of informational technologies started, the methods were adopted for software developers. Their aim was to help with adaptation to the market changes. Also, they are oriented to improving the work efficiency. After some time the methodology was taken into usage by other teams.

For SEO in particular, Agile is valuable during times like now with competitive environment which also can be volatile.

Is Agile methodology for you?

The answer is yes, if:

  • You feel that new changes should be implemented. Thanks to the flexibility of the agile methods you receive a possibility to change the strategy very fast.
  • You want to reduce your team’s time on completion of new tasks. They will spend a few days or even hours on completing the tasks to meet a project schedule.
  • You are interested in limited planning for getting started with the project. Due to Agile, end users’ needs always change in a dynamic business and SEO world. Changes should be discussed after what new details to the conducted campaign can be added. It will be easy to remove them if you see they are ineffective. The customer, in such case, receives the finished product he wants or needs.
  • You search for a way to give more freedom of time and options to your team and end users. Don’t leave the most important decisions until more or better data or tools are available. It means that the project will continue moving forward without a chance to reach a sudden standstill.
  • You want your team to be able to see the bigger picture and focus on the certain steps of the workflow.

What do you need for Agile implementation

Controlling of the current tasks

The main focus should be on those tasks that are currently in progress. There should be a certain reasonable limit of things that your team can handle and have a constant progress. Thanks to such “limit” it will be easy to keep enough time for all tasks of all types. The list may include small and repetitive tasks, they are familiar and often happen in SEO world. In such case, you will keep in focus what really matters every day.

Taskboard for your team

For the successful Agile methods implementation, your team should have a board with tasks which will help to visualize the whole workflow. What should be on it? First of all, it is your future tasks, so you are able to plan a list of actions to complete them in time. Also, there must be current tasks, the ones that are in progress. It is a great practice to assign tasks to a project they are related to. Don’t ignore small tasks that take less than 3 working hours to be completed. They may be simply lost in the working process. Same goes to repetitive tasks.

It is important to have a tasks review. That means each of your team’s tasks should be marked as done or waiting for completion. After any task is completed it should be also marked if:

  • It is assigned to another department;
  • It is queued up for future implementation;
  • Its results must be tracked.

If you want to have a smooth workflow, you will need to ensure that the future tasks are constantly being updated. When you have a board, you can easily say what your team is working on. Furthermore, you will have an ability to estimate priorities changes when needed.

Prioritize your tasks

Have you heard of the Pareto principle? It includes a special way of prioritization. It is also known as 80/20 rule. What does it mean? While using the rule 80% of the benefit comes from 20% of used resources. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use more than 20% of resources. For instance, you can think of the website pages that can generate most number of pageviews and sessions. Also, try to predict what keywords may bring most of the organic visits. You don’t need to have exact numbers, but most of your work value should be created from a small percentage of the tasks that are done.

To improve your prioritization, find out what resources will it take to get a task done, including working hours, different departments involvement, etc., and what damage may it cause if you ignore it for now.

When you are aware of what tasks your team is able to complete, have a task board to visualize workflow and consider the prioritization, no small details will slip away. You will be able to see what step should be done next when there are any changes in SEO world.

Being ready to urgent changes

If any urgent problem appears that doesn’t fit the regular workflow, there should be always a plan on how to deal with it for the responsible team and the company in a whole. For this, all the departments should join their forces to complete the task as soon and as effective as it is possible.

Small pieces of huge puzzle

When you have a large project don’t try to seize it all at once. It is, at least, not smart and doesn’t make you look like a professional. Instead of it try to break the puzzle up into few pieces.

After you finish the work on the first one, don’t lose the time, quickly review it, come up with conclusions and move forward to the next one.

These little puzzle details are also known as Minimal Marketable Features (MMFs). According to their definition, it is the smallest set of functionality realized in order for the customer to perceive the value. A feature is something that the user considers as valuable. The word “marketable” in this case shows that the feature provides significant value to the customer. The MMF is considered to be the smallest part of the end product that is good enough to go live.

Using this method you will get few very important benefits. First of all, it is a constant results delivery. Also, all the adjustments may be made on the fly, which is important for any SEO specialist.

Few steps to manage your workflow as an agile SEO

  • Find out what goals your client set for their business, determine the site’s purpose, conversion points, events, and metrics that in your client’s opinion mean “success”. All clients are different so you will need to do it with each of them.
  • Perform analysis. Manual and automated audits, monitoring of the analytics will help you to get to know your client’s website better.
  • Create short term and long term plans. For example, think what your team should do to the site and landing pages to make them better optimized. Specify how you are going to grow the authority of a website, an amount of links and shares. Checklists for every single planned detail will ease your work. Also, it wouldn’t go amiss if you work out a content calendar.
  • Develop a strategy due to the plans you’ve made in the previous step. Strict following of the plan won’t let you miss a tiny detail.
  • Measure results to clearly see if your SEO campaign works the way it meant to. It is critically important to see the value.
  • Report about the impact of SEO works to your clients. Don’t forget to provide all measured data that is critically important to your clients so they clearly see what they pay for.
  • Be aware of the weak sides of your campaigns and adjust changes to improve them.

..and some things you also should take into consideration

Rankings Tracking

SEOs work includes tracking hundreds or even thousands of keywords. To save your time and efforts you will need to find the software that gives the best overview in the shortest possible time. It’s not acceptable to check them all one by one or, what is worse, miss some important ranking changes.

Using such platform like RankActive, the analyzing of over than 20 sites in the tiniest ranking details will take less time than it has been before. Especially, when all work is divided and shared between members of your team. During the stand-up meeting, everyone will have an ability to share significant changes and discuss them with the team. For example, if some keywords lost their positions for sudden it is better to use the wisdom of crowds to get some useful ideas.

Also, it is critical to check rankings after one of the search engines updates its algorithm. It will help you to understand if any of websites you manage has been impacted.

Small indicators for great success

As you know, search engine optimization doesn’t only include rankings monitoring. Other smaller indicators are also significant for it. Agile SEO considers refocusing of the core strategic principles with an emphasis on what is needed to be accomplished.
For example, if the aim is an increase of conversions on the website, your strategy should be broken into few parts: reducing the bounce rate, Improving of conversion rate and increasing of the visits to the blog.

Focus on the End User

The only constant thing in SEO is changing of search engines algorithm that happens all the time. They make it difficult to always stay on top. That’s why SEO strategies should march in step with all the changes. And the quality should have the greatest importance. Interesting and engaging content is one of the things that must be first one in your to-do list because it’s what the end user demands and he is the first priority because they make conversion miracles happen.

No matter what you do – optimization of the mobile version, link building, technical analysis – always remember about the connection between brand and consumer.

Monitor Google activity

Google has become a powerful force for business promotion. It is almost impossible to get around it. Even though the aim of the algorithm changes is to improve user experience, it is always a headache for any SEO. You will have to deal with updates anyway, so the only way out is to monitor its activity. The positive part of it is that the biggest search engine announces its updates in advance. If a company has enough of responsibility it will take time to understand and provide the necessary changes before the algorithm is rolled out. Make sure your team is ready to meet Google’s changes before they happen.


The meaning of the word “agile” is quickly, efficiently and effectively move. Implementation of Agile methods into your workflow will definitely reduce time spent on tasks completion, improve the results of work and make your team work more effectively. Implementation of the methods described below will also help you to control your current tasks, monitor your team’s task board, prioritize all the tasks and deal with urgent changes. It is the best decision for those who wants to get rid of the standard methods which are more effective.


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