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Enterprise SEO

How to Put Out SEO Fires Without Compromising Your Roadmap

 min read
March 14, 2024
Leslie Ramey
Director, Solutions Consulting US

Starting the year with a well-defined SEO roadmap is standard practice for brands. Hours are invested into crafting these plans with diligence focused on measuring KPIs, the impact of projects, and future-proofing websites.

However, the business landscape is dynamic, and unforeseen circumstances can prompt changes in leadership priorities. In such situations, it's essential to adapt and realign your roadmap to address these evolving needs. How can you ensure critical goals are still met while putting out fires when your team is already busy?

The Importance of Starting with a Solid Roadmap

A detailed SEO roadmap, rooted in carefully identified KPIs, serves as a compass for SEO teams. It provides a clear direction, ensuring that efforts are synchronized with organizational objectives. Starting the year with a roadmap allows companies to allocate resources efficiently, measure progress accurately, and maintain a proactive stance in the face of challenges. Your roadmap will be critical in efforts to keep your team moving forward, especially as pivots and business priorities may change.

If you don't have a roadmap or a plan to create one, there's no time like the present. The best way to reach your company's goal is to have a path to success. Your roadmap keeps you on track and reminds the teams of the big, lofty goals they are all working towards. Even a roadmap that is started late into the year is still worth the effort and can accelerate your success. You can start with technical fundamentals and build from there.

Leadership Priorities and the Impact of Change

Every SEO has experienced that urgent message from a manager or leader asking critical questions such as, "Why can't I find our website when I search for this term?" or "I read an article that said we need to do X for Google; are we doing it?" These little fires require attention and careful analysis, but they also speak to the revolving nature of SEO.

Thousands of ranking factors, paired with industry leaders producing content and algorithm updates rolling out daily, all lead to questions and distractions for the SEO team.

In addition, changes due to various business factors, including market dynamics, technological advancements like Search Generative Experience, or shifts in consumer behavior, can also impact an SEO's day-to-day productivity. Economic conditions, regulatory changes, or unforeseen global events, such as pandemics or geopolitical shifts, can also influence the strategic direction of a business.

When leadership priorities shift as a result of such events, the impact can cascade down to SEO teams, necessitating adjustments to the roadmap to stay relevant and effective.

6 Ways to Pivot While Still Pushing Forward

When leadership decides on a pivot or shift in focus, effective communication becomes paramount. Here are suggestions on how to discuss the SEO roadmap as a priority when managers ask for pivots:

  • 1. Open and transparent communication:

When asked to pivot, be prepared to rehash the roadmap and target KPIs. This document will be your North Star and help keep leadership on track if they are reminded of the long-term goals. Leaders often deal with many moving parts and can lose sight of the time it takes for effective and powerful SEO initiatives to take effect. A helpful reminder can give you room to meet the new needs while still pushing your key projects forward.

  • 2. Aligning with core business objectives:

Emphasize how the revised priorities align with the core objectives of the business. Illustrate the connection between the new focus and long-term success.

  • 3. Impact assessment and mitigation strategies:

Conduct a thorough impact assessment on existing projects. Identify areas where projects can be adapted, postponed, or accelerated to accommodate the change in priorities. Propose mitigation strategies to address potential challenges. This process will take time and potentially slow pivots. However, when it comes time to review your SEO roadmap and accomplishments, this documentation will provide coverage if KPIs are not met throughout the year.

  • 4. Flexible project management approaches:

Adopt agile project management methodologies that allow for flexibility and quick adaptation. This ensures that teams can respond promptly to changes in priorities without compromising project delivery.

  • 5. Maintain daily monitoring and project tracking:

Assign a team member to daily SEO health checks. Monitoring a set list of KPIs ensures that your SEO program is still progressing while your team manages fires and pivots. Checking for daily search bot activity, traffic numbers, impressions, and clicks keeps your targets top of mind. The last thing you want to do is solve a problem you didn't see coming because you were distracted by a random ask.

  • 6. Plan for the unexpected:

The reality of SEO is that we know that fires will always be part of our jobs. Build in buffers to your roadmaps. While we may not know what the fire will be or how urgent it will become, we can expect them to exist. With small teams, it is critical to plan ahead. When building your roadmap, add room for special projects. Give your team 8 to 10 hours a month, or more, depending on your leadership team's style. This gives you room to adapt and still focus on those projects you know will drive traffic and lead to growth goals.

  • 7. Leverage automation to accelerate results:

The relationship with your engineering team is invaluable. To avoid straining it with frequent urgent requests, you can consider using an SEO automation tool such as Pageworkers to test and handle the implementation of optimizations yourself. Not only will you keep your development team focused on the roadmap, but you'll also be able to assess the relevancy of your optimizations by analyzing their impact on your organic traffic. If the impact is positive, you can make the decision to prioritize the fix over what was originally planned in your roadmap and put in a request for your development team to permanently implement the fix. If not, you'll have a strong case to push back on your leadership team's request.

Starting the year with a well-defined SEO roadmap based on KPIs is crucial for businesses to navigate toward success. However, the dynamic nature of the business landscape and SEO can lead to shifts in leadership priorities. When faced with these changes, effective communication, alignment with core objectives, and proactive adaptation of project plans are key to ensuring continued success. By embracing flexibility and maintaining an open dialogue, SEO teams can navigate through evolving priorities while keeping their projects on the path to achievement.

If you're looking for guidance SEO roadmap, our team of consultants can help you build an SEO strategy that delivers measurable impact to your business. Learn more about Botify Advantage.

Want to learn more? Connect with our team for a Botify demo!
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