The SEO Sprint 2022 Review
A 1 year retrospective for The SEO Sprint
It’s December 2022 which means it is almost the end of the second year of The SEO Sprint.
There has been a lot that has changed in the last 6 months “behind the scenes” and I just wanted to do a recap and summarise where this newsletter is headed.
I’m currently designing and building a course for an early 2023 launch.
This means for now; I’m going to hit pause on writing weekly until Jan-23. This will allow me to focus all my energy on course building (see below for more details).
The SEO Sprint – Summary
The SEO Sprint started with a simple idea:
Provide SEOs with practical advice on how to work better with product and development teams.
As a Senior SEO turned Product Manager working at DeepCrawl, I noticed when starting out in the product team I quickly realised how out of my depth I was when working with engineers on a day-to-day basis.
It was like a different world.
However, after a lot of training, support from the team and a change in mindset I found that I could get complex technical features executed by the development team.
I have a theory that a lot of other SEOs feel completely out of their depth when working with technical teams.
There is a skills gap for those SEOs who just want to learn to get things done. I created The SEO Sprint to provide support, guidance, and practice advice for those who wanted to learn.
This is a retrospective of the last year since I challenged myself to do more with the newsletter.
Below is a summary of the highlights in 2022.
📈 Newsletter Growth
The newsletter has grown a lot since I started it in 2021.
At first, it was just a recap of the interesting articles from the product and engineering community I thought other SEOs would find interesting. Then I wrote essays every 2 weeks.
However, since the end of summer this year I wanted to experiment with writing on a weekly basis to “test out” a hypothesis for 3 months. I set myself a stretch goal of 3,000 subscribers.
As of writing this recap, I currently have 2,794 subscribers which are 93% progress toward the goal.
Although this number is low compared to other newsletters, a couple of things to consider:
I’m bad at marketing the newsletter
I suck at social media
What I do find interesting, despite the lack of marketing, is the people who are signing up. There are a lot of well “known” global and national brands across different industries.
This isn’t down to me being any kind of growth wiz but rather down to other newsletters and others on social media sharing my content.
💬 Newsletter Feedback
The feedback from those on social media and through the feedback form is also encouraging. For example, through the survey, I can calculate a Net Promotor Score (NPS) of 89% from the responses.
This is interesting because when I started writing weekly, I created a guiding policy based on the feedback from the beta course:
“Provide weekly practical advice to SEOs on how they can work better with development and product teams to make their day-to-day job easier.”
All the writing I have done since September has been crafted with this statement in mind. So, it is great to see so much feedback that is resonating with my target audience.
🥯 Beta Course
In July and August 2022, I ran Agile Fundamentals for SEOs.
I managed to get nine SEOs to sign up for the 4-week course.
All in all, the course went well…for the most part. The feedback was overall positive but there was a lot of room for improvement.
What I found interesting was the feedback I got after the course and during the course.
There were a lot of great discussions, and I did the usual product thing of analysing the qualitative data on an online board. Even turned it into proto-personas.
The feedback after the course was that students didn’t just want lessons but templates, question sheets and examples they could apply to their work immediately.
The feedback from the course got me thinking quite a lot about course design and making it informational and practical.
A few rabbit holes later and a lot of research I had a better idea of how to go about it.
So, I scrapped the Agile Fundamentals for SEOs course. It was too meta and a mish-mash of product, agile and engineering ideas.
Instead, I’ve been working on building a practical course that can help SEO think more like a product manager.
🔝 Top Newsletters from 2022
I’ve written a lot more this year.
The articles I have written a more practical and useful for those working day-to-day with product and engineering teams.
SEO Product Mindset
SEO & Developer Partnerships
SEO Backlog Management
SEO Dev Tickets
✔️ What went well?
The things that went well this year:
Running fast – Writing essays every week has helped me test a number of ideas and grow the audience. The weekly “running” also helps reduce the size of the newsletters from chunky meta pieces to small practical articles.
Writing – I’ve heard the term “writing is thinking” thrown around the product community and SEO MBA also covers this topic in its course. The act of writing every week and making it practical and grounded forces you to structure your thinking.
Secondary brain – I’ve had to create new processes to manage all the ideas, notes and content that go with making a newsletter and building a course. Tools like Notion are perfect for building secondary brains, so you don’t have to remember so much information.
Interviewing in-house SEOs – I interviewed 15 in-house SEOs and found a lot of interesting patterns in working with developers and product teams.
Speaking to customers -The act of doing a beta course and trying out ideas on SEOs sent me in the right direction. Finding out about different situations and testing out if your “product/SEO” hybrid ideas are useful.
Scraping the course – Speaking to customers also helped me decide to scrap the Agile Fundamentals course or at least “iterative” on it to produce a more practical course.
😑 What didn’t go well?
Although I am happy with how this year went, things that didn’t go well:
Course taking too long – I think the biggest “regret” this year is that this course has taken all year to design and build. This was down to me putting a bet that SEOs wanted to learn about Agile meta topics (they don’t) but still, it feels like the course is taking longer than it should.
Writing weekly workload – The act of writing weekly is a lot of work. From planning, researching and then writing the newsletter content can be a lot of work. On top of life, client work and other projects it is starting to take their toll. I need to find some balance.
Marketing – After reviewing other newsletters and researching well-known markets I’ve realised I am terrible at getting people’s attention. Since marketing nowadays is an attention-driven market, I need to get better at this. Which is tough when you need to juggle everything else.
🔭 What is happening in 2023?
I know the course is going to happen but I still need to play with the newsletter.
SEO Product Management Course
I’m currently working on this right now, but I will be launching a course (hopefully in January 2023!) that helps SEOs think like Product Managers.
The goal is to provide practical lessons, templates, and assignments for SEOs to learn top-down and bottom-up thinking to get SEO initiatives executed by engineering and product teams.
The Weekly Newsletter
The newsletter is going to continue BUT to help me focus on the course I’m hitting pause until Jan 2023.
I think once the course is launched, I will have more time to focus on doing a lot more than writing. I have a few ideas on how to make it even better.
A few ideas to improve it include:
Templates and worksheets
All around how SEOs can learn to think like product teams to work with developers to get things done.
I’m proud of what I have done this year. Even though it is not exactly where I wanted to be.
It has been more of a “optimise for learning” sort of year where you ask yourself “is this even worth it?” sort of questions. However, listening to anyone who has built anything that comes with the territory of building new things.
Thank you to everyone who has subscribed, provided feedback, and shared this newsletter.
Also, special thanks to the SEOs who were on the beta course!
How did I do this week?
If you enjoyed reading this article then consider the following:
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