SEO Strategy, Types of SEO Strategy, Epic vs User Story
Edition #16 - Monday 3-2-1
Welcome to the 3-2-1 Monday newsletter.
Every Monday morning, start your week with the following:
💡 3 short ideas about working with devs and product teams.
📰 Two articles to explore to help be more effective with product and dev teams.
❓ One question for you to think about this week while working.
To receive articles like this, please subscribe to The SEO Sprint 👇.
🎓 Think Like an SEO Product Manager
Do you have trouble getting SEO projects executed?
💡 3 Short Ideas
Short ideas on how to improve working with devs and product teams.
1) SEO Strategy Structure
Do you struggle to put together an SEO strategy?
Just like everyone else, I used to give clients a list of tactics when asked for a strategy.
However, after reading books on the subject, taking a few courses, and implementing many different strategies, I now see "strategy" more like an Aztec pyramid.
A strategy is made up of the following:
🤔 Problem - A business problem you need to overcome.
➡ Headline - The main takeaway to overcome the problem.
⛱ Themes - A set of initiatives that will help overcome the problem.
Why it matters
In any organisation, it is important to ensure that SEO is strategically important.
As technically-minded professionals, many will naturally try to communicate SEO in terms of tactics. The problem with this way of thinking is that, in reality, nobody really cares about the nitty-gritty details.
Instead, business stakeholders need to know that the SEO initiatives and opportunities are connected to the wider business strategy.
So it is important we connect our delivery work to a strategic problem the company wants to overcome.
How to Action
As SEO professionals, we need first to identify the key business problem and then identify the opportunities to help overcome it.
If you’re struggling to create an SEO strategy, I’ve put together a simple framework that can help.
I call it the SEO Strategy Stack.
It’s a series of artifacts (documents) that make the strategy stack on top of one another to help communicate, prioritise and craft an SEO strategy.
You can read more detailed information in the following newsletter 👇👇👇.
2) Four Types of SEO Strategies
SEO professionals need to connect delivery work to overcoming a key business problem.
The problem with this advice is that it is extremely meta and unhelpful. ****
What business problems can SEOs help overcome?
Well, I noticed 4 common types of problems that businesses struggle to overcome that SEO can help with:
📈 Growth - A business struggles to acquire customers in a target market.
🤖 Features - A business's tech stack poorly manages content inventory.
🏗️ Process - A business has no procedures or processes to scale growth.
🌎 Expansion - A business wants to expand into international markets.
Why it matters
SEO strategy is just the ability to put work into the context of the wider business strategy and goals.
It is important that we can connect our delivery work (tactics) to a wider business problem.
📈 Growth - An SEO professional can help a business create new pages and rank for keywords used by their target audience to search for solutions - to acquire new customers through Google organic search.
🤖 Features - SEO professionals can work with technical teams to add SEO features to the CMS, which can help content be crawled, indexed and ranked by search engines.
🏗️ Process - An SEO professional can work with content teams to implement a process to help optimise content at scale.
🌎 Expansion - An SEO professional can work with development and business teams to implement international SEO best practices so that the website appropriately ranks different international markets.
How to action
90% of SEO strategies are going to be about growth 📈 .
However, remember that identifying which type of SEO strategy is always down to which problem you’re trying to help a business overcome.
To better understand a problem, you need information, data and facts.
This is why it is important to do SEO discovery work and uncover which problems need to be tackled to help drive results for the business. Problems can compound and hamper business results.
📈 Growth - The SEO professional needs to work with product and business teams to build out product, category and editorial pages to rank for relevant keywords.
🤖 Features - The content inventory will scale to a point where an SEO professional needs to work with a dev team to implement functionality to help search engines crawl, index and rank pages.
🏗️ Process - The growing success will mean the team will also grow, so the SEO professional needs to implement processes within the team to make sure SEO is still thought about in all areas of the business.
SEO strategies compound, and it is our ability to connect tactics to business problems that help drive results.
3) Initiative vs Epic vs User Story
There is a hierarchy to SEO tickets.
The hierarchy is usually:
📦 Initiative - An SEO initiative you want to implement can be broken down into a large body of work.
📁 Epic - An epic is a large body of work that can be further broken into story tickets.
🎟️ User Story - A user story ticket is nested under an Epic and is a small system requirement.
Why it matters
When working with development teams, it’s important to break down your work into collections of Epics and user stories in a dev backlog.
The development and product teams will use Epics and user story tickets to understand better exactly what they need to do. When you nest tickets like this in the backlog, it helps you:
🧭 Keep track of the work being completed by the dev team
🚦 Ruthlessly prioritise tickets during planning meetings
✅ Easily mark Epics as closed if all criteria have been met.
How to Action
When working with product and development teams on large SEO projects, I’d highly recommend breaking down your work into Epics and user stories.
This requires you to work with the team to:
⏰ Estimate the time it takes to complete tickets.
✅ Agree on the work that will be completed.
Here are some tips:
🏃 Most tech teams will use 2-week sprints, so plan accordingly.
🧮 Epics should take 1-2 months and break them down into smaller pieces.
✅ Epics are just large user story tickets and can be used to create a master list of acceptance criteria.
🎟️ Generally, user story tickets should be estimated between 2 - 5 days.
🗓️ The key to breaking down initiatives into realistic tickets is planning 2-5 weeks ahead.
Do you want to know how to write an effective SEO ticket? I’ve written a step-by-step guide on how to write effective SEO tickets in more detail in the following newsletter 👇👇👇.
📰 2 Articles to Explore
Articles to explore to help be more effective with product and dev teams.
by Des Traynor, Intercom
“If you’re building a product, you have to be great at saying no. Not “maybe” or “later”. The only word is no.”
by Tom Critchlow, SEO MBA
“Every SEO professional is a consultant. Whether in-house or agency-side, you need to develop ways of working cross-functionally, getting buy-in from adversarial stakeholders, and changing other team’s systems and processes.”
❓ 1 Question For You
A question for you to think about this week while working.
How are you connecting your delivery work to the wider business strategy?
💽 The SEO Case Study Database
I just released the SEO Case Study database. A curated and growing database of 350+ publicly available SEO case studies, experiments and studies.
Check it out 👇👇👇
How did I do this week?
If you enjoyed reading this article, then consider the following:
📰 Share — Please share the newsletter with your network or colleagues if you think they might find it helpful!
✉️ Subscribe to The SEO Sprint newsletter — if you haven’t already, please consider subscribing.