Managing SEO Projects Interview Series: Part 2

Wouldn’t you love if you could find a way to accelerate your SEO learning and results? Well, when you capitalize on the knowledge and experience of professionals who have been in the trenches, you get exactly that.

This is why I’ve set off to interview the top SEO minds that I see. (If you didn’t catch interview #1 with American Red Cross SEO Manager Shannon Henrici, then check it out here.) Next up in my interview series, Tom Shivers with Capture Commerce.  Tom founded Capture Commerce in 2000, a digital marketing company based in Atlanta. He specializes in Ecommerce SEO. He and I have collaborated on and off over the years, and I’ve been lucky to have such a savvy SEO colleague to bounce ideas off of.

Welcome, Tom! Thank you for being here.

SEO Interview with Tom Shivers, Capture Commerce

One of the struggles I’ve seen marketers face, is there is so much to do, but that often leads to paralysis by analysis and overwhelm. How do you keep SEO plans organized so you know exactly what to do next?

I start by clarifying objectives upfront, key results or key performance indicators (KPIs) support the objective and there may be several. From the key results come the tasks that must be done to accomplish the key result.

Each month I track the KPIs in a spreadsheet to see how things are progressing or digressing against the objective. When a particular KPI is off, I investigate to determine what needs to be done. That’s how my task list is created.

Some KPIs are more important than others so I prioritize my to-dos accordingly.

What do you use to document your to-do’s?

I’ve used numerous project management tools and platforms, like Basecamp. Sometimes my client has a preference so I use whatever they are comfortable with.

Do you see SEO success coming from one-time work, or from consistent implementation of repeat activities?

Both, haha.

Most sites have technical SEO issues that must be tackled before any upward movement can be expected. Sometimes a good cleanup will do wonders.

After the cleanup it’s about consistently tracking KPIs, prioritizing to-dos and executing until the objective is achieved. I’ve seen sites do way more than expected in years two and three. And, depending on the market, there are new keywords coming into play every few months.

Because SEO takes multiple channels and departments coming together, I often see SEO projects stall and never get through completion. How do you get stuff done? What is your secret to execution? What tips do you have for project managing through to completion when others are involved?

That’s a tricky one and depends on the personalities I’m dealing with.

Procrastinators usually respond when I schedule time to go through some of the details with them. If that doesn’t work, I continue with my reports to the higher ups without mentioning names; when certain KPIs continue to go in the wrong direction each month, they usually apply the heat where it’s needed.

Sometimes the source of the friction is from a difference in SEO philosophy, maybe from the previous provider or someone in management. You would think that can be solved by explaining the flaw in that philosophy, but that usually doesn’t work for many reasons. However, when I explain how I disagree with what is being implemented and predict the outcome in some detail, it does persuade when it plays out as predicted. Then, I am the authority and stuff gets done, but it requires a slab of patience.

What do you think is the most important under-valued tactic?

Setting up Analytics to report as accurate data as possible.

Do you have any insight, or opinions, to share about how to win at SEO in 2020?

Revenue-based SEO for ecommerce stores. Check out my link for more information.


Great insight and reminders, right? Thanks, Tom!

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.
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