Managing new SEO campaigns is all about using Microsoft Excel to create better ways to stay organised through the campaign until it is over.
With many advanced campaigns to develop new inbound links through guest posting, social outreach and other modern SEO methodologies, the SEO practitioner is dealing with hundreds, even thousands of moving parts. The list of outreach webmasters and website owners to contact can seem quite overwhelming. Certainly this would be the case if using a traditional pen and paper or even a word processing document to attempt to keep track of everything.
Here are a few ways to use Excel to improve the management of an SEO campaign while it is ongoing:
1. Social Outreach Done the Right Way
Social outreach is all about finding other website owners who will be a good match to connect with. The hope is that rather than simply going for the cold calling approach via email and asking for a guest post on their website that will link back to your primary website, social outreach takes a gentler approach.
Outreach is about establishing a connection and building a relationship with each contact rather than treating them like a number on a spreadsheet to be contacted.
Use a separate spreadsheet for each campaign and build up a list of social outreach prospects on a “Social Outreach” sheet with a column for the main contact, their secretary, PA or gatekeeper, contact information (phone, email, etc.), website URL, Facebook profile URL, LinkedIn profile URL, Instagram profile URL, and other useful information. Columns should be included to leave space to add notes and confirm what action has been taken. If you wish to count each approach, the communication method of each approach and when it was actioned, then these should each be separate columns in order to make them more easily sortable and searchable later on.
2. Outsourcing Managed Correctly
With significant SEO campaigns and larger outsourced teams, the more difficult it becomes to keep track of which tasks went to which freelancer.
Use three columns for: To Do, Doing, and Done. List the tasks in the first column with a project title at the top of the list. Add the name of the person assigned to the task, the date and time assigned, and an expected delivery date.
Make a copy of the spreadsheet at the start of every day and then re-sort the copied spreadsheet to organise all tasks across all projects by their due date. This way you can look across the organisation to see all tasks due that date. Filters can be applied within Excel to only see certain information which is also a good way to directly focus on the most essential information to avoid distractions. However, be careful to remove the filter later to ensure you don’t miss something important hidden by the active filter.
3. Use Excel Functions to Manipulate Exported Data
Data can be exported from desktop software and online SaaS systems like AHRef or SEMRush and imported directly into Excel. This does present some difficulties because the data is often all imported in lower-case characters without any useful formatting for an SEO practitioner to use.
Excel functions are an excellent way to make the software help with the SEO task by improving the formatting. The PROPER function can be used to capitalise the first letter of each word in a cell which makes keyword lists look more attractive and usable for PPC ad campaigns. Functions like LEFT, MID and RIGHT can be used to strip out only the few characters from cell contents that are actually needed to perform a different SEO function.
There is a lot that can be done to make Excel a key tool in the SEO toolbox. It does take a bit of learning to get used to using the more advanced functions, but the amount of data manipulation and data analysis that can be performed is impressive for the time it takes to add just a few new commands to your repertoire.