How we Structured our Internal SEO Team Meetings for Extreme Efficiency

SEO Team Meetings

SEO Hacker is scaling up. We constantly are and I’ve learned a lot in the past 2 years about what it really means to be CEO. So for this series, I’ll be discussing more about how to run your SEO team better. Whether you’re an SEO agency owner, a business owner who hired an SEO company to do the work, or a startup SEO guy who may even be outsourcing a lot of the work to other people – this is for you.

We all Hate Meetings

That’s because meetings eat up a lot of our time. We have things to do, deadlines to meet, coffee to brew and a dog to pet (yep our office has a dog running around). And meetings are a bummer. It takes us out of the stuff we need done.

And because it takes us out of our real work, it stresses us out when we’re suddenly chasing time to finish our deadlines.

Meetings suck. We hate them.

Meetings are Messy

That’s because there’s no structure to it. A person in the content department speaks up about how the ideation process has taken too much time. Someone in the design department talks about how the outline for the Powerpoint deck for the Slideshare campaign is stupid. And finally a linkbuilder speaks up because he insists that NinjaOutreach should win the award for the best linkbuilding tool in the world.

That’s one crazy, tangled up meeting.

The point is, meetings are messy because people are messy. If we want the meeting done quickly and done right, it has to have structure and a time limit.

Rockstars Eat up the Attention

No one likes a rockstar in a team meeting. But meetings can’t help but have them, can it? And if the rockstar is the CEO then the meeting will have a lot less value. Meetings should be about the team, about the clients and about the company – never about the CEO.

Tip: One way I’m able to control my tendency to hog a meeting is to write out everything in my motivational speaking blog.

No one likes a person hogging all the time and attention.

Okay we get it. Meetings are bad. And I made it sound really bad. But the truth is, a little tweak here and there and meetings can make chutzpah happen. Want the secret sauce?

Here’s the Meeting Structure we use at SEO Hacker:

Ground Rules

  1. When the meeting starts, everyone should be present and listening. People who are online and who are present but are doing something else in their computers are considered disrespectful. You’ll know who they are because they respond late.
  2. Respect the time limit. When time is up, time is up. If you weren’t able to say what you want, practice to get better at it next time.
  3. If you have questions, ask it later. We have the entire day in the office and you can ask the person from whom you need the answer to anyway.
  4. Don’t be late. If you’re late, we all know. Regardless, we will start on time with or without you. Time is all we have in this world and we can’t waste each others’ time.

Good News – 2 Minutes

This can be anything from a teammate who was able to increase our rankings through a hack, a person who got a huge pat in the back from a big client, a contract renewal or Nica (our team’s pet dog) getting pregnant. If it’s good news, we tell it here.

Rankings – 20 Minutes

We discuss the current rankings of all our clients – which ones are in SLA (service-level-agreement) and which one are Out of Bounds (OOB). A fresh, quick pull from AccuRanker right before the meeting is critical to this part of the meeting. I’ve never seen another rank tracking tool pull data as fast as AccuRanker.

The goal is for each keyword to be in SLA. This part of the meeting is critical because it makes sure that we’re all aware of where we are as a company in light of each client.

Client AdHocs – 5 Minutes

For 5 good minutes, we discuss stuff from clients that stands out and is not usually part of routinary work such as developing a plugin or web app for a client. It can even go so far as to create an online video commercial for them.

Word of the day – 30 Seconds

(Hat tip to Alex Turnbull of Groove for the idea)

Something random just to keep things light. Pull up a black card and a white card from Cards Against Humanity randomly and it’s almost certainly going to crack someone up.

Breakout – 5 Minutes per team

This is the special part of each meeting where the entire company meeting is then broken down to teams. The team leads are the owners now. The main purpose of the Breakout is to strategize how to move forward in light of the things discussed in the Rankings and Client Adhocs section. Important takeaways from the Breakout are:

  1. How to put a OOB keyword to green (inside SLA)
  2. How to tackle a Client AdHoc quickly
  3. Which Client AdHocs are we going to tackle first and why
  4. Who will “own” a Client AdHoc and who do we need to work with (if it involves people from another team)
  5. Deadlines

How this Meeting Structure Helps:

1) Boosts Efficiency

You can’t go wrong when you have all the smart people in your team (that’s everyone) on the same page. Miscommunication, misunderstanding of each others’ responsibilities and team apathy is minimized. That’s a very beautiful thing. And if you’re scaling-up your company like we are, communication, understanding and team empathy are very powerful drivers of growth.

2) Keeps Everyone on the Same Page

The next time a linkbuilder in our team is wondering where she should focus her efforts on, she already knows. OOB clients come first – especially the ones whose contracts are on the latter part of the timeline.

3) Helps Everyone to Understand what Each Other is Doing

SEO is a multi-disciplinary practice (writing, linkbuilding, design, social media marketing, etc.). Often times someone in one team have no idea what the other person in another team is doing. The meeting helps bridge that gap by creating awareness of each others’ responsibilities – mostly in the Rankings, Client AdHoc and Breakout part of the meeting.

4) Improves Task Prioritization

Clients who are out of bounds in terms of rankings should be prioritized and given more attention especially if the days left in the contract are fewer. Knowing the rankings each week keeps priorities in the right order.

5) Promotes Teamplay

I find that people love to help. Teammates are more than willing to lend a hand especially in AdHoc tasks. Hey, it’s fun to help someone out.

Why we Don’t have Standups

With all the clamor about Standups, maybe you’re wondering why it wasn’t listed as a part of our meeting routine. That’s because we have them everyday on another Slack channel. And let’s face it – SEO work is mostly routinary grind so we’re mostly doing the same things except for client adhocs.

Your Turn

So now that you know how we save a huge amount of time with structured meetings, it’s your turn to apply it in your team. See if it works and let me know how it went in the comments section below.

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