Clients, by nature, are usually hoping for either or both of these things: instant actions, and instant results. A streamlined SEO process is very important in ensuring client satisfaction and maximized use of your resources. Improving your process by getting rid of bottlenecks, removing constraints and resolving issues makes scaling your SEO business easier.
The Theory of Constraints
Business management guru Eliyahu M. Goldratt came up with the Theory of Constraints, which follows the “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” mindset. The theory states that there is always one constraint that stops a business from growing, and that the restraint is resolvable. In this goal-oriented system, businesses are to single out the biggest obstacle to their growth, and restructure processes around it in order to allow upward and outward movement.
Applying the theory to your SEO processes helps you get to the root of your bottlenecks and eliminate them effectively. You will follow five steps in the process:
- Identifying the constraints that prevents you from maximizing your company resources
- Discovering how to exploit these constraints to your campaign’s advantage
- Realigning the system to subordinate the constraint
- Elevate the constraint to increase its capacity
- Repeat the process to determine if there are more weak links
Streamlining Your SEO Process
Now that we’ve identified the steps of Goldratt’s Theory of Constraint, let’s apply these to your SEO campaigns.
Step One: Identifying the Constraints
Evaluate your current SEO campaign process and see what’s not working. Getting to the root of the problem is as simple as asking “Why” as many times as it takes to see where the real problem lies. On average, you’ll have to ask why five times, but you could stop before you reach five or go on well after five if you still haven’t discovered the root of your problem.
For example, if you are trying to find out why your campaign approval process is taking so long, your thought process will be as follows:
- Why does the approval process take a long time? – Because it has to go through different people.
- Why does it have to go through different people? – Because it involves different departments.
- Why does it involve different departments? – Because each department specializes in one task.
- Why does each department specialize in one task? – Because every element of your SEO campaign should be of the highest quality in order for it to work.
Step Two: Exploiting the Constraints
After identifying the main issues, you need to decide how you will address the bottlenecks. You can see from our example that the bottleneck on your approval process lies in the number of people required to approve your campaign proposal. Think of what you can do to minimize the steps: You could choose a representative who is familiar with the entire process and have that person approve and arrange the schedule with the rest of your teams. If you don’t have a person who knows the entire process, maybe it’s time to start training people to take up such a position. You could also change the way your approval process works: Can you do it online to minimize the time for meetings and discussions?
This step requires you take a hard look at the bottlenecks you discover, and address them objectively instead of playing the blame game. Making the necessary changes to address these major issues will make your process more streamlined and efficient.
Step Three: Subordinating the Constraint
Next, you have to implement the change and see how it affects your company’s performance. In our example, say the solution you chose was to train someone to specialize in all the different aspects of SEO and have that person be the approving authority for your campaigns. This will make your approval process much faster, which means you can launch more campaigns and maintain good relationships with your clients. This would also give your teams more time for their specialized tasks, which means higher productivity in general.
Do not focus too much on fixing the minor issues. Based on our example, you can see that addressing one major bottleneck also fixes several minor issues that come with that one major problem.
Step Four: Elevating the Constraint
Now that you’ve freed up time for your teams and helped increase their productivity rate, you can assign more tasks to your teams and accept more campaigns. Evaluate if your teams have increased their output since you’ve made changes to your process, and find out by how much their output has increased since.
For example, you already made changes to your campaign approval process. See if your SEO team builds more links after removing them from the approval process, and by how much. It’s important to measure the percentage of increase to know if your team is underperforming of if they are meeting the requirements of your business.
Step Five: Repeat the Process
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to SEO processes, especially with the algorithmic changes taking place regularly. Make sure to repeat the process to find out where you can tweak your methodology to make your SEO campaigns run more smoothly.
In the example we’ve used throughout, you can see that changing the approval process has helped your SEO team build more links. But this can further be improved by automating some of the link building tasks that they currently have. Repeat the TOC process again to evaluate if this is truly necessary, and to determine how much it will benefit your company. Remember, evaluate the time it takes to run through your processes. A quick win is to setup excel time tracking, or use an application that measures the velocity of output your team can produce.
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