6 Quick Tips to Prevent SEO Annotations from Becoming a Chore

It’s an issue that plagues many SEOs and digital marketers everywhere. We get so tied up coming up with strategies, implementing tactics, and measuring results that we forget to create simple notes and reminders of events both small and large, which could impact our campaigns.

Taking the time to notate our observances can seem like a misuse of valuable time when compared to actually implementing tactics. But the fact is, the better we annotate in the moment, the more efficient we will be when we report on the successes and learnings of a strategy or tactic. Here are six quick ways for you to make annotating part of your weekly SEO and digital marketing habits, rather than treating it like a chore:

1. Determine What Warrants an Annotation

You first need to come up with or re-evaluate your own definition of what warrants an annotation or an event. You can define this by the type of event – content marketing campaign launch, email blast, technical site change. Or define it by the potential impact of an event be it traffic change, keyword ranking change, major year-over-year change in traffic, or ranking or revenue. How you prefer to define an event is up to you and the needs for your business, but it’s important to establish a baseline for what you should be tracking.

2. If You Think It, Write It

Just because you don’t have the time to properly record a note in the tool or spreadsheet you use to keep track of a new page going live or a canonical tag being implemented, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t record it at all. Keep a notepad at your desk specifically for these “think it, write it” moments where you can quickly jot down the date or detail of a certain change that needs to be recorded, but you don’t have time to properly annotate right that second.

3. Make Time to Properly Annotate

If you let it pile up, this “tip” may not be so quick to execute. However, if you set aside 15 minutes – I like every Friday morning – to add the notes you’ve made throughout the week to your formal annotation tool, you’re less likely to fall behind or find yourself asking three months from now, “What caused this three-day traffic spike?” A quick note would tell you that the spike was caused by an email marketing campaign.


4. Enlist Help

You may not be working on a one-man team, which means some things worth annotating may occur without your direct knowledge. By setting up a system with your counterparts, you can ensure nothing falls through the cracks. This means establishing a means of communication for these types of scenarios that is easy for both you and the rest of your team. Create a specific email template or shared document to help get these updates communicated quickly and easily. If you use an email template, ask your team to send you a brief note that includes the date and type of event, as well as major notes or takeaways.

5. Decide What to Measure

If the roadblock that’s keeping you from annotating properly is the fact that it’s not the best use of your time in the moment, make annotating about how it will help you when the next reporting cycle roles around. In your notes, include a short list of items that you should be measuring or looking back on to compare YoY to fully understand the impact of the event you’re annotating.

6. Evaluate Your Process

About once a quarter, it’s ideal for you to review the annotations you’ve made throughout the past three months. By doing this you can determine a few things:

  1. Did you fall short on your annotations? If you only have a couple of notes about major events or updates that occurred, then you probably aren’t notating as much as you should.
  2. Are your notes concise and helpful? If you include information like dates, major takeaways, and follow up steps for reporting, then you likely have enough valuable information to make it useful in the months ahead.
  3. Are you over-annotating? If you have notes that are superfluous or too detailed, you’ll be less likely to use your annotations as a point of reference. Make sure you’re recording the medium to big rocks so that you’re encouraged to use your annotation notes as a resource. By over-annotating, you are likely to never look back on your notes or fall into the “this isn’t the best use of my time” trap.

I like to set up my annotations so I can easily sort and filter by time periods or types of changes that need to be noted. You can also notate directly within a tool like Google Analytics. Your record keeping system doesn’t have to be fancy to be useful.


What are your secrets for keeping annotating easy and useful?

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