How to create SEO SOPs to scale organic traffic

Standard operating procedures make your work faster, easier and more scalable. This is especially true in the case of SEO, where many tasks are simple and repeatable.

Things like adding meta tags, maintaining proper URL structure, adding internal links, and optimizing images are all easy things to do … but also easy to forget.

Recording SEO activities in SOP documents means they will never be forgotten, and once documented, you can easily delegate these simple activities to other members of your team.

If you want to increase your organic traffic by working less, you want SEO SOP.

Let’s dive in.

What is a standard operating procedure?

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document that outlines how a task is performed step by step. It often includes screenshots to visually show what you are explaining, but the best SOPs also include videos.

I typically create my SOPs in a Google Doc with screenshots. So I use Loom to record my screen and create video explanations.

Why should you use SOPs for SEO?

SEO SOPs allow you to:

  • Never forget important SEO steps when posting content.
  • Hire a convenient assistant to get you off the plate simple tasks.
  • Scale your business in ways that aren’t possible without standardization.

McDonald’s was one of the first companies to master standardization. And his burger line was much more complex than just creating a document. You too can harness the power of a standardized process to increase production and efficiency.

Five SEO SOPs You Should Have

There are many processes in the business world that can benefit from SOPs. However, the five most critical SEO activities that SOPs should have include:

  1. Content creation and on-page SEO.
  2. Internal liaison procedures.
  3. Image optimization.
  4. Link building awareness emails.
  5. Monitor your rankings and make updates.

Below, I break down each of them and give you sample templates that you can copy and model to fit your business.

1. Content creation and on-page SEO

Content is the backbone of any good SEO strategy. However, creating great content takes time and effort. If you want to reduce the time it takes, an SOP will do it.

At Ahrefs, our content SOP includes these eight steps:

  1. Create a home for the post in the shared drive
  2. Fill in / update the Notion tab
  3. Assign the header illustration
  4. Write the outline of the content
  5. Write the draft
  6. Edit the draft
  7. Assign custom images and screenshot annotations
  8. Prepare for editing + uploading

Of course, these eight steps are specific to our systems and styles. We use Google Drive and Notion to keep track of everything, have a header illustration for each post, and have a rigorous editing process to ensure high quality content.

Here’s what that document looks like:

Ahrefs standard operating procedure for creating content

As you can see, it’s a well-documented and easy-to-follow process with examples and links.

Within this document, we also link to our SOP writing guidelines with even more detailed information on our actual writing process.

This includes our style and writing guidelines with real examples …

Ahrefs style guidelines

… as well as screenshots to show, not just to tell.

Using screenshots in SOPs

And finally, we have SOPs in place to cover on-page SEO, which includes how to properly name images, add alt text to the image, and set up metadata for each page.

Ahrefs Image Optimization SOP

By creating these simple documents, you can make content creation much easier and faster.

2. Internal liaison procedures

Internal linking is key to ranking high on Google. Every single page on your site, aside from maybe your landing pages, should have internal links. This is especially true of blog content.

Your SOP may look like this:

  1. You should aim to include a relevant internal link whenever it can be of benefit to the reader.
  2. The internal link anchor text should be relevant to the content you are writing about and the content you are linking to. For example, link to “RV Accessories” from the “RV Water Pump Buyer’s Guide”. DO NOT link to “van life builds” from “how to keep your RV cool in the summer”. Keep it in relationship.
  3. Use Ahrefs’ Internal Linking Opportunity tool in Site Audit to do the job. Alternatively, you can find internal links by doing a Google search
    site:[] “related keyword” to see all the content that contains that related keyword or phrase.
Find internal linking opportunities for a specific landing page in Ahrefs' Site Audit

3. Image optimization

Image optimization for Google (and users) is often overlooked. However, it’s easy to do and also important if you want to hit the coveted front page.

There are three steps to ensure good image optimization:

  1. Have an appropriate title that describes the image (without keyword stuffing)
  2. Added alt text describing the image in a little more detail for those who cannot download and view the image
  3. Using the correct file format and reducing the overall image data size for faster upload speeds

Follow our guide to image SEO for more information.

4. Link building awareness emails

Link building is the key to a good SEO strategy – links are one of the most important Google ranking factors.

While creating backlinks isn’t exactly easy, it involves a lot of repeatable steps. This makes it a perfect SOP task. In fact, you’ll likely want multiple SOPs, one for each link building strategy, including:

Each of these procedures is different. Then turn your current process into a document or follow one of the guides linked above and create a document for it.

5. Monitor your rankings and make updates

Finally, we have something that almost all SEOs like: watching your rankings go up (hopefully).

While it’s easy enough to spontaneously check your Ahrefs account or Google Search Console account to see if your rankings are shifting from your endeavors or not, there is a better way.

It still involves checking your Ahrefs account. But instead of doing it with casual excitement like a kid in a candy store, you use a methodical approach that tracks your changes and their effects. After all, a lot of SEO is trial and error.

First, if you haven’t already, sign up for Ahrefs Rank Tracker. Our reports will show you how your rankings have changed over time with data displayed through graphs and competitor reports.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker overview

You can also track specific keywords and pages over time:

Ahrefs individual keyword tracking

Once you have your account, you can do an SOP to check them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Keep track of all the changes you make to your pages, such as metadata, adding or editing content, improving internal links, etc. Then document how these changes affect your rankings over time.

By making a habit of running SEO tests like these and monitoring the effects, you can see what works and what doesn’t, then increase what works and stop wasting time on what doesn’t.

Final thoughts

By documenting your SEO processes in the form of an SOP, you can more easily scale your business and hire others to do the simpler tasks.

If you want your business (and your organic traffic) to grow, having SOPs is one of the safest ways to do it. Find out what works, document the process and step it up. These five SEO activities are just the beginning – you can have an SOP for every repeatable activity in your business.

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