How SEO & PPC Teams Can Utilize User Stories For Projects

SEO User Stories Article

Organizing tasks can be difficult for any company. I have seen how companies struggle with delegating client work to different teams. The best solution I have come across is user stories (my agency calls it ‘ready tasks’ but the difference is mainly semantic).

The ultimate goal of a user story is to help teams understand why they are executing a task and what value it creates.

What are User Stories?

The user story is a clear and concise way to communicate a specific goal. In the development world, user stories have been used by customers to define software requirements to developers. Customers would describe want they want developers to do and how they want it to be delivered.

However, development teams aren’t the only groups that can benefit from user stories. They can also help your marketing department. My experience has shown me that the success of a project is not only determined by the SEO strategy but by execution as well.

A past colleague ran the poll below and discovered that only 40% of SEO recommendations get implemented.

To be fair, clients fail to implement recommendations for many reasons. Perhaps they did not trust your recommendation, or did not have the budget. However, in many cases, it is because they (or their development team) did not understand how to implement your recommendation. User stories solves this problem by effectively communicating the “who”, “what” and “why” of a task requirement.

User stories are a powerful method of communicating technical SEO requirements for 3 main reasons:

  • User stories are clear, concise and written in layman’s terms
  • User stories are actionable
  • User stories encourage participation by members outside of the marketing team (such as AMs and Project Managers)

Writing user stories for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Teams

An SEO user story consists of a brief recommendation with a clear action and outcome that aids in breaking down large strategies into smaller parts.

SEO User Story Task Descriptions

The task description is essentially a tactic that we want to execute.

It follows a simple structure:

We want to take an (Action) to (Reason). As an (Outcome,) or in other words – here is what I need to have happened for this to be executed correctly.

SEO User Story Infographic

User Story Task Description Breakdown

The description should be clear and concise. It’s broken up into 2 parts. We want to do X, to achieve a result or outcome.

This is important because, for example, if you tell a developer, we want to make sure there is a redirect that matches to the URLs in the excel sheet. The developer may ask, do you want it to redirect the actual URL or the excel sheet.

 If instead, you wrote, we want to make sure that there is a redirect map that maps to an actual URL using the excel sheet, the developer will have a clearer picture of what your intention is.

Writing A Good Acceptance Criteria

Good Acceptance Criteria

These are pass-fail requirements so they need to be phrased as such.

For example, if one acceptance criteria is ‘Provide keyword recommendations for 8 Pages, to pass this item means that there is no more work to do. 

In the description, it isn’t necessary to add too many details because the acceptance criteria will cover a lot of them. 

For instance, in this example shown, we did not need to mention navigation recommendations in the description since it can be stated in the acceptance criteria 

Also, keep in mind that the description can be more verbose when writing client tasks as the client is not as experienced as us when dealing with site changes.

User Story Title

A ready task has a verbose title. It starts with a verb. This means you would say something like ‘Provide Keyword Research and Tagging Recommendations for 8 pages.

You wouldn’t say ‘Keyword Research’. That’s not a great title because you are not being explicit and you aren’t explaining what the task is intended to achieve. You do not want people to be confused when they look at the task title. 

How to Write a User Story Video

I have created the tutorial video below to demonstrate how I go about creating user stories (or ready tasks as my agency used to call it).


User stories will help all team members be more productive, and deliver better quality work by quickly capturing the “who”, “what” and “why” of a task requirement.

So give it a try! Start experimenting with user stories today. If you want to have a consultation on this methodology, feel free to contact me.