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Content Marketing & SEO Blog

Blog about startup growth strategies revolving around content marketing, SEO, CRO, and social media marketing.

How SEO pros manage their work & time (70 questions, 10 pros, over 30 resources)

Sean Smith

I'm always trying to improve how I manage my work and time, so I decided to ask some of the industries most prodigious people to answer some questions for me!

Time management, task management, productivity, utilities, apps, pens, paper. There are literally tons of different ways to optimize how we work in today's society. In modern web culture we have a plethora of software and apps that can be used to make our time more efficient, but are these applications always the best thing for the job? In the SEO world we are constantly bombarded by things that we have to keep track of; analytics, rankings, reports, tasks, time spent, links earned, link activity, brand awareness, trending topics, take your pick. For these reasons I believe there is no other industry where time organisation plays a larger role.

Tools and tactics of task and time management have always been an extreme interest of mine so naturally I am very curious as to how others choose to organize and optimize their time and productivity. I decided to give a 7 question micro-interview to some of the SEO industries biggest Pros to get a better understanding of what tools and tactics are best used to optimize productivity!

The 7 questions were:

  1. How do you allocate your time?
  2. What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?
  3. What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow?
  4. What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for?
  5. How do you track your time spent?
  6. How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding?
  7. What do you prefer to do in that branding time?

what the pros say:

johndoherty

John Doherty - @dohertyjf

How do you allocate your time?

My time is allocated between my client projects, clients of coworkers, internal projects, and office duties. My time is divided up according to my billable hours, meetings, sometimes sales pitches, and more. No day is typical. I make sure I take care of my clients and my team first before the other duties, though.

What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

Tough question. For the past 8-10 months it's been mostly on more technical onsite for one client and linkbuilding/marketing plans for another. I don't have a "specialty", so I do what is needed for my clients when they need it.

What tools do you use to keep on task and manage your workflow? From pen & paper to task management software.

I use three tools: Google Calendar for managing my schedule and meetings, TeuxDeux for managing my personal day-to-day tasks, and Trello for project management. I've used Asana before and liked it, but Trello is much easier to share between myself and clients and keep track of workflow. For deliverables I sometimes use Word, but mostly now I use Google Docs. Data is almost all done in Excel except for some SQL when I have too much (a good problem!)

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? (IE: SEOmoz's OSE)

I use so many different tools it's hard to recommend one. I couldn't do without SEOmoz campaigns, OpenSiteExplorer, MajesticSEO, ScreamingFrog, and all of my bookmarklets thanks to Tom's post on SEOmoz. I also love to hack together Excel spreadsheets for SEO.

How do you track your time spent?

Internally at Distilled we use Toggl. We have our own admin system where we keep track of client projects, and since Toggl has an API we pull that data in to make sure we are all on track with our work.

How do you allocate your time for personal or company branding and what do you prefer to do in that time?

This is a difficult one for me to answer, because Distilled takes the view that branding yourself is also good for the company. I tend to schedule some tweets in the morning on major blog posts, and then share stuff throughout the day as well. I used to spend more time engaging in conversations on Twitter, but unfortunately I have become so busy in the past 6 months that I do that less. Twitter is definitely my medium for personal branding and connection with others, and I'm active every now and again on Google+. Facebook is private for me.

I work on some internal projects, such as DistilledU, that contribute to Distilled's branding as well, and our blog posts are scheduled in every week to keep the blog fresh.

joncooper

Jon Cooper - @pointblankseo

How do you allocate your time?

Schedule and be strict. It's that simple. When you know you're not going to go over a given time limit to get something done, your productivity increases to meet those deadlines. It's a lot of self-psychology.

What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

Since I do mainly link building, I focus on people & predicting their actions, both in my outreach and with any content I'm developing. Putting yourself in another person's shoes helps you anticipate why they wouldn't link to your site or share your content, thus giving you the ability to foresee this and correct. I'll even spend time writing on my my whiteboard doing this. At the end of the day, a huge part of SEO is about influencing people.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow? 

Pen and paper is huge. I still do a lot of business planning & brainstorming on it. Since I don't work in a team (I run solo), I really only use one task management application, which is Buzzstream (if it even counts as one). I just use it to keep track of relationships. It helps break up my outreach tasks into chunks, which is definitely a huge part of workflow.

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? 

I'm a power user of OSE, Excel, Check My Links, IMJ's Crawler, Buzzstream, Ontolo, and now starting to use Postbox for Mac for email. I use OSE almost religiously for link analysis, but also starting to explore Ahrefs' capabilities. I use their API in Excel, which is an obvious tool for SEO. I use Check My Links to check for broken links on-page. I use IMJ's Crawler to quickly find site issues, which I then use during outreach by helping out webmasters and trying to get links in return. I use Buzzstream to manage contacts & relationships. I use Ontolo to do power prospecting for bigger clients. Lastly, I'm starting to use Postbox for Mac because I can manage a lot of email accounts all at once, as well as some of its features including templates & send later.

How do you track your time spent?

I really don't, unless a client is paying hourly; if that's the case, just with a simple Excel spreadsheet. Again, if I worked in an agency and not by myself, it would be different.

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding?

The best part is I really don't. Most of my best stuff I've written on my blog has come from something spontaneous. When I sit down & try to power out a post, I usually fall short, so I really don't force it whatsoever. When I have an idea for a blog post, I make time in my day to write it up.

What do you prefer to do in that branding time? (company or personal)

As stated, I just write blog posts, but in terms of branding I'll also answer questions by email (like this!) and other various things.

danshure

Dan Shure - @dan_shure

Dan actually decided to mix it up and take the questions to make a YouTube SEO video from his "NoBoard SEO" series for me. 

kanejamison

Kane Jamison - @kanejamison

All of the answers below are related to small & medium business clients, so my answers won't be as relevant for in-house SEOs, e-commerce, or enterprise / corporate level SEO. At this time, our SEO clients are on packages ranging from 8-25 hours per month with budgets ranging from $600-3000 per month. There are two of us working full-time at 

Hood Web Management

and we pull in specialists as contractors when needed, which allows us to stay small and flexible but still offer a breadth of services without the overhead of a specialist employee in every area - so my answers will also vary from larger agencies serving small businesses.

How do you allocate your time? What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

Of the time spent on client work - upfront time is spent fixing onsite issues. For some clients this takes a month. For other clients it's never-ending. We're focused on essentials here - head terms on the correct pages, title tags, fixing duplicating content and crawl issues, etc.

Once we finish up with the "once-and-done" tasks we focus our efforts on link building and content creation. In my opinion, that's the best return on time spent for most of my clients. Mindlessly tweaking title tags after the initial keyword research is not time well spent, when we could be building up their authority and branding. We're typically talking about sites with a DA of 0-30 up against sites with a DA of 30-60, so we need to get them into a competitive range before we spend time doing minor onsite changes.

Occasionally we'll work with a client who already has a better link profile than their competitors. In that case, we'll have a heavier focus on onsite changes, content generation and link building to support that content, and targeting new keywords that we don't already have a footprint in.

Regarding balance of client time vs business time:

My personal time as the business owner is probably 20-30+ hours per week of business development and management, and 20 hours of client work. When it was just me working solo, that was the same and I relied on contracted specialists for extra coverage. As we grow, my goal is for team members to spend roughly 60-80% of their time on billable client work, and the rest of their time on company content development and process improvement.

I'm very interested to hear how this compares to the expectations that larger agencies set for their employees. I haven't found a "guide" that discusses these considerations, so I weigh feedback from other people in the industry with what makes sense for our business model.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow? (from pen and paper to a task management software). How do you track your time spent?

  • Basecamp for internal communication/documentation, ongoing tasks, and planning of to-do items that will take longer than the same day
  • Raven for keeping track of campaign progress and keyword rankings (not our primary metric but we report it for a few head terms for each client).
  • Excel for tracking and reporting link building progress.
  • FreshBooks for time tracking, invoicing, and broad reporting of all time spent on a client for the month.
  • Dropbox for company file-sharing. (I tried a number of other solutions that were cheaper per GB - none of them were good at instant file syncing, which Dropbox excels at.)
  • For daily To-Do lists, I've got a yellow legal pad that sit in front of me all day and gets covered in notes and doodles. I start a new page of the legal pad every couple days. To-do items that will be done within 1 day aren't entered into Basecamp - it makes no sense. They just go on the paper to-do list for the day and go into the Freshbook notes if it's time billed to the client.

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? (example: SEOmoz's OSE)

In addition to the tools mentioned above, we use these other paid tools:

  • SEOmoz: We mostly use SEOMoz for the keyword difficulty tool (both for client communication as well as our own estimates) and Open Site Explorer. We used to use SEOMoz for client reporting but for our reporting style and client volume, it made more sense to keep our SEOMoz account at the base level and switch campaign tracking to Raven which allows unlimited clients and more keywords than we need. This also allows us to get the Majestic data that we need via Raven without a paid Majestic account.

We use a ton of other tools on an occasional basis, but the tools above are the ones we use most workdays. We use paid tools like Buzzstream and Link Prospector as needed but not always on a weekly basis.

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding? What do you prefer to do in that branding time? (company or personal)

As often as I can, so long as client work is on track for the month.

Of branding time, it's split between industry and client-facing. For example, if I  write an extensive article about a link building method (aside from 101-level) that is industry-facing and I may put it on our site, or I may use it as a guest post. If I write an article about basic small business marketing, that is client-facing and gets hosted on our own website. They serve a different focus and both are effective in different ways.

We're small enough that personal branding and company branding is largely overlapping, so that question is better suited for someone working for a larger agency.

For the majority of this spare time / marketing time / branding time, I try to be helpful. Answering SEOMoz Q&A questions, writing blog posts, helping people on Twitter, etc. I suppose it's the consulting version of the Freemium model. I like to give time and knowledge freely in order to attract new clients. This applies offline, too, such as giving free presentations to the local chamber of commerce (actionable presentations - not just sales pitches). Overall it's focused on inbound marketing rather than outbound sales.

chrisdyson

Chris Dyson - @rootswebsol

How do you allocate your time? What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

At this present moment in time I spend about 30-35 hours per week on client work and 15-20 hours a week working on my own business (seoroi.com).

I work predominantly with eCommerce clients and therefore spend a lot of my time working on on-site issues such as duplicate content and poor IA. I also spend time deep in keyword research, optimising titles, product descriptions, implementing changes to the site and testing (CRO/UX) e.g. improving checkout processes

I also perform my own outreach campaigns and use freelance writers and designers to assist with developing content for linkable assets.

Each client is different and therefore I could not say I spent more time on on-site performance or link building as it really depends on the maturity of the website and client I am working with.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow? How do you track your time spent?

http://spinlessplates.com/  - is what I use for managing my quotes, invoicing and basic business reporting. It’s very affordable for freelancers at only £20 ($30) per month and saves me a lot of time. I also use it for planning in my daily work and tracking time spent on tasks.

Evernote (evernote.com) – pretty much runs my entire personal and working life from blog drafts, to notes and my to do list.

Go Mockingbird (gomockingbird.com) - I use this if I am wire framing a new site or planning infographics with my designer. It’s great as we can work on the same project in real time and it’s very affordable.

Boomerang (baydin.com)– obviously with carrying out my own outreach campaigns I will send lots of emails to webmasters/bloggers, so I really like this free Gmail tool, which reminds me to chase people up if they don’t respond in a timely fashion.

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for?

I use most of the well known SEO analysis tools e.g. SEOmoz (OSE, Followerwonk) but I also utilise lots of tools that many people may not know much about such as Chase The Footprint for link prospecting.

I’ve written up a fairly comprehensive list of Free SEO Tools (tripleseo.com) I have used on my blog. I really don’t believe in paying for lots of expensive SEO or link building tools when I can often build something for myself or if there is something cheaper out there.

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding? What do you prefer to do in that branding time?

I am self-employed therefore my personal and company branding are intrinsically linked. However, it’s important to remember that “people buy from people” and therefore you shouldn’t ever sacrifice your personal brand.

I generally split my “branding” time up with online and offline activities. I enjoy interacting on Social Media and helping other people with queries or perhaps brainstorming ideas.

I have my own small blog and love it if I have time to write for it. I contribute to small business and social media blogs as I find it’s a great way to offer advice, find new clients and improve the perception of the SEO industry with other communities.

I generally don’t write for the “big SEO” blogs as I don’t want to be just another voice in the industry echo chamber.

I also attend some local B2B networking groups and have an effective referral network.

anthonypensabene

Anthony Pensabene - @content_muse

How do you allocate your time?

I work each day, and admittedly would not allocate time well if it is left to my mind’s devices.  It would be like trying to turn a carnival into a religious service suddenly... it would be too difficult to wrangle the attention and obedience of all participants J - I’ve tried to wrangle those thoughts up there before…they have a mind of their own…

In short, I NEED organization.

What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

Presently, I spend much time writing (I love to write.) in addition to reviewing, orchestrating, and modifying strategies, which encapsulates on and offline endeavors.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow?

I go ‘oldschool,’ using a daily planner (pen and pad, no  e solutions) though Rae Hoffman offered this post some time ago:

http://www.sugarrae.com/business-ramblings/my-top-9-online-organizational-tools-for-business-in-2012/

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? 

I use a variety of toys.  I sure do use SEOmoz tools; I have a premium membership, allowing access to Open Site Explorer and Followerwonk, which is an incredible tool for a number of purposes, including social tracking, content ideas, outreach, and content curation.

How do you track your time spent?

I’m independent, and much disliked the agency nature of being “tracked” (vomits).  Methinks some owners need to be tracked..  I keep loose tabs on time, but my end goal is my clients’ contentment.  I work until I, and more importantly they, are satisfied.  Furthermore, I enjoy what I do, understanding any ‘extra’ efforts are making my skill sets stronger.

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding?

Being independent allows my company/personal branding to be one of the same.  I think it’s extremely important to be seen as an individual contributor in the space. However, I would suggest the passionate to speak with their bosses about their wishes.  Unfortunately, some bosses may not like the idea of their employees being individuals (vomits) and passionate.  Such should be disappointing and note tolerated, but I don’t know personal situations.  That’s an assessment to make for oneself.  Personal branding is essential, and when done well, only strengthens the associated company brands (Mike King of iAcquire and John Doherty or Distilled are two good examples of company men who have strong, respected personal brands.

What do you prefer to do in that branding time?

I’m a worker bee, Sean.  I like staying in the trenches, getting all dirty and stinky each day.  I read, write, and spark conversations with peers via comments/email for personal branding.  “Be interested.” That’s genius. I hope all read this by Courtney Seiter http://raventools.com/blog/social-media-and-the-art-of-being-interested/  -Be interested in the industry and peers, and you’ll get interest in return and the ability  to share yourself and brand.

Closing thoughts

I try to ‘plan’ the week on Sunday (a derivative of doing ‘lesson plans’ when teaching.)  Also, one’s word is everything.  I also learned this from teaching.  “Do what you say you’re going to do, and be who you say you are.”   A person’s “word” is a reflection of character, which is the most valuable thing we have to share with others.  Don’t mar your word and character.

emmastill

Emma Still - @mmstll

How do you allocate your time?

I tend to allocate my time by breaking out chunks of time throughout the day. For example,

Before work chunk: when I first wake up/before I arrive to work, I will take a quick scroll through my Twitter stream and Instapaper (I use it as a verb, so shoot me..) interesting articles for reading later that evening. I will try to squeeze in a couple of the ones I find most interesting before I get ready for work.

Morning work chunk: Once I get to work, I will spend time getting organized for the day. I will spend around an hour working on following up on projects, and organizing the work that is to be completed for the rest of the day, among other tasks like another quick scroll through Twitter.

Giant workday chunk: Now it's down to business. This varies from on-page SEO tasks, to content generation and brainstorming, to blogging, to reporting, to link outreach and research. You know, the meaty stuff. This is what takes up most of my work day.

End of workday chunk: At the end of the work day, sometimes I'll have an awkward amount of time like 20 minutes or so, where it's too short to start a new project, so I like to find a couple pieces from my Instapaper to read through before heading out for the day.

End of workday chunk: After work I'll take care of errands, dinner, workout, etc. then it's back to reading! This is the time I like to use for 'personal branding'. I'll [try to] catch up on all of the things saved up from Instapaper that I came across that day and work on blog posts or my website. You can see that I spend A LOT of my time reading :]

What tools do you use to keep on task and manage your workflow & what tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for?

The tools that I like to use to keep me on track are Instapaper and Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is great because I can minimize it and only check up on it periodically throughout the day and it allows me to keep an eye on all things going on in one place. It would be way too distracting to have tabs open for Facebook, Twitter, etc. amongst my work-related tabs. Instapaper is also a LIFESAVER. There's a few other options like Pocket and the readability app, but I chose Instapaper first, and haven't found a reason to explore other options yet. These types of apps are great to have because you're able to keep all of the things you want to read later in one place and allows you to stay focused on the task at hand.

How do you track your time spent?

Time tracking is done with my company's internal software.

How do you allocate your time for personal or company branding and what do you prefer to do in that time?

Personal branding time occurs randomly throughout the day. For me, it is about trying to be valuable in any way that I can- whether it's getting a conversation going, answering questions, providing resources, or just telling terrible jokes or tweeting pictures of me in ridiculous halloween costumes and baby masks :] I think it's important to show that you have a personality instead of just RTing canned tweets all day.

* Forgot to mention that I use Simplenote all the time. I use it to keep my own personal notes on clients that might not need to be documented in company records. I like to keep a running list of content brainstorm notes for clients in Simplenote too. Like I told you a few days ago, it's really basic (Can't even bold words...) but hey, it is called SIMPLEnote, after all.

ann-smarty

Ann Smarty - @seosmarty

How do you allocate your time?

I know many people say it's counter-productive, but that's what I do: multi-tasking. I am tweeting, talking on the phone, answering emails and waiting while a page loads - all at the same time.

I also have a very strict routine: Checking mail is always the first thing I do in the morning and I'll never go to grab some coffee until I am done.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow? (from pen and paper to a task management software)

I've tried many tools, none of them stuck with me. I am not sure why. Normally, I love tools!

But for time management, little tricks work better: I use my browser bookmark toolbar to track task status, I use my "pinned" FireFox tabs as a TO-DO list (I won't unpin until it's done. The more open tabs, the slower the browser, so I *have* ti get things done!), I use my Thunderbird inbox in the same manner: I won't move an email into another folder or mark it as read until the tasks is done.

thunderbird screenshot
thunderbird screenshot

There are hundreds of tricks I am using daily that help me be on top of lots of things. I did a few articles on that:

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? (example: SEOmoz's OSE)

I have lots of tools I use randomly:

How do you track your time spent?

I wish I did! I'd get much more sleep then! Honestly, I can forget about time completely, so that's the area I need to work on..

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding?

I build my brand while working: all my posts, tweets, etc - everything contributes to building my personal brand.

jeremiahsmith

Jeremiah Smith - @jeremiahcsmith

How do you allocate your time?

Most of my time is devoted to communication, business development and answering client questions by phone, email or BaseCamp throughout the day. I've taken on more and more of the business development/client services position at my company.

We manage quick onsite optimization sprints in an effort to get the most onsite work completed in the shortest amount of time as onsite seems to yield less importance nowadays and it should really be out of the way before anything else begins.

We then spend the most time on discovering content marketing opportunities and link development opportunities. Educating clients on social is very effective for offsite as it's something they can manage while you guide the results.

What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

Strategy and Process. Neither of those terms typically need caps but I feel they're highly underrated in the SEO industry. The strategy is important and I've always felt at least a strategy gives you a plan to abandon, and a platform to be resourceful from when things start to break. We spend a little more time on initial critical thought and then our execution time is cut dramatically with very high results on the other end. I think of Abraham Lincoln with his quote "If given 6 hours to chop down a tree I'll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe". This meditative state allows your strategic and logical mental faculties to ruminate over an idea and then your overall execution is like that of a ninja once you get to work, already knowing how to respond to any pitfall before it appears.

The process for execution of your strategy then is always unique for each client. It may come across as sloppy and reinventing the wheel every time but that's why you need tools and resources to allow your process to be both flexible and scale simultaneously. For what we do, one cookie cutter approach will not deliver the best results. Instead we systematize accounting, invoicing, project management, communication, technical assessments, marketing outreach, resource gathering, implementation techniques, etc. We're then able to customize every plan so each client get's the best fit for their dollar and the best overall marketing ROI.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow? (from pen and paper to a task management software)

  • BaseCamp
  • HighRise
  • FreshBooks
  • Raven
  • SEOmoz
  • BuzzStream
  • HootSuite
  • Apple Reminders
  • Google Drive
  • Mac Everything (legitimate fanboys over here)

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? (example: SEOmoz's OSE)

  • SEOmoz OSE ;)
  • SEOmoz pro
  • Screaming Frog (mac)
  • FireFox (for the amazing old-school effective-ass extensions)
  • Tamper Data - an oldy but a goody for quickly seeing what a home URL is up to, etc.
  • Web Dev Toolbar - another oldy but it allows you to check the page with JS disabled, CSS disabled for menu images, etc.
  • FireBug - good for Chrome too

How do you track your time spent?

We use BaseCamp for PM but eon for specific time management.

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding?

Haven't ever really done this right. When I first started the business I spent 90% of my time on my own site, now I spend less than 10% and business is booming. We're trying to figure out a good process for keeping the new site fresh and up-to date as well as keeping new prospects in the loop on what we're up to. We'll be focusing more time and effort on blogging and email campaigns for the business as well as basic social in Twitter and Google+.

What do you prefer to do in that branding time? (company or personal)

Twitter stuffs. It's nice to research the industry and grab the best of the best and either a) rewrite it or revamp it and distribute or b) share if it's sensational i.e. 80% of SEOmoz articles, Inbound Marketing Community - Hacker News for Marketers(inbound.org), etc.

Any other notes you may have on how you manage your workload.

Dependence on other linchpins cannot be overstated. In Seth Godin's book Linchpin he discusses the importance of businesses relying on humans to do work for humans. In a culture fraught with technological conveniences and systems designed to remove the human element it becomes very refreshing to deal with a real human from time to time. Especially when all the most public and apparent actions in a company are met with a knowledgeable, flexible, hard-working and well-paid, well-respected individual on the giving end. Someone who can make an immediate executive decision on behalf of his/her executive. Someone who can think for the company and is given the authority and the resources to do so. Trust in an intimate relationship can only be broken and respected if it is truly given and shared. If you don't trust your team to do what you need them to do how they need to do it then then they don't have any trust to break and your business will become a bitter and toxic place to work.

ajkohn

AJ Kohn - @ajkohn

How do you allocate your time?

This year I allocated about 50% of my time to building my brand and 50% to client work. By August that changed to a mix of 30% brand and 70% client work but I still believe that brand work is extremely important.

A fair amount of the 50% in my branding area is spent reading and keeping up with various industries. I usually spend 3 hours each morning reading through RSS feeds from a variety of diverse subjects. The result of that time are my Tweets and Google+ posts.

What do you focus most of your efforts on when you are working on SEO?

On client work you're obviously spending a a chunk of time on monitoring traffic and looking for weaknesses and opportunities. If you're doing any type of audit work I spend the most time on research (intent and syntax) and technical SEO. Those two are, in my mind, the most critical for long-term success.

What tools do you use to keep on task and to manage your workflow? (from pen and paper to a task management software)

I have a whiteboard that I use in my office that I update pretty religiously and couldn't live without Google Calendar and have started to use Boomerang as well. I like to keep things simple and be close to the work.

What tools do you use or recommend and what do you use them for? (example: SEOmoz's OSE)

There are a host of free Google products I use which provide a lot of value. I regularly use SEOmoz's OSE for backlink research as well as looking at their keyword difficulty tool. There are a few other backlink tools out there that add value too including ahrefs and Majestic SEO.

I also like Raven Tools and think they've got a nice suite of tools. Finally, you need Screaming Frog to tease out crawl architecture and cross link issues.

Three under-rated tools I use all the time are Snagit (screen capture and mark-up), PowerPoint (lo-fi wire-framing) and Chrome Developer Tools (pretty mock-ups). The latter is actually a powerful tool for a bunch of things but it's under-utilized for creating mock-ups.

How do you track your time spent?

In my head for the most part and through my calendar, email and chat transcripts. I very much prefer instant messaging and so I can often review chat logs at the end of the month if I'm scratching my head on where I spent my client time.

How do you allocate your time for personal branding and company branding?

The vast majority of that time is spent reading and curating content. Next is blogging. I decided that quality is better than quantity. That said, I wish I had more time to devote to blogging. I cringe sometimes when I see how much time has passed since my last post.

I'm active on Google+ from a social perspective but generally see this as an extension of my curation activities. I think commenting on other blogs and platforms is critical and I've not done nearly enough of that this year.

Finally, presentations at conferences are great for branding. I really don't like to travel much and as an introvert I find conferences exhausting. So I try to keep the number of conferences I present at to three a year at the most.

What do you prefer to do in that branding time? (company or personal)

I prefer to do the reading and blogging as well as my time on Google+. I wouldn't mind commenting on others more but there's so much negative reinforcement between censorship (real and accidental), lack of response and lack of intelligent dialog. Commenting on the web is largely broken in my opinion which is sad.

While I don't prefer to do presentations I think it was the single most rewarding thing I did in 2012. Do the things that make you uncomfortable.

I would love to put my own in here but I feel it would be out of place amongst these micro-interviews. I feel like it would be a little bit egotistical? If that makes sense. Perhaps at a later time I will write an in depth post on the tools and tactics that I tend to use.

So how about you? I would love to hear how everyone chooses to manage their work and time. What tools, tactics and strategies do you use to optimize your productivity? Would love to hear your thoughts below!

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