What does an SEO Product Manager do? w/Vanda Pókecz

What task does an SEO Product Manager? What skills are required and how to pivot to an SEO Product Manager role? Find out in this interview with Vanda Pókecz. 

Job titles can be tricky. What tasks do they involve? What skills does one need? It can be confusing to know what’s the next step in a career or where to start as an SEO. Vanda Pókecz helps us to understand what an SEO Product Manager does and what a day in her job looks like. We also find out what inspires Vanda and motivates her everyday. 

If you do not find the information that you need, let us know, we will be happy to add them: isaline@workinseo.com

💡 By the way, Gus Pelogia works as an SEO Product Manager for Indeed (2023). Listen to Gus’s Podcast Interview about his career path Moving across continents and working as an SEO.

Meet Vanda Pókecz, SEO Product Manager

Vanda Pókecz is a Team Lead SEO, Ladenzeile GmbH. Additionally to her work as a Team Lead, she is also a public speaker.

Connect with Vanda Pókecz on TwitterX and LinkedIn

What is an SEO Product Manager? A short definition

Vanda Pókecz explains: “As an SEO Product Manager your job is to drive business impact through SEO. You will not only shape the SEO strategy but also the roadmap and goals. At the same time you need to work closely with other teams including P&E,  UX etc. to ensure execution of the roadmap.” She recommends reading the definition offered by Adam Gent from The SEO

“You also need to take part in or drive product discovery where your goal is to continuously identify and validate user problems, which is great because you as an SEO PM truly focus on human users. At the same time you need to remember that for SEO PM’s the search engine bot is also a user.” 

As an SEO Product Manager your ultimate goal is to work with other teams on features and components that will allow for optimal discoverability of your site by both humans and bots and lead to improved user behaviour and ultimately business results.

Here is what you should know about SEO Product management

“Given the relatively new nature of this role, firstly it will not be “implemented” the same way in every organisation, so the role can look somewhat different depending on the set up and needs. Secondly, it can be a challenge to be accepted in the P&E world as an SEO but definitely possible and ultimately for the benefit of everyone.” shares Vanda.

What are the main tasks of an SEO Product Manager?

We are curious to know what a day in Vanda’s shoes looks like! One of her main tasks, though not done everyday, is shaping the strategy and creating and updating the SEO roadmap. Beyond that, Vanda liaises with other teams whether operational, product or engineering. She joins refinements and reviews meetings, creates optimal tickets and lobbies for SEO input everywhere in the company where relevant. According to Vanda many of the above mentioned tasks would also belong to an SEO Lead, so there is definitely an overlap between an SEO Product Manager and a SEO Team Lead. 

“On occasions I would drive or participate in product discovery efforts, carrying out competitor and user research, interviews or surveys and work with teams to validate potential solutions, often through experimentation.“ describes Vanda.

“Once a strategy is created it is also important to break that down into tactics and actionable items more often than not in the form of well defined tickets with clear description and acceptance criteria. Finally those tickets need to be implemented and the SEO PM needs to align with the relevant teams and work with them to ensure the product / feature is being delivered.”

Which skills are most useful to work as an SEO Product Manager?

To work efficiently as an SEO Product Manager, here are the top skills according to Vanda:

  1. Stakeholder management, collaboration
  2. Strategic thinking
  3. Empathy
  4. Discovery: be able to spot opportunities
  5. Excellent communication skills
  6. Ability to influence
  7. Understanding of agile methodologies
  8. Ownership.

According to Vanda, you can learn many of these skills before stepping in an SEO Product Manager role. And in case you don’t yet – it is definitely possible to learn or keep learning them while working as a Product Manager.  During the interview, Vanda shared some of the skills she had learnt while still learning others. 

You consider a career change as an SEO product Manager? You need to know this!

First of all SEO Product Manager as a role is still relatively new explains Vanda and rather found in bigger organisations with large websites. Meaning at this stage there might not be a lot of openings for such roles but expected to increase in the future. If this role sounds interesting to you however, you need to know that it will require excellent stakeholder management skills, as well as the ability to push things forward. 

Vanda’s favourite resources to learn about SEO Product Management

Vanda’s favourite resources encourage you to learn about product management like The SEO Sprint newsletter, which is tailored to SEO PMs or Lenny’s Newsletter

“You might be surprised to find that you may have already worked as an SEO PM in the past without even knowing” explains Vanda. “For example if you lead the creation of meta title templates allowing your team to be flexible without Dev support or if you collaborated with Devs on creating smart internal linking features”. 

If you were applying to an SEO Product Manager’s position b right now, how would you prepare? 

Let’s find out how Vanda Pókecz would prepare:

“If I was an SEO Manager thinking about switching into SEO Product Management I would firstly start by branching out cross-departmentally in my current role. E.g. I have been voluntarily part of an experimentation taskforce, participated in other cross-departmental efforts and before becoming a Senior SEO PM I even fulfilled an interim product owner role. These type of experiences allow you to get a taste of things that the role will entail, build social capital and represent SEO when interacting with other teams. 

I find it also important to find out whether I am truly interested in such role hence I would do my best to talk to someone who is currently working as an SEO PM and get some insight.

I would also familiarise myself with product management and core principles. If you or your company is willing to finance it you can even get certified as for example a digital product manager, which will give you the most important theory and frameworks. If you cannot do that though there are an abundance of resources available online. 

For an interview preparation I would definitely focus on my soft and transferable skills, while at the same time digging into projects I worked on before. You may be surprised to find that even without the title you carried out some SEO PM tasks in the past. For example if you contributed to the SEO strategy or worked with Devs on a feature which made the team more flexible in certain topics e.g. meta title optimization or crawling.”

💙 Thank you Vanda for sharing your experience as an SEO Product Manager with us.

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