Ever wished you lived in a world where all of your SEO recommendations are prioritized right away?
I hope this post helps SEO specialists to make their SEO recommendations more persuasive. It’s incredibly frustrating when you spend so much time on an SEO audit and search analysis only to end up waiting months for the client to approve or action any of your recommendations. It’s even worse when you know the massive potential and growth it will bring for their business.
SEO truly is a strange field; we actually care about helping businesses make the most out of their websites and to change it into the hardworking business tool it was intended to be in the first place. We all know SEO only works once it’s implemented.
SEO Specialist Challenges
You, SEO specialist, have a challenge. It’s called red tape – and there’s lots of it. Budgets, client priorities, marketing managers, client team skills, and the c-suite, to name a few. Not to mention the pressure you are getting from your manager to get results and ROI for your client ASAP.
I see Linkedin full of complaints and jokes about SEO clients daily. I get it. But we are partially to blame for it too.
SEO is complex, and it’s getting even more so as search engine technology advances. Covid added additional pressure for digital specialists to be able to generate results at lightning speed. Many businesses and brands weren’t prepared (digitally). Everyone is rushing to get online. Competition is stiff, and “older” enterprises might not “get digital,” but they know they need it.
This is why I say that SEO specialists have a challenge. We have to become better at “business-talk.” We have to work on our business acumen. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to do an MBA. It DOES mean that you have to get better at communicating SEO recommendations in a way that resonates with business owners, c-suites, and marketing managers.
It’s not that far-fetched when you think about it. You have to “speak to your target audience” and “provide high quality, compelling content that converts.” See what I did there?
But that is always easier said than done. So, I’ll put my money where my mouth is and give you some practical advice that proved to be effective for me.
How to improve Your SEO Business-Talk
1. Create a visual road map
Graphs and scores work better than cells and tables. Divide your SEO audit into sections and assign a scoring system to it. It’s a great way of showing progress.
Put the KPIs front and center so that it's easier for your client to picture how the tasks feed into the bigger picture. You can even go as far as to group SEO initiatives to specific KPIs or desired outcomes.
2. Benchmark your client against a competitor
This helps a lot. It creates a sense of urgency and competitiveness with your client, and it shows that it’s been done before. This is especially useful if you don’t have a lot of case studies for a specific industry – it makes your recommendations more tangible.
A good way of doing this is by providing an overview of the SEO tactics others have done before. Provide high-level insights on what SEO tactics a competitor is doing that already rank well for many of the keywords you want to target.
3. Provide thorough SEO documentation
Ensure your audits and other lengthy recommendations have an executive summary permanently attached to your SEO documentation. This is super important because your work often gets shared with other critical decision-makers that weren’t in your presentation meeting.
Your SEO documents should provide stand-alone value, even if you aren’t in the room.
4. Keep the client in mind with your recommendations
Your SEO recommendations should always tie into your client’s business, sales, and marketing objectives.No smart business owner would ever say no to anything that will help them achieve their business goals. Even better, add a timeline if you can.
5. Be patient with your clients
Explain everything thoroughly and don’t pressure them into making decisions right away – that will put them off.
6. Any SEO documentation should clearly define or show what SEO is and isn’t.
Be careful not to be repetitive.
7. Do not make your recommendations too technical
Your recommendations must be clear and specific. If it’s not, it will end up being too overwhelming or too much effort for your client to work out for themselves.
If you have to provide technical recommendations, you can give an executive summary or business-orientated introduction at the top and then provide the technical details for developers.
“This document provides recommendations that, if implemented, will help your website to be visible in organic search engine results for more popular searched terms. This will help create more brand awareness and ultimately get more people to visit your website to purchase your products. You can achieve this by making your website 20% faster than what it currently is. More information is provided for the developer below.”
8. Think about YOUR audience (not just your client’s audience)
Remember the difference – SEO specialists are problem solvers, C-suite executives are decision-makers.
- Provide clear recommendations that tie into business objectives for c-suites.
- Provide detailed and specific tasks lists for project managers and developers.
- Label your tasks according to IMPACT LEVEL, DEV WORK, TASK COMPLEXITY
- Provide precise steps (mini project plan)
- For CEOs, ensure you are clear about why this SEO strategy should be invested in and if it will be profitable. Be clear on what success looks like too. Be short and to the point. CEOs don’t have a lot of time to make decisions. Make it easy for them to understand that investing in SEO and prioritizing SEO is a good business decision.
- For CFOs, ensure that you are clear on the costs. If you don’t have any control over the expenses, then ensure that you tell them the risks of opting for a cheaper solution (think cheap backlinks from a link network. It’s NEVER a good idea.)
- For CMOs, ensure you tell them what leads it will bring, what other marketing benefits SEO will lead to, and what competitors are doing.
How to make better SEO recommendations
Here are some things to avoid. Use the list below to vet your work.
- Is it too much to read?
- Is it too complicated?
- Do you give clear direction (priorities)?
- Will it be too much (dev work – capacity or billing cost)?
- Do you provide clear benefits?
- Are you specific enough?
- Is your document considering the audience (report for C-suites, tabs for devs)?
- Are you using a negative tone (don’t say they did everything wrong / insult the build/content)?
- Are you telling them what they know already?
Things to ask yourself to help you make for SEO work more business orientated:
- Is it going to increase revenue?
- Do you have any proof?
- When will it return results?
- What will it cost?
- Can the same results be gained by doing something cheaper?
- What’s the competition doing?
- Will this increase brand awareness?
- Will it result in more leads/sales?
- Show a real example, no generic images.
Remember that good communication with your client is critical! You should never assume that they know what you mean without explaining yourself fully and clearly.
In conclusion, when starting with an SEO project, find out what the client wants first. Your SEO work won’t be considered if the client cannot connect the dots between your recommendations and their business objectives. So, be sure to explain how your suggestions will help the company grow and why it will be worth the investment.