We have all been there – taking a deep breath, proverbial butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, anxiously looking at the knickknacks on your boss’s desk. You’re in the spotlight and were just asked about your quarterly SEO results – or worse, you must formally present them. You’re asked one of these typical questions:
- How are we doing this year versus last year?
- Our traffic has gone up but our sales have not, why not?
- Traffic has plummeted and keeps getting worse – why?
- Why is it when I search for X keyword, I don’t see us, but competitor Y shows up?
You might enviously watch as representatives from the Paid Team, Social Team, and Analytics Team can stand and deliver compelling presentations with things managers love – numbers, graphs, hard data. Then it is your turn – and SEO results might sound a bit odd to the uninformed ear. Before you know it, you’re cut off – “What’s all this talk of Pandas and Penguins? I asked you a question and I expect a clear answer.”
Again, we have all been there. The short advice here is three-fold:
- Tailor Your SEO Results for Different Audiences
- Prepare For Your Stakeholders’ Levels of Understanding
- Create A Familiar Form of Reporting & Presenting for Your SEO Results
Let’s dive in:
1. Tailor Your SEO Results for Different Audiences
You can identify your boss, but have you ever thought beyond him or her? Who else has problems you can solve? Some of our best clients make an active effort to identify the most important stakeholders that they may encounter. This may include everyone from the CMO, different department heads (marketing, digital, social, paid media, even legal), and also includes outside vendors, business partners, investors, and even your friends and family.
Your boss is one person in your organization who you have to be ready to present to, but you may find that your organization structure changes and there may be merging of departments (best to make a positive impression on other department heads early). You may also find that your conversations with vendors and partners also have an influence on your boss. Even friends and family can help you polish your answers and prepare for questions out of left field from your boss, but keep in mind the knowledge-level and vocabulary of each stakeholder.
Action Steps: First, make a list of stakeholders. Make an organizational chart if you are a visual thinker. Once you have a good idea, think about what those individuals are tasked with understanding and providing to their stakeholders.
Think about what those individuals are tasked with understanding and providing to their stakeholders.
For example, a CMO needs to report to their board or CEO; they need to be able to describe the value of organic traffic as opposed to paid and social. In addition, knowing how the channels help one another is important, as is being able to summarize the year-over-year changes and a quick reason why can help in a board meeting. Think about making your stakeholders’ jobs easier.
2. Prepare for Your Stakeholders’ Levels of Understanding
You need to be able to explain the importance of your role and your projects at levels that all stakeholders can understand. One of the best ways to do that is to think from their perspective. An elevator pitch explanation may be enough for your significant other, but internally, the CMO probably wants to hear your plan for making improvements on the metrics that matter most to them.
Your boss probably wants answers to questions as they arise as well as reporting on what you have been doing, what worked, what didn’t and a plan to improve those SEO results moving forward. Other teams each have their own structure and nuanced goals, aligning your language and format of delivery to their preference can help bolster communication.
Action Steps: Let’s continue with the CMO example: Being ready with a chart comparing performance between channels (overall traffic, revenue, or conversions) and a short explanation of how those numbers compared to the previous quarter makes you look prepared and gives you a chance to showcase your strengths. You may also want to create a timeline of important events. Include projects your team has completed, offline marketing initiatives, Google Algorithm changes, and even global events if applicable.
You may also want to create a timeline of important events. Include projects your team has completed, offline marketing initiatives, Google Algorithm changes, and even global events if applicable.
If you are able to talk to any resource issues – such as how conversions are attributed at your company (attribution modeling may not be favorable to organic) or how spending for X more copywriters to write Y more targeted pieces to have relevant long tail content may help nudge the numbers in the right direction, this would be an ideal time to calmly put forth a case.
3. Create a Familiar Form of Reporting & Presenting for Your SEO Results
Being able to pull data and create visualizations from a template without recreating it from scratch each time, allows for quicker creation, quicker digesting of data, and a quicker response. If you’re a Conductor customer, you may want to set up a go-to Workspace in Searchlight with the Widgets that answer your boss’s frequently asked questions or requested reports.
Being able to pull data and create visualizations from a template without recreating it from scratch each time, allows for quicker creation, quicker digesting of data, and a quicker response.
Action Steps: Would you like it if your credit card statements came in a totally different format each month? What if every time you logged in to pay a bill the website had totally changed? By creating a familiar format for your reporting and presentations you decrease the amount of time in preparation and help your audience digest the information faster.
Create a standard template for your reports for different stakeholders. For example, create a Searchlight Workspace for your CMO with widgets you would like to add to slides. One might be a quarterly bar chart of organic visibility for non-branded terms you are trying to improve, or a line graph showing the average position over time for you and your biggest competitors.
There’s no need for butterflies and sweaty palms. Just remember the 6 P’s – or maybe it was just my mom who taught this at home – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance – if you prepare with a list of stakeholders and standardized reporting that’s geared towards what they’ll need for their own stakeholders, you’ll knock it out of the park. You could even proactively reach out to new teams and cement your place as “that guy or gal who knows all the answers.”