Aligning SEO Strategy with Client Business Goals — Whiteboard Friday

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Now what can you do about it? Now, again, there’s no one silver bullet. If you do all these things, I hope that these would help. These have helped us to be able to get things across, to be able to get things implemented, to be able to work with the stakeholders, to be able to make the campaign actually viable and get some value out of it. But these are some of the things, in our experience, that we try and do.

Proactively getting things done

So proactively getting things done. Now that’s not a one-size-fits-all approach with that. Again, depending on the size of your business, you will have a lot of stakeholders. You will have internal dev teams, specially custom-built CMSs, where you might not be able to get things done on the technical front.

But what I mean by this is if you have the ability or the opportunity to jump into the website and get things done, you have the ability to create content, you have the ability to get ahead on certain things and showcase you’re actually trying to provide value, what’s the worst that can happen? They’re going to complain that you’re trying to provide them value, and you’re trying to give them a return on the investment on their SEO? Now, again, don’t be stupid with that. If you work with a big brand that’s got a custom CMS and they’ve got a few legalities in there and you’ve got a few things, just don’t jump into the website. You don’t want to just rip down ASOS in a day, okay?

But with certain brands, if you’ve got the ability to just get things done and showcase your proactivity within reason, again, I like that because it showcases that you’re actually trying to get things done. You’re showcasing to the business, hey, we’re trying to make this work. You’re not just paying us, and we’re just going to sit around and do nothing. We’re actually trying to actively make your SEO help you to achieve your business goals.

Prioritizing key services or products

Prioritizing key services or products. Now SEOs tend to get caught up in just doing SEO, which is fine. But they again forget that there’s a business on the other side paying the bills and wanting to see results.

So one of the things we want to do is focus on prioritizing the most important services that they offer or the products. What I mean by that is: What are the ones that they make the best margin on? What are the ones that they want to push? What are the ones that drive the most revenue or are the most popular?

Focus on working your SEO strategy initially on those key services and products instead of just focusing on the privacy policy page or some random product that they might sell one of because it’s got great search volume. That won’t mean anything to the bottom line of a business. Focus on the key services or products.

Simple reporting and updating on ‘why’

Now another thing is simple reporting and updating on the why, and this probably goes in with the clear communication to stakeholders as well. SEO is intangible. It’s just numbers in the air to these people. They don’t actually know. Yes, there will be vanity metrics, or yes, they’ll see number one on Google, right? But what happens when you’re not number one yet?

Well, because it is intangible, the only tangible thing that they get is a report, is your team, is that call, is that strategy? Are those documents the things that they can see, then hold, and hear because SEO is intangible? There are all the things happening in the background, but yet your marketing manager, CFO, and CMO just want to see the results. They want to see the number go up. That’s what they want to see.

So simple reporting, Data Studio. Maybe there are custom tools out there. You can just detail what the SEO numbers mean, but match it up with their business goals. So don’t use like non-branded queries. To you and I, we know what that means. But to the average Joe working in the business, they might not know what non-branded means. So you really have to explain as to what that means. So you’d use certain keywords that they would know. Sometimes a client will be like, “We want to be known for these keywords.” So you use those keywords that they want to be known for, their goals to explain what branded or non-branded means.

Showcasing revenue, money. You might have fixed like 10 title tags, but they don’t know what the hell a title tag is or care, right? What does that actually mean? Well, hey, client, we have done all this metadata optimization to improve people clicking on our results. Therefore, we can lead that to more traffic and potentially more revenue or more leads. So you want to try and explain those really SEO-y things in a way that matches up with their business goals so that they understand. Otherwise, they’re just going to be with a very confused look on their face.

Clear communication with stakeholders

Clear communication with stakeholders. Again, using things like Docs or Sheets or Word, explaining it clearly. Explain it to them like they’re 5. Showcasing, use Slack, use emails. Have a call. Sometimes it’s easier just to call them up and explain on the phone because there’s no turnover email. You can have 50 long chain emails, and everyone forgets what happened.

Matching your SEO strategy to business goals

Matching the SEO strategy to the business goals, so that’s the encompassing bit where we’re going to be like, hey, the client comes to you and says, “We want to be number one for this. We want more revenue, and we want more leads.” Great.

Those SEO-y things have to then match up to get those goals. So how are you going to get more revenue? All right, we’re going to focus on those key services and products. We’re going to focus on E-E-A-T. We’re going to focus on the technical health of the website. But when you’re saying E-E-A-T, they don’t know what that is. So you’re going to say something like, “We are creating these about us pages and team pages because we want to create your own Wikipedia and your own LinkedIn on your own website so that you can showcase to Google and users, hey, we know our stuff. These are the legitimate people behind this business.”

Reaffirming goals — showcase the impact of SEO

And reaffirming those goals. Showcase the impact of SEO. Showcase those graphs, showcase those ranks. Have like catch-ups with them to be to be like, “Are we still on track? What’s going on in the business? How are the products going?” Essentially ask them some financial questions like, “How is the business performing? What are the goals this week?”

Sometimes you might not get that information. But if you get enough context to be like, “Are we hitting our goals this month or are we not,” you can then tweak your SEO strategy to be like, oh, actually, it’s a bit of a down quarter coming up. What can we do? All right, and then you can make that adjustment. Because if things are happening in the business and you’re not aware of them, they get that report or they get that call and go, “This means nothing to me. What does this mean? There’s no money coming in.” Ah, but we had to do X, Y, Z on this project for this. “Who cares? There’s no money coming in.” You’re sort of a bit screwed.

What is most important to them?

And last but not least, always remember what is most important to them. Now to you, as an SEO, you’re going to be like, yes, doing the work is great, or fixing metas and getting internal links in there and doing backlinks and all this stuff is important to you as an agency, which is great. That’s how we showcase value, yes.

But at the end of the day, the client is paying the bills. What is most important to them? If it is something like just getting more organic traffic, all right, fine. You, as an SEO, have to explain why that’s fine as a goal, but then also continually educate them as to some of the other parts that make up SEO. Yes, okay, traffic is only the first bit. But are you getting the right traffic? Are they converting? And it leads you on to many more questions, which can then shape your strategy.

But always remember the why and what is most important to them, and then you get that information. Then you can craft your strategy and you can craft your work and your dedicated time to achieving those goals. What should happen, now, again, it doesn’t always happen this way, but what should happen is the business should be appreciative that you’re trying to actually leverage and use the channel of SEO and the power of SEO to help them achieve those goals.

So that’s everything for today in terms of SEO and brands, brands and SEO, matching up the business goals with SEO strategy. Remember, what do brands usually want? More organic traffic, less revenue, better branded or non-branded search, better rankings, beating the competition.

What is stopping them? Poor SEO, poor education, lack of goals and prioritization, understanding marketing, resources, ego.

And what can you do? Being proactive. Sometimes, depending on the situation, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Prioritizing key services or products, focus on the things that will make them money. Clear communication with stakeholders via simple reporting and updating on the reasons why we are doing this. Reaffirming their goals. Continually understanding what their goals are, and showcasing the impact of that SEO through simple reporting and clear communication. Matching that SEO strategy to the business goals, and always remembering what is most important to them. What is the why? Impact over vanity metrics essentially.

So that’s everything. I’m Anthony from StudioHawk.

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