HOW TO PRESENT YOUR SEO AUDIT RESULTS TO THE BOARD
In the next stage of this deep-dive into the business of SEO Auditing we're looking at how to actually present your results and recommendations to the other people in a business. Maybe your boss has asked for a presentation of your results. Maybe you're a contractor who has been 'invited in' to deliver your findings to the board. This is where I can hopefully offer you some guidance.
Before diving in though make sure you know exactly what an SEO audit is and learnt to prioritise your recommendations. Plus, you've mastered some other non-essential auditing skills - because they'll really come in handy.
Although SEO audits are the name of the game, what's included below could be used in pretty much any face to face marketing meeting. In other words, here's how you can successfully deliver large amounts of dry, technical information in an engaging way to folks who are both bored and busy. Here's how to approach it.
Why are you here?
Starting with the bigger questions in life, you need to remember why you're here and your purpose for the meeting.
The goal for the session is not for the group to understand the intricacies of SEO, but to provide them with the confidence you know what you’re doing.
While you will inevitably talk about the specifics of your audit, what you've found and what needs to happen, the goal is to do this in a way which convinces people that the actions you want to take are the right ones. And for folks to approve these actions they need to have confidence in you.
There are tangible outcomes in winning people over - they provide you with budgets, tools and resource. Intangibly the outcomes of believing in you grants you both the freedom and the time to continue doing do what needs to be done to get good results. So, it's a win for you and your SEO.
Who are you meeting?
While knowing why you're here should help you to structure what you're going to say, understanding the audience you're presenting to is going to help structure how you're going to say it. For me, there tends to be 3 types of people in a boardroom:
People who genuinely understand SEO (rare)
People who *think* they understand SEO, but don't (painfully more often than I'd like)
People who don't understand SEO but are there all the same (the most common)
Different meetings will have different combinations of these people so it pays to know who will be attending beforehand. Achieving the correct level of detail is seriously hard. On one occasion I dived into a segment on toxic backlinks and the majority of the room didn't understand what a link even was (cue a crash course in those blue underlined things you can click on The Guardian) That was my bad, I misjudged the audience and in the process damaged my chances of getting sign-off for what we needed.
Do you planning beforehand. When you're in the meeting here's 5 tips you can use to win people over to help make your SEO audit recommendations a reality. They include:
Before going through the SEO audit itself set the scene at both the beginning and the end of your session:
Explain why the audit was requested - the likelihood is not everyone in the meeting knows why you're here. It shows how the audit ties into the wider business - (indicating you understand the business) - an area which non-SEO people spend quite a lot of time focussing on
Explain what you're about to go through - explain that's it a top level overview of what's going well, what's not and what's needed. Emphasise balance - nobody wants to hear a full hour of problems
Explain the structure - how long the session will take and when people can ask questions. You can be widely dragged off course if you have questions throughout. However, leaving questions to the end can miss important insights. You do you
Explain what's going to happen next - so you can set timelines so stuff will actually happen. It also shows that there's further work ahead, even if it's not agreed to, reinforcing the long term nature of SEO investment
Tying it back to business
Here's a challenge for you. Don't mention anything about SEO without tying it back to a business metric. I don't think many people would last long. It's unfortunately so commonplace for SEO audits to focus just on hitting a target for targets sake and forgetting how actions will impact revenue, sales or sign ups.
Most of the people in the meeting are business people. And business people care about business things - mainly making more money.
So instead of saying, I"f we increase site speed we'll hit our Core Web Vitals metics"
Cut the jargon - and add in the business context: "If we make our site faster, we can potentially get more people to the site. Let's say it could increase traffic by 2% - that would mean an extra £15k/year in revenue via Google".
Always tie what you're doing back to business.
Here's a working example from one of my B2B E-commerce clients where I was recommending investment into UX after looking at their conversion rate. This is what I showed them (I've tweaked the numbers for confidentiality).
All the numbers are set in a business context and the headline was that if you can adjust the conversion rate by just a fractional 0.18% - going from 0.52% to 0.7% while keeping traffic and avg. order revenue the same it could mean an extra £80k in revenue each year.
The numbers side by side are eye-opening but had I said we should invest in UX because our conversion rate could be higher, well, it doesn't have quite the same impact, does it? (Note: we're now commissioning a UX study). Not only does it mean it's easier to win approval for future projects it means you have better buy-in when you're setting your SEO budget for the year.
A ridiculously easy way to get your point across that something needs to happen is to tell the group that a competitor is doing something you're not already doing.
Bonus points if it's a competitor the board have a particular hatred for
More bonus points if more than one competitor is doing it
As well as telling the group about who is doing what, there's even more bonus points if you can visually show what people are up to. 3rd party organic visibility screenshots are a favourite. Or any sort of graph that compares how a competitor is faring compared to you.
Here's another example I showed a client looking at the number of indexed pages as an argument for increasing the quantity of content on the site as a way of generating additional longer tailed traffic. At the time they thought everyone was fairly evenly matched against one another. I showed them this and they soon understood the real picture. And while they completely appreciated they weren't going to beat Competitors 1 and 2 any time soon, they were firmly locked onto beating Competitor 3 as their goal - and sign off for a content marketing campaign wasn't far behind.
The desire to beat the competition is a surprisingly effective fuel for getting sign-off.
Screen recordings - or even better, live run throughs, are a slightly risky but very rewarding way of explaining something. (It's riskier if you can't replicate the what you're trying to show right then and there).
The majority of a board will only have a limited understanding of how their website works or how different Google SERP features work (or often both of these things together). While it would be great if they did know this, you know what? It's not their job. Jumping into a micro-training session using a topic that interests them can demonstrate a problem and win them over at the same time.
Take for instance the results of the audit which showed how few long tailed search terms are ranking and the resulting need for a content hub. You could take them through the nuts and bolts of hubs and spokes, People Also Ask and Schema.
Or you could use their hobbies (normally triathlons, there's almost always one person training a long distant endurance event), putting that into Google and showing the questions that appear. They can then easily see how it works, immediately make the jump for why it could be useful for them and hopefully give you their seal of approval.
Boards should believe in you already. But then again, maybe they don't. You know who they will trust though? Industry authority's.
Example time. If I recommend you should replace your 9 slide home page carousel with a single static images, chances are someone in the room will open up their laptop, spin it round and show me a site they think where it works fine. That ends up causing a conflict - one person against another. Even if you 'win' you'll damage, even slightly, the relationship you have with that person - and all of this is about winning their confidence.
Or you could show Google's UX playbook.
See. Google says so. There's a stack of resources out there covering SEO and marketing fundamentals and whacking a quote on a slide is an immediate way to win people to your way of thinking.
Google's UX Playbook for Retail - for pretty much everything
Amazon - Every 100ms in Added Page Load Time Cost 1% in Revenue - for site speed
Nielsen Norman Group - Hamburger Menus and Hidden Navigation Hurt UX Metrics - for UX
If you can integrate these things into a meeting which delivers a winning combination of facts, figures and personality you should be able to secure what you need in the short-term to ensure your SEO audit recommendations are a success. And if you need some assistance in making all this happen? Then see how I can help you with your next SEO Audit.