Good afternoon Brighton SEO. I’m Sion O’Connor. I work as a Marketing Director for a bank. I’d like to take 7 minutes of your time to show you a few checklists that could help you and your clients.As most people here today are SEOs or from SEO agencies, you are the primary focus for these 7 minutes.However, the inhouse people in the audience can’t snooze for 7 minutes. I hope that you’ll get some ideas about what your SEOs need from you in order to deliver great results for you.
This is simply one perspective from a sample of one. I’m not labouring under any illusion that this is gospel or the universal truth.You may say it’s all common sense. You can decide if it’s common practice.You may say it’s old world and no longer relevant in today’s world. But some of your clients grew up working in that old world, and the disciplines, practices and perspectives that they learned then served them well, and may continue to serve them well today,And you may already be doing all of this, in which case please think of this as a 7 minute refresher.
Let’s start with an outsider’s view of SEO:The impact of your work is very measurable.The results of your work is very cost effective.You enable optimisation of other channels, often lowering the aggregate CPAs or improving other performance metrics.
But there are also some potential issues with SEO from a client point of view.It’s a practice based discipline rather than an academic one.Rarely is there one ‘right answer’ or one ‘right solution’.The accepted best practice is ever changing.And as some of us know to our cost with Penguin and Panda, the fundaments can change overnight.So you can see why some clients may think that ‘testing is learning’ is actually ‘trial and error’
So given the characteristics of SEO,what can you do to give your client confidence and give you credibility?Here are 3 things for you to know about your client and their business.
First of all, the client.What are their corporate and personal objectives?Are they more interested in exponential growth or efficient growth?Do you know what their red buttons and green buttons? What are the topics that they want to hear more about? And what will cause them to shut down and want to move on?What are the exact areas over which your client has control and influence? Rarely does an organisation function on the inside the way it looks on the outside. Clearly you wouldn’t ask your client ‘what do you actually do?’ but you could ask them ‘who are your key internal stakeholders’ as a way of teasing out of them who actually manages what within their organisation.And finally, do you have some insights about what they think of SEO as a practice, and more importantly you and your agency?
Second, your client’s end consumer, the people whose behaviour you are trying to change.Do you have a good understanding of who these people. Not just what’s their average age and income, Acorn or Mosaic group.Do you really understand what are they buying and why they’re buying it? What is their preferred brand proposition and brand positioning and why is that their preference?When are they buying? What are the seasons and events that impact consumer behaviour, both in general and then specifically for your client’s category.And finally, where are they buying? If your aim is to intercept them and persuade them to buy your client’s product, you’ll need to know where they’re currently buying.
Third, the competition, those who will be aiming to thwart your plans.It’s not just about your client’s direct compeitors, it’s also about substitutes and intermediaries.So if your client is selling flights to Paris, you’ll want to know what Eurostar is up to.And if your client is a bank acquiring new credit card customers, you’ll be interested in moneysupermarket and comparethemarket’s plans.Have a general knowledge of your client’s category and a detailed knowledge of their sub category, as often there are significant differences within a category.Try to reverse engineer your clients’ competitors’ SEO strategy. I’m not advocating that you copy it, but knowing what it is will help you develop the most appropriate strategy for your client.Look for opportunities to translate innovations from other geographic markets and categories to your client.And finally. It’s important for you to know what’s going on in the external environment. But even more important is what you do with that information. Your client will likely be more interested in relevant insights than reams of data. Your ability to edit what you know, to tailor it to your client, to propose valid hypotheses and relevant tests is what, in your client’s eyes, distinguishes a great SEO from a good SEO.
Next up, 3 things your clients will want you to do
First, the plan. Havinga plan always helps clients. If we don’t fully understand SEO and what you’re doing, a plan provides us with a structure for a conversation with you, to talk about progress, to discuss results.The only thing that we like more than a plan, is a plan aligned to our planning cycle. So find out if your client is on annual, quarterly or monthly cycles and create a plan that mirrors their planning cycle.The key things in your plan:Demonstrate that you understand your client’s corporate and marketing objectives, and define SEO objectives that reflect and support them.Articulate the insights and best practice that you’ve relied upon to help your client understand your thought process.Talk them through your hypotheses, strategies and tactics. Explain them in plan English. Give your client an opportunity to question and challenge them. Try to surface any issues, because if you and your client disagree on these fundaments, the sooner you find out, the better.Talk them through your action plan and measurement process. These will probably form the basis of your monthly updates with your client.And finally highlight and risks and issues right at the beginning. If you need your client to do something for your strategy to work , now is the time to tell them. Not after the event when you’re explaining why a plan didn’t work.
Second, results. How many of us explicitly discuss with our clients or our suppliers our expectations and aspirations for results?Talking about results can lead to a better understanding of what your client actually wants you to deliver and what they’re willing to pay for it.It also surfaces your client’s expectations in the event that you under-deliver or over-deliver.The client who steadfastly sticks to a £50 CPA may be willing to pay £100 for any incremental business you generate over and above the volume target..It’s also valuable to discuss what kind of growth you’re aiming for. Growing the market or growing share.Low risk incremental growth or high risk exponential growth.
If you’re testing for growth, it’s a good idea to have a balanced testing portfolio.In the top right hand corner, you’ll place your big initiatives which, if they pay off, will deliver exponential growthIn the lower left hand corner, you’ll place your smaller initiatives which have a high probability of working but will deliver only incremental growth.In the upper left hand corner are those lucky breaks, which we’re all hoping to find!This approach enables you to deliver small quick wins for your clients, which helps you show that you know your SEO, and gives you a platform for future growth so that your client is one step ahead of their competition.
Third, reviews. It’s important that you provide your client with a formal or semi formal review of every campaign or test in which they’ve made a significant investment.Reviews of effective campaigns give you an opportunity to show your clients how good you are! It also enables you to have a conversation with them about where next. Where can you apply this insight or technique to other areas in order to grow their business.Reviews of campaigns that didn’t work give you an opportunity to demonstrate to your client that you’ve invested their resources wisely, but on this occasion it didn’t pay off. Go through the reasons why and discuss what you could do differently next time.
And finally, 2 quick tips.
Pitching an idea.This approach is borrowed from the briefing process for customer communication.Before you even start with the powerpoint, have a clear idea in your mind of:Who is the decision maker?What are they currently thinking or doing?What do you want them to think or do?What is the one thing that you can show them to persuade them? And I mean show and not tell. Show them how great you are rather than telling them how great you are.And what is the barrier that you need to overcome in order to persuade them? Again, show them why this concern isn’t a barrier rather than telling them.
Trends. There’s always a new trend, the Next Big Thing.So when talking to your clients about trends, always avoid jargon and use plain English.Explain this new technique or new approach.Show them who’s already making a success of it.Explain how it will benefit the client’s business.Articulate the investment and payoff – and be realistic in your assumptions.And highlight the risks.
Thank you for listening.The slides and notes are on slideshare and on my hastily and recently constructed website sionoconnor.comI’ll also added a longer version of the presentation with some additional ideas.
#BrightonSEO Client Checklist for SEOs with notes
Client Checklist for SEOsSion O’Connor
A PerspectiveCommon Sense? Old World? A Refresher
SEO from the Outside … The impact of your work is very measurable The results of your work is cost effective You enable optimisation of other channels
SEO from the Outside … Practice based not academic foundation Rarely is there a ‘right answer’ Best practice changes weekly and monthly The fundamentals can change overnight Testing & Learning OR Trial & Error?
1. The Client … Corporate and personal objectives? Effectiveness (volume) or efficiency (CPA)? Red & Green Buttons / Snakes & Ladders Sphere of control and influence? What is their view of SEO? Your agency? You?
2. The Consumer: Who, What, Why, When, Where Who is the customer and target prospect? What are they buying? Why are they buying that? When? Seasons, times, peaks and troughs Where? Channels and locations
3. The Competition … Competitors, substitutes and intermediaries Research and analyse at sub category level Reverse engineer their PPC and SEO strategy. Seek innovations in other markets/categories Analyse, hypothesise, edit, tailor and test
1. Planning … Objectives: Commercial, Marketing, SEO Insights, Best Practice and Data Points Hypotheses, Strategies and Tactics Actions and Measurements Risks and Issues
2. Results … What is the expectation and the aspiration? What is ‘below expectations’ and the cost? What is ‘above aspiration’ and the benefit? Grow the market or grow share? Incremental or Exponential Growth?
Incremental/Exponential MatrixHigh Lucky Break? ExponentialGrowthLowGrowth Incremental Vanity Project? High Probability Low Probability
3. Reviews … What were the planned and executed actions? What happened in the external environment? What were the results? Was the hypothesis proven or disproven? What are the next steps?
1. Pitching An Idea … Who is the decision maker? What are they currently thinking and doing? What do you want them to think and do? What is the one thing that will persuade them? What is the one thing that will dissuade them?
2. Trends… What is it? Who’s making a success of it? How could it benefit my business? What’s the investment and payoff? What’s the risk?