How to Have a Productive Conversation with Your SEO Team
Speaking the same language doesn’t always translate to communicating well. If you’re someone without much of a technical vocabulary, maintaining useful dialogue with your SEO team is probably a bit of a nightmare for you.
Make the process smoother by learning how to shape the conversation into something more productive without you having to become an SEO expert yourself.
As an online entrepreneur, I’ve had to develop a strategy to communicate properly with technical experts in any field. By applying my strategy to SEO teams, you can facilitate great communication without having to put in too much work.
How to Have Productive Conversations with Your SEO Team:
Be specific about goals
Ask for clarification
Learn the bare minimum about SEO
Establish a communication routine
Let’s start from the top.
Be Specific About Goals
Learning what questions to ask helps you get the answers you need. Ask questions that help you understand the impact that the SEO team is having and how that relates to normal business operations.
Work with the SEO team leader to lay out a set of business goals that they are working to accomplish. These goals need to be measurable and specific so they can be quickly understood and passed along to other departments as necessary.
For example, SEO is often used to increase organic traffic to your website, which simply means more eyes on your content every month.
If this is your goal, you and the team will define which pages you want to increase traffic to and you will ask for updates about traffic when you meet.
SEO teams usually target a few specific goals at once. Ask how their activities impact each goal and how it works together.
Create a diagram or flowchart to visualize the connection from SEO activities to their goals so you don’t have to repeat this conversation at every meeting.
Updates and Metrics
Make it a priority to understand which metrics the SEO team is targeting for movement and how they apply to larger company goals.
Create a timeline and projections so you are aware of how much the metrics are expected to change over any given period of time.
SEO is a long-term process with little visible progress in the short-term unless the team is fixing mistakes that are harming your site.
The bottom line is that you need to know how to ask for useful updates in order to track the progress your SEO team is making.
Determine measurable goals that make sense to both sides of the table. Then, discuss those metrics specifically during update meetings.
Ask for Clarification
Communication always breaks down when either side assumes they understand what the other side means. Sooner or later, someone will assume incorrectly. Make it simple by dropping assumptions altogether.
If anything your SEO team says doesn’t make sense to you, ask for clarification. Bad SEO teams get away with a lot simply because the person supervising doesn’t really understand what’s happening.
Even great SEO teams make the wrong moves when they’re too disconnected from the company at large because of misunderstandings and bad communication.
Find a common language. Full technical fluency isn’t required. Meet your SEO team somewhere in the middle, with you learning a bit of their jargon (more on this later) and asking them to step it down to a simpler level for you.
There’s no shame in asking for clarification or further explanation. You cannot be an expert at everything. Ask any time you’re not 100% sure about what’s being discussed.
Clarification is especially important when your SEO team is making actionable requests from other departments.
If you’re playing the messenger to the marketing or web development departments, make a point to be clear on every request the SEO team makes.
Take a moment at the end of the meeting to repeat what you understand they’re asking so they can confirm or clarify. This way, the messages are certain to get to the other team intact.
Miscommunications breed frustration and inefficiency. Taking the extra step during the conversation to make sure you’re all understanding each other saves time and energy down the road. It also helps avoid unnecessary repetition of requests or statements.
Learn the Bare Minimum About SEO
If you’re going to be meeting regularly with your SEO team, it’s time to start learning basic SEO principles.
It won’t take long to understand the absolute basics, but that short time spent learning will facilitate better communication.
The absolute basics include:
Common SEO terms
Familiarity with some technical terms
Common SEO strategies
Simple understanding of search engines and algorithms
Spending an afternoon researching and keeping a reliable glossary of SEO terms on hand is likely enough to get you to a basic level of understanding.
You’re not the one implementing the strategies and SEO activities, so you don’t need to understand how everything is done as long as you know enough to see the benefits and monitor the progress.
Establish a Communication Routine
Knowing how to communicate makes discussions smoother. Building a consistent schedule of updates and meetings transitions smooth communication into seamless collaboration.
Regular updates are helpful for maintaining and understanding what’s going on. Determine how often you want short updates and longer reports.
Often, a monthly full report gives enough time for some progress to be shown between reports, while weekly updates help you ensure the team is taking the actions they need to reach larger milestones.
Weekly updates should be short meetings with a designated person on the team while monthly reports can include more of the team, in case you have questions.
Scheduled communication should be consistent. This gives each side a chance to prepare for the meeting rather than being surprised by sudden meeting requests.
When the expectation for regular communication is set from the beginning, it becomes part of a comfortable routine.
Methods of Communication
While you’re deciding when to communicate on a regular basis, it’s also helpful to decide how to communicate with each other. Define the expected methods of communication.
You have options. Conference calls, secure group chats, video chats, email threads, SMS, or in-person meetings all make sense for different teams. Choose what works for you and your team to facilitate useful discussion.
Communication plans take the suspense out of working together. Rather than surprising your SEO team with phone calls or unexpected messages asking for updates, it’s better to lay out the communication expectations upfront to avoid confusion.
Good Communication Is Deliberate
Communication doesn’t happen on accident. It’s your responsibility to make sure it happens smoothly.
This has been my policy in every online business I’ve worked with thus far, especially when I’m dealing with technical teams outside of my expertise.
SEO is complex. Take the initiative to learn the basics, ask for clarification when you’re confused, establish a communication routine, and clearly define the project goals.
These four simple changes will help you keep up with what your SEO team is doing without taking up too much time or mental space.