In this week’s Whiteboard Friday episode, Shawn walks you through four steps to overcome the challenge of gaining prioritization for your SEO projects, and how to connect your initiatives with a business’s timelines and goals.
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Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to this week’s version of Whiteboard Friday. I am your host this week, Shawn Huber. Currently my role is Director of SEO at Trellis Law, but previously I was a senior manager of SEO at T-Mobile and that’s why we’re here today to talk about my experiences while at T-Mobile.
In the SEO world, you know we’re full of challenges. One of them is the fact that we’re super dependent on other teams. I know at T-Mobile I was very dependent on my engineering partners, and so getting any project prioritized wasn’t always an easy feat, especially because my goals and timelines don’t align with theirs because they have other teams and leaders and departments of the org that need their services as well.
So I’m going to walk through how to gain that prioritization for your projects and how to connect our initiatives with their timelines and goals.
So the first step you want to identify their motivations and goals. Remember different teams have different needs. So you’ve got to figure out what matters to each of those teams. Sometimes it’s as simple as just educating and letting them know that really it’s not that much work for your SEO projects, and sometimes that helps.
Sometimes you don’t have a complete picture. You might be missing some data points. So try to find any other ones that might be relevant to that specific audience you’re trying to sell this to. Then lastly, figure out how does your data align with what they care about.
Now I was working on a project that was going to help save T-Mobile a few million dollars. But that only hit the SEO bottom line. The engineering team that I needed very heavily to push through this project, it didn’t matter to them. Even though the company was saving money, at the end of the day that didn’t align to his goals. So I had to figure out how can I help him help me. It turns out, obviously, they’re resource strapped, and so I was able to make a deal with them and say, “Hey, you give me this little bit of time and resources, SEO won’t need you anymore for this type of project.”
So that helped get that project green-lighted.
Now once you have all that awesome information that you’ve collected, it’s time to build that data-informed business case. You put all that together and make sure you customize or tailor it for each of the different audiences that you’ll be presenting to. Yes, that means you’re going to have to build a few decks along the way, but it’s going to pay off in the end because you’re making it relevant to them to help sell why they should help you.
Now that you have all those decks and everything put together, it’s time to pitch and evangelize why your project needs to be prioritized over others. These are the elements that should be in that deck to help sell your project: a really awesome executive summary that says what they’re going to get; what you’re asking of them; why you’re asking of them; the problem we have today and what it’s going to look like tomorrow when your project is implemented; any test results, white papers, case studies, anything like that that you gather along the way to help prove why it’s important; a very nice roadmap that talks about timelines and how long you expect this project to last; and obviously very great next steps.
You want to really focus on making sure you customize it to your audience. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s super important, as I learned at my time at T-Mobile, that different departments have different needs. Keep it very concise because you know as it starts to bubble up and gets to senior leaders, they don’t have a ton of time to go through a big deck.
Make sure you have clear next steps. Those leaders love to know what to expect each step of the way. Then include as much visualizations as possible. Make sure that you put them in brand colors and things like that because leaders love when you take that extra minute to finesse it so that it looks like you care about it and it helps them to care that you care.
Then lastly, follow through and follow up. Always establish and come through on your reporting, timelines, statuses, things of that nature because that’s going to help make it easier to establish the proof of value that SEO is bringing, and it fosters trust so that next time when you come knocking on the door saying, “Hey, I need your help to create this next project,” or whatever, they’re going to be like, “Hey, the SEO team always delivers. It makes me look good. I’ll green-light whatever you want.”
So in the end, our keys for ensuring program success are collaborating with all those different departments, figuring out what’s valuable to them and what’s important to them, and aligning it to your SEO goals and what’s important to you. Thank you for watching this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday.
Have a good day.