I’m putting together a proposal for a prospective client at this very moment who wants me to do an audit for them. This topic is perfect timing. Great points, Tom. I especially liked “sometimes when you’re telling a story you want a simple data point to make your idea credible... you just need to make sure it clearly articulates the key idea and gives executives reason to believe you.” The biggest takeaway for me is where you said “Putting together a good strategy takes time”. I often feel rushed to deliver a proposal. I need slow down, do the investigative work and actually CRAFT my strategy/pitch from a place of understanding, and use stories and small data to support my strategy. In this way, I can better help the client to clearly see the outcome we’re aiming for which gets me the buy in I want. Brilliant.

Expand full comment

A great read. We focus on storytelling and narrative *almost* to a fault at our agency. The underlying tactics and strategic initiatives -- that's often the easy part. Finding a way to weave those recommendations into a compelling presentation and story ... that takes a ton of creativity, collaboration, and iteration. But it's worth the time because the story is essential for achieving (and maintaining) buy-in from stakeholders. They need to understand your recommendations - and they need to remember them! A compelling, memorable story is critical for ensuring that your strategies have strong advocates and, ultimately, that those recommendations see the light of day.

Expand full comment

The title of this post made me a bit sad: I do SEO audits all the time and I think they're essential to improving search performance. But reading the article, I noticed you're talking about presentations to higher management. In that case, 100% agree: don't bother them with sitemaps, redirects, and so on:-) Just this week I got presented an organic strategy that was literally nothing more than a Screaming Frog export. Tears to my eyes...

It all depends on your audience. My technical colleagues often don't care about the strategy behind it, and just want to dive into the details.

So yes, let's never mention SEO audits again in pitches, sales decks, and executive presentations. But also, let's keep doing SEO audits to improve the client's website!

Expand full comment

It's almost if - to quote Meatloaf - "You took the words right outta my mouth" -- in fact I pulled a deck together that will be shown at the SEO Mastery Summit (I recorded last month) in a few weeks that the organizer was surprised that I didn't just list out tactics e.g. tech, content, links as the way to build a strategy...

I started with the concepts of well-defined outcomes, talk about a crawl as purely a baseline and assessment (is the outcome even possible?), move onto a research phase - site history, competition etc, build a priority list of tactics, and then the timelines, measurement, assigned responsibilities & expected outcomes given resources... THAT is a strategy.

The 'story' is a succinct sentence as you allude to above that encapsulates that last sentence and ties into the outcomes you know will both benefit client and align with feasible workflows.


Expand full comment