Whether you’ve just completed a technical audit on a site, or have spent several hours on a server log audit, one of the least talked about, but most important things to consider, is getting the developer or business owner to buy into the changes you want to make – especially if it’s going to cost them in terms of time and effort.
Success online is a matter of several people pulling together, and if you’re unable to communicate the reasons for change to those in charge of ordering or making those changes, you might as well be banging your head off a brick wall. It’s essential, whether you’re working for an agency, or you’re working in-house, to be able to demonstrate the benefits of making such changes in order to achieve success.
Why it takes a village
You may have heard the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Well, the same is true of a website – well, maybe not a village, but at least a couple of people. Even if you only run a small site, it is highly unlikely that you’ll have the time, the knowledge, or the skillset to fix everything on your own.
So, let’s talk about how to get other stakeholders, but especially developers, to buy into making changes.
Use data, facts, and case studies to prove your points
One of the greatest benefits of the web is being able to do deep research with just a few taps and clicks. Find the data that will back up your claims that making changes will really help. Whether you choose a competitor’s site as an example, or one in a different industry, be clear on what is working for them and show how it could apply to the site in question.
Show the commercial benefit of change
If you can get figures, use them. It takes a couple of minutes to show on a graph where you currently stand and the proposed benefit of any changes you’re making, commercially. Visual aids are often very well received in meetings, rather than spreadsheets, so try and present the information in an easy to read, attractive way. That way, you’re not asking someone to comb through figures they’re unlikely to understand or remember after your meeting is over.
Show how the changes affect all channels not just SEO
While we may concentrate on SEO, your client and developer may have other goals. If you can provide evidence that the changes required will have an effect on something they may understand better– and are more interested in than SEO, they may be more likely to listen to your proposed changes.
Trust Me, I Can Help….
Despite communicating all of the above, you may still run into hurdles. Trying to get someone to trust you when it comes to SEO could be like pushing a pram through sand – if you’ve ever tried that, you’ll know what I mean.
Let’s face it, your client may have had a bad experience with an SEO consultant in the past, as there are many ‘SEO people’ purporting to offer great changes in double-quick time, and if they were unable to fulfil their promises, then your client may have a pretty shady view of the whole process. There are ways in which you can help to gain trust, and this could allow you to convince them that the changes you need could be worth the time, effort and cost. These include:
Being honest – If you’re not sure about something, let your client know. If there’s an issue you’re struggling to fix, admit it. Your client should value your honesty, and the developer might have some idea of what could be done to fix it. It’s all about working together. Similarly, if your client is having issues, see if you could suggest a fix.
Prioritising Tasks – Not many clients have an unlimited budget for fixing issues. (Wouldn’t it be great if they did, though?) Find out what budget is available and suggest a priority list of fixes.
Split tasks – Not every fix will be dealt with by the same department. It may be a good idea to break down tasks to department level, i.e. content department, development department and more… Let’s face it, your developer won’t likely have time to fix broken links, and your content team may not understand how to reduce file sizes.
Choosing your battles – Your client won’t be able to fix all that’s wrong at once. Choose the fixes that could be most beneficial and once they’ve seen the benefits, your client could be more convinced to move forward with other changes.
Start small, build trust and educate
Finally, talk to your clients about basic SEO principles, and the importance of them understanding what you are doing and why. An educated client could be your biggest supporter. Start with small, low-cost changes, then build up as the trust increases.
With this trust base in place, SEO will be at the beginning of any discussion instead of being an afterthought. Your developer will be much more likely to get on board with the fixes now they know and trust that they need them.