How To Translate SEO Audit Reports For Civilian Clients
A serious SEO audit report can take you an entire week to produce, if you’re creating it on your own. That’s because this document, whether delivered annually or on demand, sets the tone for the working relationship you’ll enjoy with your client.
When it’s time for your next client SEO audit report, try these five techniques to transform your report into a confident validation of the work you’re doing together.
1. Connect with the customer’s dream.
Your client probably didn’t start their business just to “make money.” If their website supports a brick-and-mortar enterprise, ask some probing questions about your clients’ history, their mission, and what gets them excited about serving their customers every day.
Throughout your SEO audit documentation, call back to what you learned during those conversations. Every one of your section openings and closing statements should include aspirational details from your client’s own statements. Even if your competitors managed to catch the attention of your client, they’d forever be playing catchup with you.
2. Disconnect from tools and jargon.
Thanks to sophisticated software platforms, even technophobic company owners now have access to some decent, automated SEO tools. A client that knows enough to be dangerous could convince themselves that they can get the same results on their own. Regardless of your sense of self-preservation, you know that a client who’s not yet ready to graduate from your services can do much more harm than good without professional assistance.
Therefore, eliminate from your SEO audit report anything that a client could generate for themselves. If you’re using a service’s report generator to pad the page count from your leave-behind documents, rebuild them with your own layout or consider leaving them out entirely. Likewise, drop the jargon and acronyms common to the consulting world. Explain your results clearly, in plain English, framed by the norms of your client’s profession. You’ll drop the perception that your service is either too simple or too complex.
3. Demonstrate specific results.
Rookie consultants often sweat the small stuff, whitewashing bad results or failed experiments from their SEO audit reports. More experienced SEO professionals set the stage for constant learning and growth at the start of the process. Some things will work, other’s won’t, but trying new things and measuring the results leads to long term success. Your SEO audit report should document your triumphs and your errors, so you can both clearly understand what to replicate in the future.
Build a narrative for your success story, but include the raw data as an appendix. Keep your client engaged in the action, instead of breaking the rhythm of your SEO audit report with tables some of your readers might find distracting. You’ll please both your champions and your skeptics, especially in larger client organizations.
4. Emphasize next actions.
Clients get frustrated when consultants hand over a binder that sits on a shelf after a meeting, never to be used again. The most effective SEO audit reports focus on a client’s next actions, with clear timetables for what they can accomplish, given their current resources. Consider dividing your recommendations into four areas:
- Five “fast fixes”
- Low-hanging fruit
- Quarterly guidance
- Wish list
Depending on your client relationship, your SEO audit report could include items already covered under your existing agreement. Avoid publishing a report that reads like a take-out food menu. Use what you know about the client to develop a realistic set of suggestions. Let your “wish list” items linger on the horizon. Clarify what each step means, even if you’re at risk of a client taking your report to a competing vendor.
5. Chart your path together.
Whether you’re conducting an SEO audit for the first time or preparing for an annual review, your report and presentation offer the opportunity to showcase success. For a new client, include anonymized versions of the results reporting you produced for customers with similar challenges.
Longer term clients should get to enjoy an account review that includes some of the doubts and concerns raised from your very first meeting, backed up with the raw data that shows how you overcame those fears and delivered results. Again, you’re not just trying to win the client’s continued loyalty. Your SEO audit report should reinforce that they made the right decision to invest in the process.