SEO Reporting and Presentations: Either Learn to Go Native or Speak Simple English

by rishil on June 23, 2010

Englash Program? (hoto Credit:

Englash Program? (Photo Credit:

Either Learn to Go Native or Speak Simple English

I find it amazing that people who move to a different country don’t always try to learn the language – they are happy in speaking to the local population in English at all times. It is important to understand the language, its idioms and nuances in the speech. Culturally that makes it a factor of success of integrating into any society. Failing that, one ought to at least speak a simplified version of English, leaving out your own idioms and cultural nuances – this doesn’t mean dumbing down the language as we often see tourists do, but just using words and meanings that have universal acceptance and understanding.

Big Businesses are no different to countries. Each has its own language, cultures, idioms and customs. And like my advice earlier, to succeed in that business the quicker you pick these up, the easier your job would become. And if you can’t, at least try and smoothen your language, especially in reporting, to match the level of understanding of your audience.

A perfect example from my own exerience – the use of “SERPs”.  If I present a report entitles “SERP Visibility” and don’t actually define the word, I am at risk of being misunderstood – often your seniors find it embarrassing to ask meanings of words, and we have the habit of using these phrases regularly, after all, the form art of our daily vocabulary. What ends up happening is that the parties involved in the presentation, or reading the report get hung up the elements they don’t understand, thus spending less time trying to understand what you are trying to tell them. Which is exaclty what happened once.

Checklists? Hell Yeah!

The few items below are a series of checklists that I built up after a number of years, which I use while preparing a report or presentation.

Assumptions of Knowledge

Scratching Head

Scratching Head

  • Have you met, reported to or presented to the people before? If so, what were your thoughts on their level of understanding SEO and its unique terminology? Reporting for a group that you have a regular rapport with is different to reporting for one that you speak to infrequently.
  • Do you need to define your “unique to SEO” words? Typically I always keep a glossary at the end of any important report – this makes life a lot easier – and over time helps educate the audience as they have a reference guide.
  • What is / are the role / roles of the individuals you are presenting to? The IT manager will have a difference set of needs and requirements than that of a board member – this is pretty much the same as the level of language used.

Learn the Reporting Language

  • What business terminology does your audience use daily? ATV vs AOV – ATV is Average Transaction Value, while AOV is Average Order Value – both mean pretty much the same.
  • What is the business definition of Margin, Sales, orders, targets and budgets? Some businesses I worked with used Target to specifically mean a pre VAT value of a sale, while others included it. For some, budget meant the revenue forecast, while for others it meant the spend forecast. Find out how they work out ROI, Margin and all other variables you are reporting on – I have often seen agencies using their own metrics to report on, and then later get questioned as the internal figures don’t match.

Type of Information

Charts - Need to Make Sense (Photo Credit:

Charts - Need to Make Sense (Photo Credit:

  • What are the business typical reports? It is important to understand and present the typical metrics that the business holds dear to heart. If the business focuses on Sales, then stop trying to justify ROI or vice versa.
  • What was expected of the channel? Sales? Visibility? Keyword growth? Analyse your original brief – and the continuous conversations you have had with the business – and then make sure you cover the FARs – the Frequently Asked Results.
  • Is the business innovative? If so, then try and always bring one unique or new initiative to the table for discussion – some businesses are easily impressed with “Out of the Box” thinking, especially if the idea is simple to understand. On the other hand if the company is more traditional in its view of business, keep new ideas as a separate initiative – and research this thoroughly before presenting.

Level of Information

  • What position does your audience hold in the company? Senior people are less likely to take in huge verbose documents, or long winded presentations. Use bullets, images, example and charts to make points across. Simply and specifically.
  • What does the report need to cover? Don’t add pointless information – most people outside SEO have little interest, and if they do, they will ask.
  • Always add a summary, and a series of action points, clearly identifying responsibilities.

Taking Away From This Post

The above are very top line thoughts of getting SEO reporting right, especially if you are taking SEO to the boardroom. But learn to create your own, and at all times, try and use logic in setting up resentations and report – stop trying to dazzle by fancy tricks, try and impress with knowledge.  I have found using the checklist actually does one of three things:

  • Speeds up the presentation as there are less interruption from questions around definitions, metrics, values
  • Improves the absorption of the real data that you are trying to present
  • Makes you look extremely clued up and interesting :P
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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

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