When I think about the things that have made me successful in the field of SEO over the past 5-6 years, I don’t list my technical knowledge or the proprietary ranking techniques I’ve developed as being the most important contributing factors to Single Grain’s achievements. Sure, both of these things have played a huge role in my ability to help website owners optimize their online performance – but there’s one element that’s been even more critical to the results I’ve been able to achieve.
Can you guess what this often overlooked skill might be…? It’s good communication!
More than anything else, learning to communicate well has enabled me to turn my business dreams into a reality. If that sounds too cheesy to be realistic, consider all of the following different ways in which my communication skills have contributed to my success:
Good communication increases on-site conversions
Whether you’re working on your own or as part of an SEO team, being able to clearly communicate your desired message to your website’s visitors is vitally important when it comes to increasing on-site conversions.
Say, for example, that you’re selling a downloadable info product on your website. While it’s important that the product itself be good, this doesn’t matter if you aren’t able to communicate the value your product provides to your audience. If you can’t create a clear and compelling message for why your customers should make this purchase, odds are they won’t be motivated enough to pull out their wallets.
This same principle holds true for any type of target conversion. Whether you plan to use your website to make sales, gather leads or just convey information, having good communication skills helps you to accomplish these goals while also building relationships with your site’s visitors that are likely to result in repeat visits and greater brand recognition.
Good communication gets you backlinks
Sure, there are plenty of different link building techniques that can be implemented without ever communicating directly with another person. But to take advantage of the most effective strategies – for example, guest posting or email link building – you need to be able to effectively persuade other site owners to create outbound links back to your pages.
If you’ve ever tried to request the creation of a new backlink pointing at your site, you know that the process is far from being straightforward. Webmasters tend to be hesitant to respond to link requests and even stingier when giving out actual backlinks. If you want your request to be noticed and acted upon, you’ve got to be able to clearly communicate the benefits of linking to your site to possible referring webmasters.
The link building process isn’t ever easy, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to carry out when you lack good communication skills!
Now, suppose you’re working as part of an SEO team embedded within a larger company. In cases like these, you aren’t the only voice that weighs in on potential changes to your organization’s website. Instead, your priorities must be balanced again input from your technical developers, your marketing team, your senior managers and any of the other teams that have a stake in the site creation and management process.
If you can’t communicate with these people effectively, your suggestions are far more likely to get railroaded by other teams that are bent on implementing their own recommendations. Not only do you need to be able to speak up for the items you’ve identified as SEO priorities, you need to be able to convince others within your organization of their potential in order to get them to agree with your proposed course of action.
Good communication encourages your boss to devote more resources/money to SEO
In these same team-led SEO situations, it’s important to realize that money and other resources tend to be in limited supply. So if another department presents a more compelling case for why funding should be allocated towards its own priorities, there’s a chance your team will lose the money needed to carry out an effective enterprise-level SEO campaign. And if you don’t have the resources you need to launch your campaigns, you won’t wind up with the good results needed to secure future support – leading to a vicious catch-22 where you’re even less likely to obtain these necessary resources in the future.
Developing your communication skills enables you to translate complex SEO terminology for the rest of your corporate “civilians,” helping the benefits of your actions to become more accessible and more easily understood by the decision-makers who hold the purse strings within your organization. The end result – as you might expect – is your department being given the funding and support needed to carry out the most effective SEO campaigns possible.
Good communication skills aren’t just useful when you’re interacting with member of your company’s senior management team. They’re also extremely valuable when it comes to working with web developers and other technical team members!
Whether you’re working as a sole SEO, as part of an SEO agency or as a salaried SEO employee, you’re likely going to have to interact with developers at some point – simply because so many SEO and development priorities butt heads with each other.
For example, say the website you’re working on currently uses a Flash-based navigation system that looks good, but prevents the search engines from indexing the site’s content appropriately. If you have the technical skills to change this and have been given the free reign to do so, there isn’t an issue. But if you either don’t have the technical know-how or can’t modify the site on your own, you’ll need to work with a developer to make the necessary changes. And while an increasingly large number of developers have been trained in the basics of SEO, many haven’t – and still make their decisions based on what looks best and works correctly on the site in question.
This is where your good communication skills will come in handy. Being able to communicate well with developers – understanding both their mindset and how to effectively convey SEO principles to those who don’t have a background in the subject – will minimize the friction that can occur due to these competing priorities. In fact, this type of communication can be so valuable that it’s a good idea for SEOs to study the basics of web development in order to effectively bridge the gap between these two disciplines.
Hopefully, by now, the advantages of good communication in the field of SEO should be obvious. However, it’s up to you to assess your own ability to communicate effectively and to address any weaknesses you uncover. There are plenty of different training tools out there – including both free and paid products – but it’s up to you to learn and implement them in your own professional life.
What do you think? Have communication skills played a role in your SEO success? Whether you agree or disagree, share your thoughts in the comments section below: