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6 steps to perfect your SEO webinar & conference Q&A sessions

an image of author George Nguyen, accompanied by various search-related iconography

SEO and product-related education are at the top of the marketing funnel for nearly every business and agency in our industry. It’s why your company probably has a blog and organizes webinars or even conferences for potential clients/customers.

Much of your educational content is likely available on-demand (video, podcasts, blog posts, etc.), which is accessible and convenient, but limits your audiences’ interactions with your brand. The Q&A section of your conference session or webinar is unique in that attendees can engage directly with you, making it one of the most overlooked opportunities available. 

If you can provide your attendees with a genuinely helpful, pleasant experience, then you’ve given them a taste of what it’s like to be a customer—moving them closer to that goal.

In this blog post, I’ll show you how to run a seamless Q&A session that promotes high-quality engagement and elevates your audience’s experience, while making the session easier to manage and providing you with user-first content ideas.

Table of Contents:

Note: The guidance below largely applies to both online (i.e., webinars, live streams, digital conferences, etc.) and offline events (in-person conferences, meet-ups, etc.), but I’ve also included format-specific advice.

And, while I’ve written this from the perspective of businesses and agencies within the SEO industry, the advice will translate to just about any industry that has online and offline educational events.

The benefits: How an engaging Q&A improves your marketing

An infographic showing a 3-circle Venn diagram. The circles are labeled “strengthen branding,” “add value,” and “increase conversions,” with the overlapping area labeled “Your Q&A session.” On the right side, there are three bullet points: “Add value. Directly address pain points for your attendees,” “strengthen branding. Improve your reputation and support potential and existing customers,” and “increase conversions. Provide attendees with the information they need to convert.”

The Q&A portion of your SEO webinar, conference session, etc. is the only part of the event in which attendees can actively engage with your brand and expert guests. If you make it a welcoming, helpful experience, then you stand to:

  • Add value by directly addressing a pain point for your audience.

  • Strengthen your branding and the reputation of your online or in-person event.

  • Increase the chances of moving attendees further down your sales funnel.

If you want to reap these benefits, then you need to align with your expert guests (regardless of whether they’re internal or external to your company). Have a clear conversation to find out what they’re looking to achieve—failing to do so can result in disappointment on all sides. During this conversation, you should also provide them with some basic guidelines to cover the bases and ensure everyone has a positive experience, which I’ll discuss in the next section.

01. Meet and brief your expert guests

Hold a logistical meeting or rehearsal well in advance of the event (at least enough time for your experts to make changes to their presentations, if needed). This meeting should cover:

  • Format, flow, and timing — You may not need to do a full rehearsal, but at least go over the agenda and timing so that everyone has a clear idea of how your SEO webinar or conference session should unfold.

  • Tech/equipment checks (online only) — Online viewers tend to be very vocal about poor audio quality.

  • Potential hiccups — Let your participants know how to behave and what to expect if, for example, the moderator’s internet connection cuts out or the presenter before them runs over on time, etc.

  • Promotion — Set clear expectations for how participants will promote the event and how they will promote their own brands/products during the session. This can be an especially important element if the goal of your event is to tap into one another’s respective audiences.

If it’s not possible to sync with all your expert guests at the same time, add a second, alternative orientation so that everyone is on the same page on the actual day of the event. Writing these details out in an email is the least you can do, and while it’s better than nothing, emails don’t offer your guests the opportunity to ask for clarification on the spot. 

What’s more, if your experts are meeting each other for the first time right before the event, there may be some initial awkwardness to overcome. That may not sound like much of a risk, but consider the opposite scenario: familiarity between your guests paves the way for banter and an upbeat atmosphere, which can show your audience that your experts (and by extension, the brands they represent) are human and can relate to their pain points.

Understand your expert guests’ goals

Your expert guests are far more likely to put forth their best effort if they know you’re also putting in your best for them. To that end:

  • Find out what your experts want to achieve during your event. It could be as simple as a canned (“softball”) question at some point during the Q&A about their product or service.

  • Find out what they don’t want to discuss. This can include certain subject matters, current events, details about their company’s upcoming plans, etc.

  • Ask about (and address) their concerns. Give your guests a chance to bring up any concerns they may have. In my experience, this conversation typically involves contingency planning (like how to communicate when an expert could use a helping hand to answer a question).

If it’s a paid appearance (or perhaps you’re giving them leads for their business), you’ll still want to make it a pleasant, well-organized session that engages the speakers and the audience—asking your experts the questions above gets you one step closer to that.

Provide guidance on how to answer questions

You know your audience better than anyone—use that knowledge to guide your experts so that they can provide the appropriate level of detail in their responses.

It may be second nature for some experts to speak in highly technical terms or answer tersely. Tell your experts about your audience and their level of familiarity with the subject matter so that they can tailor their responses.

And, regardless of audience proficiency, remind your experts to keep their responses respectful (belittling a question reflects poorly on your brand and event—I’ve seen experts do that, and attendees will talk about it, turning this misstep into gossip about your event).

Pro tip: During your Q&A, you may receive multiple related questions. Select the most representative, well-rounded question to ask your expert, but also prompt them to provide more context. This can enable you to answer multiple questions with one response.

So far, I’ve covered the elements you need to plan for ahead of your Q&A session. Let’s move on to the other half of the equation: what you need to manage during the actual event.

02. Address common questions and ground rules

If you’ve moderated SEO conferences, webinars, etc. then you probably noticed that some questions will always get asked; my favorite examples are:

  1. “Will this webinar be recorded?”

  2. “Where can I download the presentation?”

Track these frequent questions (more on this later) and answer them at the start of the event, before you transition to the speakers/experts. New attendees might join late, so repeat the answers to these questions during your transitions between experts and sections (between the main content and the Q&A, and if applicable, again at the end of the Q&A). Alternatively, you can also display this information on-screen.

If your webinar or conference session contains multiple experts/sections, inform attendees about the order of events so that they know what to expect. This also helps to ensure that everyone involved in running the event is on the same page before things fully kick off.

And, finally, frame the Q&A for your audience by telling them what types of questions will (and won’t) get selected. 

For example, during our Wix SEO Learning Hub webinars, we remind attendees that only questions that are relevant to the topic of the webinar will be answered. This helps us reach the objective of the webinar, instead of bogging it down with, for example, general SEO questions that our experts didn’t necessarily sign on to answer.

If possible, try not to ignore irrelevant questions (this is easier for online webinars than in-person SEO conferences or meet-ups). Instead of answering them “on stage,” have your moderator or staff answer them through the webinar platform with a polite response, such as, “Sorry we can’t answer this right now, our experts want to prioritize questions that are closely related to the webinar topic.” This is also an opportunity to share a link that could answer their question (and drive a potentially high-intent user to your domain).

Pro tip: Ask your experts if they’re willing to connect with attendees after the Q&A via social media. If your audience still has questions at the end of the Q&A, then you’ll be able to provide them a path to answers.

03. Screen your questions

If you have an “open mic” format (common at SEO conferences) where attendees queue up behind a microphone, then you’re trading control over the session—and, by extension, your control over the audience’s experience—in favor of direct engagement with experts and fewer responsibilities for your on-site staff. 

That may sound like a reasonable compromise, but in my experience (across about 20 online and in-person SEO conferences, and dozens of webinars), it’s more risk than you should take.

If your guests are well-known experts, attendees are more likely to ask them questions on a variety of topics. These questions may be controversial, too niche, or just irrelevant. Choose a Q&A format in which you can screen questions—for your experts and for the rest of the audience.

For in-person Q&As, you can screen audience questions by introducing audience interaction software. This solution does pose other challenges, but you can still ask your experts to hang around the venue after their session to answer questions off stage. 

For online Q&As, it is much easier to screen and resolve questions. Platforms, like Zoom, have a dedicated Q&A feature where you can identify the most valuable questions to answer live for the audience, while your staff answers the less relevant questions through the platform (instead of on-air).

A screenshot of a Google Sheet showing two columns: “Questions (please copy paste from the Zoom) and “George’s Answer”. One of the questions in the first column has a green background to indicate it’s a good question to answer on-air.
Organize audience questions and highlight the ones that are appropriate to answer live during the Q&A.

Create a spreadsheet to organize your questions and coordinate with your team (as shown above). This way, you can maintain brand safety and empower your moderators and experts to focus on their roles (instead of filling up time as they skim the chat for viable questions). This does, however, mean that your event staff must be knowledgeable about the subject matter to properly support the experts and the audience.

Prioritize your questions

The questions attendees submit will not all be valuable for your SEO conference or webinar objectives—a fraction of them will be nearly worthless (i.e., off-topic, too niche, etc.) and potentially distracting. Screening your questions allows you to vet them for quality but also to prioritize the flow of your Q&A. After all, it makes more sense to answer the most frequently asked questions first.

I’ve found that it’s best to prioritize questions by:

  • Answering the ones with the biggest impact for your audience, brand, or your expert’s brand first. Tell the audience ahead of time that this is how the Q&A will operate so that they don’t get frustrated if their question doesn’t get answered on stage or on-air, and remind them that they can get in touch with the expert after the session.

  • Cluster related questions together. If multiple questions share a common topic, phrase the question in a way that prompts the expert to resolve them all with one response (like in the example below).

Related Q&A questions

Combined question for your expert

“What are the limitations of ChatGPT for SEO and content creation?”

04. Direct the discussion

Even though the Q&A occurs between your expert guests and your audience, your moderator still has a critical job to perform. As the Q&A progresses, make sure to:

  • Clarify confusing questions/answers. Your audience may include non-native language speakers or your experts may have difficulty improvising answers (as opposed to presenting slides). Rephrase or reiterate as necessary to improve clarity and make the Q&A run more smoothly. 

  • Involve other expert guests. If your SEO event has more than one expert on stage during the Q&A, then you need to consider how to engage them all; this is especially true if one guest is more notable than the others. This can be as straightforward as asking, “I know this question was for Expert A, but Expert B, do you have anything else to add based on your own unique experiences?”

  • Intervene if an attendee or expert goes off-topic. Be polite, thank everyone for their questions and engagement, but do not let your Q&A get off track because of a few stray comments. 

  • Ask for follow-up questions. If a particular Q&A topic is generating a lot of interest, lean in by asking your own follow-up questions or asking the crowd if they have a relevant follow-up question. This can also help you out if you’re trying to hit a certain time marker for the event but are light on high-quality questions.

05. Share your links

If you’re running an online Q&A, take this opportunity to market your content and offerings. This can also save you time since you’ve already answered the attendee’s question on your website.

However, do not answer questions with just links—it’s impersonal and may leave the attendee wondering if you even read their question. Instead, address the question concisely and tee up your link. 

Here’s an example for the question, “What updates did Wix make to its SEO products this year?”

Generic answer with link

Robust answer with link

“Thanks for your question, you can read this article we wrote:”

“We released our page-level and sitewide auditing tool, the SEO Assistant. We also integrated GSC data into the Wix SEO Dashboard and within Wix Analytics. We partnered with Microsoft Bing on IndexNow. And, we recently launched our AI-powered meta tag creator. You can read about how they all work here:”

For in-person Q&As, it’s better to select one particular asset/URL to share and showcase it with a slide that includes the naked URL and/or a QR code that attendees can check out later. You can (and should) also include links from this destination to all other relevant resources.

06. Track the questions for better Q&As in the future

Screening your questions with a spreadsheet or audience interaction software has an added benefit: you can save and review those questions later to improve your future Q&As.

This enables you to:

  • Identify more potential SEO webinar/conference session topics.

  • Develop templated responses for greater efficiency and higher audience satisfaction.

  • Create content that answers frequently asked questions, so that you can drive traffic to your domain.

  • Provide useful feedback for your product team.

  • Etc.

Your SEO Q&A session is an investment in your marketing funnel

The Q&A section of your event provides insights and value that you would otherwise have to conduct focus groups to uncover. You’re able to listen to your audience’s candid questions, and if you’re able to address them, then you’ve shown them that your business cares about them as an individual—a strong signal that you will continue to support them just as well if they become a customer. 

The workflows and considerations behind a successful Q&A can be quite nuanced, as I’ve described above, but the spirit of these recommendations is simple: Satisfying your audience (in this case, their curiosity) enables you to further your business and move users closer to conversion.


george nguyen

George Nguyen is the Director of SEO Editorial at Wix. He creates content to help users and marketers better understand how search works. He was formerly a search news journalist and is known to speak at the occasional industry event.

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