SEO & Client Management
Client management can always be a challenge. However, it gets increasingly difficult when most clients have never even heard of SEO. In attempt to explain such a complicated subject, while also trying to sell the product to your client, you often create a gateway for misunderstandings.
Some of the most common misunderstandings can be avoided with a proper explanation of what SEO is, and what it does. The temptation is to make SEO look like a miracle solution to all of the client’s online problems. “It will increase your site’s traffic, which will increase your sales!” “SEO will get you on the first page of Google searches. People will be sure to find you when they search for your products.” While these claims are mostly true, it is important that the clients know exactly what they can and cannot expect from this magical SEO.Every wonder how some people in business just seem to land all the great deals? Do you notice these same people seem to know everyone in your local business community? Every one of these people has one thing in common; they network.
As your parents probably told you, honesty is the best policy. I believe you can still market SEO effectively without making claims that cannot consistently be followed through. Not much is worse than a client calling you two to three months into their contract wondering, “Why am I not on the first page of Google yet?” Client satisfaction will be much higher if they don’t feel like they are getting scammed. So, how can you be totally honest with a client about SEO, but still make a sale at the end of that day? Read on for a few steps that I believe will help you and your clients.
The first and most important step that must take place is helping your client understand what SEO is. If you don’t do this effectively, a couple things may happen.
One, your client will give you ultimate control of their website, and expect to have to do nothing on their end to improve their SEO. In actuality, a Search Engine Optimizer should be a consultant to the client. This means they research keywords, sign up for directories, take care of on-site SEO, etc. It does not mean they are ultimately in control of all content changes. There should be a healthy client-to-Optimizer interaction so both parties are on the same page.
Two, if a client does not fully understand SEO they may resort to the Internet to learn about it themselves. Normally this can be a very good thing, however, with countless Blackhat and Grayhat sources for SEO, you have no idea what your client is learning. If the client then doubts what you are doing in any way, you’ll wish you’d given a proper explanation of SEO in the first place, to save you some uncomfortable customer interactions. If the client has control over their website edits (which is usually a good thing) and they do not trust you, they may use their little knowledge of SEO to change the optimization of their website, which you have worked very hard to establish. You must tell your client that you cannot guarantee specific results, especially not in the first month or two!
If you can't guarantee, how do you sell?
It can be hard to sell something that is not guaranteed to work as quickly as desired. However, proper SEO techniques do yield fruit. It is important that your client is given the correct measuring stick for progress. If they are expecting to be in the top of search results for highly competitive keywords in a few months, your client will be very disappointed. But if they know achieving top page results for a keyword is very difficult, your client will be highly appreciative of even a slowly increasing keyword rank.
Try explaining SEO to your clients in gardening terms. “Initially there is a lot of work that must be done. Tilling the soil and planting takes time and effort. Even though a lot of time is spent right away, you do not see any produce until much later. Little by little the plants grow and eventually bear fruit. SEO is like this in many ways. The initial stages of on-site SEO tactics - deleting negative links, and fixing any problems with the site - takes time. You do not always see increased traffic and higher search rankings right away. These must grow over time, through constant maintenance and updating content on the site. The process is enriched and sped up by updating site content, establishing good external links, and even some paid online advertising, like Google Adwords. These things act like water and fertilizer. They enrich the SEO root that was established in the beginning.” Explaining the process this way can ensure your client understands what your goal is with SEO, and why it takes time.
A satisfied client
Keep the client updated with wins and successes. Always ask them if they are seeing any difference in their customer flow. If not, find out why. It’s a constant game of trial and error in the world of SEO. Let the customer know you are trying your hardest, and they will respect that. When a person does not understand what is going on, and what they are paying for, it is easy to doubt.
At the end of the day, the client’s satisfaction is always what is most important. Maintaining a good relationship with them will save you both time and money. Always remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure your client has healthy expectations of what SEO can and cannot do.