SEO can be expensive but it does not guarantee traffic or rankings. It is no surprise that many business owners are confused about SEO.
SEO clients come with different needs. Before you can develop a relationship management strategy, it is important to learn about their previous experience in SEO.
Get to know your new leads and their decision-makers. This will allow you to position your service in an easier-to-understand and more useful way
Client education is often necessary to help them understand what they can expect from a SEO service
SEO is a confusing industry. Many business owners mistakenly believe that an SEO consultant can increase their site’s visibility in organic searches.
Although it may have seemed that way a decade ago, the SEO industry has advanced far beyond the manipulative techniques that worked like charm in the past.
SEO today is all about improving websites on every level, from content quality to usability. It does everything faster and better. It doesn’t need to improve any one element to increase organic rankings. To see steady growth, it’s important to work on the website as a whole.
Even worse, many SEO clients have a history of SEO work done on their sites. This work could have caused a gradual decline in rankings or organic search visibility. It is crucial to identify these red flags as they can hinder businesses from making any real progress, even if they continue investing in long-term SEO strategies.
How to manage the expectations of your SEO clients without scaring them?
Learn about your SEO client
Although it may sound incredibly skeptical, the best SEO client is one who has been burned by under-delivering on those promises and overpromising. These clients have a better understanding of SEO results and the need to invest in longer-term outcomes.
These clients face other challenges. They are often blocked or penalized on their websites, and often have budgets that are suffering because of months of low organic traffic. Although these businesses will often agree to any deal that would allow them back to Google, it can be difficult for them to undo years of link building and start again.
Another type of client for SEO is the restless. These clients may have tried other SEO agencies before but not seen any results. They feel that they have already invested enough and are reluctant to make another long-term investment.
It is important to thoroughly review the work done so far for these sites and to explain why it failed and what you will do differently. You must also insist on why you can’t guarantee any specific results.
There are also clueless clients who don’t care about what you do, but must know when they will rank among the top five for their key keywords. These clients need a comprehensive education. There are scary examples of businesses losing their rankings in a matter of hours. Case studies show gradual growth of organic visibility.
Investigate your decision-maker unit (DMU) carefully
In many instances, even small businesses, more than one person will decide if you or your agency are someone they want to work with.
A DMU in the B2B industry is a decision-making unit. This means that it will decide whether or not a business will cooperate with you. This could include the CEO or company owner, the marketing manager, the head of the development team, and others.
Many businesses have an internal SEO team that needs outside assistance. Most likely, this SEO team will be part of the company’s DMU. Don’t criticize their work to the boss. Do not make them feel that your agency can replace their internal team.
Instead, learn about the team’s work and what you can do to complement it.
Most in-house SEO departments will happily outsource tasks such as outreach, link prospecting, and Core Web Vitals optimization. (The latter is too new so not many SEOs keep up). Many in-house SEO strategies neglect to address ongoing tasks such as competitor tracking, keyword gap analysis and monitoring backlink profiles.
To position your service more effectively, you need to understand the gaps.
It is best to identify your DMU so that you can tell your agency how they can assist with the lead generation form. Make sure your service request form includes questions like:
Do your company have an SEO team?
Have SEO services been used before?
Have you got any questions?
Get a sample report ready
Create a sample of a SEO report to show potential clients. This will ensure that they understand what to expect.
A sample roadmap for further work
Monthly reports detailing ongoing projects, etc.
These reports can vary based on the decisions you have made and the services you offer.
Clear and transparent
SEO is a never-ending and ongoing process. Building trust before onboarding customers is the best way to create a long-lasting customer base. Being honest and transparent is the best way to build trust.
It’s better to lose a client with high expectations than to deal with the consequences of poorly managed expectations
Spend some time on your onboarding call discussing who manages the website, how they blog is managed, how to push updates live and who creates, edits, and approves content before it goes live. Also, discuss whether the site is powered using an existing platform or if it was custom-built.
You will need to have access to their data. Analytics Search Console accounts.
These details will allow you to estimate how long it will take for your SEO recommendations be implemented. You can anticipate any delays (e.g., an update requires approval and developers can only update the site. These teams are often busy and slow) and you can discuss how to overcome them.
Make sure to describe the setup process clearly. It takes time for your agency to thoroughly research the site and analyze its SEO history. This is not a time-saver. Businesses expect that active work will begin immediately after they sign a contract.
Moreover, you should try to get to know the rest of your company during your onboarding call. Mention that you may need input and help from other departments, such as customer service and product development. An SEO strategy’s ultimate goal is to increase sales. This goal should not be limited to organic traffic. It should also include customer support and product development.
Ask them about their digital marketing history, including lead generation, PPC, landing page management and email marketing. Your SEO service will benefit from knowing more about the company and the current conversion funnels.
For business owners, search engine optimization can seem very complicated. They feel like they’re just throwing money at the wall and not getting anything in return. It is quite easy to understand if you are in the shoes of business owners.
Don’t be discouraged if another potential client asks for a guarantee. Be patient, but firm. It is often necessary to educate clients about SEO and the benefits it offers.
Ann Smarty, the founder of Viral Content Bee and brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, is Ann Smarty. You can find her on Twitter @seosmarty
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Search Engine Watch’s first article was entitled How to manage SEO client expectations.