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Should Your Client Know SEO?

Andy Williams

by Andy Williams on 31st January 2013

Should Your Client Know SEO?The obvious answer to my question is no, after all clients come to you for help. If they knew SEO then they wouldn’t have a need for you.

So what about those clients that have been with you for a while? Should they now know SEO? After all they have received a number of reports from you, watched their site’s online presence improve and seen good value ROI on your services. They must have picked up something, right?

More often than not, clients remain in the dark about what you are doing; not because they haven’t received enough information from you, but mainly because they didn’t understand to start with. Time is precious to any business and so if they are seeing improvements month after month they possibly believe that they don’t need to invest any of their time in learning more.

After all you have it covered.

Then, before you know it, the campaign is too far down the road to start asking questions, so they don’t.

Not until something goes wrong that is.

Suddenly they want to know everything and understand SEO like an expert – and rightly so. If my well performing site suddenly ground to a halt or slipped away I would want to know why too.

There are endless reasons why a well performing site can suddenly be stopped in its tracks or worse fall foul to the latest Google update. Not all of these reasons being the fault of the SEO Company.

We are all at the mercy of the monster that is Google. All good Digital Marketing companies know the best practices and will keep to them; more often than not this will safeguard a site. The rules may change constantly, but the foundations to a well-run campaign have always been the same. If these have been stuck to then you are usually safe. But now and then things can go wrong or something unexpected can pop up.

The second a client loses rankings or online business you can be sure they will be on your back until this is sorted. Again, rightly so.

So if your client knew SEO, would this testing time be a bit smoother?

Now I am not for one moment suggesting that you are there to educate your client and teach them the ins and outs of SEO or digital marketing. Your time is precious and you have been hired to do the job in hand. However there should be an element of education that goes on. The more a client understands, the better the relationship between the two of you can be.

Put yourself in their shoes.

You are paying an agency each month to improve your online visibility yet you have no idea at all how they do it or what they do.

As previously mentioned, this is fine when everything is rosy but if anything does go wrong then you are bound to panic. You have no idea what work has been done, you don’t understand the work that has been carried out, your rankings are dropping, have they done something considered against Google’s guidelines? Is your site about to drop like a stone?

Suddenly you have a panicking client wanting you to justify everything.

That is a seriously tricky phone call or meeting, even if you have done everything by the book and the dips are nothing more than the nature of the beast.

Had you educated your client along the way this may have ended up being nothing more than a chat.

As I have said, I don’t think any SEOs are here to fully train their clients but they should educate them, help them understand, explain what work has been done and why.

The more you help your client understand the better your relationship with them will be.

Here are some areas to look into:

Let’s start at the beginning

As early as the first phone call you could lose your client. If everything you discuss goes over their head they won’t be looking to understand anything. It will all be seen as something “I just don’t understand, that is why I hired you guys”, which is all fine; but I personally feel it is important that your client does gain an understanding, even if only basic, of what you are going to be doing.

After all if they don’t “get it” then how can they sign off any of your initial work?

How can they give you the guidance needed to set up the campaign?

The initial part of any campaign can contain a lot of information and so it may be better to talk them through step by step as you go. I know time is precious and both yourself and your client don’t want you wasting it explaining every single move but making sure they understand the concept and the importance of each step is essential.

There will of course always be those clients who genuinely don’t want to know anything about it and the last thing they want is you trying to keep them updated. That is fine, don’t force it. Annoying your client would be as bad as not giving a keen client enough information.

You may also have a client that has been stung in the past. There are many unethical agencies out there willing to take the money and not do a professional job.

Don’t hide anything

So, there has been a slight fluctuation in the rankings – it happens but don’t hide it or ignore it.

Something you thought would have an amazing impact on their campaign hasn’t  Don’t now play it down.

Maybe nothing has happened, literally nothing, you have carried out all the best practices and so far nothing has happened. Don’t just plough on hoping no one will notice.

Speak to your client.

Be completely open about their campaign

You know those months when everything is actually OK  there have been some slips in the rankings but nothing major and certainly nothing to worry about. Remember when you thought addressing these said slips would just cause more admin than is necessary so it would be better to just skim past. Stop those are exactly the conversations you need to be having. All your client is seeing is this wonderful report full of great things yet rankings have dropped.

You are more than happy to take the glory when your client’s rankings are rocking right? So don’t shy away when something isn’t quite happening.

Not only can you talk your client through what is going on but it also highlights the fact that you are “on it”.

Rankings do dip, that is the nature of the beast and it’s not all gains. But if you don’t educate your client then any sort of break in their month on month improvements will raise concerns. That then leaves you in a game of justification. Let’s face it anyone trying to justify passionately sounds guilty. So don’t let it happen.

Be on top of your game, contact your client before they contact you. Be open, don’t hide anything. Google is after all a 3rd party platform; it’s not all in your hands.

Be open about your SEO work

Show them everything

So if you aren’t hiding anything you need to be showing them everything.

OK, they might not want to see everything, they might not want to understand everything but if you include it all you are at least giving them the option.

There will be areas of the report that may become repetitive month on month and these will be the area’s most clients will start to ignore.

If it is important or if it helps highlight the success of something, ring them, talk them through it.

If you present the knock-on effect of your work then it will help your client start to understand the bigger picture.

Have you been badgering your client for ages to either give you access to a site or to implement the new Title tags? Have they finally done it? Are you now seeing a far more positive effect in the SERPs?

Tell them, show them.

By highlighting what your work has actually done for them you will get them interested and help them understand what you are doing for them.

Obviously during any one month you will be carrying out a huge amount of work for your client and highlighting everything is both time consuming and impractical, but hand picking the really key areas will just help your client understand the campaign.

Make your client listen

In your report you have included a number of issues and areas that need to be addressed by the client. This stuff is important, right? So make them listen.

However if you are sending them this really important information in their monthly or weekly report and you think that is enough, that you have done your bit – you are wrong.

This is important. Chase your client. Make them understand why it is important they action what you have requested.

Ring them; ask them if they have had a chance to read the report, if they understood the areas you want them to work on. If they don’t, talk them through it. How technical you get depends on the client but you need to explain in a way that helps them understand the importance of what has been requested.

If you don’t, before you know it you will have a list of outstanding recommendations that really need to be addressed and a site that is starting to slip in the rankings.

Don’t blind them with science

You may well have a client who is willing to try and listen and learn but if you blind them with industry jargon they will soon lose interest.

Remember, they don’t know as much as you and they certainly aren’t in the industry.

Even saying something as obvious (well to us anyway) as SERPs in a conversation will leave them trying to figure out what you have said instead of listening to the rest of that conversation.

Speak their language.

So does this benefit you?

How many times have you the SEO tried to get something changed or implemented only to be faced by a brick wall? It can be a common occurrence. This is usually because the client doesn’t understand what you are trying to do or the importance of what you are trying to do.

If you educate your client as you go they will put up fewer barriers, which in turn is going to help you get anything the client needs to handle, done.

You will also gain your client’s trust. You won’t be this SEO at the end of a phone who is “doing something to help be rank but I don’t know what”. You become a partner of sorts.

Making sure your clients understand SEO will benefit you both.

Image Credits:

SEO Chalkboard by BigStock Images

Business Presentation by BigStock Images

Andy Williams

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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