In the game we call SEO, it’s easy to get jaded and disappear into a myopic bubble where we think that everybody knows exactly what we do and how it works – a consequence of working in a complex, ever-changing field that requires your full attention to remain competitive.
However, it’s crucial that we understand how to sway a client from focusing purely on rankings (a debate that, as we all know, has been raging this week) to attaining a better grasp of the true nature of SEO and how it can positively impact one’s core business. Here’s your short-term road map towards accomplishing this dynamic shift in client mindset.
A Whole New Ballgame
Convincing your client that SEO as a concept is all about lasting impact rather than immediate results is a tough assignment. As an industry, we’ve been forced to rise above just driving rankings to mastering the art of true marketing and branding on every level.
Using social media and a lot of technical slight of hand, we know it’s quite possible to get beyond a sheer numbers game. To you, this is all old hat. To the client, it’s a bewildering forest of jargon, acronyms and clichÃ©s. It’s up to you to guide them through this dense jungle.
Introducing New Approaches
Your job as an SEO in many ways is to assist your client in realising that their brand is more important than a few short-term gains attained by some low-rent tricks. SEO is the new branding reality, much as outdated Mad Men marketing tactics were in the 60s.
Your client probably has a rather shallow understanding of SEO and wants to talk all about clicks and traffic without thinking about a larger goal farther down the line. As always, you need to broaden their horizons a bit and show them how SEO works in the real world.
The overall strategy is to educate the public, or rather a specific segment of it, as to the shift from trite metrics to branding and inbound marketing theory. You could give them a treatise on the vagaries of every Google algorithm change since 2005, though it’s doubtful that’d do much good.
Ultimately, you’ll need to convince them that the really successful webmasters and marketers work on a time frame of months, not just days. To do that, you’ll need to go in-depth just a little bit, but not too much. Distilling the knowledge accrued from years of time in the SEO trenches can’t be accomplished overnight.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
More important than dry talking points is actually showing clients how SEO works. So-called ‘content-neutral’ traffic from the likes of link directories would be just the ticket, if it were 2005. Fortunately we’re edging towards 2013 and SEOs and their clients need to face algorithmic reality.
Inbound marketing strategies that are heavy on the quality content are the new boss in town. There are so many possibilities that it’s ridiculous that some people still rely on link schemes with weak content as a mainstay.
Start simple: write some great blog posts, do a simple infographic or a video, give something away, and generally just make friends with influencers (i.e. real people who run other sites in your niche).
Inbound marketing success doesn’t happen overnight; however, you can kick it up a notch with a few cheats. We know this by heart, but the majority of your clients don’t.
Viral promotion is easily the most effective portion of any “marketing in force” plan that takes advantage of the power of highly integrated networks of fans to spread your message for free. Of course, your client’s value will need to be demonstrated through your clever tweaking of all the usual social signals via Google+ and the like.
However, you’re still stuck with the problem of telling clients how effective it all is and how easy it can be at the end of the day.
Presentations Are Meant to Be Persuasive
A picture says a thousand words, but a quick video or Slideshare presentation can say a few million. Theory is all well and good, but putting your money where your mouth is trumps that.
Regardless of the specific approach or philosophy that you’re attempting to promote with your client, it’s essential that they can immediately see the validity of your theory. Proving your thesis with raw data and graphics is up to you in the long run when it matters the most.
It depends on the client but in my experience they’d rather have you sat infront of them discussing your SEO campaign than an endless ream of paper that doesn’t really say anything.
Tying Up Loose Ends
As an SEO, your work is never done. Then again, you probably already knew that innately. At the end of the day, making any client-SEO relationship work requires both trust and a level of intuition on the part of the SEO in question. The object is to move your client in the right direction at the right speed.
Failing to do that will result in a classic miscommunication that’ll lead to sub-par results. Getting it all right at the outset and throughout the process is a tough proposition…
Regardless, true SEOs manage to work with their clients rather than in spite of them to achieve the most positive results possible. Bonne chance!