A client has retained you for an SEO engagement. You are excited and dive right into the work analyzing their site and web analytics. You see opportunity through code improvements and you identify valuable content subject matter the client needs to publish. However, you worry this client might be like the previous ones. They may question every single recommendation and you might detect their confidence in your acumen slipping over time. Could it be a few simple tweaks to your client management methods could resolve these issues? Could a few changes make your next SEO engagement proceed much smoother than before? Let me walk you through three MUST DOs during a client kick-off meeting.
1. SEO Training (or an SEO Tour) – Everyone I meet during a kick-off meeting knows “SEO.” They understand what it is and how it can help them. They also know they have hired me to do their SEO. This usually means they understand SEO will help them get more visitors from Google. However, they do not actually know much about SEO beyond the term “keywords.” Most also are very unaware that a majority of my recommendations will require code changes and perhaps a redesign of their site if they are utilizing a code-base ignored by the search engines.
I walk a client through a very high-level deck of about eight slides. These slides explain how the search engines work, and how we can make the client’s site more discoverable and crawler friendly. We talk about keywords and how the engines have evolved over the years so any past SEO trickery they have swirling in their head is quickly dispelled.
I also discuss the convergence of Social Media and SEO and how authority is no longer solely dependent upon inbound links but also how their content is consumed and discussed on the social platforms. This part usually causes a raised eyebrow because a majority of company marketing departments are fractured into silos. The Paid guy is over there. The Social Media manager tweets and Facebooks all day long on a different floor. The SEO ninja/guru/maven sits somewhere else. The Digital Marketing staff creates campaigns and writes copy without even glancing in the direction of the Paid, SEO or Social Media managers. So when a client hears how each channel should work together and must work together in order to maximize success a potential wall has been obliterated. They may not agree yet, but at least they now know you are going to make some suggestions that creeps into the other realms of Digital Marketing.
Now that I have the client thinking about SEO, Social Media and Digital Marketing through my perception we move onto the next MUST DO.
2. Process and SEO Deliverables – You have a process, and documents. You know how to get a site from Point A to Point B bringing in more eyeballs and generating more conversions. Explain this process to the client. Take them through day one and through the end of the year stating when a deliverable will land in their inbox.
My next few slides takes the client on this journey. They see in the beginning I am conducting keyword research, analyzing competitors and learning more about their industry. Tell them why you need to know their business inside out in order to be their very best online-salesperson. Because that is what you are. You find organic leads and drive those leads to the client’s site so they will convert. Once a client sees you in that vein they quickly understand why you require so much research and study. That knowledge is what they expect out of their sales staff.
3. Set Expectations – This depends upon how the client ended up in your lap. As a side consultant this part might occur during the initial client meeting. Through the agency, clients come to me through an Account Director or another agency. If the client wants to rank in position one on Google for “Costco” and they are not Costco, but a competitor then you need to quickly explain that is not going to happen.
If they want to see a 1000% Y/Y increase in organic traffic then you need to explain how that can happen. You would need an army of content writers, the full attention of their engineering team and their Social Media team. Explain to them how much time, money and other resources are required to hit such a lofty goal. If they just want to see improvement then you still must inform the client that you will need to work with their engineering and content teams. Their editors must produce recommended subject matter content. Their engineers must implement your technical SEO recommendations. The client must understand that SEO is not you sitting in a corner wishing Google will give the client better rankings. The client must understand you simply cannot dial up Matt Cutts and ask a little love be thrown your client’s way.
If you cover these three bases then you will find yourself stream rolling your way to home plate without a barricading catcher.