SEO being such a powerful marketing channel is of course one that is sought after by companies small, medium and large. As SEO becomes ever more-complex it is important that SEO agencies / companies and marketing agencies alike set client expectations at the outset.
It’s very easy to get sucked into the common trap of selling SEO as a wonderful solution to prospective clients, however, it is also this process that creates so much turbulence in the industry. Quite often, agencies will adapt their sales technique to on-board new business, sometimes these tactics including “over-promising” or being “too optimistic”.
In reality, SEO is a process with no fixed timescales. Time to plan and implement an SEO strategy will vary greatly depending on the client’s website, niche/marketplace, website history, domain link profile, social establishment and more.
SEO is never an overnight process. Some niches, it can take years of hard work, careful planning and execution to rank. For other niches, turbulent Google updates can wreak havoc on sustainability, meaning that the client will need to continually invest in SEO not just to achieve good positions but also to sustain them.
Setting Client Expectations
Setting the clients expectations at the very start is essential. Selling SEO as a quick fix just for the purpose of on boarding a client can create immense problems, not only for the agency but also for the client. False promises and bad experiences can lead to clients distrusting the industry and making it all the more difficult for agencies to deliver work in the future.
Fast forward to 2017 (heading towards 2018) we see that SEO is now evolving fast than ever. With UX, CRO, Structured Data, Google Voice Search, Intent & more becoming core aspects of SEO this only sets to murky the water further when it comes to new client on boarding and expectation management.
Implementing an SEO strategy on the back of traditional SEO is never going to work wonders. Modern SEO’s have to look at the intricacies of each niche and how Google applies independent algorithms to each niche based on intent and user behaviour. This alone takes time, that and the planning for user experience testing, user behaviour testing, landing page intent optimisation, conversion rate optimisation, content writing, website structural fixes, semantic keyword research and more!
Over the years, we have received many enquiries. At the outset clients seem receptive, but into the enquiry process we begin to see examples of how clients misunderstand the processes involved (most probably because of previous SEO work – be it company, freelancer or internal resource). Clients expecting ranking improvements in less than 6-12 months are often ill-educated on how much work actually goes into delivering the changes required to improve rank. Of course there are always opportunities for quick wins, but in general, clients in competitive niches and even specialist niches will need to be patient.
It’s not just the planning, execution and delivery, it’s also down to Google algorithm updates and shifts in the marketplace. If lead-ranking websites have done well for a long period of time in a competitive marketplace then a great deal of reverse engineering has to go into this to ascertain why. This process is time consuming but is incredibly important when ascertaining how much work would be involved to displace them from a good strong Google organic position.
This research should be at the forefront of the sales / conversion process so that agencies can effectively predict the work and timescales required to deliver, these should be presented to potential clients even if they appear to be detrimental towards the conversion process. Losing a prospective client because of honesty is far more likely to generate return business in the future as opposed to being over-optimistic with irrelevant timescales which will simply lead to an early-on relationship failure because the client expectations do not align with agency delivery.