A guide to the rationale of the SEO strategy
One of the biggest hurdles for an SEO professional is explaining your proposed strategy to clients and meeting their expectations. It's important to clearly explain the direction you want to take with your SEO efforts and why. However, these conversations can present many different challenges.
Often, these challenges have to do with gaps in the client's search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge or misconceptions about SEO best practices. Confusion and conflict can also arise from a simple miscommunication. As an SEO expert, you need to be aware of the potential obstacles you may encounter in these conversations and how to address them.
Why is it so difficult to explain an SEO strategy?
SEO is a relatively new discipline whose best practices are constantly changing. Since SEO is based on constantly changing algorithms, effective strategies change accordingly. As a result, once widely accepted SEO practices can quickly become outdated.
In addition, SEO strategies are not always clear, as not all information about search engine algorithms is published. Therefore, to understand effective best practices, you need to keep abreast of changes and compare how different professionals respond to them.
Ultimately, SEO is a very technical skill that requires an understanding of how search engines work and how that information intersects with digital marketing best practices. Because of these factors, it can be difficult to become familiar with SEO best practices and keep your knowledge up to date.
Frequent knowledge gaps that need to be addressed
Gaps in your client's knowledge can relate to a variety of things, but the following areas are particularly common:
- The difference between organic search and paid search (and their respective best practices);
- How Google crawls and indexes pages;
- What ranking factors are;
- The value of building backlinks;
- The importance of linkable content;
- The importance of properly optimized keyword content;
- How to determine and address user intent;
- The value of internal linking;
- The value of external linking;
- The difference between white hat and black hat practices;
- Valuable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
In addition to simple knowledge gaps, clients sometimes have a misguided understanding of SEO best practices.
How to deal with uncertainty in an ethically appropriate way
Even though SEO experts have a precise idea of what results to expect from certain strategies, there are no guarantees. This is often true for other forms of marketing as well - you can carefully observe your audience and figure out which methods appeal to them the most, but ultimately you have to deal with the pesky, unpredictable human factor.
And in the case of SEO, there are even more variables to contend with, especially obscure or changing elements of the search engine algorithm.
Even though clients sometimes push for concrete numbers, as an ethical SEO professional you should keep in mind that this is basically impossible. Instead of falsely claiming that you have a crystal ball, consider the following strategies:
- Explain why SEO results are not perfectly predictable.
- Make the comparison to the uncertain results of traditional marketing methods.
- Make it clear that any SEO professional who claims they can predict fixed numbers is being disingenuous.
- Provide an expected range instead of specific numbers.
- Explain clearly how you arrived at your generalized estimates.
- Present data from previous SEO campaigns to support your estimates.
- Promise progress within a specific timeframe, rather than setting firm benchmarks.
- Offer a discounted trial run to demonstrate the quality of your strategy.
- Explain the research you have already done for the site and the opportunities you have identified.
- Instead of saying flatly that an outcome "will occur," use phrases like "There is a possibility that..." or something similar.
You do need to explain your strategy, but the explanation is useless if the customer does not understand what you are telling them.
Important points to convey
When discussing a complex strategy with a client, it is helpful to remember the key points you want to convey. In general, you should focus on the following:
- What the KPIs are;
- What tools you will use to perform your analysis;
- What results you can expect;
- What are similar steps that competitors are taking?
- What gaps in content you plan to fill;
- How this serves the target audience;
- How this supports existing marketing efforts.
Don't just focus on a few key points, but also make sure you use language that the customer understands.
How to formulate your statement clearly and understandably
Many SEO professionals use a lot of jargon and inevitably discuss nebulous content in a professional setting. However, this tendency can become a problem when you are talking to a client. The following steps can simplify your explanations for people with less experience in this area:
- Try to avoid jargon, or if you must use it, provide context.
- Use analogies, but keep them simple.
- Relate your discussion to commonly known marketing principles.
- Provide visual aids as appropriate.
- Adapt to your customer's communication style.
It is also important that you do not simply talk down to your customer, remembering that understanding is only possible through collaboration.
Throughout the process, it is important to give the customer the opportunity to ask for clarification or to revisit an issue. In addition, it is helpful to provide materials for him to review at his leisure. Provide channels for them to contact you with further questions or concerns.
Additionally, watch for signs that the customer is confused. If you recognize such signs during your conversations, you can clear up misunderstandings immediately. To achieve effective SEO results, SEO professionals must view the relationship with their clients as a constant, ongoing conversation.