Clients and SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a journey, a very long and slow journey when done properly. Recently I read a thread here were people wished for SEO to go completely, vanish from the face of the internet.

Hardly a likely possibility. SEO in my humble opinion is something which has vastly changed since it’s introduction. Many feel that SEO is something that was done quickly and maliciously, but in reality doing good SEO is an incredibly long journey, one which can be fun if you like getting noticed.

What baffles me is how to manage clients in terms of SEO. Many clients wants to be ranked highly but miss the point that content is paramount in their journey. They have an impression that simply paying somebody a “bunch” of money will do that.

I can tell them what they need to do, but if I do that am I not training them how to write professionally for search engines?

For me to do this would in charging labor, and considering I don’t know their subject as well as they do, the most I can do is have them write it and then have their content checked by a professional. Not something which I would expect to go down well. Clients are notoriously slow at delivery, another solution would be to have a professional team of writers write unique content for them and publish useful information on their topic. I would assume the cost of this would be astronomical which would scare 90% of them away.

I would be interested to know people’s thoughts on this.

Yes, you are providing a teaching service.

Each discipline has its standards and best practice—such as building, medicine, car repair and web design—but that doesn’t mean customers will always make the right choice. Unless they either are willing to pay a good price for a good job or do some homework to learn about best practices, they are likely to get done over. I find very few people—even graphic designers—have a clue about things like page titles, meta descriptions etc., so they are loath to pay me to add in this stuff when—let’s face it—it’s something they aren’t even aware of, so … how important can it be? I do it because it should be done, but I’m also poor. :slight_smile: But I’m learning that people only deserve what they pay for. Because I don’t want to do a bad job, I’m inclined to turn away work that’s based on cheap and nasty lines.

Search Engine Optimization is just what it says it is: a way of building pages so that they will easily be found in searches. It’s a science (imperfect and changeable as it is) and can be done well or badly, like anything else. It’s important to make clients aware of it, but also to make them aware that it’s not a free service. It requires deliberate planning and lots of hard work.

I always take the view that when people hire a professional to do a job for them – whether it’s web design or anything else – they would have to be stupid not to take advice from that professional, and likewise the professional would be failing in his role if he didn’t offer advice where it was needed. If someone was paying me to do some work for them, and what they had asked for was a really bad idea, I would feel duty-bound to explain to them why it was a bad idea, rather than throwing it together and taking their money for an inferior outcome. It may be that after listening to the pro’s advice, the client decides to ignore it and go ahead with the bad idea, but at least the pro has tried.

Sadly, too many clients out there are not prepared to listen to or take advice, they think that they know best and that the ‘servant’ they’ve hired in should not be so impertinent as to question their grand scheme. Content writing is one aspect of web design, and very often it’s the one that is left to the clients rather than being done by the designers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The clients will be the people who know their industry best, the designers have probably been chosen more for their skill with website code and graphics than for their writing skills and subject knowledge of the client’s business. But the client needs to understand that providing suitable copy is their responsibility if that’s how it is going to work. Alternatively, it could be agreed that the client will provide outline text and the design team will work it up into something more suitable for publication. Again, it’s a perfectly valid work plan, but expectations need to be clear on both sides as to how it’s going to work.

But really, I’m not sure what this has to do with SEO. Regardless of any consideration of SEO, a website needs to have comprehensive, well-written content, and that should go without saying. A client who doesn’t understand that is probably not going to be a good client to work for!

Part of the SEO consulting process is qualifying the prospect and also at times educating the process on SEO. Chances are, the more well established a company is, the more money they have to spend, and the less likely they are to fight you over changes – these companies often have people that understand SEO but do not have time to do the implementation. Here are some questions I ask to qualify:

  • What is your budget?
  • What is the process for getting my recommendations implemented?
  • How much SEO has been done in the past? What was effective?

If the client doesn’t understand the importance of content, all you need to do is to provide some logic and explanations. If they were to search for ‘tennis shoes’ and find ‘women’s dresses’, how do you think they’ll react? They’ll leave immediately! Search engines try to mimic that behavior by crawling the content on the webpage to see if it’s relevant. On-page SEO helps rankings - it’s a proven fact! That’s all you need to tell them.

As a side note, if their main focus is on rankings, then there is a problem. They should be focused on increasing traffic and conversions. For the big picture, they should be focused on establishing a brand - rankings are nice to look at but they can be deceiving at times.

Hope this helped!

I find very few people—even graphic designers—have a clue about things like page titles, meta descriptions etc., so they are loath to pay me to add in this stuff when—let’s face it—it’s something they aren’t even aware of, so … how important can it be?

Depends on how educated you are. I have a clue on many things, but the time invested is really something else. I’ve found that many-a-times clients want to learn from us, particularly best SEO practices, so they don’t have to pay us. Hardly a fair compromise condering the time invested learning it in the first place.

I’m inclined to turn away work that’s based on cheap and nasty lines.

I always turn fresh work with cheap and nasty guidelines. Old websites (developed by others) might just want text edits, particularly if they are static. So I am quite happy to do those ones. It’s quick and easy money for the moment.

It’s important to make clients aware of it, but also to make them aware that it’s not a free service.

What if they just get your advice and try to do it themselves, no doubt wrongly, would that be a free service? Guess if it all goes belies up they can just blame your advice, shame they can’t get a money-back guarantee :stuck_out_tongue:

Sadly, too many clients out there are not prepared to listen to or take advice, they think that they know best and that the ‘servant’ they’ve hired in should not be so impertinent as to question their grand scheme.

Power-trips and ego-cycles are what this is all about, it’s as simple as that. In the end the person who works for them submits, costing their site dearly.

Depend on how much you tell them (you don’t have to speak for hours. A few minutes would do, or a few dot points on paper.) You can make them aware of a need without telling them how to do it. If they find out for themselves, that’s fair enough.

Fine, then give them what they want and take their money. There’s a point with any client where you should stop offering advice and just give them what they want, it doesn’t have to go in your portofolio or even have your name on it.

I’ll train people to write for search engines for free, I’d say “write it like search engiens don’t exist”, bingo, now they know how to write perfectly otpimised copy.

A better definition of SEO is “improving the quality and/or volume of traffic to your site from search engines”

Yes, Guys it’s a awesome post about clients and seo as well, after all when we are going to contract with clients they are saying we don’t have to patience for long run, where as seo is a long term process to getting better result in the web market.