Many of those who work in SEO understand that it can take time to build up a relationship with new clients, understand their needs and demands and how they work with SEO agencies.
Like any relationship, the more that you put in, the more you get out and this is especially important at the beginning of a new contract. This is when it is important to find out everything possible about the client and how they work which, will also help any digital marketing agency or individual in the long run to promote the product.
Building a good client – agency relationship is imperative to a successful SEO strategy.
1) Understand the Brand
Never underestimate the importance of the knowing the client’s brand inside and out. Sometimes this may involve spending a few days a week at the client’s office. It is important to know the brand managers really well, how they want to advertise their product, where they see themselves within the market and the competitors. How can any agency really expect to market their products if they do not fully understand the client and the product? It is essential to make time to get to know the product thoroughly and then marketing for the client will become second nature.
2) Speak Their Language
Not everyone knows or understands SEO, therefore avoid using jargon when speaking to your client.
It is important to clearly show the different areas of SEO, highlighting the most important elements and what the client needs to be aware of. For example do not to talk about a XML file or a Screaming Frog tool if most of the audience will not understand this. It is necessary to explain in layman’s terms the issue in the SAY method which stands for situation, action, yield. The situation is that the site is not being crawled properly due to a lack of a file on the site (eg sitemap).
This means that not all pages of the site may be appearing in Google. This results in less people finding the site and therefore the site will receive less traffic and sales. No one wants to know they are receiving less traffic especially if it impacts the bottom line. Speaking in money terms always works with clients. They want SEO to help increase their sales and revenue.
3) Provide Useful Solutions That Will be Implemented
There will inevitably always be a disagreement between the designers and the SEOs. There can also be just as much disagreement between the SEO agency and the developers at the client’s office. It is therefore important to understand and know the solutions that will yield the biggest results and explain this to the developers. The developers will be more incentivised to work on the implementation if they can see the results from it.
SEO is a subject where sometimes there is no clear right or wrong and therefore, although it may be SEO best practice to implement certain recommendations, it may end up taking more time to implement and yield minimal results. The web developers will find it time consuming working on such projects and it will be harder to get buy in and get them to work on the tasks further down the track that are more important.
4) Understand the Pressures
It is the job of the agency to work with the client to show the value of SEO and truly reflect the KPIs the client’s management board wishes to see. It can be difficult in the beginning for the agency to use their standard reporting template. They may need to amend this to factor in the KPIs the client wants to see, even if this does include rankings. In my previous post, I mentioned reporting on head term rankings is futile and instead the client should be focusing on other elements such as conversions, referral traffic and organic traffic.
However, if the client’s business wants to see rankings, instead of showing the positions for the head terms, it may be better to show average rank against sales. Rankings for head terms may remain steady while sales increase. It is also important to show the engagement with the content created, the social shares, the news and videos that the agency has optimised as part of the client’s online visibility. The client can then see that there are many factors that contribute to overall online visibility. They will begin to understand why the SEO agency is not working towards guaranteed ranking position which many agencies are moving away from.
5) Work with Your Clients
Working with clients is an essential part of SEO. It is important to be seen as a partner with them, not working for them. Collaborate with the brand team, be transparent with what is being done and why. Make sure that all work suggested has clear and actionable implementation and results. If there is a launch of a new product, work with the marketing manager and brand managers to cover every online channel (where feasible).
This way you are being seen as helping the company to achieve their business and marketing objectives and will earn the mutual trust between the two organisations so you both can have a smooth and healthy working relationship.
Relationship building takes work and time but both the agency and the client will reap the benefits in the long run. It is important to build the relationship outside of work, to entertain the client, and find out more about them. People like to work with those who they know well and trust and this will help build the foundations that is needed to create a strong healthy and collaborative working relationship.