Bringing a new client on board has always been an exciting event.  Each client comes in with an initial Marketing Strategy and an outlined set of objectives; you mostly know what you’re going to get.  What you usually don’t know are the client’s expectations for the Campaign.  Implementing a solid SEO Marketing Campaign with all its non-guarantee’s can be a lot easier than managing the client’s expectations.  This can be difficult for a variety of reasons.  Client’s knowledge of SEO may be built from scouring website after website grabbing tidbits of optimization advice or maybe they go some information from a friend over coffee.   This is the greatest struggle as an SEO project manager.

There is more to managing expectations than letting the client know that Optimization is not instantaneous.  Regardless of the time taken during the proposal phase to inform the client of the amount of work that goes into a Marketing Strategy, some clients still think that it is all about keywords.  Suggesting anything outside of meta changes can stop an organic optimization in its tracks.

Here some points, I have learned the hard way.

  • Start at your initial conversation: This is your first opportunity to explain to the client that there may be components of the Campaign that will be dependent on them for implementation. This should help eliminate any surprises.
  • Make sure the client understands the process: Take the time to inform your client of processes.  Let them know how and why you are making your suggestions if you listen to your client’s responses you can gauge whether or not they understand you.
  • Be Honest: If the Optimization has stalled or have not generated the success you and your client had hoped for, you may find it easy to tell the client “ Google is updating their algorithm” or that “it will just take a little more time” to curb their concerns.  Not only is it dishonest, but you will have to answer for the success of the campaign ultimately.  Your best bet is to be upfront and tell the client that you are not satisfied with the results and propose a solution.
  • Stick to your guns.  There may be times when you are working with a client that believes that they are an “SEO Expert” and actively makes his recommendations.  There may be a tendency to go along with the client’s suggestions to avoid any disagreements.   This is a tricky area, you really shouldn’t argue, but if you allow the client to dictate the optimization, you will lessen your value, and you run the risk of an unsuccessful optimization campaign. This is an area where “I told you so” doesn’t work for building long term business relationships.

This may all seem like common sense stuff, and it is.  The critical piece is that every client is unique and managing their expectations is just as important if not more than the success of the Optimization Campaign.

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