I have read many articles on search engine optimization (SEO) lately, but no one wants to address the biggest hurdle of all, the elephant in the room, how do you prepare your client to climb Everest when they won’t forsake their Louboutins (guys, look it up and file under your “perfect gifts for any female”)? Here is a quick CliffsNotes for clients about to embark on The Adventures of SEO for the first time. Hint, put on your sarcasm glasses before reading…
Patience. Integrity. Education. Hard Work. More Patience.
No, I am not describing how to become a world class athlete or musician. I’m talking about what is required for a client to be a good SEO partner. I say “partner” because we are a team, we as digital marketers will only perform as well as your mind allows us to, so it’s important your level of expectations are realistic from the beginning of the process.
- Patience. The biggest hurdle with SEO is patience – and therein understanding. The level of patience a client must exhibit goes against every fiber the digital age has engrained in our culture. Our sense of entitlement to immediacy clouds our ability to rationalize that a 60 day dry aged steak actually HAS to take 60 days. Well, there is your SEO dilemma. You. Have. To. Wait.
- Integrity. A lot of business owners think they can buy whatever it is they need for the right amount of money, whether it’s a new fancy sign or the No. 1 spot on Google search for “shoes.” Guess what. You can’t. Yes, there are “black hat” techniques which will build your muscles faster, but just like using steroids in pro sports, they’re illegal and when you get caught – and the Emperor of Google WILL catch you – your website is out of the game.
- Education and hard work. If you are going to hire someone to manage SEO for your website (and you should), please at least familiarize yourself with the process and amount of time it HAS to take. Otherwise, you will be unhappy (re-read the patience paragraph). I once had a client with a brand new shiny traffic-history-free website yell at me because their site wasn’t on the first page of a Google search. I explained to them, they had the SAME name as another well-established business and it would take time and effort to make them competitive. Then they scolded me for making up excuses. When we got them to “only page two” after one month, there was more screaming. An infant is not going to win a race against a 10 year old and a new website is not going to immediately lap 10 years’ worth of Internet history.
- More patience. Always remember, no one wants something to perform better than the person actually performing. When you, as a client, are not willing to educate and prepare yourself for the SEO long game, it not only leaves you feeling unnecessarily frustrated, it forces us to spend time defending attacks rather than kicking ass for you (no, there is really no way we can make a 60-day dry aged steak in three days). Go into the process appreciating there is no magic which will give you a direct vertical and there will be an ebb and flow even when your site finds it’s legs – SEO is a never-ending marathon with a million runners all wanting the same spot.
So that’s my “How to Be an SEO Client for Dummies” guide. The moral is this: failure to prepare is preparing to fail, so go buy some hiking boots from Zappos (No. 6 under “shoes”).
Amanda Moore is president of Balls Marketing, the web design agency responsible for the design and development of this fabulous website. Her career spans from radio promotion to artist development and most notably, live event marketing and operations.