I’ve been working in the SEO industry for nearly 13 years as an in-house SEO professional, freelance SEO consultant and now as the owner of an SEO company. In that time I’ve dealt with just about every level of management possible from small business owner, to marketing director to company CEO and I have learned that depending on who you report to as an SEO services provider dramatically impacts how you manage the reporting and how you justify your SEO services. Each level of management comes with its own needs and expectations and it’s our duty as their SEO provider to meet (most of) their demands.
The Small Business Owner
In my experience, there are two types of small business owners. There’s the one who has taken it upon themselves to learn a little bit about SEO and try to go it their own way (for better or worse) before they decided they needed a little more expertise to get them to the next level. I really like working with these small business owners because they “get it.” They aren’t looking for that magic pill to overnight SEO success, expecting me to pull a miracle off in the next six weeks. They understand enough about SEO to realize how link building, content marketing and social media work together to achieve long term success and they are in it for the long haul. The best way to keep your relationship with the kind of SEO client running smooth is simply to be upfront and honest with them. They know enough about SEO that smoke and mirrors aren’t going to impress them.
On the flip side, you have the business owner that knows very little about SEO, except that they need to be doing it. Sometimes these site owners require a little bit more hand holding, which is totally fine, simply because they don’t have the knowledge or experience. These small business owners can be both incredibly gung-ho or extra cautious (especially if they’ve been burned before) and it’s important to understand that throughout the process. You need to walk them through every step and be as transparent as possible so they don’t feel like they are in over the heads.
The Marketing Director
The Marketing Director came to you because they don’t have the in-house resources to manage their SEO by themselves. Obviously they understand marketing very well, so hopefully they are on your side and will help align your SEO efforts with the rest of their marketing team. As I am constantly reminding clients, just about anything you do to market your business and products, both online and off, can be leveraged for your SEO. You want to make sure your client understands and embraces that fact.
It’s important that the Marketing Director look at you as just an extension of their in-house marketing team and not silo your efforts. Make sure you are kept in the loop on any pending press releases, upcoming local events or conferences or product launches so you can get their SEO working in the same direction. It’s important to show how your efforts contribute to the marketing campaign as a whole, and how their marketing campaigns impact your SEO work.
Let’s be honest, most CEOs don’t have the time to worry about SEO, but every now and then you may find yourself reporting and defending your efforts to them. Most CEOs tend to be very numbers focused and are looking to see tangible proof that your SEO expertise is helping grow the company in some way. This is why reporting is so important for client management! You want to be able to pull numbers, data and stats at the drop of a hat to help explain and justify your work. How many new non-branded visitors have arrived at the site in the last six months thanks to your SEO guidance? How have rankings for their priority keywords changed over time? What new keywords are they ranking for and getting visitors from that weren’t even on their radar at this time last year? How many links have you built and where are they coming from? The more tangible evidence you can gather the better.
Obviously every client is different. You might be reporting to a CEO who comes from a marketing background, making it easier to explain the long term process that is SEO. You might be working with a Marketing Director that knows next to nothing about SEO, so they are going to require a little more handholding. It’s up to us as the SEO service providers to give our clients the kind of management they need to trust us and our efforts.