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SEO Client Management: Creating Realistic Expectations

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One of the main reasons SEO campaigns fail isn’t because of the budget or the strategy. It’s because of unrealistic expectations and lack of communication between the company and their SEO firm. Because of these issues, campaigns are dropped before they’ve been given the proper time to really see the impact SEO can have for a business. I’d like to change that. Here a few ways that I’ve seen success while working with companies.

Educate whenever possible

Never assume that anything to do with SEO is “basic knowledge”. I’d much rather be redundant and tell the client something they may already know than skip it because it’s beginner information. I start every conversation with potential clients by telling them what they need to know: how SEO impacts their site, what SEO strategy I suggest for them and how it will help their campaign, what types of link building is considered “black hat” and what successes or failures I’ve had.

Be up front with your strategy

A lot of SEO companies fall short here because they consider their strategies a trade secret and aren’t willing to share how they go about things and what tools they use. I think this is ultimately their downfall. SEO can take a long time to see rankings and movement, and withholding how you’re executing the strategy and measuring any success can make the customer feel like there is no movement and the campaign is stagnant. Transparency is critical!

Discuss both parties expectations

When you sit down with a potential client, ask what they’re hoping to gain from an SEO campaign, and give your feedback on what you hope to see from it as well. Make sure both parties have clear, realistic expectations of what SEO is and what it can do to help grow the business. Now, they’re going to need to prove ROI. Explain how to track SEO and how you can measure results whether that means sales, leads, phone calls, “X” amount of traffic or simply improved rankings. What exactly are they paying you for?

Coordinate campaign tracking

Work together to track successes (and failures). Ask the client for access to their Google Analytics and any other tracking they’ve been using. Agree on tracking metrics and explain tools that you typically use. The more visibility you can give clients, the more comfortable they will feel with their business in your hands.

Give the client frequent updates

Let the client know that they can reach you by phone or email anytime. If you don’t know an answer to a question, be up front and say that you will get back to them after looking into it. Set up a weekly or monthly reporting meeting so the client doesn’t have to wonder when they will be getting updates. Remember that while they may just be one of many of your clients, you’re their only SEO company, so they need to feel like they are top priority. About the Author: Kevin Phelps, the owner of has been in the SEO industry for nearly 6 years and has managed hundreds of locally-focused campaigns and directed major enterprise level clients while working for and OrangeSoda.  

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