If you ask 10 people to provide you with a definition for SEO, you may get 20 different answers. That’s how difficult the idea is to grasp for most people. After all, it’s a rather new concept with so much competing (and sometimes conflicting) content circulating around the internet. One person believes it means a particular thing, while another has something totally different in mind. Sometimes it can be difficult to get all the SEO experts in a company to agree on the key points, processes, and strategies. So, how are you supposed to explain it to your clients? Where do you start and what do you tell them?
Why is it so Difficult?
The difficulties in explaining SEO stem from two main issues. First, many SEOs haven’t taken the time to sit down and understand it for themselves. Sure, most SEOs know what they’re doing, but can they provide a clear, concise definition that makes sense in layman’s terms? Second, all that lexicon and jargon that seems secondhand in the SEO industry is completely foreign to most people. SEO will never be understood by an outsider until the terminology can be simplified.
Importance of Explaining
Properly explaining SEO to clients – and potential customers – is about more than getting everyone on the same page. While that is certainly a healthy business practice, it really comes down to dollar signs. If you cannot explain the value of SEO and what it does, it’s quite difficult to acquire and keep business. After all, the guy next door has already perfected his SEO elevator pitch.
If clients can begin to understand the incredible benefits of an SEO investment (better conversions, more brand visibility, increased traffic) and the necessity for developing user-friendly sites, your services will sell themselves. As some people say, “You’ve got to be an SEO Evangelist.”
5 Tips for Explaining SEO to Clients
While the exact details of what you tell your clients and how you tell them will vary depending on your experience and goals, there are a few sure-fire ways to get the point across. Here are five tips for explaining SEO to clients:
Tip #1: Face the Limitations. The simple truth of the matter is that you won’t be able to explain everything. Some things can only be understood through years of experience and training. Here are some of the reasons you probably feel pressure:
- You don’t want to lose business to other companies.
- You clearly understand the value of SEO and know the consequences of shrugging it off.
- You have a very small amount of time to convince someone.
- You want them to know you are truly an expert, not a salesman.
Does this sound familiar? The first important tip for explaining SEO to clients is understanding that there are limitations and not being afraid to face them one at a time.
Tip #2: Explain the Process. In the business world, most people are process-oriented. That means they want to see a logical progression and order of events in order to feel comfortable with an idea. The difficulty here is that SEO does not operate in a clear cut process. It’s more of an interconnected web. It’s best to explain that up front, while trying to break it down into stages. Here is one step-by-step way to look at it:
- Goal Setting
- Content Building and Distributing
- Site and Page Optimization
- Social and Link Building
- Reporting and Analysis
Once you explain this order to your client, use visual pictures to explain how each stage is affected by the others. A visual representation of the process web will go a long way.
Tip #3: Simplify Things. As mentioned, one of the main difficulties in explaining SEO is the hard-to-understand terminology. You can benefit yourself in the future if you start developing a repertoire of metaphors and simple illustrations. Here are some examples:
- Link building can be hard to understand, so why not break it down into an idea that everyone can comprehend. Explain links as the roads that connect different towns and cities (web pages), while search engines are the taxis and buses taking people between places.
- This one may be overused in other areas of life, but it still applies. SEO should be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint. It’s about preparing for the race and pacing yourself for the long run.
- Another easy to understand metaphor is ‘dating.’ Without getting dressed up, going out to meet people, and speaking, you probably won’t ever land a date. The same is true for traffic on the internet. If you don’t design an attractive webpage, network with the right sites and search engines, and produce quality content, you cannot expect to see results.
Tip #4: Show Your Value. While you can tell clients about your success all day long, so can every other SEO in the industry. Start collecting results and building a portfolio of real-life examples to show potential clients. Businesses like seeing tangible, measurable results before investing large amounts of money into a service. Why not use this to your advantage?
Tip #5: Communicate. If you’ve been given an opportunity to prove your worth to a client, don’t run to your office and lock the doors. Keep the communication open and include your client in what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to work in tandem with your clients and ask for their input, share what’s working, and suggest fresh ideas.
What Not to Do
Just as important as clearly and concisely explaining SEO, is understanding how not to explain it. Here are three tips on what not to do:
- Don’t Go Too Fast. Explaining things too quickly won’t allow for proper digestion and will overwhelm clients. Slow down and take your time.
- Never Assume They Know. One of the worst mistakes you can make is assuming the client already understands a process or term. Everything needs to be simplified and explained, unless the client tells you they already understand.
- Don’t Focus on the Hard Parts. While SEO is difficult, it doesn’t benefit you to dwell on the challenges. Avoid painting a dark picture and instead focus on the usefulness.
What is your best tip for explaining the SEO process to clients?