I remember it well, my first client call as an SEO account manager. I was new and had been warned that a few of the clients that were now in my care weren’t happy with their past service.
One such client asked a reasonable question, “why am I not seeing results?”. I froze. My initial response was “how am I supposed to know? It's my 4th day on the job.”
Instead, I paused. I put myself in the client’s shoes.
I responded, “I understand that you aren’t happy with your results to date. My job is to turn this around. Much like a ship in the ocean, we can’t change this direction overnight. I will spend the next week researching your website’s past performance and putting together an action plan. Then, we’ll execute the plan and measure results along the way. Are you available for a call every other week to review strategy and results to make sure we were on the same page?”
In many ways, I didn’t answer the question as I didn’t know why. But, I listened to the question, acknowledged the client’s concern, and mapped a plan of action. This laid the foundation for a partnership built on trust.
How to Answer Client Questions about SEO
If you are starting to offer SEO services, you may be worried about moments like this. What if a client asks a question and you don’t know the answer? What if you don’t have good news to share? Here are a series of frequently asked questions along with tips for answering them successfully.
When will I see results?
This is one of the first questions asked in the sales process. Your answer sets the expectations for the project.
Don’t over-promise on results or timelines. Often, those promises aren’t intentional. It’s easy to get swept up in the energy of a sales call.
Note where you expect to see immediate results (local search) and where it will take months (competitive keywords).
Explain that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. Initial results occur within a few months and over time the results compound.
Share the ingredients that will speed up the timeline. For example, if you are going to rely on your customer to write content for a blog, explain to them that much of the pacing of success will depend on their delivery of content.
Lastly, note that SEO services are a partnership. You won’t be operating in a back office and delivering results in a vacuum.
Why is my traffic dropping?
The best way to answer this question is to get in front of it. When you are running a monthly report for a customer and you note declining traffic, sales, or rankings, call it out immediately. This builds trust with your client as they know that you will share with them the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When it comes to SEO, not all news is good news. Sometimes rankings drop. Sometimes traffic and sales decline. Rather than covering up such news, always be honest.
Note the decline, estimate the cause(s), and include any action items you are working on in response.
Sometimes a decline is caused by elements in your control — a blog that hasn’t been updated in years or a recent site migration that lacked proper 301 redirects.
At other times, a decline is caused by external factors like a drop in the demand in search volume for a product or service. Turning those declines around may be out of your immediate control. It’s important to differentiate between internal and external factors. Sometimes it's a combination.
How are you different from other SEO agencies?
This is another common question during the sales process. It may not get asked in this direct manner, but rather by the prospect telling a story of being burned by an SEO agency in the past. The prospect wants to know how/why it’ll be different this time around.
Then, note that you understand they have had a poor experience with SEO in the past. Let them know you’ve heard of many experiences like this.
Next, describe your process in easy-to-understand language. Describe the partnership you create and the terms of your agreement.
Talk about your commitment to communication. How quickly do you respond to email? What’s the cadence of ongoing meetings?
A tricky question.
If you get asked a question that you simply don’t know the answer to, that’s OK. SEO is a vast field. You don’t need to know everything on the spot. When asked a question you don’t know the answer to, let the client know you’ll research the question and get back to them.
It’s important to define a time range for the response and then deliver on it. This is where SEO coaching at Pathfinder is invaluable. Simply schedule a coaching session and review this challenging question with our team. We’ll help ensure you get the right answers and you don’t have to spend hours researching.
What is SEO?
When you first start working with a client, don’t assume they know what SEO is. Whether this question gets asked or not, be sure to cover the basics. Take the time to break SEO into its component parts using the 4 pillars of SEO framework. Use easy to understand language that isn’t packed with SEO jargon.
Your client doesn’t need (or want) to be an SEO expert. You don’t need to get into the details of XML sitemaps, robots.txt files, or even page titles and meta descriptions. Instead, they need to have a big picture understanding of how the search engines work and what steps to take to grow traffic.
Does my website need a blog?
Many customers have heard that blogging helps with SEO. They might have been blogging for years without seeing growth. It’s time now to pause to determine if your client needs to blog and if so, how often.
Before investing in blogging, we need to consider the costs and benefits. Here are additional resources about blogging:
- Does my website need a blog?
- How often should I blog?
- How long should a blog post be?
- How to think of blog post topics?
Schedule several calls with your clients to talk about SEO. Note what questions they ask and start creating documentation for your agency so that you and your team are equipped. You’ll quickly find comfort in answering questions about SEO.
You’ll also find value in meeting with our SEO coaches. During your monthly one-on-one coaching sessions, you’ll hear an expert answer your questions. In turn, you’ll get better at answering your client’s questions. Schedule a demo to learn more.