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Communication Tips to Ensure Happy SEO Clients

Lori Calcott

Originally from Pittsburgh, Lori has been working in search engine marketing since 2001. Lori is the published author of The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords and is a leader in the paid search field. When not at work, Lori spends time with her family and can often be found hiking and skiing the Highland Bowl.

“Miscommunication is the number one cause of all problems; communication is your bridge to other people. Without it, there’s nothing.” — Earl Sweatshirt

Effective client communication is essential for creating happy clients. SEO is often a large departure from a client’s “zone of genius” and in many cases, it feels like a “necessary evil.” Clients don’t truly understand how it works but know that it’s needed for their business to thrive. This conundrum can make them feel vulnerable.

So how do you put them at ease and earn their trust? Good, open, and honest communication.

5 Tips to Improve Your Client Communication

Here are our tips for the most effective communication strategies when talking with clients.

Avoid Industry Jargon

While phrases like SERPs, 301s and domain authority are part of your everyday vocabulary as an SEO professional, these phrases mean nothing to your clients. Go the extra mile to explain your tactics in common terms that your clients can relate to. Take the time to educate your clients so that your work feels more accessible to them.

How can you break things down? Here are some practical examples:

XML Sitemap // Your Website’s Résumé
Instead of telling a client that their website “lacks an XML sitemap,” I explain that this file acts like a website’s résumé. You wouldn’t show up to a job interview without bringing along a résumé to present your assets in an easily digestible format. A résumé quickly summarizes your “contents,” or the structure of your relevant roles and experience — just like a sitemap summarizes the contents and structure of a website.

Link Building // Relationships
When a client hears you talk about link building, they instantly recall how they feel when they receive spammy emails requesting link exchange favors. They may worry that this tactic is too aggressive or short-sighted and that they may get penalized by Google. Consider describing “link building” as creating a network of professional relationships that the search engines will quickly and easily understand. By link building, you’re putting up relationship signposts that search engines can read.

Featured Snippet // Above #1
Clients are often hyper-focused on their rankings. If you talk to them about “gaining a featured snippet result,” that language will leave them lost and they’ll disengage from the initiative. Instead, focus on what they really want: to rank #1 for a specific keyword they’ve chosen themselves. If you’re working with a client on a new piece of in-depth content (to help propel them to the top of the search results by demonstrating expertise), you can get the client’s buy-in if you say the content will help them get “above #1.”

SEO // Getting Found
Perhaps the most important (and mysterious) term of all is “SEO.” We all assume our prospects and clients understand what SEO stands for and why the practice is essential. But more often than not, the acronym alone can lead to confusion. Try substituting “getting found in Google” anytime you’re tempted to say “SEO,” and your client will connect to the goal instead of staying stumped by the term.

Set Expectations

We often describe SEO as the marathon of search marketing. While tactics like Google Ads provide fast results and act as a sprint, there are no magic buttons that can be pressed to instantly build your site’s exposure and reputation. SEO is a process — a marathon that takes careful preparation and, ultimately, time.

If a client thinks they can go from the bottom of page 10 to the top of page 1 in the first month, they will inevitably be disappointed. Also, keep in mind that setting expectations is as much about what you don’t say as what you do say. If you aren’t setting clear exp

Understand Their Business & Goals

When you take the time to thoroughly understand your clients’ goals, you can better speak their language. The more you understand the ins and outs of their unique business, the more trust you’ll gain. What does their day-to-day world look like? What does success mean to them? What metrics matter most?

Once you’ve done your research, clearly communicate what you know about your client’s business operations and goals. This will allow them to know that you have their best interests in mind.

Send a Monthly Report

Every month, send each of your clients a report that includes measurable results, along with any updates on completed tasks. Make a direct connection between your actions and the results, and explain how these results relate to their ultimate goals. If the results are not positive, explain why. What will you do to move the needle in the right direction in the coming months? Your clients will want to know, so they can have faith in your combined and continued efforts.

Learn more about monthly SEO reporting.

Seek Feedback

Communication is a two-way street. Ask your customers what they feel you could be doing better. When clients feel comfortable sharing their opinions, the channels of communication can stay open.

Honing your overall communication skills means your business will run smoother and grow faster. As you communicate more openly with your clients, you’ll build trust — which leads to longer and more profitable client relationships.

We’re Here to Help You Communicate Better

Pathfinder SEO is here as a partner towards better client communication. We’ll ensure that the SEO strategy you deploy for your customers is current and holistic.

Our monthly reports are white-labeled and ready for delivery; you can also lean on your Pathfinder coach to help you answer client-specific questions.

Schedule a demo to learn more.

Lori Calcott

Originally from Pittsburgh, Lori has been working in search engine marketing since 2001. Lori is the published author of The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords and is a leader in the paid search field. When not at work, Lori spends time with her family and can often be found hiking and skiing the Highland Bowl.

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