How to Improve Your Relationship with Your SEO Consultant

The Internet, let alone SEO, can be a scary thing for a lot of businesses not familiar with the inner workings of it all. Businesses that actually take the first step to invest in SEO may still be second-guessing themselves throughout the process.

As a client, you may have been all pumped up in the beginning, but taking the first step was just the first battle. Maybe you haven’t quite understood the project plan or you’re not seeing the importance of the behind-the-scenes work your consultant is doing.

This is why understanding the SEO landscape, seeking education and trusting the expert are important components in the success of your SEO project.

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Education consists of a proactive quest for knowledge by the client through discussions and research, as well as proactive knowledge transfer by the SEO consultant or agency.

We’ve all heard the saying, “you need buy-in” from everyone to make [fill in the blank] successful. And although that is true, not every client seems to be ready to take initiative to understand the process so they can achieve buy-in.

Strong business relationships are built when a client feels comfortable asking questions about  the things they’ve learned or by simply voicing concerns or asking why certain recommendations are made.

It’s through this process that clients begin to trust the experts they’ve hired.

Understand the SEO Process

It’s important to understand SEO on a high-level so expectations are set ahead of time, and as a client, you’re not left with questions or disappointments.

First, please understand that project plans can and sometimes just have to change. Take any Google Core/Helpful Content/Link Spam algorithm updates, for instance. Some are still trying to get out of the funk these updates kicked them into. Businesses were forced to completely switch their focus and immediate SEO goals.

Some Core updates don’t put websites in a position to quickly recover, and there’s nothing anyone can do to accurately predict or prevent something like that from happening. In this case, everyone – the client and the agency — has to adjust and move on, because algorithmic changes become outdated 6 months down the road when even more updates happen.

Another important point is the concept of time. Sometimes (depending on the project or course of action) projects can take a very long time to see results, and, quite frankly, there is never going to be a quick fix.

The point is, that the more active a client can be during a project, the more likely they are to:

  1. Get better results in the end.
  2. Have a good working relationship with their consultant.
  3. Learn something they didn’t know before.
  4. Have faith and confidence in their SEO investment.

Search Industry Education is Key

My advice to clients working with agencies or consultants is to seek education. Get on the Internet and do some research. Find out who the big players are that offer up the insights (Hint: Matt Cutts, Chris Sherman and Danny Sullivan, to name a few).

Sign up for newsletters and blogs to stay on top of the industry headlines. By simply reading Search Engine Land, for instance, you will easily spot reputable websites, blogs and expert consultants you can trust as you become a frequent reader. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it’s an investment.

Here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we encourage knowledge transfer by inviting our clients to attend our SEO training early in the project. By no means do we expect they will become experts immediately after training, but we want their wheels spinning and we want them to get excited about SEO like we are.

If you’re looking to partner with an agency, see what kind of knowledge transfer they are committed to, so you can continue to see success in-house.

Trust the SEO Experts

As a client, once you’ve begun to wrap your head around SEO concepts and tactics, you may feel overwhelmed at the depth of expertise needed to make SEO strategies work. This is the pivotal point when clients realize that agencies and consultants are vital resources, and the keys to the success of their SEO strategy.

When it really comes down to it, agencies and SEO consultants make recommendations to help your site become more easily visible to search engines. We may not know your business like you do, but we know search engines.

For many clients, the process can be terribly uncomfortable, but it’s not personal—it’s business. Sure, it’s overwhelming, but it’s a team effort. After all, your consultant’s recommendations are no good if you don’t understand them, or worse, don’t “buy-in” to them.

It’s OK to do something you’ve never done before—that’s how you grow. There’s a saying, “If you want different results, you’ve got to do something different.” Try to get comfortable with new ideas and you just may be surprised.

That said, SEO consultants are typically happy to determine another plan of action if the agency’s recommendations simply cannot be implemented for one reason or another.

Sure, there’s lots of crap with differing opinions on the Web and “experts” you shouldn’t trust, but that’s why you should be putting in the time for research and education. There are many questionable practices that companies still partake in that are now considered Black Hat, but were once considered White Hat, so it’s important to be able to recognize what’s dubbed as spam.

This is important so you can’t claim ignorance when you “accidentally” get hooked up with a fly-by-night company.

As SEO consultants or agencies, we want our clients to trust us, but sometimes it’s a constant battle – and we still have to gain that trust even after the sale has been made. As a client, you need to make the education process a priority between you and your agency; in turn, you’ll begin to trust the expert you’ve hired and learn to let go – just a little bit.

Related blog posts:

What are your thoughts on this topic? Leave me a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @gracie_morris.

Ready to unlock the potential of SEO for your business? Partner with us to navigate the SEO landscape, gain expert insights, and drive meaningful results. 

FAQ: How can I enhance my relationship with my SEO consultant for better project outcomes?

An SEO consultant can be an invaluable ally in increasing online visibility and driving more visitors to your site. Your consultant’s expertise, combined with collaborative effort on both sides, are critical components to any successful SEO project. Fostering a healthy and productive relationship with your SEO consultant is essential to achieve better project outcomes. Here, we will delve into the key strategies and insights to enhance your relationship with your SEO consultant for optimal results.

Understanding Your SEO Consultant’s Role

First and foremost, it’s crucial to clearly understand what your SEO consultant is responsible for. SEO consultants are tasked with optimizing your website’s search engine rankings, improving organic traffic, and enhancing your online visibility. Recognizing the scope of their responsibilities will help set realistic expectations.

Effective Communication

Open and transparent communication is the cornerstone of a successful partnership. Maintain regular communication with your SEO consultant. Share your business goals, target audience, and any specific concerns. Providing your consultant with all the necessary details empowers them to make informed decisions and tailor their strategies to your unique needs.

Define Clear Goals and Metrics

Setting clear, measurable goals is essential. Clearly define what success looks like for your SEO project. Whether it’s increasing organic traffic, boosting conversion rates, or expanding your keyword rankings, having specific metrics in mind will help your consultant focus their efforts effectively.

Collaborative Strategy Development

Collaboration is key to a fruitful SEO partnership. Instead of telling your consultant how you should proceed with their strategy, collaborate on creating a tailored plan suited to your business goals through collaboration. Doing this fosters ownership and commitment from both sides.

Regular Progress Reviews

Regularly review the progress of your SEO project. Evaluate the results and discuss any necessary adjustments. Your SEO consultant should provide detailed reports and insights on the impact of their work. These reviews help you stay informed and make data-driven decisions.

Maximizing Your SEO Consultant Relationship

Enhancing your relationship with your SEO consultant is a strategic move towards better project outcomes. Successful partnerships require understanding the consultant’s role and cultivating effective communication. Setting clear goals, developing strategy collaboratively, and regularly reviewing progress are all integral elements.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Enhancing Your Relationship with Your SEO Consultant

  1. Understand the Role: Begin by clearly understanding your SEO consultant’s role, responsibilities, and scope of their work.
  2. Open Communication: Establish open and transparent communication with your consultant. Share your business goals, concerns, and target audience.
  3. Define Clear Goals: Set specific, measurable goals for your SEO project. Determine what success looks like regarding organic traffic, conversions, or keyword rankings.
  4. Collaborative Strategy: Collaborate with your consultant to develop a customized SEO strategy that aligns with your business objectives.
  5. Regular Reviews: Conduct regular progress reviews to evaluate the results and discuss any necessary adjustments.
  6. Data-Driven Decisions: Make informed, data-driven decisions based on the insights provided by your SEO consultant.
  7. Iterate and Improve: Continuously iterate and improve your SEO strategies based on the results and feedback from both parties.
  8. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date about the latest SEO trends and technologies to have meaningful discussions with your consultant.
  9. Provide Feedback: Offer constructive feedback to your consultant to improve the quality of their work.
  10. Respect Their Expertise: Respect your consultant’s expertise and trust their recommendations.
  11. Monitor Progress: Keep a close eye on the progress of your SEO project to ensure it aligns with your business objectives.
  12. Adapt to Changes: Be willing to adapt to changes and updates in SEO algorithms and best practices.
  13. Long-Term Perspective: Approach your SEO project with a long-term perspective, understanding that results may take time.
  14. Review Reports: Review detailed reports provided by your consultant and seek clarification if needed.
  15. Collaborate on Content: Collaborate with your consultant on content development and optimization strategies.
  16. Stay Committed: Show commitment to the partnership and actively participate in the SEO project.
  17. Avoid Micromanagement: While staying involved is crucial, avoid micromanaging your consultant, as it may hinder their work.
  18. Address Concerns Promptly: Address any concerns or issues promptly to prevent them from escalating.
  19. Celebrate Achievements: Celebrate the milestones and achievements of your SEO project together.
  20. Strengthen Your SEO Partnership: Establishing and nurturing a long-term partnership with an SEO consultant will enable you to strengthen your online presence.

This article was updated on November 20, 2023.

Grace Morris is a client liaison aka client satisfier/director of client communication for Bruce Clay, Inc., where she coordinates SEO projects with technical analysts and clients. “I’m here when things are good, and I’m here when things are bad—that’s my job.” Grace holds a bachelor’s in business/marketing from University of Phoenix. Her proudest achievement is learning how to fly; with her first solo in March 2009 in a Cessna 152. You wouldn’t know it, but she also won the cutest smile award at 1 year old in a beauty pageant. When she’s not at the office, she likes to talk smack on the softball field, torture her body at CrossFit and be loved by her miniature schnauzer, Harley.

See gmorris's author page for links to connect on social media.

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14 Replies to “How to Improve Your Relationship with Your SEO Consultant”

I think if the client is realistic and the consultant is able to do their job properly, the relationship will be fruitful and successful. Where it will go wrong is if supplier under delivers.

Hi Grace,

In Malaysia, SEO consultants have to face a very serious problem. A lot of time, customers want SEO Consultants to listen to them rather than they listen to SEO Consultants. But, the customers have no knowledge in SEO at all!

Let say, a jewelry shop owner wants to optimize a keyword “jewelry”. As SEO Consultants, we know that this is too broad and too general keyword, we won’t advice the customer to optimize “jewelry” as his/her seo keyword. But the customer wants the SEO consultant listen to him….

If you were the SEO consultant, what can you do?

Grace Morris

Kent,
You pose a great question. I think many SEOs nationwide experience this as well. Personally, I would ask myself if I had my client’s best interest in mind? Do my recommendations make sense to the client’s business goals? Is the client able to implement them? If not, how can I help with another solution?

I think it is a valid argument to make with a client if they want you to increase rankings, but that focusing on “jewelry” (as example) is not the best option given their goals. I think the best thing to do is state your case. Explain why it is not the best choice and why going another route is the better option. All you can do is educate and inform, right?

I don’t think clients should follow our recommendations blindly, but at that point it is in everyone’s best interest to explain the possible consequences. Have you ever experienced a situation where there was no room for negotiation?

Thanks Grace. I try to explain to my customers, but sometimes few customers are very stubborn (as you said, no room for negotiation at all). End up, customers become SEO Consultant rather than SEO Consultants. No matter how hard I explain to them, they just don’t get it.

In order not to affect my company, normally, I will walk away. If I help them to optimize keywords “jewelry”, and they don’t get any sales, I know they will blame me.

Hey kent,

Just teach your client about importance of long tail keywords, which used by SEO experts and agencies.Show him some youtube videos what experts view on long tail keywords, i also came across Bruce clay video which speaks about this.

Apart from very things client need to understand little bit of SEO process, with out this they will ignore our words.

Hope Bruce clay and other SEO big shoots has to come forward to post some good articles and videos on basic of SEO, specially for Clients, top management and CEO’S.

We should understand one thing Asian countries lack in Knowledge in SEO industries,75% of SEO people and agencies in India and other Asian countries runs the business only for business with out sufficient knowledge in this niche.

Hope it will change in coming years.

Thanks
Raj

Hi Raj,

Thanks for the advice! :) Will try your way to talk to them. :)

You’ve mentioned great pointers here, Grace. I think it’s important for both the client and the agency to constantly communicate with each other in regards to their SEO campaign. It’s what differentiates you from being their ‘website guy/people’ to the key component in their overall marketing strategy.

Grace Morris

Zunaira,
Well said. I think that’s what SEOs strive to be, an important part of their client’s overall strategy.

Impressed by this article, Yes with out trust on SEO people really its difficult to try out new things.Hope all top management and CEO’s should read this. So that they will stop chasing for results in overnight.

Booked a seat to attend Bruce clay training in India, Happy to boost up my knowledge, waiting for days to go.

Thanks
Raj

Grace Morris

Raj,
Very good point with “stop chasing for results overnight”. I understand that because the Internet is very instant in itself, sometimes we have to reinforce that results are not always instant. We have to teach the importance of continuous improvement.

Good luck in training!

Personally, I think until seos learn to stop tearing each other down and using actual proveable results instead of marketing gimmicks – that these types of articles will tend to encourage less scrupulous people to be seos because they think it’s easy money. As long as that thought process prevails, people will continue to distrust our industry and that hurts us all.
It’s simple to prove an seo is worth his salt: your rankings should continually improve. If they can’t show continual improvement in the organic search rankings, they aren’t doing their job.
Tell Bruce I said hey and that he’s doing some great work out there!
Take care.

Grace Morris

Micah,
Organic success is key! Thanks for sharing, and I’ll let Bruce know his work is noticed!

I think it is pretty easy to know if a SEO consultant is a good one or an impostor: does his/her work brings decent revenue to your business (in a sustainable way, I should add)?

Grace Morris

Ani,
Yes, I agree that a “sustainable” or “acceptable” way is important to add. I was slightly referring to a previous post from Bruce about paid links. It seemed to cause a big stir because for some it seemed to be a “sort of ok” practice to some. However, we do not recommend it at all because in the end they hurt our clients if sites are “paying” their way to the top. That’s a whole other topic, but as an example that’s where my reasoning came from. :-)

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