Search engine optimization works best as a team effort. Even if the client is new to SEO, they are a key part of the process. Below are some behaviours and attitudes for the SEO client to consider to improve an existing arrangement, or start a new one off right.
Learn About SEO
Learning about SEO can not only help you be aware if your (to-be) hired optimizer knows what they’re taking about, but can help you get the most out of a great SEO company, too. The more you understand about what’s going on, the more you will be able to understand problems, and avoid creating new problems as old ones are solved. The basics of SEO aren’t extremely difficult to understand, and learning them can provide great context for understanding our suggestions for dealing with more complex situations. SEOmoz’s legendary Search Engine Ranking Factors is a great place to start.
Offer Up the Data
SEOs are data experts. The more data you give us, the better. This goes beyond analytics access. Don’t be afraid to shareyour pay-per-click data, since the keywords that perform there will perform organically too. Also, marketing and sales-related company and industry knowledge can be extremely useful in identifying searcher personas, and can take SEO out of isolation and make it a connected part of your large-scale marketing strategies. The more we understand your clients and customers and their behaviour, the better we can reach them. We might not know what data you have, so don’t wait for us to ask. Offer!
Implement the Suggestions
One of the classic frustrations for any optimizer is dealing with the pressure of delivering results while watching their key recommendations never get implemented. Don’t make us chase you. It wastes money by wasting our time – time we’d rather spend helping your site in new ways. If you work for a very large company, be mindful of roadblocks between departments and make implementation a priority. You must accept that your expectations for success must be roughly proportional with the degree to which advice is followed.
Get the IT Staff On Board
One of the SEO’s most valuable direct allies is the IT employee who will potentially be implementing the bulk of his or her recommendations. Ensure mutual respect, and let the IT folk get to know the SEO folk. If they’re willing, SEO is a great way to get your IT staff more marketing-oriented. Make sure they know how important SEO can be, and ensure that SEO recommendation implementations carry strong priority weight amongst other site fixes.
Make sure they IT employees understand the core search engine ranking factors, especially regarding the kinds of technical issues that can hurt rankings. If there’s a knowledge gap, let the SEO explain. Sometimes, with their intimate knowledge of server limitations and site history, the IT employee can be in the best position to offer a solution to a complex SEO problem. Allow them to be accessible.
Be Open Minded
In many ways, search is a different kind of marketing channel altogether. It is not business as usual. We respect your longtime strategies, and want to learn from them to adapt them to new models. But sometimes, traditions need to die, or at least evolve considerably. Don’t be surprised if we propose a major gear shift, or change in direction. We’re not out to reinvent your brand, but sometimes (and this is especially the case with social media) you’ll have to loosen up to keep up.
Trust Your SEO’s Decisions
You’ve hired the optimizer because of established expertise. If you are not comfortable trusting your SEO, then you might need to hire someone else. You don’t tell the auto mechanic how to fix your car, nor do you redo your accountant’s calculations.
Sometimes, asking questions can boost mutual knowledge and keep you rightfully informed. But repeatedly questioning an SEOs decisions will frustrate them and potentially drive them away. They don’t consult for free, and the more they have to justify every idea and action, the more time gets eaten in the discussion, and the less time they spend actually bringing results (instead of explaining them), which can lead to greater skepticism about their abilities and more questioning. Don’t let the cycle begin.
This is related to trusting your SEO’s decisions. We like when you care about SEO and are keen to follow results, but SEO works on a time scale that makes client daily rank checks largely a waste of time. We’re monitoring your rankings for you, and we’ll keep you informed of major changes. Sometimes an on site change might not bring immediate results.
If you enjoy following rankings and traffic, sure, check them out as often as you like. But it is important to cultivate patience and recognize that SEO is a long term, complex process, with ups and downs that could just be Google engineers playing with the ranking algorithm. Expect to be kept in the loop, but be prepared to widen your timescale for updates, and try to avoid getting obsessed.
Share Your Ideas
If you’ve learned SEO basics and have some proactive ideas, by all means, share them. Do you have contacts with whom you can work to develop a great link-attracting section on your site? Did you see a competitor implement some strategy and notice their rankings climb considerably? We want to know about it. We’re the SEO experts, learning about your company. You’re the company experts, learning about SEO. The communication must go both ways.