Selling SEO is both an art and science. There are definite rules to it, as we’re going to discuss in this article, but you also need to play things by ear a bit too. SEO can be a tough sell these days, with so many ‘experts’ around with differing advice and offering a variety of services. The key is to make things as simple as possible for any SME that is interested in your services. Don’t try to blind them with jargon or impress by reeling off everything you know about SEO straight away. The following ‘golden rules’ will help
Things you should say:
Be honest about the limitations of SEO. Tell them that it isn’t a magic pill that will suddenly get them ranking on the first page of Google. It certainly makes it more likely that they will appear there, and it’s almost impossible to get there without good SEO, but that doesn’t mean it is by any means guaranteed, there are too many variables at play such as the niche they operate in, market saturation, keyword availability, etc.
Having said that, there are some SEO best practices that will reap rewards when applied well. It’s your job to communicate to your client what best practices will apply to their business and then what your strategy is for applying them. Make sure they know that you will be looking for SEO issues – places where SEO best practices haven’t been followed and you’ll be rectifying them. This is likely to give them a rankings boost.
SEO is not an instant fix. Patience is a virtue when it comes to SEO. Let them know that it could take months or even years for SEO efforts to realise their full potential in terms of rankings. You’re playing the long-game. This will have a greater net effect than shady practices such as dodgy backlinks that may provide a quick rankings boost, but could be devastating over the longer term, especially if you get hit with a Google penalty. Remind them of the Guinness adverts: good things come to those who wait!
If they are hesitant about signing up or are unsure about the benefits of SEO, offer them an SEO audit. When they witness the issues that are raised and you make clear how your strategies can help to overcome them, resistance will often be replaced by enthusiasm.
Make it clear to your clients that you will be completely honest and transparent. You’ll update them regularly (either daily, weekly or monthly) on progress and outcomes. Also make sure they can contact you easily with questions at any time.
Request that they are open with you also. Let them know that it helps you to do the best job possible if they inform you of any changes to the website that may affect SEO.
Things you should never say:
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This includes guaranteeing higher ranking for certain keywords, as mentioned earlier there are too many variables at play. Also, don’t tell them that it will be a one-off task. SEO needs to be ongoing for it to be effective. If you bend the truth and tell them that you can do it all in one-hit and get them the results they want, you won’t gain their trust, as you will inevitably fail.
Don’t offer a free ‘full’ SEO audit of their website. A full audit takes hours or days and let’s face it, you’re not going to give that amount of time away for free. If you’re going to make a free offer, be honest about what you are actually offering, a review of their site to point out some surface issues. People respect and trust you more when you are honest with them.
Don’t blag it. If the client asks you a question you don’t the answer to, which could well be the case in an industry as vast and ever-changing as SEO, don’t try to give a clever sounding but ill-informed answer. Make sure you either know your beans, or tell them you’ll get back to them with the answer after doing some research. Explain that SEO is a complex beast, but you will always work hard to get them the right answers and the best results.
So there you have it. The do’s and don’ts of selling SEO to SME’s. The main message is similar to Google’s motto ‘Don’t be Evil’. Keep things as honest and transparent as possible. There are plenty of sharks swimming out there in the SEO world, just waiting to rob unsuspecting SME’s and startups of their hard-earned cash. Don’t be one of them, be one of the good guys and don’t be tempted to offer things you can’t guarantee.