Top 5 Client's Unrealistic SEO Expectations And How To Deal With Them
"I want to be ranked on page 1 for this competitive keyword"
So, as you seek page 1 rank for those competitive money keywords, don't lose out on the huge number of long tail keywords that don't require a lot of effort to win and bring in a nice share of business. Sometimes businesses want to start going for competitive keyword topics that their site has relatively little authority for. They may be adding a new service or product line that is unrelated to their core offerings.
If they don't have plans to create a new site or add a new, in-depth section to their website, you could be wasting time and resources only to achieve a page three search rank at best. The real issue is recommending the competitive keywords a site should and should not go for based on the amount of quality content, link earning ability and budget dedicated to the venture or topic.
Don't be afraid to walk away from the table even when you know a competitor agency will take them. It's better to say "No" today than to regret taking on an unqualified client tomorrow.
"Paid search is killing us, we want to replace it with SEO for the same keywords"
"Yes, running your ads on broad match keywords, not using negative keywords, not using ad extensions and not tracking conversions can kill you."
This prospect was motivated to get SEO going, but the expectation is off a bit. I tried to talk this gal off the ledge and help her understand that SEO will replace a portion of that paid search budget, rank the site for lots of keywords that align with her prospects, improve the usability and conversion rate for the site and fill in the content gaps along the way.
I've seen organic search traffic overtake paid search traffic numerous times for client sites and become the top revenue source, but expecting SEO to replace paid search is not realistic. Paid search and SEO work well together.
"I just pay someone to do that stuff for me"
A good way to help them is to layout your plan with a timeline and define key performance indicators (KPIs) that will show them whether you are doing your job or not. Then track those KPIs and go over the reports with them each month. This builds accountability into your process, builds trust with your client and helps you communicate in terms your client already understands. I track 40+ KPIs for my SEO clients each month.
You'll want to help your client roll with the constant changes of search engines as you do, rather than allow them to get stuck in a by-gone era of SEO or web design. When I see an inevitable change coming, I warn my client in advance and clearly lay out the steps we need to take to deal with it.
I've noticed with these "special" clients that they tend to upgrade the website right before their busy season because they think it won't take long, or worse, they do the upgrade without telling me. So, to keep my sanity, I stay in communication and bug them until I'm sure they know the dangers of doing a web upgrade without my input.
"The more traffic the better, thus to get more sales we need to increase the traffic"
I had a person on my staff with empathic ability. He put himself in the mindset of feeling the pain of the prospect and go through our client's website in search for the remedy. In the process he documented all of the problems and confusion he felt along the way. We created two different versions of the landing page that incorporated all of the elements in our hypothesis and tested them against our client's original landing page.
What we found is that our new landing pages increased the number of sales by 91% — nearly doubling the sales! I realized that getting a lot more business from the same amount of traffic comes down to a focused picture of the ideal prospect.
"Two months is quite enough to be ranked #1 for my desired keywords, isn't it?"
Sometimes search engines like Google rank and un-rank web pages for unknown reasons. Don't get up tight, if you do your job, you have a better chance of getting in a favorable position for known reasons.
Realistic SEO expectations start with solid business objectives
Some businesses do not articulate a clear business objective as it relates to SEO and that's why you and I need to clarify SEO expectations. Unless you can help a prospect get specific about how SEO fits into their business objective, you probably have an unqualified prospect who will bail before they've given you an adequate chance to prove your worth.
It's hard to find a business person today who hasn't experienced a rough ride with an SEO provider in the past. Most say something like, "They told us we needed to do X, then later our rankings tanked."
As SEO people, we know about Google's Panda, Penguin and so on. But rather than blame Google, we need to own up to our mistakes, especially those that have misled clients – enabling their unqualified expectations or intentionally hiding things from them.
SEO is one of the most profitable marketing channels a business can invest in, but many businesses are afraid to get back in because they think our industry has too many untrustworthy people and they don't know who to believe anymore.
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Purple Leaf Marketing
Really it is hard to answer such expectations of client, thanks for the post it will definitely help to tackle such situations.
Indeed it can be impossible to answer some of these expectations, but as your client grows to trust you they learn to come to you before making many of their marketing decisions.
"Don't be afraid to walk away from the table even when you know a
competitor agency will take them. It's better to say "No" today than to
regret taking on an unqualified client tomorrow."
So true. Sometimes you have to say no to grow. You can almost never over-qualify a client.
Setting client expectations is an absolute must and often clients have been given poor or outdated advice. Or simply don't know what they don't know.
When it comes to "I want to rank #1 for [keyword]", I also explain to my clients that search engines - particularly Google - tend to deliver personalised search results based on things like search history, location, whether or not your logged in or out of Google, even different devices (mobile vs desktop). That if 10 different people searched the exactly the same term, chances are their search results would all vary significantly.
As an experiment, I searched for a specific term across my iPad and desktop which use different carriers and have different IP addresses. On both devices, I searched signed both in and out of Google, and also in "incognito" mode. The results were wildly different, including the #1...#2...#3... etc positions for each search.
My advice is always to make your content as relevant to your audience as you can. Keywords are definitely important, but they need to be used with the audience foremost in mind, not search engines. Showing them the screenshots of my experiment certainly helps them understand that getting to #1 on Google is a bit like finding the end of a rainbow.... it tends to shift depending on where you're looking from.
Meanwhile that GIF of the lady with the camera makes me want to cry...! She looks so happy and you just know she's going to be in for a world of disappointment :'(
Well said Anna, I love it! I like your keyword experiment with screenshots and illustration of finding the end of a rainbow, ha. These type of illustrations make it easy to clarify client expectations and anyone involved in SEO can benefit from having a stock pile of these illustrations to use as needed. It's great if others chime in with their expectation illustrations/examples.
Strange but true, saying no to grow. Thanks Emory.
Oh! these kind of exceptions are too high in Iran :|
actually its same in all countries..i think.