I have been immersed in the world of SEO and search engine marketing for nearly 10 years. In that time I have also become fluent in a language that most of the world has never heard, let alone understands. This is the case for most specialists no matter what the profession or industry. When you are communicating with peers you use the insider language that you and your peers understand. If a normal person were to overhear a couple of SEOs discussing their work they would probably walk away wondering what they hell they were talking about and why they were let out of the mental health facility without any meds. The language of SEO can seem like Greek to most people but when it comes to dealing with clients it pays to translate.
Speaking in (SEO) Tongues
In the aforementioned decade I’ve spent in the industry I have only come across a handful of clients with even an intermediate understanding of SEO. On a basic level most do understand that SEO is designed to deliver targeted traffic in organic search results pages though we still have experienced some client representatives who don’t yet know the difference between organic and paid results.
Therefore it is important to explain everything – from overall concept and strategy to specific techniques in a manner that the layperson can understand. When an SEO starts throwing around terms like “mod rewrite”, “canonical domains”, “link siloing”, and so forth, the client is going to become confused and probably tune out. Even IT people, who are sometimes involved as a client representative, can find themselves lost in the woods with this specialized terminology.
When a client doesn’t understand the information being provided they won’t be capable of passing the information along to the rest of their organization and chances are the recommendations won’t be implemented. The end result? The client sees no improvement in organic search which reinforces the all-too prevalent idea that SEO is a black art practiced by shady snake oil salesmen. When an organization spends good money to get recommendations that they can’t understand or implement, it can understandably fuel organizational antagonism towards SEO.
We have come across a number of clients who have been burned by SEOs in the past. Much of the negative experience can be chalked up to the fact that their previous SEO provided confusing recommendations that they simply didn’t or couldn’t know how to implement. Mistrust of the one SEO vendor then led to skepticism of the SEO industry in general.
Help Clients Understand
While the nomenclature and naming conventions around some SEO concepts can require the use of technical terminology, there are ways to explain them in a client-friendly manner. If a client has a poorly constructed URLs that can be cleaned up using Mod Rewrite it is important to explain exactly what URL rewriting is, how to implement the recommendations, and the benefit that can be gained from doing so. This should be done using simple non-technical language.
Of course some SEOs attempt to impress their clients by using industry specific jargon that’s not understood outside of the search marketing world. This helps no one and in fact can be a red flag.
Our belief as an SEO provider is that clarity should be a core concept. We want our recommendations to be implemented – if nobody understands our recommendations that simply won’t happen. Quality work doesn’t count if nobody can understand what you have done or are recommending. This is especially so in the world of SEO which relies on a true partnership between the vendor who recommends and the client who implements. Implementation often relies on two steps – the client understanding the recommendation and then being able to explain it throughout their organization.
By providing clients with easy to understand recommendations they will be more likely to implement and see results. This will lead to happier clients and help improve the image of the SEO industry.
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