How to Onboard Your SEO Clients

You did it, you landed that new search engine optimization client you’ve been working on. Now it’s time to get to work. 

All you need to do is fire up the old computer and get to work, right? Nope. 

SEO is a long game. To make sure you’re setting yourself up for success and keeping the new client happy, you need to establish accurate expectations about the work you’re doing and give them insight into your process.

And that starts with onboarding.

What is Client Onboarding and Why Does It Matter for SEO?

Client onboarding is the process of integrating new clients into your business and establishing a strong working relationship. A vital part of any business, it’s something you should be doing as an SEO professional for a number of reasons, including:

  • Determining timelines
  • Setting reasonable expectations
  • Identifying how success will be measured (KPIs)
  • Outlining deliverables, boundary and scope
  • Avoiding communication breakdowns

With that in mind, we’ve outlined some important things you should do when you start doing business with a new client to establish your business relationship on solid ground. 

1. Do Your Homework

Whether this is your very first SEO client or your 1000th, you need to enter your new business agreement prepared. And this starts by gathering your preliminary information. 

Before you start working, you need to know the following:

  • Unique selling proposition (UVP) – Sometimes called a unique value proposition, or UVP, this is what distinguishes the business from competitors
  • Target audience – Who are they selling to? Don’t assume, it could be very different from who you might think based on existing content.
  • Short- and long-term SEO goals – Does the client want to increase traffic? Convert more leads? Maximize exposure?
  • SEO budget – How much are they willing to spend? How does that correlate to the work you’ll be doing?
  • Competition – Who are they directly competing with for web traffic? What is the competition doing better?
  • Current SEO standing – Are they on the front page but looking to climb? Are they on page 2 or worse? What have they done from an SEO perspective, both currently and in the past?

2. Send a Welcome Message

Unless you’re drastically underpricing your services, which you shouldn’t be, hiring on an SEO agency or professional is a not-insignificant expense for any organization. To make them feel comfortable and reassure them they have made the right decision, send them a warm welcome message as soon as possible. 

Not only will this help establish a relationship, but it can encourage engagement as well. This is a great chance to reiterate important information like contract details, policy information and other relevant details.

If a team will be handling the client, you should use this opportunity to introduce each member and provide contact information. 

3. Set Reasonable Expectations

People who aren’t familiar with the nuances of search engine optimization often expect overnight results. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. Some of the initiatives you undertake may not provide a return on investment for months – but that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. 

While onboarding new clients, you need to make sure they understand SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. They also need to understand that SEO is a fluid discipline, which depends on not only your work, but also the strategy of competitors and changes to Google’s algorithm. This means results will not be linear. 

Make sure they also understand that different sets of keywords will generate different results, even with the same strategy. 

4. Show SEO as Part of a Broader Digital Strategy

Search engine optimization doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Instead, it supports and enhances an overall digital marketing strategy by increasing website traffic, building brand awareness and supporting content marketing.

Part of your success will also depend on reaching the right audience with the right content – something you may not have control over. 

To make sure your client understands that by implementing an effective SEO strategy, you can help improve their online presence, which can lead to more sales and conversions, even if they are not directly attributable to your work – but SEO needs to be part of their holistic strategy.

5. Offer Insight into SEO Tactics and Strategy

 If your new client understands SEO, they’ll want to know what you’re doing. If they’re unfamiliar with it, they’ll still want to know what you’re doing. 

You don’t necessarily have to provide an in-depth play-by-play analysis of everything you’re doing, but you should keep them abreast of the tactics you’re employing. 

Ideally, this information would have been included in your scope of work proposal, but even if it was, you should regularly touch base with the client to let them know what you’ve been doing, why you’ve been doing that, and what you hope to achieve. 

Provide regular status reports with insights from Google Analytics and Google Search Console. 

Build a Strong Relationship by Starting Off Right

There’s a lot of truth to the adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And while you’ve undoubtedly had contact with your new SEO client before onboarding, you should keep this in mind when you start working for them.

By clearly and accurately explaining not only what you’ll be doing, but how and when they can expect results, you’ll minimize miscommunication and misunderstandings, while setting yourself up for long-term success. 

Spend Less Time on Routine Tasks and More on Serving Clients

There are a lot of small tasks that go into every SEO campaign. But while these tasks are important to ensure you’re generating the results your clients need, they’re also a huge time suck. 

That’s where Evisio can help. Designed for busy web professionals and business owners, Evisio automatically scans your site for SEO issues and opportunities, and then presents you with an easy-to-follow, step-by-step set of instructions for fixing them.

And that means less time on busywork and more time communicating with old clients and finding new ones. 

See it for yourself. Contact me today for a free trial.

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