It is very common that medium size and large business have in-house resources for SEO, SEM, and website development. Even with great in-house resources, there are usually so many “projects” going on that it is beneficial to bring in experts to work directly with the in-house teams. This allows the experts to focus on strategy and prioritizing tasks that will generate great results and help the business grow.
The difference between a good SEO agency and client relationship and one that will produce minimal results is based on accountability. Ultimately, success is up to the agency but both parties must work in tandem to achieve the best results. That said, we all know that some relationships just don’t work out, some teams don’t work well together, and some companies may not place as much value on Internet marketing, etc. But when the agency is proactive about going above and beyond, pushing the client to act on recommendations, helping them set realistic goals, and helping them prioritize tasks internally, the relationship will flurish because there will be a positive ROI.
Below are the top five ways we have identified to create a valuable SEO consulting relationship that will produce results:
1) Accountability – there needs to be accountability on both ends of course. This starts by clearly defining the roles of the team members on the agency side as well as on the client side. Set goals, milestones, and timelines from the beginning. This is no time for excuses and it often falls on the agency to keep things moving on both ends. At the end of the day, it won’t matter who was responsible for what. If the work does not get done, there will be no results, and when it comes time to assess budgets, guess what will get cut? It doesn’t matter if your SEO team knows everything there is to know about SEO, if the To Do list isn’t getting taken care of then it will certainly be challenging to generate good results for the client…make it happen!
2) Prioritizing Workload – There can be all kinds of deliverables that an SEO agency can provide for a client especially when it comes to tasks that need to be completed on their end. These can include: approvals on keyword strategy, keyword mapping implementations, SEO diagnostics and implementation, code re-ordering, etc. All this work can really pile up especially when the existing in-house team already has a que full of projects. You can also spend all the time you want on long fancy reports with various elements of strategy and recommendations but what the client wants is to know exactly what to do and how to do it so results are generated. Provide smaller prioritized lists each week and follow up to ensure implmentation is happening. If things are getting backed up, make the appropriate adjustments and slow down a bit until the team can get caught up. In the meantime, you can focus on more of the off page elements.
3) Deep Engagement With the Client Team – The more people on the client side that you have a good relationship with the better. Its all well and good if you have one “main point of contact” but encourage your client contact to have the other team members on the regular calls and meetings. Talk to them on the phone each week if possible. A client’s team that is involved in the SEO could include an SEO specialist, the IT department, a web developer and/or designer, a messaging specialist, etc. Make sure you engage all of them in the process.
4) Work Well With the Client Team – Number 3 leads us to this next point. Don’t just get involved with the client’s whole team but work well with them, collaborate, and value their positions. If someone on the client side feels threatened by your presence, be respectful of that and help them look good in front of their boss. Be open to understanding their input and feedback. The more respect each team has for one another the more successful the campaign will be.
5) Adjust the Strategy as You Go – Sometimes the internal workload is so much that the SEO deliverables are simply not getting done. Regardless of the recommendations made above, this can sometimes be inevitable. When this happens, the breaks must be applied (lightly) and the pace of the project must be adjusted. If the on page elements are not being implemented you can do all the off page strategies you want but they may not have the same impact if not aligned with on page. At this stage, you and the client must evaluate what the real priorities are.