1. SEO is not a On-Off Switch
We had a client that after they signed up, the very next week they were looking for results and we were barely done with keyword research and mapping them out to the pages and working on the content and everything else. SEO is not like an on-off switch that you simply turn on. There is a lot of research going on. Set your client’s SEO expectations right and explain to them the process you will be going through, even at a very high-level in the beginning just to set the expectations correctly.
2. We need to fix the code
The site is not broken, why fix it? SEO consist of onpage and offpage SEO factors. And in onpage factors, there are some sites that are really whacked out in the code. This should not be a problem at all, but if it was not clear who will do the changes, or if there are extra charges for the changes, this can freak out clients and might even give the impression that you have a lot of hidden fees. Make clients know that changes have to be done and be clear in the beginning who will do the changes, is it the client? Their 3rd party designer/developer? Or you/your SEO company?
3. Keywords should be on the page
Some clients want to rank for a keywords that are not even on their pages, and sometimes even worse is aside from that is they do not have much words on the page at all. Sure GoogleBombs exist, but GoogleBombing is getting harder and harder to do it not impossible as their algorithm is getting better all the time. Tell the clients if you want to rank for it, talk about it on your web pages. If not, it will be very difficult to rank well for the keyword.
4. Be in the location you claim to be
I want to appear for searches in every city, on Google Maps! Google Maps results either within the maps itself, in Google One-Box or in Google Earth, all of these have address verifications. You have to verify you are there, aside from that, ranking within the maps results improve with citations from other websites mentioning your name/company name in the same address.
5. Your cannot just get links anywhere
Some clients specifically tell you where to get links, buying them etc. Some will go out themselves signing guestbooks and placing blog comments and creating forum post. Relevancy and trust are key elements. A good product or service with good content, making these popular, creating a buzz, making people talk about you is still one of the best ways to get links. If there is nothing to talk about by the mainstream online public, this does not mean SEO is impossible, but the client should be aware link building is not as easy as it sounds. It is really easy to get tons of links, but it is not easy to get links that make a significant effect on ranking.
6. Your favorite keyword may not be the best keyword
Some clients are so in love with a specific keyword, that is the only keyword they are looking at, and for them that is the measure of success. Let’s say the client is so in love with the keyword widgets and they rank #20. Sometimes there can be other long tail variations, for example, let’s say the client was ranking for: blue widgets, big widgets, and round widgets that are all in page 1. Improving longer tail keywords to get to a better rank is easier to achieve and has a higher potential to increase sales earlier than the shorter more general keywords. Might as well forget the favorite keyword your client is eying on and work on what will give them money right away while you continue to work on the harder keywords for the long run. Get the low hanging fruit when possible.
7. Number 1 ranking does not always mean lots of sales
Now that you have been doing SEO, and the client is ranking number for many target keywords, they come back to you and say it does not work. I have little/no sales! Ranking is just ranking and if it does not convert into a sale, it can be a number of reasons. Seasonal demand, website uptime, poor landing page design, low clickthrough rates in SERPs, usability issues and more. The earlier the client is aware of this, the better for them and it avoids future problems of clients complaining they have no sales.
8. I want to beat (Insert Big Name Competitor Company Here)
If you are a new player, the underdog, and is competing against the big giants in their business, this is totally possible with SEO. But the client has to be aware of what it takes to beat them. If they have a 5 page site with not much content, while their competitors have a large following, an active forum, a blog, large communities in social media networks and creates buzz even outside of search engines, or even offline, and your client has no intention in improving their plain, 5 page website, they would have to understand that this is a very ambitious project and the only way to make it possible is at least come up with a better site, match what the competitors have, and do it better. Create the buzz online and do a better job in SEO. Sometimes even if you do SEO, and the competitor does not, but their popularity generates so many relevant links, and their large communities create user generated content that is always keyword focused, they can easily outrank many other companies that do not have these since they are doing good unintentional SEO.
9. I want to have high Google PR
There are still people that look at Google PR as a metric of success. A direct quote from Matt Cutts, Google Engineer, head of the web spam team said at Search Marketing Expo – Advanced 2008: “We return random PageRank data if we feel like to – it’s fun!” My opinion on this is PageRank is still an important metric, and PageRank updates all the time. But what you see on the Google toolbar may not be the true PageRank of a site and there is no way to find out what is the true PageRank. Aside from that, toolbar PR updates only every 3 to 4 months. So the PageRank you see may be a few months delayed. And lastly… PageRank is not a function of links alone and factors found on your page. But is also a function of the Internet, as a whole. If you take a look at the original PageRank formulas in the US Patent document or in Wikipedia, PR can be calculated in a closed loop network. So a change in the volume of pages online, or the interlinking of other websites, can also affect the PR of your own website. Even if PR changes, ranking does not necessarily change.