SEO Doctors: Educating our Clients

by Gary on April 9, 2008 · 4 comments

in General,SEO Services

Gary and a few of our readers have mentioned the problem with “partially educated” SEO clients. If you have read one of my first posts here on PhoenixRealm you would know that I too have had run-ins with clients that knew/have heard something of SEO which has made them set on their ways but know too little to realise that what they know doesn’t adhere to best practices or is simply unethical. Clearly the answer to this problem is simply more education.

As SEOs it is our duty to educate our own clients. In educating them you do not need to reveal your industry secrets nor do you even have to go into detailed discussions about the technical aspects. In my opinion what we need to educate them about are the basics, the “unspoken ethical standards”, and the real purpose and effects of SEO. We need to educate them about proper expectations as well as the real work SEO entails. We also need to educate them regarding actionable items, which simply means the things they themselves can or should take care of.

Let me put it this way. Doctors are all for educating their patients so that patients will take the right actions concerning their health. Educating people about their health involves everything from habits that help prevent medical conditions to being able to choose soundly between available treatment options. This is what we should also do with our clients. We should explain best practices so that they do not commit common SEO mistakes before and after their websites/blogs are optimised. This is even more important with blogs since clients are the ones that update their own blogs. We need to explain the importance of keywords in titles, the use of alt tags when inserting images, importance of quality content, disadvantage of keyword stuffing, etc.

When it comes to “treatment” we do not have to explain all the technical details that go into “operating on the website” but we do need to educate them about what we hope to do and achieve and how they can tell whether the website “is getting well”. In the end a doctor with good bedside manners and that explains things to patients are the ones patients return to and refer to others. Of course you also need to do a good job, but with lots of competition it sometimes boils down to who can make laymen understand and appreciate the importance of what is being done for them.

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  • morgan

    Great advice! With each of my clients, I have a profile that I have them first fill out, to determine what they think they want from their optimization efforts. Then, once they complete that, I can see how much they actually know about SEO — both the good and the bad. The very next thing I do, before I even take them on as a client, is to discuss with them what they think they want (from the profile) and what they should really have happen (after I’ve done some research for them). My goals is always to educate my clients to a level where they understand what I’m trying to accomplish, how I’m going to get them there and so they can knowledgeably converse about the changes that are going to happen to their site — this helps not only make my job easier, but helps get some nice referrals! ;)

  • fiona

    I agree. Ethical Standards does matter. It keeps the moral of the SEO on the high level.

  • Matan Media

    Educating a client is definitely important, but be careful about how much you give away. Some potential clients arrange meetings with a number of SEO’s just to build their own knowledge base and documentation. They then hire someone to come in-house and follow these strategies. I have seen this before, and it is something I try my hardest to steer away from.

    I also work with many clients who do not have the time or care for SEO. It sounds crazy, but this is business… these guys are doing a million different things and really don’t care about how it is getting done, as long as it is getting done! At this point it comes down to the individual SEO company to make the right decisions and I try my hardest to make sure we do!

  • Jane

    I agree. Educating our clients is really important. Explain how the design affects SEO and impact the audience. When the client knew what is being done, they intend to provide resources needed like images, videos and other materials.