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8 Steps to Keeping SEO Clients by Getting the Results That Matter to Them

This article is for SEO firms, but clients can also read it for how we run our SEO programs.

Traffic from SEO is awesome, but we're beyond that now, aren't we?  Just like we got beyond focusing on rankings only?  Cuz not every keyword yields conversions.

Some of our clients may still measure SEO effectiveness in traffic or even in of rankings for what I call their vanity keyphrases, but when it comes time to decide what their advertising budget is going to go to next year- when they ask Should we renew SEO? Was SEO really worth what we spent on it? - will you have proven to them how much it was worth?

Clients may come to get SEO for traffic or visibility, but we have to remind them that SEO is just like any marketing effort- we're accountable to the bottom line.

Ultimately we need to ask: Did the client make more money from SEO than they spent on it?

The only way, as an SEO company, to make sure we can answer that question positively is to target our SEO efforts toward getting business results.

The client may be looking for sales or leads, and if the latter, they need to know what a lead is worth to them.

So how you direct SEO toward getting business results.  Here's the step by step process (details below):

8 Steps to Keeping SEO Clients by Getting the Results That Matter to Them

1. Define MWRs and KPIs
2. Implement appropriate analytics
3. Begin SEO with target keywords based on best metrics available
4. Optimize, wait, gather analytics
5. Re-target keywords based on KPIs for MWRs
6. Re-optimize
7. Gather analytics
8. Make case to client about successes

Add to this process some monthly or quarterly reports that talk about what you're working on and what incremental sucesses you're making, and you'll keep most clients.  Client budget problems from other business issues, or SEO misapprehensions are beyond your control, so there will be some attrition from those factors.  If you lay out reasonable expectations in the beginning, focus on business results and do productive SEO, you'll do just fine.

1. Define MWRs and KPIs.  Every site needs one or two Most Wanted Responses.  Sale? Lead? Email signup?  Conversion optimize.  Define what metrics (Key performance Indicators) best fit these MWRs.  Revenue?  Conversion Rate (CR)?

2. Implement appropriate analytics.  This could be Google Analytics (GA) or Omniture SiteCatalyst- which depends on how complicated the questions you're going to bring to your analytics are, and on technical implementation details that need to be reviewed by an analytics/web expert.  I'd say GA is sufficient for 75% of clients, but definitely insufficient for some.

3. Begin SEO with target keywords based on best metrics available.  Find keywords based on available data: relevance (you decide), estimated search traffic, which ones your competitors use...

4. Optimize, wait, gather analytics.  Do your SEO, let the analytics accumulate.

5. Re-target keywords based on KPIs for MWRs.  After about 3 months, look at your referring search keywords in terms of your KPIs.  Which keywords get you the best CR?  Which ones bring in the biggest shopping carts?  Revise your target keyword list.  Check with your client and make sure they understand that some of their favorite keywords may not be the ones that get the business results.

6. Re-optimize.  Do your SEO with the new keywords.  Continue to optimize for 3 months.

7. Gather analytics.  Do your analytics review again, this time comparing the site's more recent performance with how it was doing in step #5.  Hopefully, you're seeing more conversions, more revenue.  Divide the number of conversions they got by the cost of your SEO program to get CPA.  Divide the revenue they got by SEO program cost to get ROAS.  Show the improvements in percentages.

8. Make case to client about successes.  Put this into a stunning metrographical report to your client, meet with them, show them the results, promise more improvements (lower CPA, higher ROAS), and ask them to renew for next year.

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