I’ve always loved teaching.
There’s something exciting about sharing ideas with others. To see someone else’s lightbulb moment is such a feeling of accomplishment for both me and the other person.
Although I love teaching, it’s not my official title. But as a professional SEO, some days it feels like I’m playing the role of an educator instead of a vendor for my clients.
I never get weary of explaining what, exactly, I do, and how that helps my clients. I see the chance to educate as an opportunity to connect with my clients. That means a better relationship—and long-term work.
I believe that SEOs have a greater duty beyond optimizing meta descriptions. Not only do we have to be savvy and up-to-date as SEOs. We also carry the responsibility of educating our clients.
Because clients need to understand why SEO is valuable. When clients understand SEO, they can appreciate and value our work.
Our livelihoods as SEO practitioners depend on our ability to teach and demonstrate value.
Knowledge is power
I don’t have to tell you that SEO is important. But you’ve probably had to explain your worth every time you sit down with a new client.
Exhausting, isn’t it?
I know SEOs have a lot going on. But, in addition to our technical skills, we also have to improve our client management skills.
You can’t send a client an email or video and expect it to educate them. SEO education has to be tailored to each client’s individual needs. You even have to tailor your language to fit which department you’re speaking with.
Trust me, the dev team and marketing team have very different goals for SEO.
When it comes to your clients, SEO knowledge is power. Take the time to educate them. It requires more time, work, and occasionally the patience of a saint, but it’s worth the payoff.
Educate your clients to see a boost in three areas:
You’re the professional. The client hired you because of your expertise.
Even then, you need to continue building trust in your client relationships. One of the best ways to do so is through education.
Education shows that you know your stuff. Teaching gives transparency and openness, too. These help the client feel more comfortable working with you.
Translation: clients will keep you longer and give you more work.
2. Larger SEO agreements
There’s a dirty truth about SEO: sometimes we can’t prove what, exactly, led to an increase in rankings.
We struggle to demonstrate our quantifiable value to our clients. This goes double for new clients.
Show your clients how SEO works, and I guarantee you’ll see fewer clients demanding a first-page rank after a week of work.
This helps you build better relationships with informed clients who care about your value. When clients recognize your worth, they pay what you’re worth. As a result, you could score larger SEO agreements.
3. Improved client results
Yes, it’s true! Educating your clients will get them better results.
Because they understand why. Clients are much more likely to jump in and follow your guidance when they understand. Instead of telling them they need more backlinks, explain why backlinks are important.
I guarantee that your clients will have greater conviction and follow-through with a little education. And that frees you up to do even more behind-the-scenes SEO magic.
How I teach SEO to my clients
You might think, “I don’t have time to teach my clients SEO! Can’t they just watch a video or something?”
I get it. I know the frustration.
The good news is that it’s a lot easier to educate your clients with a set process. Here’s the process I follow to teach my clients about SEO.
Read the room
SEOs have to understand their clients’ personalities. Do they need to have the floor and talk more? Or do they just want to sit back and listen to my report?
Get to know your clients before you jump in with the SEO lessons. Cater to the client’s personality, communication preferences, and learning style.
You can’t take a one size fits all approach here. Tailor what you teach and how you teach to each client. This can make the difference between an effective relationship and a proposal that falls on deaf ears.
I take a very hands-on approach with my clients. I have biweekly calls with nearly every client.
Again, this isn’t something all SEOs do, but it’s important. A hands-on approach helps you build a relationship with your client.
The relationship helps you transcend the transactional nature of your project and builds a rapport. Over time, this means you have more clout to educate the client without coming across as a know-it-all.
No matter whether your client is a marketing agency or a plumbing company, they deserve white-glove service. That means building trust with regular communication and updates.
Increased communication gives you more opportunities to educate your clients. Answer questions as they pop up and preemptively explain the “why” behind your strategy.
The result will be better client follow through and better long-term outcomes.
Remove your assumptions
Don’t assume anything about what your clients do or don’t know.
You’re walking a fine line here. On one hand, you don’t want to insult your client by explaining very basic concepts. On the other, you don’t want to confuse them with an unfamiliar term.
Get on the same page with your client. I find it’s easiest to do this by asking what they know about SEO, and if they’ve used another SEO consultant in the past.
Use very high-level language and explain concepts at the beginning of your relationship. Over time you’ll see what your client knows and how to locate their blind spots.
Be as clear as possible
This is crucial. Clear communication helps your clients turn around and explain SEO concepts to other third parties, like their web developers.
It’s a bit like playing telephone. Understand that your client will need to communicate SEO concepts to other parties.
Avoid jargon whenever you can. Remember that your clients aren’t SEOs. Explain concepts at a high level without getting into a lot of detail.
Don’t overload your client with too much information at one time, either. Give them just enough information so they understand the task at hand. Too much information at one time can result in overload and confusion, undoing months of your hard work as a teacher.
Educate leadership first
If you want to build enthusiasm for your SEO initiative (and you should!), target your client’s leadership first.
Leaders influence purchasing and policy decisions. They can easily make or break the success of your client’s SEO project.
Don’t fly blind when speaking to leaders. Build a defined path to success that you can show them. They want to see that you’re a trusted guide that will improve their bottom line.
Remember, cater every SEO plan to the business’s unique needs. Don’t base it on what you think they need. Spend your introductory meeting to understand the client’s goals and needs. Then tailor your plan to their goals and present it to leadership.
You probably didn’t become an SEO to be a teacher. But the fun thing about this job is that it constantly changes!
Any savvy SEO has to teach their clients today. Teach them the basics of SEO so they understand why your work is important.
Invest in client relationships built on mentorship and understanding. You’ll work harder, but the results will help you reap huge dividends, both for your business and your client.