By Duncan Heath
1. “I Don’t Know”
Let me just caveat this straight away and say that telling your client “I don’t know” is not a bad thing to do. It becomes very bad, however, when you use this phase in isolation and don’t follow it up with anything helpful. SEO clients tend to believe that you should know anything and everything about websites, the Internet and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Whether they expect more of their consultants than in other industries…I can’t say…but it sure feels like it sometimes.
1.) Make out like the client is an idiot for not knowing the answer themselves as it’s so obvious, and shame them into never asking again.
2.) Start talking gobbledygook about CSS, viewstate, algorithms and noindex commands until the client loses the will to live and moves on.
The best thing to do is admit that you’re unsure of the answer but you will find out for them and let them know as soon as you can. This will not only let them know you are honest, but that you want to help and you know how to find the answer. What more could a client want?
2. “That’s Just Google”
Most SEOs know that Google is heavily relied upon to provide traffic, often more heavily than is comfortable to be honest. Unfortunately, due to Google’s dominant market share we have to play the game and hedge our bets by focusing a lot of our time optimising for this search engine.
Whilst the Big G can be the provider great wealth, it can also take this away in a fell swoop with one or more changes to its algorithm. Largely speaking, if you play by the rules you should be okay, but we’ve all experienced in the past some drops in rankings or traffic that have come as a surprise and need investigating.
When this happens, possibly the worst (and most patronising) thing you can say to a client is “that’s just Google, sometimes it does that”. This is not helpful in the least and does not instill confidence in the client. They know that every effect has a cause, and if you don’t understand the cause then you will not be able to alter the effect. If you don’t know the answer, offer some possible solutions, but again tell the client that you will research the problem, get to the bottom of it, and work to put it right.
3. “But look at the traffic!”
Believe it or not clients aren’t interested in rankings. They’re not interested in links, and they aren’t even interested in traffic. So what are they interested in?
A client pays you to do a job and they expect that job to provide more money to them in return. It’s very simple, and yet lots of SEO’s forget this, instead getting hung up on ranking number 1 for a big term or delivering 100 percent more traffic each month. If you are not making your clients a positive return on investment (ROI), there are no metrics in the world you can throw at them that will make them happy.