“I’ve read a bit about Search Engine Optimisation…”

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Hearing this phrase from a client often fills SEO companies with dread. Why?

1. There is so much poor information being bandied about the web on SEO which the client may have taken as fact. As such, you can find yourself in a discussion with someone who is basing their entire argument upon very outdated information.

2. As already discussed in previous articles, the unfortunate truth is that there are too many companies operating in this space that promise the world and under deliver. Hearing that the client has done some reading on SEO opens the door for potentially being found out for the frauds that they are. No longer will they be able to baffle clients with excessive terminology (this is a good thing).

3. It demonstrates a lack of trust from the client’s side. They have most likely started reading about SEO because they want to check up on the work being done.

Let me be very clear here. I do not want to do a Cutts’ esque explanation of my stance at the end of the article. Clarity is key. This is not some sort of diatribe against clients trying to learn SEO. In fact people should be encouraged to learn as much as they can about SEO. That is one of the primary reasons why we offer our SEO training courses. The unknown can instil fear and from a client’s perspective paying someone you barely know a monthly retainer for results that take months to generate requires a rather large leap of faith. The more knowledge the client has about SEO the more comfortable they will be with the situation; it is our responsibility as experts in the field to make sure that they understand the process. In fact, the more comprehensive their understanding of SEO the less likely you are to receive an ambush email (as Scott Clark puts it) during the SEO Slog. So clients understanding search is a good thing, so what is so bad about them doing a little reading on the subject?

SEO is a fast moving world.

Sure, the core principles of SEO do not change every week. In fact, contrary to common belief they have stayed fairly stable. The issue is that certain practices tend to fall out of practice; usually because SEOs have taken advantage of the situation and forced Google to take actions i.e the most recent spammy guest blogging debacle.
This fast moving nature tends to leave those playing catch up in the lurch somewhat. Let us take PageRank as an example. If you started reading up on SEO or talking to people about it the likelihood is that PageRank would be mentioned. You then read a bit more about it and realise that it was the core difference between Google and other search engines, further knowledge must be required on the subject and you subsequently study long and hard to become and expert on gaining PageRank. What you don’t realise (through no real fault of your own) is that PR is an outdated metric and as such during your next meeting with your SEO company you spark a debate on why your PageRank is not increasing and why the company has not mentioned it before.

The knowledge gap can be intimidating

Again, let me clear. This is not a commentary on a clients’ personalities; just some observations that have been made through the years. People do not like feeling that they know nothing on a subject, it is just human nature. ESPECIALLY if they are paying for it. I for one am the same. However, learning SEO takes time and time is not a commodity that all of us have. Business owners and marketing managers have their day job and believe it or not a life outside work. Finding the time to become an expert on a subject that is likely to be completely different from your current role is difficult. However, they feel that a bit of knowledge is going to be beneficial so the reading starts. This takes us straight back to the previous point. Outdated information is then taken as fact and tends to be the focal point of research, which is why SEOs dread hearing that a client has done a bit of reading on SEO!

SEOs get caught out

I don’t want to labour this point because it is only a good thing. There are a lot of cowboys out there and they fully deserve to be caught. At Discover Search we believe that training clients in sustainable SEO practices will give them the tools to avoid being promised high quality work and receiving spam. Enough said on this subject.

So How do You Deal With This?

Hopefully all of the above will be void because the client will have read the right stuff. Although I read a funny quote yesterday saying that Murphy’s Law dictates that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Also, that O’Toole’s law states that “Murphy was an optimist”. So be prepared. As I said at the start, it is out responsibilities as those who are most knowledgeable about the subject to not only educate clients but also to make sure that our own knowledge is up to date. Keep in touch with industry leaders and read reports. It is time consuming but will pay dividends.

DO NOT simply preach to your clients. SEOs have a tendency to use excessive amounts of ‘industry talk’ which leaves the client feeling a little sheepish because they understood roughly 20% of the last 10 minutes. Explain things in layman’s terms and take the time to explain why you are running the campaign as you are. No doubt, the SEO Slog will still occur, but a knowledgeable client will not only keep you on our toes but will be more understanding of the Slog.

Finally – and a shameless pitch from us (we are allowed to on our own blog!). If you happen to be one of those clients looking to learn some more about SEO, go to a training course. We run a variety of workshops and courses in London which would greatly increase your knowledge on SEO. We also run through all of the factors that have now become outdated which gives you a clearer understanding of where the world of SEO is currently at.
People should not be discouraged from learning about search engine optimisation. We would be huge hypocrites if that was not the case. Although we should make sure that they are receiving the correct information right from the start.

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