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How to Explain SEO to a Client

how to explain seo to a client

When you are a digital marketer immersed in SEO every day, it’s easy to forget that not everyone understands it as well as you. 

But even though they might not grasp all the finer details, it is helpful to explain SEO to your clients. Explaining helps to: 

  • create transparency as the client has a better idea of what you are doing. 
  • encourage the client to provide better information for you to get better results.
  • set expectations as to what SEO can achieve and how quickly compared to other marketing. 

So how do you explain SEO clearly to your clients?

The first thing you need to do is to ascertain their level of knowledge. Have they done any research about SEO? Do they know a bit about keywords? Or do they know absolutely nothing about the internet? This helps you tailor your explanation to give them the right information in the right way. 

It’s best to keep your explanations to a minimum and just cover the basics. 

What should you explain?

How Google works

Most people know how Google works, but some don’t. So, you might have to explain how Google works to show search results briefly. Explain how if a client sets up their website, Google Business Profile and any social media account in a better way, they stand a better chance of showing up in the results. 

The different types of search intent

It can be helpful to explain the different types of search intent – informational, commercial investigation and transactional. Clients need to understand these so they know why you are targeting specific keywords for particular pages. 

The difference between SEO and paid Ads

If your client has used Google, they will probably have seen Google Ads in their search results. It can be helpful early on to clarify the difference between SEO and Ads. Explain that SEO is a long game and does not bring immediate results like Ads. This helps temper your client’s expectations. 

How you do keyword research 

You can briefly explain how keyword research works without going into lots of detail about the technicalities of keyword research (and giving away any secrets about how you do your work!). 

Talk about the importance of finding the right keywords and phrases. Here you can discuss search volume, competition and relevancy. 

If your client runs a local business, you may also need to explain the importance of local SEO and how adding locations to your keyword research will have an effect. 

On-page, off-page and technical optimisation

Explain that SEO consists of both on-page work, like keyworded content and meta descriptions and off-page work, like link building, and technical work behind the scenes, like improving site speed. As an SEO specialist, you’ll do all three, so it can be helpful to explain the differences and why each one matters. You could also give a brief explanation of how you go about it, for example, putting keywords in headings. Unless your client shows a real interest, there’s no need to get too detailed about how technical processes like link building actually work. 

Top tips for making your explanation understandable

Don't slip into too much jargon

As a digital marketer, you’ll know all the acronyms and jargon that go along with SEO, but your clients won’t. Try and explain things in plain English. If you do have to use an acronym, remember to spell it out at least the first couple of times. 

Use analogies

Using an analogy can help your client understand concepts like how Google works. A popular one is to use a fishing analogy. Your client is fishing for customers – the content is the equipment they use, and the keywords are the bait or lures. The better the equipment and the bait, the better fish they will attract. Matching search intent is like matching the right bait for the type of fish you want to catch. 

Use examples where possible

Sometimes it’s easier to show than tell. When you are explaining SEO, it can help to show results as you go along. For example, you can show the different search intents by showing how Google returns more shopping results if you search for a more transactional keyword. 

Be prepared to answer questions 

No matter how good your presentation is, there will likely be a bit that your client does not understand or needs clarification on. Be patient and prepared to answer questions no matter how silly they sound to you. 

Become a master in SEO.

Check out our 7-week Micro-credential in SEO Strategy – take your knowledge to the next level! 

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