Selling Search Engine Optimisation to Potential Clients

Is it fair to say that a large percent of website / business owners have little or no knowledge of what search engine optimisation is all about and what it can do for them. We as SEO specialists know the benefits in terms of increased website traffic and sales, and it is for this reason we are out there to help website owners take advantage of this.
A new dawn has arisen, the dot com bubble has burst, competition on the internet has become very fierce and simply having a website “out there” is not going to cut it! Websites and their businesses need to be found and offline marketing is no longer the only option available. Knowing this all to well and what SEO can do for one’s business, it is up to all SEO specialists to spread the word and make businesses see the light. Having said that, what is an SEO specialist to say to a potential client? What words of wisdom can he use to sell SEO to the business leaders? Bear in mind these same business leaders only remember too well the dot com bust and the false hopes and promises that IT would present their company to the world. The point that had been overlooked is that they needed SEO to help bring that exposure. Be careful in your approach when preaching SEO, plan and think carefully about what you might say.
Below are a few pointers on what to say and what not to when selling search engine optimisation services.
The Don’ts
1. Don’t guarantee top ranks – A big no-no. Many SEO consultants guarantee their clients top rankings in search engines only to later realise that the task is not that simple and might not be achievable for competitive keywords. This often leaves the client frustrated, disappointed and in demand of a refund for their investment.
2. Don’t offer an exact timeframe for results – Achieving top search engine ranks, and search engine optimisation in general, requires a lot of time and in depth work. There is no exact time or way of predicting when a client’s website might hit the free listing top ranks. One thing is for sure, SEO consultants need to emphasise that time, together with quality SEO work, is needed to achieve high rankings.
3. Don’t show any doubt and do your research beforehand – Just like an interview with a prospect employer, be prepared in your first meeting with a client. Do your research, study the company and its website and note its good and bad points. You will be expected to express your views on the client’s website and make a brief analysis. Don’t be afraid to be critical and offer some constructive criticism. Landing a contract is based primarily on building the client’s confident in you and your services.
4. Don’t agree to unethical SEO practices – Certain clients may be in a bit of a hurry to get listed and may ask you to use SEO practices which are considered unethical. Such practices include using link farms, IP cloaking, hidden text, etc. Spam techniques can not only hinder your client’s performance in the search engines but can also result in a possible ban. It is in yours and your client’s best interest to keep away from these futile and harmful practices. Strongly emphasise this point to your client.
5. Don’t overdo on your SEO knowledge – Stick to what you know best, there is no point selling spin on SEO. Be honest with your clients and try building an honest and trustful business relationship. If you are not too sure about certain practices, do not exaggerate or use them as you will be caught out sooner or later if the final results do not eventuate.
The Do’s
1. Emphasise that SEO will increase website traffic and sales – The first and foremost thing a client wants to hear is that you are going to “show them the money”, in other words, show that the website exposure is going to lead to a better ROI (Return On Investment). Explain the basic nature of search engine optimisation and the benefits it can bring companies i.e. increased traffic, visitors and contacts / sales.
2. SEO is a very effective and extremely targeted form of marketing – Unlike expensive TV, radio and press advertising, SEO marketing is relatively cheap and cost effective. There is less money and effort spent on broadcasting and trying to appeal to an audience that may or may not be interested. In search engine marketing, the users are already present and know what they want and where to get it.
3. It won’t happen overnight – Patience can be a problem when optimising a website. You may be asked numerous times by your client “is it there yet?”. You should point out that search engines take time to evaluate and show results. It is recommended that you declare a period of at least 3 to 6 months to see any real gains.
4. Offer a free short website analysis for your clients – Freebies always go a long way. Create a free assessment on your clients current website status, show him / her what the site is lacking and how you would go about enhancing the site’s optimisation in order to achieve a higher ranking in the search engines.
Selling SEO to a company is never too easy. The clients may see it as a luxury they can’t really afford or just another internet gimmick they can do without. It is up to you to make them see the light and the vast benefits that SEO can bring them, as a cost effective and extremely powerful marketing solution.