I’ve been working with clients for the past 2 years now, both with agencies and as a freelancer. It can be VERY challenging and I thought I’d put together a guide on how you can handle clients, as an SEO.
Getting Clients –
This is the tricky bit, it always will be. I’ve split this into 2 parts, if you’re at an agency level and if you’re at a Freelance level.
I do a lot of freelance work myself, as an SEO there’s a few suggestions I’d make. First of all make a blog (I get most of my clients through my blog) and specifically more through my case studies. Then, once you have a blog with some good optimization (As a lot of clients will look at your blog to be well “SEO’d”) and some even better content you can go out and actively look for jobs. I use a few different platforms for this:
oDesk – Either get some friends/current clients to hire you and give 5 star feedback or just build up your profile to be super suitable, otherwise for the $50/hour an average SEO would charge you probably won’t get that as your first job, you need to build up some hours and qualifications (oDesk tests) to become more authoritative.
Job Boards – I use the ProBlogger Job board & the Inbound job board, the Inbound one tends to be more of a full time board but does feature a few jobs for Marketing content writers/link builders occasionally!
As an agency you should always start (in my opinion) with friendly clients, by this I mean friends of friends or just friends, use their sites as case studies and get them to refer you to future clients when they see you do a good job. Once you start bringing in the clientele you can invest some more into paid advertising such as Adwords, Craigslist/Gumtree paid listings etc..
If you’re a BRAND NEW agency then this is the prime time to work on your own stuff, build up your site’s onpage and start guest blogging etc… As much as possible.
For aged agencies, I’ve always suggested proof in the pudding style SEO, get your current clients the best possible rankings and build some great case studies and more than likely you’ll get a fantastic return!
Client Management –
This is more than likely the trickiest bit, getting clients to pay on time, sending out reports, keeping track of different clients link building campaigns etc.. It’s all hard work unless you can dedicate an SEO and an Account manager specifically to individual clients, otherwise managing each SEO within your agency can be even trickier.
Handling Clients Payments –
I highly suggest ZohoBooks for this, it makes everything super simple and lets you see a quick overview of all your clients, customers, employees and outgoings/ingoings, as well as pretty much removes the need for a fulltime accountant.
Keeping Track of Client Campaign Progress –
Moz allows for individual campaigns for clients which includes rank tracking, onpage reports, link monitoring (with Open site explorer, though I always prefer Ahrefs) and Twitter campaigns (With followerwonk).
Alternatively, using Raven Tools also allows for branded client logins and has a suite of tools for link building. Raven Tools actually just released their brand new interface, take a look in the video & post here.
Alternatively, if you don’t have the couple $100 a month to spend on all these tools, then go with the Free version of Trello and use Google Drive to allocate specific folders to each client. Jason Arrowsmith did an excellent piece on using Trello & Alex Moss did a post on using Google docs for digital marketing agencies.
Getting the Most out of Clients –
You’ll find the clients who do the best in terms of SEO and traffic campaigns are always the ones who contribute, working with your clients to get content, giveaway products, investments etc… Will always yield the best return, and in the long run build up a more personal relationship with the client.
I like to schedule either phone or board meetings with clients at least once per quarter, this allows me to present to them what I’ve been doing and look for potential investment in different parts of their IM campaign. It also allows them to ask any questions they might have.
Their Workforce –
More than likely you’ll encounter occasions where you have to work with the clients work force, so get to know them a bit and build up a personal understanding, this means when they see your number/email then they should reply pretty quickly.
This also means that you can dilute your time spent by getting work done by their internal teams, if you need some content or a logo then you can quickly drop an email to get it done quicker!
These are a huge benefit, teaching clients how to blog or make youtube videos or even to actively look for local events, newspapers and bloggers to be featured in can be a killer tactic!
At Wow Internet we specifically do workshops around company blogs, this has paid off greatly and 1 client even started producing massive case studies, which added some really awesome content to the site.
Overcoming Issues with Clients
When it comes to handling clients who you’ve encountered a problem/problems with, it can be a VERY tricky ball game. I think the immediate response to this would be to comfort a client, if a client disagrees with something or they have a problem (example – Their traffic dips) then solve it by coming up with solutions, if you just sit there and try to pass your way through it, more than likely you’ll lose that client.
There’s 2 things I do the month I have a problem/s, I first find a solution (or at least push for one) and then, at the end of the month provide an epic report, most reports will be 2-3 pages.. I’ll go into a LOT of detail and try to push for a really informative and “advanced” report, this makes them see the professionalism and gives them a really clear and strong overview of what you’ve been doing.
Thanks for Reading!
I hope these tips and tools help you manage clients better and whether you’re a freelance or agency level SEO, time is money!