I’ve been working with clients for the past two 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.
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.
Freelance Avenues for Client Acquisition
I do a lot of freelance work myself, as an SEO there are 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 seek jobs. I use a few different platforms for this:
Upwork: Either get some friends/current clients to hire you and give five-star feedback or build up your profile to be super fitting for the work you want to do. Otherwise, for the $50/hour an average SEO would charge you probably won’t get your first job; you need to build up a portfolio and qualifications (Upwork 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! There are a lot of additional locations that may be better suited for whatever it is you’re looking. Here’s a great list of job boards.
Onboarding as an Agency
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 building clientele, you can invest some more in 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 material, build up your site’s on page content, and start guest blogging as much as possible.
I’ve always suggested that veteran agencies implement a proof-in-the-pudding-style SEO: Advance your current clients to the best possible rankings and build some great case studies. This way, you’re more than likely to get a fantastic return!
Client management is more than likely the trickiest part of the equation, getting clients to pay on time, sending out reports, keeping track of different clients’ link building campaigns, etc. It’s important to give some thought to how to manage the contract life cycle of each client. Managing each SEO project within your agency can be tricky unless you can assign an SEO and an account manager to individual clients.
Handling Client 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 bookkeeping service.
Track Client Campaign Progress
Moz allows for individual campaigns for clients which includes rank tracking, on page reports, link monitoring (with Open site explorer, though I always prefer Ahrefs) and Twitter campaigns.
Alternatively, using Raven Tools also allows for branded client logins and has a suite of tools for link building. Raven Tools just released their brand new interface, take a look at the video & post here.
You may be in charge of AdWords management / PPC tracking for certain projects. In this case, consider optimizing the process with a platform like Traffic Booster that helps you set up, budget, optimize, manage, and report campaign progress for a set price; this is a service you can set on autopilot for client Shopping Ads, Dynamic Remarketing, and Customized Search from Google.
Alternatively, if you don’t yet have the monthly budget to spend on these tools, then go with a free backlink management tool like Manage Backlinks and/ or use a project management tool like Trello or Asana and use Google Drive to allocate specific folders to each client. Jason Arrowsmith shares an excellent piece on using Trello & Alex Moss wrote a comprehensive post on using Google docs for digital marketing agencies; both of these are worth a read.
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.
Conducting Virtual Meetings
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.
Understanding Their Workforce
More than likely you’ll encounter occasions where you have to work with the clients’ workforce, 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!
Holding Educational Workshops
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 are two 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 long. I’ll go into plenty of detail and try to push for an informative and “advanced” report, this makes them see professionalism and gives them a clear, strong overview of what I’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!