How to Explain SEO to Clients

You’ll often need to explain SEO and its value to clients. Learn how to do it in a way that sells you as an expert and helps your client gain trust in you.

Explaining SEO to non-SEO people can sometimes be very challenging. You might have tried to explain it by saying “SEO helps you to appear in Google,” but I’ve come to learn that it needs to be a little more than that. I don’t think there’s necessarily a “wrong” way to explain SEO to a client; I like to think that there’s a good way, and then there’s a better way.

Before explaining SEO to clients, start by asking yourself these questions.

  • How much does my client know about the industry? You need to know your client and how much they know about how search engines work in general.

    I know there’s this fear that you’ll offend a client who is informed on it all, and on the flip side, you don’t want to overwhelm a client who knows very little. Talk to your client about what they already know and make a mental note of how much or little you’ll need to explain.
  • How should I present my material? You’ll want to think about incorporating various learning styles into your explanation. Not everyone learns the same, so it’s essential to use multiple techniques such as verbal, visual, and written language. You can accomplish this through a phone call, an excellent PowerPoint presentation, or an in-person meeting.

You’ll not only want to explain what SEO does, but how it can help your customer. Remember, you’re the expert. Your customer wants to trust you, and if you speak their language, they will most likely want to work with you, if they feel confident in your explanation. This is your sales pitch, so you’ll want to get it right and get it precise the first time.

Then it’s time to adequately explain how SEO works to clients.

This is when it’s time to explain SEO and what exactly it consists of. Most in the industry will explain SEO in three parts: content, technology, and authority.

Content: Does the website include targeted keyword phrases?

When going into detail about content and on-page optimization, it’s best to keep it simple. One way to explain it is by saying the following:

“Optimization means that we help to make it easier for a search engine to read through the content of your website to understand what it’s about. Then, when someone types targeted keywords into Google, the goal is to get your website to get in front of your customers.”

Technology: Is the underlying technology negatively impacting the site?

You can have the greatest content in the world, but no one will be able to find it if the website has severe technical hindrances. This is when you can say something similar to the following:

“Google wants to be able to understand the content of your website quickly and easily. When Google can’t access the content of your website because it’s too slow or areas are blocked, you end up providing a bad experience for Google and your site visitors. We ultimately help make it easier for Google to find and access your content.”

Authority: Are people linking back to the site and sharing it online?

When another website links back to a client website, that is telling Google that the content is so good that people are willing to share it. I can’t take credit for this explanation, but I once read to consider explaining authority like this:

“Think of a website as an island and hyperlinks as bridges. By having more bridges to your website, you are helping cars (aka Google) get across to the different islands faster and easier. Receiving external links (people sharing and linking to you) and having great content can help with authority. The better a website’s authority, the higher it will be listed in the search results.”

Another trick to explain SEO to clients: Use analogies!

Here are a couple of our other favorite ways to explain SEO to clients (we didn’t make them up, so they’re nothing new and we don’t deserve all the credit).

  • Library analogy
    Finding a website is like finding a book in the library. First, you’ll type your keyword into the library search. Then, a list of books will display. You’ll most likely choose the book with the best reviews. Or, you’ll choose one displayed out front in the library. However, if a book is not categorized correctly, you’ll never find the book. Proper SEO will categorize your “book” (website) so people can find it.
  • Fishing analogy
    Your website’s content is the bait. Quality bait will always get you more fish. Quality keywords and content will get you more visitors. However, when you fish, you usually want a specific fish. Those specific fish are your “target audience.” Proper SEO will give you the tools to “catch” for your ideal customer.

The better your explanation, the more trust you can build and increase your chances of gaining a new client. Keep your description simple and clear. Most people have no idea what search engine optimization is, so you’ll usually have to start at the beginning.

Be prepared to answer other questions about SEO and how it differs from PPC.

Of course, your clients may have other questions about SEO besides what it is. I’ve often been asked what the difference between SEO and PPC is.

When this happens, I usually tell them it’s like reading a magazine. I equate the ads to PPC and the editorial pieces as SEO. Utilizing both can help to increase your visibility, but sometimes getting the ad space is easier, while getting mentioned in an article take a while longer – similar to SEO.

There are a few other questions they may ask, so we’ve put together more elaborate answers on them here:

What does an SEO consultant do?
How much does SEO cost?
How long does SEO take to work?

Final Thoughts

The goal is to help your client feel comfortable with you and trust that you’re an expert in your field. Use this time to explain SEO to clients in the best way possible.

Lastly, stress to your clients that if their website isn’t ranking prominently on Google, then it’s almost the same as it “just not existing” on Google. SEO can be a powerful lead generation tool, so explaining the importance of SEO to clients is essential.

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