SEO basics

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. 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

Consider asking yourself these questions prior to explaining SEO to clients:

  • How much does my client know about SEO? I know there’s this fear that you’ll offend a client who is knowledgeable about SEO, but then 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.

Explaining the benefits of SEO to clients

I like to describe SEO in four ways:

  • SEO is how you get in front of your customers online.
    This is an oversimplification of what SEO does. This is where I’ll explain that in order for a potential customer to even consider you, they need to find you. SEO is how you can enter the consideration process to help increase visits and leads.

  • SEO is how you can be competitive in SERPs.
    I like to say that if you’re not using SEO then that’s one less business your competitors need to worry about. Also, SEO is an afterthought, then you’re leaving your brand in the hands of search engines. These search crawlers are not perfect, so we don’t want to leave it up to them to get it right.

  • SEO is how you can remain relevant on search engines.
    This relates to the saying out of sight then out of mind. I like to think about a magazine. When you’re on the cover (or top of Google), then you’re more relevant than when you’re on page 98 (or further down in Google).

  • SEO is how you can make impactful business decisions.
    SEO and data go hand-in-hand. SEO can help an organization decide on a new product name, where to open their next location, and which content to prioritize writing about based on search demand. SEO is incredibly powerful when it comes to meeting your customers where they are.

Explaining the categories of SEO to clients

Most SEOs will explain it 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’s 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.”

Using analogies to explain SEO

Here are a couple of our other favorite ways to explain SEO to clients (I didn’t make them up, so they’re nothing new and Idon’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.

Explaining SEO and PPC together

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 (almost like if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around). SEO can be a powerful lead-generation tool, so explaining the importance of SEO to clients is essential.

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