If you're running an SEO agency, freelancing, handling SEO for a company or perhaps looking for someone/some agency to manage your SEO, one of the most difficult things for both parties is the cost.
When it comes time to propose costings and an SEO solution for a client, we begin a potentially dangerous game. In this scenario, there's a client needing SEO and an agency operating in tough economic times (like today).
On the client side the understanding of the practise of SEO is not entirely clear. That is not their fault but ours as marketers. We're failing to keep our clients up-to-date and educated enough to measure us and keep us accountable accurately. Which is now having a flip affect we're ALL feeling in our pockets as a result. We the agencies are struggling with massive goals and small budgets and the clients are struggling with getting such slow returns in a sluggish market.
An easy way to make sure the real value of SEO is understand is to outline this at the beginning, so customise every proposal specifically to them and their industry. Unpacking the higher-levels of detail goes a long to way establishing that open-line communication and understanding of the efforts that go into the day to day operations of search engine optimisation. And they don't give away IP just a roadmap for understanding.
If you asked a client what what SEO experts/specialists do every day, I would bet most clients would say
"it's putting in some meta data on websites and writing some blog posts I think?"
But that's the furthest from the truth. While those components are necessary and recommended, the hours of research, expert copy-writers that come at high hourly rates for amazing sharable content, technical structuring, design production, coding and all the other aspects aren't seen. And that's because we're not showing them.
We discuss value all the time, but often we undercut ourselves because we perceive a possible position or situation and try pre-empt in favour of what we call a summated or "educated" guess. Well guess what? That's what's hurting us.
Mopping up after bad agencies and freelancers is a marketers daily struggle. But are they bad marketers? Are they bad agencies? Or did they assume the client hadn't the budget needed to succeed, and pitched at a rate they knew they'd get business at. The problem here is that while they closed the business and the client is getting efforts towards their SEO, they mis-advised the client when it came to return and growth timelines.
A simple case of trying to understand our client without offending or pushing for budgets and a well-intended consideration for others managed to get us into the opposite scenario to what we thought it would. We're stuck with tiny budgets, and frustrated clients. And no-one did it .LOL
The correct approach after winning the business at a low budget, if indeed the budget was truly the limitation. Would be to return to the client with a building-block-phased-approach proposal mapping out and forecasting long-term wins and success over time for budget, and compare that with the trajectory of the current project.
If this is done, the client is in control and can make the right decision. Affording them the ability to remain in control, understand their path and it makes them far more likely to keep using your services. If this step is not done, the client will no doubt (in my experience at least) end up frustrated because they bought into the hype of SEO, and that rockstar go-getter AM you have - and now they're not moving anywhere as all their paying for and receiving is the bare-bone-basics.
Which yes, they agreed to but they were not equipped with the knowledge to understand that actual ROI would only be felt at x-x-x level of spend. Which in my experience is where they're willing to spend if the return is right.
In this scenario, for the agency - they probably just lost their client to another agency or freelancer out sheer frustration at the same answer being given to the client "budgets limiting" without that explanation of what "budget" should be for the expected outcome.
It's important that agencies remember that they're in control of the success of the client, that's no easy task and not one we take lightly at UpBeet Digital. It's also important we all remember our value, the way we at UpBeet Digital do this is verified* data reporting providing an accurate view into the performance live.
Now don't get me wrong, we are not encouraging deep analysis monthly - this can have dire consequences on your efforts, especially if you're responding to too many pattern indicators which will just confuse the search engines and most likely your users too.
It's important for the client to understand the field well enough to know that sure it's taken us x-x-x hours in the month at the rate we charge them, but it took hundreds of thousands of rands to get educated, positioned and experienced in the field. The difference between a good SEO expert and a bad SEO expect, is very clear in the results.
If we all remember our value, and our place in the mix of the wonderful world that is business, success is the only result!
*Cross referenced in more than one tool and data source against more than one view point for validation.