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Introduction from Hike – this is a guest post from our friend Katie Hanna over at Interrupt Media. Here she gives her top tips on how to onboard a new SEO client, a vital process whenever an agency brings on a new customer.

So without further ado, enjoy this guest post…

When onboarding new SEO (search engine optimisation) clients, it’s crucial for the SEO agency to start off on the right foot. 

SEO is, after all, a long game, so setting proper expectations and giving clients visibility into the process is key to ensuring a positive working relationship.

In this post, we share 5 crucial components to include in your onboarding process (whether that be a kick-off call, pitch deck, welcome email, or all of the above) that will create strong a client relationship and set your team up for success. 

But first, let’s briefly explain what we mean by “client onboarding” and why you need to do this.

What is Client Onboarding and Why Do I Need It?

Client Onboarding refers to the process by which marketing agencies review goals, scope, deliverables, and give insight into the internal processes by which it will achieve these goals. 

It also involves assigning timelines, setting reasonable expectations, and identifying KPIs (key performance indicators) to ensure that the new customer is satisfied throughout the relationship. 

In return, client onboarding is also about ensuring that your clients understand what they’re responsible for, the reasoning behind your decisions and that they are respectful of boundaries and scope. 

Overall, the goal is to make sure that the client, agency, and team members are on the same page so that communication breakdowns can be avoided and work can run smoothly.

Now let’s review which elements you absolutely must include to ensure that your onboarding process goes smoothly.

5 Tips for Onboarding New SEO Clients 

Tip #1 Set Proper Expectations

When conducting an SEO campaign, it’s important that the client understands that it will take time to see the fruits of your labor regardless of how talented you are at building SEO for businesses. 

They should know, upfront, that it could take several months before they see a return on their investment into building SEO for their website and/or content. 

They should also understand that it won’t be a linear result.

For example: with email marketing, we could send 10k emails and expect that 15-25% of recipients will open and that 2.5-3% will click-through. With SEO, however, we can’t make those same kinds of assumptions for two reasons:

  1. Everyone targets different keywords.
  2. The way companies target keywords is going to be different.

Tip #2 Explain the Role SEO Plays in Digital Marketing Strategy

It’s also important to make sure your client understands the role SEO plays in the overall digital marketing strategy, particularly as it pertains to demand generation and content marketing. 

To be successful, it’s important to invest upfront in SEO so that you can see the most direct path to reaching your target audience and buyer personas through content. 

Speaking of content, SEO can’t happen without it. Your client should be developing (or paying someone to develop) content marketing campaigns around the keywords their ideal audience is looking for in order to get that search optimization in the first place. 

Tip #3 Give Visibility into SEO Tactics and Why You Do Them

In conjunction with content development, the new client should be aware that there are three key tactics your SEO specialist will be utilizing to support demand generation. 

  1. Technical optimizations. This will include things like improving page load speed in order to improve search ranking.
  2. Content optimizations. This will include optimizing existing content and new content to enable you to improve search ranking. 
  3. Building Backlinks. Getting other websites with high domain authority to link to your client’s content will boost their authority, and thus, their search ranking. 

Tip #4 Assign an Account Manager to Keep the Client Informed

It is critical to the success of your client’s business as well as your working relationship, to give the client visibility into the SEO process through an account manager.

Your account manager will keep them updated on what’s in-flight every week and month and what progress has been made. We’ll talk about how to report progress in the next section.

Clients need to know what you’re doing, why it’s advantageous for them, and how much of their budget is going toward each of the tactics being used to drive SEO. 

Tip #5 Set up a Regular Reporting of Progress for SEO Efforts

You’ll want to share what insight you gather from Google Analytics and Google Search Console as well as how SEO is connected to revenue and pipeline. 

For example: in an eCommerce or B2C business, you’ll want to show how SEO is driving shopping cart ads, how many leads are coming from ads, and the completion rate of those inbound leads. 

For B2B, a good example is that if SEO is responsible for driving leads then you need to have proper attribution in place, and a well connected CRM platform to tie your tactics back to revenue through closed/won rates and other metrics that can be directly attributed to SEO.

To summarize, for a successful new client onboarding process that results in a smooth, working relationship make sure you set the right expectations, explain the role SEO plays in the overall digital marketing strategy, give visibility and reasoning into SEO tactics, assign an account manager to keep the client informed, and set up regular reporting of your SEO progress.

Author bio: Katie Hanna is the Director of Content Marketing at interruptmedia.com.

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