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How Can SEO Agencies be More Transparent?

By , Feb 24, 2014

Transparency is a key term when it comes to the work done by SEO and digital marketing agencies. Many agencies work almost from within a bubble, not wanting to “give away secrets” or tell their clients what they’re doing. This is counterproductive in so many ways. First, a client has no way to be sure that an SEO agency is conducting ethical, white hat optimisation on their behalf. On top of this, the agency is making it difficult for themselves if there is no improvement in a client’s website performance. The transparent SEO agency can point to the work that is being done, so at least there is something tangible for a client to see. After all, a big part of SEO is what your competitors are doing. The transparent agency can show a client what they’ve done, but also compare it to competitor analysis.

In August 2013, we launched our own “client section” where our clients can log-in and see the work we’re doing for them in real-time, from link building to keyword analysis, content creation, and various other aspects of SEO and digital marketing.

Not every SEO agency will have it within their means to do this, but there is plenty that can be done in order for them to make their operations more transparent. Here are some suggestions.

Outline the Plan

SEO is a long-term process, and as a result there should be a long-term plan in place that can be shown to clients. This should include challenging yet realistic objectives, which the SEO agency should then aim to deliver on time, without fail. This plan needs to be in place from day one of any SEO agency/client relationship. It is beneficial to include the progress clients are likely to see along each step of the process. While there are no guarantees in SEO, and any agency making promises is setting themselves up for a fall, an agency can still say “this is what we are going to do, and this is what it can deliver.”

When putting an SEO plan together, it is important to strike a balance between demonstrating the long-term nature of a plan and making a client feel comfortable. For example, if a client is paying you £1,500 a month and you want to deliver a 12-month “road map” of where SEO services can take them, it shouldn’t be presented in such a way that it looks like they’ll only get results if they work with you for that length of time.

Deliver Objectives to Them

The key to a successful agency/client relationship is for the agency to constantly update and deliver objectives for the client to carry out. These objectives might be some development tweaks identified during an SEO audit – some agencies may complete these, but they are generally done in-house by a site’s developers – or the implementation of a tagging system for blogs, for example.

SEO agencies but be as engaged with their clients as they possibly can be. Working in partnership will deliver objectives quicker and make both sides feel like they’re contributing to SEO success, while client involvement will also help them to understand more about what you’re doing, leading to transparency all round.

Demonstrate Progress

It is very easy for SEO agencies to tell their clients to look at their Google Webmaster Tools account and see how their traffic is increasing. However, what they should be doing is presenting periodic reports – monthly as a minimum, even more regularly may be possible and still efficient depending on the systems being used – alongside the plan and objectives presented earlier.

Just because SEO is a long-term strategy it doesn’t mean you should only look at the results at the end of month six, for example. After all, for all a client knows you could have completed all the work in that month, which would put a different slant on a scenario of no improvement having been made versus one where there have been clear stages of work completed each month, but against a backdrop of competitors doing the same thing.

Provide Advice & Guidance for the Future

The role of the SEO agency should be to help a website flourish, even if they stop working with them at a given point in the future. While the agency will no longer be a paid resource in terms of consultancy and completing digital marketing projects on behalf of the site, enough advice, guidance, and resources should be provided to clients so they have an idea of how to continue moving forward at the end of the relationship. Without doing this, SEO agencies become little more than the cowboys out there who say you can “do” SEO in a couple of months and never touch it again.

If the SEO agency has been transparent about the process and been clear about not making guarantees around results, then clients will already understand this anyway.

At Bough Digital, we pride ourselves on the transparency we provide to our clients, both through our specific client section as well as how we work with clients on a continuing basis. Contact us now to learn more about what we do and how we can work with you on your website.

Image Author: commons.wikimedia.org

Category . SEO Training.All Posts.

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