Traits of a Great SEO Client: Commitment

Filed in MY BEST POSTS, SEO by Matt McGee on November 28, 2007 10 Comments

We spend so much time talking about what your SEO provider should and shouldn’t do, what strategies and tactics the SEO provider may or may not employ on your SEO campaign, what makes a great SEO provider, and so forth. Let’s talk about the other side of the equation: What should the client do? If this were the 1960s, I might say, Ask not what your SEO provider can do for you; ask what you can do for your SEO provider! Okay, cheesiness aside, the question is this:

What traits make a great SEO client?

There are several things that make a great SEO client. The one I’m going to start with in this post is commitment.

What I Mean by ‘Commitment’

In short, if you want to succeed with an SEO campaign, a PPC campaign, a social media marketing campaign, you name it … you must be fully involved in the entire process. That process goes from

A) planning, to
B) developing a strategy, to
C) implementing tactics, to
D) measuring what worked and what didn’t, to
E) repeating steps B, C, D, and E.

No shortcuts. No sitting out one of those steps. No deciding you’ll let the SEO company worry about measuring results because you don’t have time. That’s what I mean by commitment.

What if I’m a sole proprietor?

In my previous job, the best clients I had were sole proprietors — one man or one woman flying solo. What made them great? They already knew the value of commitment because they couldn’t get a business off the ground without it! Once we established a solid working relationship based on trust, it was never difficult to complete those five steps above, no matter how busy and overworked the client was.

What if it’s not just me running the business?

Several years ago, I worked with a pair of very smart guys — partners in a business they were passionate about and excelled at. But they couldn’t agree on anything where their web site and search marketing was concerned. One dropped out of the picture every now and then and was hard to reach. The other would submit change requests without his partner knowing. The project as a whole stalled — “failed” as far as I was concerned — because they were not equally committed.

Problems crop up as companies get bigger.

The Product Development team might be the ones pushing the idea of a search marketing campaign.

But the Owner/President might see it as a waste of time. Result: Project failure.

The Marketing gal — she’s more interested in print and television, not this SEO stuff. Result: Project failure.

Maybe the Tech/Web site guy isn’t interested in fixing those crawlability issues you have. Result: Project failure.


In both my current and previous jobs, the best clients were the ones who showed the greatest commitment. It’s not a coincidence that theirs were also the most successful projects.

It only takes one person in a company to undermine a search marketing campaign. Commitment is your first job; it’s the first trait of a great client.

Comments (10)

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  1. rhaden says:

    I’m with you philosophically. But have you written before about how to measure results? As the (unqualified) person assigned to do SEO and online marketing for a small business, I am learning all I can on the subject, and sure enough, our page rank and orders and all that are increasing, so I figure some of what I’m doing is useful. However, I don’t know what is most effective, or how to measure it in order to focus on the most effective approaches. Can you point me to a spot in your archives? Thanks for all your helpful articles!

  2. Matt McGee says:

    Thanks for your comment, rhaden, and welcome to SBS.

    The answer to “what to measure” is “it depends.” 🙂 You mentioned “orders”, so it sounds like you’re working for an e-commerce company. That tells me you’ll probably be wanting to look at a fairly standard set of numbers:

    – number of orders
    – revenue and profit
    – unique visitors
    – bounce rate

    The first three you want to be high; the last one you want to be low. You might also look at Page Views, but that can be tricky because higher page views might mean people are struggling to find what they want on your site.

    Most importantly, you want to be able to tie the stats you look at to either natural search (SEO) or paid search (PPC). How much revenue came from natural search? How much came from PPC? That will help your company make smarter decisions going forward.

    I have probably not done enough writing on analytics (confession: spreadsheets make my eyes glaze over), but you might find some helpful information in the MY BEST POSTS category in the upper left sidebar. Probably better would be the 2007 BEST POSTS, where I’ve collected the best posts I’ve read from other blogs during the year. Some months will have links to metrics/analytics reading; some will not.

    I hope this helps, and if you have specific questions, fire away. I like to do Q&A occasionally on the blog.

  3. As a consultant, when writing a contract, I always have a section that outlines the responsibilities of the customer. Here is where I get agreement on the parameters that define commitment. Every contract should state clearly how we expect both the consultant and the customer to behave.

  4. KCWD says:

    I agree – if customers aren’t going to implement what is given to them, and don’t have patience in seeing the results, then it’s really hard to provide them with the quality of work and time that is needed to make a site SEO successful.

  5. H.E. says:

    Hey Matt!
    Really nice post. I’m sorry for not reading it sooner. Today I start to read all your old posts and there are gems in here. you can do some post to let the new commers of the great old content 🙂

  6. Matt McGee says:

    Thanks, H.E. If you use the search box in the upper right, type in “sbs flashback” and you’ll see all the once-a-month posts I do that introduce new readers to old material. 🙂

    BTW, please also read the comment policy. It’ll explain why I edited your name above your comment.

  7. Joel says:

    AGREED! Once someone decides on an seo service provider they need to understand and stick with the original commitment. Top rankings don’t come in a week or two, but over time they do.

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