Tens, or maybe, hundreds of campaigns, tons of data, client meetings, weekly and monthly reports, team communication and coordination, and the list goes on and on - that’s just a fraction of all that happens inside a successful SEO agency. How do you manage all that, keep yourself productive and your clients happy?
Let’s say you’re a busy account manager, trying to keep track of all campaigns, when a client calls. She wants to know the status of her latest SEO campaign, although you have a meeting in 2 days. You want to prepare, but the analyst hasn’t sent the report yet, being busy with data for another huge account.
Or maybe you’re a business development manager eager to see a new client. You get to the meeting, order a coffee, smile and start saying something, when she interjects. She doesn’t believe in SEO. Isn’t PPC better?
There’s always an issue to manage.
When we prepared our webinar about managing and retaining more customers, we’ve asked 20 SEO agencies about the issues they’re struggling with and discovered 7 common, frustrating ones. So let’s dive into each one and see what ca be done:
SEO agencies have to keep track of multiple campaign data, including keyword rank changes, cannibalisation issues, SERP features, conversion rates, new keyword opportunities, competitors and their ranks, and many more. In order to do that, they need to constantly check their tools, while also keeping up with the rest of the work.
It can become a hassle pretty fast. Imagine hours and hours spent just to manage SEO data, checking table sheets, lists of keywords, variations and groups, percentages and graphs, while trying to be productive and creative.
Does this sound familiar?
We identified that a good way of sorting your data is to first prioritise keywords based on impact in estimated sessions.
This metric is a significant one and can be both easily checked, and then understood by your clients. After all, generating more sessions and increasing the click through rate will translate into generating more transactions as well.
SEO is not a quick fix, but a process that involves strategic thinking, measurable objectives, and performance tracking. Yet, as it’s hard to show from the start why non-brand organic traffic can significantly increase your client’s qualified leads, you need to build a strong case for the advantages of your services and their ROI.
Focus on the client’s industry and its general trends from the get go.
For instance, as SEO takes at least 3 months of ongoing work for results to show, you can keep them updated on seasonality, the current state of the market and what they can expect. Thus, you underline you understand their industry and business case. You can, also, slip the occasional TOP 100 and get them excited on the actual possibilities of a mature SEO campaign and the next 3-6 months with your agency.
The quality of the keywords you track, based also on their search volumes, and their ranking changes are vital to the making or breaking off your SEO campaigns. But, of course, at times, it’s a challenge to establish that significance as clients want to gain a specific ranking that may or may not have an important impact on their business.
Focus on end business results and show your clients you really get them.
Let’s say a customer cares only about a specific keyword. Your job is to assess the situation, and combine the business results with the SEO goals. By concentrating on explaining the impact a rank change will have on potential clicks, respectively customers, you will answer the brief and optimise for business outcomes. You may as well surprise your clients with the keywords they need to take into account.
Preparing client reports is no easy task, especially when you want to do it diligently. It usually means 4-5 hours of sorting and compiling highlights, changes in keywords or groups of keywords, errors, missed opportunities, wins and increases in conversions, leads generated etc.
And if we also take into account time spent commuting to the client’s office and time spent in business meetings, then reporting becomes an important pain point.
Isn’t there an easier way to handle all this?
Take a moment, on a weekly basis, and note the key changes that impact sessions.
You’ll have a consistent database to work with when it’s time to compile the monthly report. The added bonus? You’ll split the energy between form and function, as the groundwork was already taken care of week by week.
Just like muting the inner critic that’s summoned when writing the first draft, you’ll have the research in place to inform your report. So you’ll be able to focus on crafting an attractive presentation for your client, without struggling to shuffle between a month of analytics and industry data.
Account managers have a lot on their plates, so keeping up to date with all the quick wins in, say, 20 running campaigns is quite difficult. At times, small and valuable opportunities to celebrate just slip away, underneath meetings, alerts, emails and a long list of calls.
Still, showing your team concrete facts that provide value to the clients they manage, can energise them for the long run. It’s nice to see your professional efforts and dedication paid off, right? It’s also nice to be appreciated for a job well done.
When creating the customer report save a few slides that acknowledge the team’s effort. Be sure to forward those slides to the team and pause for a moment to celebrate your success.
You can select keywords with high search volumes that recently entered the top 10 results. Or, what you can do, is select a bundle of keywords that, while having low search volumes, outranked an important competitor and are a significant win.
We know that SEO is a collaborative discipline and every role in an SEO agency needs to be aligned, to keep the clients satisfied. It takes a team to create results, so project management is part and parcel of a success story. And that means better communication, and a clear understanding of things that need to be done.
But, as tasks keep on coming and you manage a lot of campaigns at once, the reality is that it’s hard to keep everyone informed and aligned all the time.
One tiny habit that can reshape your agenda is to think of a task as if the ownership doesn’t change when that task is handed off.
How does that look in practice?
Let’s say one of your customers’ website has multiple cannibalisation issues - the same keyword generates results for two different pages - and you want it fixed ASAP as it influences rankings. One way to handle it is to send an email that lists all issues and actions at hand: assign diagnosis to your SEO specialist, assign task to in-house SEO, maybe, to identify page duplicates or conflicting links, set-up an urgent call with the client and explain the situation, assign tasks to your content department according to the diagnostic, start consolidating content, find new keywords, create a plan to prevent further issues and so on, and so forth.
Do you remember all the issues and all the tasks?
Our active memory can only recall up to 4 things at a time. Yet, you have to be on top of all your tasks and all the people involved in solving the problem at hand. Plus, if you get a long list of replies to that email, it won’t be obvious which task is done and which needs more clarification.
So instead compartmentalise and help your active memory, while keeping your stress in check. Send a specific email about each task, and, in case your e-mail client offers the option, snooze it. This way you can safely clear your head of that particular task, while making sure there’s a system in place that will remind you to check everything in due time.
Tracking performance changes is a tiresome task, but keeping your clients constantly in the loop in an easy-to-follow way is a consistent unfair advantage. Not only do you keep them close, but you also help them better understand their business results, next steps and potential to scale. Both with their SEO and with their business.
Yet, checking data and then writing personalised emails (or even calling them) can become a burden on your team.
So how do you solve this problem and be transparent in your agency-client relationship?
Besides setting clear and realistic expectations from the start, one way to strengthen the relationship is to give them access to your dashboard.
There they can see their specific metrics and make a connection between SEO and desired business outcomes, but they can also see how you organise your projects and processes.
It may seem risky at first, but it’s a transparent way that will have a positive impact in their vision of SEO and why it matters. And it’s all fact based.
We know it’s a struggle to keep your clients happy and your teams productive, as everyone has to tackle their own daily priorities. So, when it comes to managing your SEO clients, here are some of the solutions we identified for your specific issues:
At SEOmonitor, we constantly research the most useful ways to help SEO agencies acquire, manage and retain more customers and focus on what matters. That’s why we designed Signals, a companion mobile app for SEO agencies, that works like your data analyst and helps you keep track of the significant metrics.
You can get the key metrics upfront, in a daily feed, with specific cards representing wins, losses, issues, market trends, competition and opportunities for a particular campaign. You can create your own custom feeds based on current campaigns and see the data you need right away. No more charts and tables to analyse! You can, also, save them for later use and even snooze them.