In our opinion, the best SEO client-agency relationships are built on trust and transparency. Everyone needs to be on the same page to ensure all SEO and other marketing efforts are working together, not against each other. Since SEO should be part of your overall marketing strategy, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be accounted for. Transparency ensures that one hand knows what the other is doing, so to speak, so no one is surprised or confused down the road.
How Can An SEO Agency Be Transparent?
1. Send monthly link building reports.
Any white hat SEO provider should have no problem providing you with monthly link building reports so you know exactly what kind of links they've been working on for your site. Remember, at the end of the day you are responsible for many of the inbound links pointing to your site, not your SEO firm. If they are building the wrong kind of links (the ones that land sites in hot water), don't you want to know that before something goes wrong? If your SEO partner refuses to tell you what kind of links they are building then it might be time to find a new provider. It's your site, your links!
2. Outline AND explain their onsite recommendations.
A good SEO partner should be able to explain and justify their recommendations. How will a certain onsite optimization element help your site? What plugins will help your blog succeed and why? Why does the link building strategy include the things it does? There is a method to the madness and your SEO partner should be able to explain their process to you in way that makes sense AND makes you comfortable with the strategy. You want to be able to trust your SEO provider and not be second guessing every move they make.
3. Schedule calls/meetings and real deadlines for updates.
While there is very little in SEO that requires immediate action by your SEO partner (your website going dark would be an exception), that doesn't mean you should only hear from your SEO provider when it's time to pay their bill. While each site is different, your SEO provider should be able to provide you with a rough timeline for their strategy. How long will it take to optimize the site or create the link building strategy? When will you start getting visitor reports from your analytics? What happens if you have a question about something? Your SEO partner should want to talk with you on a regular basis (whether that be once a month or once a week is up to you and them) to help keep everyone on the same page.
How Can An SEO Client Be Transparent?
1. Keep your SEO provider in the loop.
Treating your SEO provider like a member of your team as opposed to an outside vendor is better for both you AND them in the long run. For instance, if you are thinking about redesigning your website don't tell your SEO provider AFTER the new site is live. Your SEO partner, provided they are kept in the loop from the beginning, can help ensure that your new website doesn't lose any of the old site's SEO. They can help ensure any new pages are properly optimized from day one; links are 301 redirected properly, onsite SEO remains intact and more.
There are many big, internal changes that could impact the long term success of your SEO, as well as your relationship with your SEO partner. If you don't keep your SEO provider in the loop than they'll have to play catch up, which could slow your progress or even set your site back!
2. Let Them Know Why You Aren't Implementing Their Recommendations.
At the end of the day it's your site, which means you can decide to implement all, some or none of your SEO provider's recommendations. If you don't implement something than let your SEO provider know and tell them why! Do you not agree with a certain recommendation? Does your CMS not allow you to make a certain change? Is your developer swamped right now and hasn't gotten to it? Are the recommendations just caught in red tape?
Keep in mind that if you only implement 50% of the SEO recommendations your SEO provider gives you your site might only see 50% of the potential benefits. Your SEO provider can't be held accountable when their recommendations aren't being followed. I've run into this problem with several clients over the years! You have to invest in your own SEO as much as you SEO provider, so if you are concerned about something or don't want to make a certain change don't be afraid to say so! Working it out with your SEO partner is much better than vanishing off the face of the earth.
At the end of the day, transparency between and SEO provider and their clients comes down to communication. Both parties need to make time for each other to ensure that everyone is up to speed and knows what the next steps forward are.
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Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, a full-service web marketing and Boston SEO services firm. With over 12 years of experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting SEO tips to his company blog, the Brick Marketing Blog, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers.