SEO Witchcraft: Use Keywords on Your Clients

by Angie Nikoleychuk (Haggstrom) August 5th, 2009 

Barry wrote a very thought provoking post the other day. In it, he pondered 'What have you done for me today?' in terms of how you as an SEO company, can retain your value to the customer after the honeymoon period. I believe that Barry and Ben are both right. However, I think that SEO companies have another issue: they fail to use solid copywriting and SEO practices when dealing with clients.

Clients Going Elsewhere?

Why Clients Go Elsewhere

We know that, if clients don't get what they pay for, they will go elsewhere. But, what about those who seem to disappear without reason? Well, I think many of the problems occur when clients simply don't make the connection between what you're doing and how it benefits them. Of course, this doesn't happen when you're working with a client who understands SEO, but uneducated clients are a completely story.

'But...I educate the client.'

Ok, but consider this for a moment: Many SEO companies supply their customers with informational leaflets, but why would a client take the time out of an already busy schedule to read everything when it reads a textbook? They hire you to know this stuff.

Bottom line, everything you do has to be perceived as value to the client and not a chore. And, when this doesn't happen, the problems start between you and the client. So, how do you accomplish this? Aren't you already doing this with the regular reports and papers you send to the client? Well, sort of.

Keyword Research and SEO for Clients

If you want a search engine to recognize the value of your website, products, and services, you do some research to find just the right keywords. You choose words like 'best SEO', 'quality SEO services', and 'SEO your-city-name' and weave them throughout your website. So, if you want your clients to recognize the value of your business and your work, you need to find the right descriptive keywords. These 'client keywords' are a little different however.

(And before you roast me on the stake for SEO witchcraft and magic: yes, I know that *technically* there's no such thing as 'client keywords', but just humor me ;))

Use SEO Witchcraft on Your Clients

Instead of using various tools to find out what clients are searching for, make a list of the keywords clients want to hear. So, if I was to hire one of you, I would want you to help me get more newsletter signups, more RSS subscribers, an increase in inquiries, improve my website's rankings, bring in more traffic, generate bigger profits... you get the idea.

Your job is to find these keywords and create a list. If you're just not sure, look through the correspondence and conversations you've had with your clients. Search blog comments, forums, and even just talk to your clients to find out exactly what it is they want.

Once you have this list of client SEO keywords, gather all of the correspondence and reports that you would normally send to your clients. These could include brochures, supplemental information leaflets, site audits, and weekly progress reports. Now, go through each one and look at the language they use.

Do they explain what you do? Or do they use client keywords to show your customers the value of services and make them feel good about hiring you?

Let's look at a few of the standard documents you and other SEOers might use:

Brochures and Proposals

In the post SEO Company Websites Fail to Convert and Meet Their Profit Goals, I mentioned that you need something to give to the boss. This works to seal the deal and convert regular clients too. Create a PDF brochure that explains who you are, what you do, and why you're the best. It also needs to include client keywords in order to translate all of that back into benefits.

So, instead of saying: 'X years experience in SEO', I would say: "The X years we've spent in the SEO industry has allowed us to test most of the theories and ideas out there. We know exactly what techniques will bring the most traffic to your website...' or something like that anyway. Your clients will easily see you as the best choice and realize the value you're offering. This makes it much easier for them to start paying you.

Site Audits

When you produce a site audit and a list of recommendations for the customer, it likely reads something like:

Problem: poor content

Recommendation: optimized, fresh content.

Problem: 1000 poor backlinks

Recommendation: 1000 new links.

Makes perfect sense to you right? Well, the only thing the client sees when he reads this is how much money you're going to cost him. He knows you're going to add/redo the content and get more links, but he has no idea what this will do. You need to tell him!

Let's say the client is, a membership site where webgoers can get help for their (the domain might still be available. I have a feeling it could be quite profitable. If not, you could always feature tasty beverages and resell domains ;)). So, in addition to giving a plain report with a list of what you found and what you're going to do, try adding a client-friendly summary that might say something like:


Your site has some great content, but it isn't getting the attention that it should from customers or the search engines. We here at feel that optimization and the addition of some fresh content could increase your traffic significantly and ultimately, increase your program's enrollment. It would also make you more visible in the various social media networks and help you gain some links.


Your site can't reach its full potential because of the age and source of many of your backlinks. Therefore, we recommend adding 1000 links from good sources to increase your reach, improve your site rankings, and drive more traffic. To accomplish this, we suggest some article marketing, guest blog posts, commenting, press releases, and a feature article...

Weekly Progress Reports

Depending on exactly what your agreement is with the client, a progress report is a great opportunity to remind the client that you're worth a million bucks. All you need to do is to produce a piece that is similar in concept to your client site audit report. It could even be as simple as an email.

In it, connect what you've done with how it benefited the client. You don't need to analyze each link, or each piece of copy, but be sure to prove yourself and get your client excited about improvements you've made.

If you have traffic stats or any other specific information such as new blog posts about the press release you distributed, or the guest post you did, brag about it. If you published a feature article or circulated a free report that generated a huge social media buzz include some of the comments here as well. Finally, attach it to your invoice if you have one, and you're done. (It's sort of like cushioning the blow...Being nice does pay!)

Get More By Being Nice :)

I can hear you going 'Great. This nut basket wants me to do even more work.' Well yes, producing these documents can take some work, but not as much as you may think. Forms, templates, and macros can eliminate a large portion of your work. Regardless of how you create them, however, the improvement in customer satisfaction, increased profits, and the ability to set your company apart from the rest will be well worth it.

Worth a shot, right?

Angie Nikoleychuk (Haggstrom) is the Senior Copywriter and Consultant at Angie's Copywriting Services. She loves to create SEO Web copy and other types of online and offline content, but she figures SEO and Social Media is pretty great too. She likes to chat about business and marketing, find great links, and more. Oh, and you can find this copywriter on Twitter too.

Angie Nikoleychuk (Haggstrom)

Angie Haggstrom is the Senior Copywriter and Consultant at Angie's Copywriting Services, specializing in online and offline content including SEO web copy, brochures, and more. A Twitter and blogging fanatic, you'll find she chats about SEO, Social Media, business, marketing, and just about anything else she finds interesting along the way.

Angie's Copywriting

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13 Responses to “SEO Witchcraft: Use Keywords on Your Clients”

  1. The proof of value has to be there at all times with an intangible purchase such as SEO.

  2. Exactly Nick! That's one of the reasons SEOs have such a difficult time (as a whole, I mean). And unless that value is demonstrated regularly, clients will continue to underestimate the value of the work :)

    SEP/Angie's Copywriting

  3. Cary Johnson says:

    Hey Nick,

    You hit the nail on the head. Too many SEO companies are giving price without even looking at the site. Although the client does not need to understand all of the work that goes into it, they need to understand the work you are going to do and the expected result. A good SEO company will understand the client's goals and current site architecture before determing costs.

    Thanks for the post!


  4. […] SEO Witchcraft: Use Keywords on Your Clients, Search Engine People | Toronto […]

  5. Angie, you've done it again! You're quickly becoming one of my favs.

    Getting clients to "SEE" the value has always been one of the biggest challenges. Even when there is super clear conversion data like, sales (with ecommerce clients), or clear lead form conversion, clients often can't SEE the value.

    Unfortunately its all the snake oil salesmen out there that have give people a negative connotation towards SEO, which doesn't help either.

  6. Hey Miguel,

    You've just made my day :) And as for the snake oil thing, I have a lot to say about that too, and I'm afraid a lot of it is asked for. But, that's a whole new blog post!


    SEP/Angie's Copywriting

  7. Great read! As a sales person I know first hand you better know your customer inside and out and know their expectations up front. There are too many competitors out there selling an "off the shelf" or "cookie cutter" solution to anyone that will listen.

    If you are going to sell something that most of population can not understand the value of you must believe in your team 100% and that they can deliver the goods and then show the customer in a true and clear picture.

  8. You made some good points there, I'm going to forward this to a friend of mine who runs his own SEO company. I teach people about it and find that they start to love SEO even if you can get them ranking for an obscure keyword that no one even types into Google.

    Even though it's not going to give them great results, people seem to love to see their website at the top of page one, regardless of the keyword.

    Have fun!


  9. Chris — I couldn't agree with you more. The worst part of that story is that many clients not only want this kind of 'cheap route to millions', many of them insist on it only to find out that it wasn't the best route after all.

    Sean — Sure, that sounds great. I have to admit that even I enjoy seeing my site hit number one for silly terms, but I do understand the difference between profitable keywords and those that aren't. However, I can't help but think it could work to your advantage in a way, particularly for highly competitive terms.

    Thanks you two. Greatly appreciated.

    Angie Haggstrom
    SEP/Angie's Copywriting

  10. Ben McKay says:

    Thanks for the mention Angie!

    Totally agree on so many of the points raised above. For ongoing client relationships, data-collection, education, workflow agreements and reporting can all make the relationship far more honest and effective, which can remove strain on the expectation for immediate results too. Backtracking for data and clarification is a no-go so often with agencies and consultants as they are embarressed by their poor service in retrospect, so getting those bits lined-up at the earliest opportunity can make a massive difference! Cool stuff.

    P.s. I'm off to buy 😉

  11. Ben McKay says:

    P.P.S. typo: "embarressed" – how embarrassing! lol

  12. Hey Ben,

    Link was well deserved :) And hey, I'm pretty sure that qualifies me for 50% of the profits doesn't it? Well, so long as SEP lives, I've got proof of the site's origins lol

    Angie Haggstrom
    SEP/Angie's Copywriting

  13. I think the most important thing is to constantly communicate and educate your client. Keeping it as transparent is important.
    Especially things like backlink building we generally include the exact location of the post as well as the written article.

    Clients would be happy to see that the commments actually add value to the existing blog as stay away from the usual spammy stuff.