Educating Clients in Determining SEO Success

Among the first things that SEOs should ask from clients are the following:

Purpose of the site
Was the site built to generate leads such as those filling up the “Contact Us” form such as those found in many B2B websites like KCS, was it built to generate sales such as Fortress or was it built to act as intermediary to making follow up engagements such as New York Life. Knowing the purpose of the site enables us to identify what are the possible goals a website owner has in mind. Knowing what are their goals is one thing and making a reality check if such goals are attainable is another.

Business Model
Is the site solely or 45% reliant on the website in driving income to the business? Are there affiliate marketing involved? With this in mind, it becomes possible to compare ROI performance of these channels with search engine optimization. By then it will be easier to decide which campaign to use (banner, SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing, etc) based on the performance of each.

Having determined the two basic business research items, it will also be easier to formulate a more concrete set of measurable metrics. These metrics can be measured up front, while an SEO campaign is on going (also known as baseline reports), and later, a few months after SEO was completely implemented. In this way, hard numbers show up and will be compared against each other to determine success or failure.

Let it be known that SEO is one of the most cost-effective form of marketing. It’s a process where you’re trying to align your products (landing pages) to places where demand for your product or services is good (search engine keywords or verticals). Just like parking the ice cream van near Star Ferry terminal in Hong Kong’s Central district could potential bring in more buyers than when it parks outside of Cheung Kong (who knows, but that’s an assumption). But this flattering title can be put to naught when inept search engine optimizers meet the uninformed clients.

The measurement of success of each website varies differently from the other. Even for sites which offer the same type of products and services, the way things are measured may not be exactly the same.

Probably one of the things that create a black eye in the industry is how some SEO professionals try to define success. While it is not entirely bad to consider keyword rankings and PageRank as determinants of SEO success, these are probably not the most accurate indicators. For an unscrupulous SEO, suggestion of unpopular keywords or artificially injecting PageRank value can be appealing to clients who don’t know what or how to measure things. But do these metrics qualify among those earlier defined?

Educating clients on what to expect is very important. Without promising too much something unrealistic which usually happens on the pitching stage, SEOs can save themselves some trouble. After all, at the end of the day, if high rankings and PageRank values don’t deliver leads or sales, SEO can easily be deemed unsuccessful.