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How Much Info Do You Give Up Front To A Client


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14 replies to this topic

#1 Sputnik

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 04:09 PM

Hi,

Just starting out SEO services for a client. How much information do you initially give a client?

I checked out her site. Offered her preliminary keywords and recommendations of the tasks to be completed.

Example: I said local optimization - adding your site to directories. She then wanted a full list of the sites I was talking about.
Told her there was some minor on-page fixes recommended. She wanted to know what they were (thats part of my service - offering you the analysis/recommendation report of the changes needed to be implemented for optimization)
She did her own keyword search and then compared against my list. But I only gave her excerpts of the key phrases to be use. Not the exact I had in mind. She then gave me a more narrow location she wants to target. Then I finally told her that there are valuable keywords I can target for that and if she would be interested...

The point: It boilded down to she decided she will do most of the work - article writing/blog posting. Doesn't want links built, etc. Decided to hand out most of what I offered to her current assistants.

I finally told her that for a one time deal - if she was interested - I would provide a list of competitive keywords she and her team could target. Would offer recommendations for SEO on-site and off-page.

It came down to - I felt I did most of the research prior to her signing a contract.

Learned: I need to figure out if I am going to do a package deal or custom packages. Being the first client - I don't mind the trouble. Gives me insight into what logistics I need to fix.

Question: How far do you go to telling a client about the keywords your plan on working with? Or do you tell them at all? how do you deal with this?

Or maybe the question is: how do you deal with a client that you feel is going to take your initial hard work, not sign the contract and do it all on their own.

#2 Jill

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 06:19 PM

I think you're asking how much information to provide a prospective client, not an actual client, correct?

Personally, I don't give anything until I have a check in hand. But I don't have to prove myself with potential clients as I've been doing this SEO thing for 16 years.

For someone in your position who's just starting out, it's a bit different. When I first started, I used to do full site audits for free! Perhaps a 10th of those who I did them for would sign on to have me do their SEO, but that was okay with me, it was a way to get some business.

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who pretend they want to pay people for services and all they really are doing is fishing for information. What's even more unfortunate is that a lot of those who do that are from really large companies!

I think you have to do whatever you're comfortable with. If you feel that providing some free information shows your expertise, then go ahead and do it. Many people have no intention or desire to try to do things for themselves, they'd rather pay you. But if you feel someone's just taking advantage of you, then tell them that you'll be providing them with the answers to those questions during the research phase of the SEO campaign. Most understand that you can't provide them with a complete strategy until you've researched things.

#3 qwerty

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 06:28 PM

I still do a partial analysis for free. I want them to trust that I know what I'm doing, and I've seen proposals from relatively large SEO firms that barely even mention the site they're supposed to be about. I want to set myself apart from folks like that.

#4 Tiggerito

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 07:42 PM

I'll aiming to be at the level Jill is at, but as she points out, that times time and good work.

Meanwhile, I tend to provide a summary report and have a casual meeting where I'm very open on providing advice.

Even if I've done the full analysis I only give away snippets of the conclusions in that way.

I've found I get a good conversion rate with meetings like that (>50%), but there are definitely some out there that bounce around SEOs to get free advice.



#5 Sputnik

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 10:28 AM

Yes, prospective client. This person still has not asked me to do some work, but did forward a lead my way. So even if this person does not hire me - least I can think my almost complete analysis report was good to send leads my way.

@Jill I realize its going to take time to get my 'logistics' set. Figure out the pricing structure to what works for me (sure I'll lose money in the beginning). But I do not mind, either. Because its kinking out those mistakes that will build my success.

@Tiggerito and @qwerty - after a few convos with this person - I did only give snippets after feeling like I gave her a ton already. Of course, I do not think it was that hard to figure out the full key phrases. I agree on giving a partial analysis to build the clients trust (until ranking Jill's level). wink1.gif

Thank you all for your replies. Definitely helps.
I am so glad I found this (credible) forum.



#6 Jill

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 11:44 AM

QUOTE(tiger @ Mar 24 2011, 08:42 PM) View Post
Even if I've done the full analysis I only give away snippets of the conclusions in that way.


I think this is great advice for nearly anyone, regardless of experience. Do your research so that you understand the problems inherent with the job, but don't give away the farm.

#7 johntullyf

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 02:42 PM

Striking the balance is always tricky. I was recently asked to review a site and let the owner know that his "current site breaks 4-5 of the new cardinal rules of web-based marketing in 2011". That way it lets him know that I've dug into his site and that I've identified issues - but I haven't been specific and hopefully that will make them curious enough to proceed with something. crossfingers.gif

#8 shakin318

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 12:31 AM

I don't do SEO (at least not for anyone other than myself), but in my business I'm also in a position in which some prospective clients try to "fish" for info and ideas that they can then go implement themselves. In an nutshell, they come to me for detailed marketing communication (marcom) plans, with the understanding that if they like what I propose, they'll hire me to execute it. The problem I faced was that to deliver a plan strong enough to compel them to hire me, I had to include insight and details that went beyond just the tip of the iceberg. The solution I came up with (after a few years of being burned) was to charge a fee for creating and delivering my marcom plans -- a fee that I would apply as a credit towards any work I did for the client if they subsequently hired me.

Works great to weed out the "fishers," and saves a lot of time that used to be wasted working for free.

#9 lenwood

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:34 PM

I deal with this pretty frequently. I've learned that if the prospective company has their web developer/designer in on the conversation, you'll want to be more careful. That person is likely familiar with most of the concepts you'll be discussing. If you're dealing with the execs or marketing team, you can let your guard down (while still not giving away specifics).

During the sales call, the focus should be on the value of your services, and less on the strategy for success. I usually don't mind giving a couple of tips, but you can usually tell when they're culling for information because the questions are less about your services and more about what you recommend. At this point I usually offer an SEO playbook that includes page specific recommendations that their team can implement, for a fee.

I also make a point of talking about both the the hazards of SEO (drawing irrelevant traffic, getting delisted, etc), and the number of tools involved. I don't mention specific products, but point out that we have tools for keyword research, reporting, analytics, conversion optimization, click paths, etc, and that we draw on all of this information to bring them targeted traffic.

SEO isn't difficult and there are no secrets, but it is work. Most SEOs that I know LOVE educating people on how to achieve success, but we have to make a living, too.

#10 Sputnik

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 08:02 PM

Thank you all for your continued feedback. I do like the set-up fee that will be credited when work was implemented.
And it will be practice to find that balance. Knowing when to halt on more information than necessary.
And I agree that the focus should be on the benefits to the clients and less on the services - when speaking to them.
No, it is not difficult. But it can be very time consuming. I love educating people - infact I gave a talk this weekend -successfully.
Maybe part of making that living - is creating workshops/speaking engagements to companies who want to implement their own SEO. wink1.gif

#11 qwerty

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 08:09 AM

This thread has apparently inspired Barry Schwartz to post a poll on Search Engine Roundtable.

#12 mr_tim

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 11:11 AM

My first meeting where I was pitching purely SEO services to a new client, I turned up to a boardroom of about 7 people - from copywriters, to developers to sales to directors. It could have been a good opportunity to get everyone on board, had their primary motivation not been simply to milk as much as they could for free. I didn't give it up, as they clearly weren't going to pay. Lesson learned.

#13 NancyK

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 05:27 PM

I find this to be a problem with web design - and I like the response of using the consultation fee as part of the package. At least you are paid for your suggestions!

I started doing SEO work last summer for an existing company that has employed a programmer and a webdesigner - after paying for keyword research however, this client cannot get his web designer to implement the changes! At least I have been paid for the tremendous amount of work involved (followed Jill's lynda.com class very closely and appreciate adding it to my toolbox!).

My encounters with this first customer - someone who does not understand SEO - were a bit different,

1. I absolutely refused to 'teach the web designer who is interested in SEO' anything - and in return told the client that I would not make code changes on the web designers work (although now I am wondering if that was a good idea - this guy wants to redesign the website while it is live and is really dragging his feet on any organic SEO changes....arrrgg!). However, by making it clear in the beginning that I do my SEO work alone, it has saved me a ton of problems. The web designer has still made an attempt to coerce the client into PPC - before any of my SEO research was implemented, and the client learned how expensive that can be - actually went into debt by following this designers advice. I want the HTML code and phrases in place before PPC - and the client made the decision on his own after listening to a 'get top ratings quick' person during the first month I was working on keyword research - before I turned anything in to the client.

2. Clear contract with explanations and understanding signed by both me and the client before I did any work. I sat down and explained what I did (not the steps, but the work) and the outcome for the client to expect - what I needed from the client, etc. Now, I got many 'I understands' - it took a few times to explain that everyone enters a different sequence of words when they do an internet search, but he understands that. However, no matter how many times/ways I explain it - I STILL get the remark ' hey - I am number 1 already when I type in xyz' - and xyz happens to be the exact word for word sentence in the first line of the client's web page.....so even though I always explain this to the client - there are some pre-concepts formed that are very hard to conquer. As long as the main process is understood - this client/any client will be happy with your work.

There is one point I am still trying to figure out - and I think it is a legitimate concern - my client wants absolute confidence that any 3rd party program I use is confidential. He wants to know that any information scanned on his site will not be public information for his competitors. I hadn't anticipated that question but did explain that there are some online tools that are open and public for anyone to use. I have no control over those, but I sure do look under rocks of every program/website I consider because of this. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

#14 OldWelshGuy

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 06:34 PM

Confidentiality is dangerous thing. By using a third party website, you could be in breach of any NDA's. The answer is of course to get your own software written but that is expensive.

#15 firedog

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 12:45 AM

I had the same thing happen to me a few times when I was starting out. Since then I give out general information about the kind of things that need to be done, but nothing specific that can be "stolen". The client gets the idea that I have something to offer, but not enough info to do the work without me.

Sometimes when clients ask for very specific information, I tell them explicitly why I won't give out that kind of info. They all seem to understand the point and accept it.




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