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Yesterday I taught a training course for a new client about basic SEO. During the course, the company's web developer wondered if I found it frustrating having to spend 3-4 hours answering very basic questions about SEO so another business could decide what aspects of its optimisation to outsource and what to do in-house.
My reponse was simple and entirely truthful - I wish every business would proceed that way because it would make my job much easier.
Anybody who has worked in SEO has experienced the frustration of needing to make changes to website code, alter content on the site, change the keyword focus or even needed funds to purchase a Yahoo Directory listing and instead met with refusal on the part of a client or a client's web developer who did not understand the reasoning. When SEO clients understand even the basic concepts of SEO they understand better why their consultant does the things he (or she) does.
A basic understanding of SEO also helps clients to understand what results they can reasonably expect and what expectations are doomed to failure. Too often we have been asked for measurables which involve timescales to get a specific set of search terms to a specific ranking, or a specific date by which we will have delivered an exact increase in sales.
A client who does not understand why what we do will improve their listings and their traffic will also not understand that SEO is an art, not a science and that we have no control over when the search engines notice changes or over what SEO work competitors may undertake - and hence we do not have ultimate control over SERPS or sales. We put everything in place so a website can achieve maximum results - but we don't determine what that maximum might be.
Ultimately, the knowledge that we as a search engine marketing agency can provide to people outside of our industry to help them make decisions means that more people will understand the benefits of hiring us and will understand our recommendations and bend over backwards to help us implement them - thereby giving their website the best chance possible of overperforming.