Managing your client’s expectations is critical to being a successful SEO consultant – or any kind of consultant for that matter. If the client has completely unrealistic expectations for you, any SEO efforts that you undertake will be seen as unsuccessful regardless of whether or not you actually are successful.
Making sure that you and the client are on the same page begins even before any contracts are signed. You should be evaluating how reasonable and realistic a client is from your first interaction. Do they seem to think SEO is going to be a really quick project or think they are doing you a favor by giving you business? If so, you probably want to move on and recommend someone else that might be able to “better” help them. Stay away from people who think they are helping you out by giving you business. These people typically think that since you are working on the internet and the internet is fast, SEO will be a fast and cheap process. Usually they think SEO is somehow magic too. Run away.
When it comes to actually sitting down and actually managing expectations, there are a couple points that I like to keep in mind. First, sit down and actually talk with your client. Ask them what kind of outcomes they are expecting. If their expectations are completely off, gently correct them. Explain the why, don’t tell them what to expect. If they have reasonable expectations, then proceed to tell them your process and how long you think it will take for these goals to be completed. When you do agree on objectives and time lines, write them out for both of you.
The second big point to remember is that communication is key. Set up a regular report that you can send out to your client updating them on their site’s progress. This doesn’t have to be super in depth but should communicate you progress, what you have accomplished and if anything is hindering you. Don’t just give your clients numbers make sure to interpret the data for your client and show how you have been adding value. Giving your clients graphs with trended data is a great way to do this.
While setting expectations isn’t hard to do, it can become a huge problem if your client and you are expecting your work to have different outcomes. Being extremely clear and up front at the beginning of the process is vital to everyone being on the same page and lays the foundation for a great outcome.