Clients come in many a shade. While we’d all love to be given free reign and an open checkbook to play around with a site to see what works, that very rarely, if ever, happens.
It’s also fairly rare to find a client who has a budget, but gives you free reign to do as you see fit to generate the end result. Granted, this increases the more you prove yourself over an extended period, but it’s still quite infrequent.
The other evening I shared a pint with an unhappy CEO currently with an SEM company contracted to perform SEO duties for his ecommerce site. This CEO had more than your average sprinkling of SEO nous, but didn’t consider himself an expert by any means. There’s always the potential for the rutting of the alpha male SEO stag when you have clients with SEO knowledge (a little of it being a dangerous thing and all that).
Depending on said knowledge it can be a little like having a homeowner standing over your shoulder as you’re performing some kind of home improvement.
I’ll never forget when I used to paint furniture in a former life.
One Friday afternoon, my buddy who I shared a unit with, asked if I could help him fit some custom alcove shelves that he‘d built for one of his customers. I was promised we’d be finished no later than 3pm and that we’d be drinking pink gin and homemade ginger on the client’s patio before teatime.
Shame the job went on way into Sunday afternoon as my buddy hadn’t taken into account the irregular brickwork in the alcove, meaning we had to hack two inches of plaster off the wall prior to fitting.
What made it slightly worse, besides the horrendous mess we created, was that the guy was a former cop and stood in copper mode at the back of his living room with his hands clasped behind his back rocking to and fro from the ball of his foot to the heel of his toe offering increasingly irate DIY tips.
While we may have rendered his living room dustier than Death Valley during a drought, we did manage to sort it, clean everything up, and leave him with some fabulous looking alcove units. If only we’d sent him away for a weekend with the wife. You see, I’ve never seen any kind of makeover job, project or renovation look remotely alright part way through a job.
Personally, I love either a fully informed client with current SEO knowledge or one that trusts you to weave your magic and show you the results once you’re done. A little knowledge and a protruding nose can be a bit of a hindrance. But, it takes all sorts, which simply means one has to bite one’s lip and learn the art of email diplomacy.
But back to my unhappy CEO – as he unfurled his SEO company story, I expected him to have been more of the hindrance type. But, like I mentioned before, he was a genuinely sound chap who simply wanted the SEO company to take his online presence to another level. As the tale unfurled further I became more astonished by what the company had or had not done in the name of improving his online lot.
For example, I’ve never heard of a client trying to talk an SEO firm from going for ego keywords – normally, it’s the SEO firm trying to talk the client down from the ego keywords precipice and push for their longer tail cousins as they can rank and convert easier than generic terms.
He also spoke in terms of sales and conversions, while the SEM company rattled off visitors and traffic. It was like some weird role reversal where the SEO lot were trying to fluff online egos and the client was talking less traffic but better engagement in the buying cycle.
They sounded like a bunch of SEO shysters – the types who are fully paid-up members of the union of the snake oil.
I could only nod in agreement and consider him to be as right as any customer ever had been.
If only there was an online equivalent of the ‘copper’s stare’.