Communicating to Clients & Stakeholders in a Constantly Changing SEO Landscape
As soon as your target is continually moving, how can you keep your clients informed and happy?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled to steadfastly keep up with the changes within our industry.
Proceed, don’t be shy!
Even the most vigilant SEOs have already been caught off guard by an algorithm update, changes to the SERP layout, or improvements to the various tools we rely on.
It could be tiring attempting to keep up with a constantly moving target, but it doesn’t even stop there. SEOs must also explain those developments for their clients and stakeholders.
Just work at an agency? Your clients may wish to understand that you’re helping them stay relevant. During my agency years, I can’t inform you how often times clients emailed in with a connect to articles on the main topics a brand new development asking, “Do we have to concern yourself with this? How do we utilize this for our SEO?” Keeping apprised of the changes and informing your client how it applies for them is just a critical element of not merely campaign success, but customer loyalty.
Work in-house? The main difference listed here is that your client can be your boss. Whereas at an agency you could lose a consumer over communication lapses, in-house SEOs could lose their jobs. That’s obviously the worst-case scenario, but if you’re in a budget-conscious, SEO-immature company, failing to keep relevant and communicate those changes effectively could mean your boss stops seeing the value in your position.
Anticipating changes and mitigating anxiety
There are several changes we all know about before time.
Like, when Google announced the mobile friendly update (remember #mobilegeddon?), they did so two months ahead of the actual rollout, and they’d also been encouraging the utilization of mobile-friendly design well before that.
Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal back 2014 and had been advocating for a protected web well before that, but they didn’t start adding the “not secure” warning to any or all non-HTTPS pages in Chrome until July 2018.
Big changes usually warrant big announcements ahead of the rollout. You will need time to prepare for changes such as this and to make use of that time to prepare your clients and stakeholders as well. It’s why Moz put so much effort into educational materials across the rollout of the new DA.
But in order to mitigate the anxiety these changes could cause, we have to know about them. So where can we go to keep up-to-date?
If you’ve held it’s place in the SEO industry for any length of time, these sources likely won’t be new to you, but they’re some of the best ways to help keep yourself informed:
- The Google Webmaster Central Blog: Official news on crawling and indexing sites for the Google index.
- The Keyword: Google’s main company blog — great for staying up-to-date with company news and product updates.
- Industry blogs like Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Journal or local-specific SEO blogs like Mike Blumenthal’s and LocalU (there are tons more).
- Watching notices and updates from your own SEO software/services providers.
- Experience! When you’re in the trenches everyday, you’re bound to discover something new.
If you know a big change like this really is coming, be proactive! Inform your clients of what the change is, how it affects them, and everything you anticipate doing about it.
Hey [client]! Among the metrics that individuals include in your reporting, Domain Authority (DA), will soon be changing the following month, so we wanted to let do you know what you are able to expect! Moz is changing how they calculate DA, and consequently, some DA scores might be higher or lower. Be confident, we’ll be monitoring your DA score to observe it changes in terms of your competitors’scores. Below are a few helpful slides to learn more on the update, or feel liberated to call us and we’ll be happy to walk you through it in more detail.
When you’re in a position to proactively communicate changes, clients and stakeholders have less cause to worry. They could see that you’re along with things, and that their campaign is in good hands.
What about the changes you didn’t see coming?
A lot of changes happen without warning. What are SEOs supposed to accomplish then?
To answer that question, I do believe we have to back it completely as much as your client’s first day together with your agency (or for in-housers, your first few days on the job).
Despite having unexpected changes, preventative measures will help SEOs react to these changes in a way that doesn’t compromise the stability of the client or stakeholder relationship.
What are those preventative measures?
- Give them a quick breakdown of how search works: Don’t venture too far in to the weeds, but a simple breakdown of how crawling, indexing, and ranking work will help your clients understand the field they’re playing on.
- Explain the volatile nature of search engines: Google makes changes for their algorithm daily! Not all of those are major, and that you don’t want to scare your client into thinking that you’re flying totally blind, but they need to at the least understand that change is just a normal part of search.
- Prepare them for unannounced changes: Let your client understand that while there are some changes we are able to see coming, others roll out without any prior notice. This would prevent any upset due to seeing changes they weren’t informed about.