About Kalena Jordan

In my day job, I'm Director of Studies and tutor at the online training institution Search Engine College. In my spare time, I'm a search engine agony aunt and SEO to global clients. I've been marketing websites online since 1996 and blogging about search since 2002. To learn more, visit

Q and A: How should I manage the client expectations of my SEO efforts?

QuestionHello Kalena

I saw your recent post about how SEO freelancers can generate new business for themselves and I wondered if you could answer a related question please.

I am currently the in-house SEO for a real estate chain, but I am quite keen to start my own consulting business part time. The major reason I haven’t done so already is that I wouldn’t know what to tell clients to expect when it comes to the projected results of my optimization efforts. I mean I know how long it took me to optimize these sites for my boss and it was many weeks before they even started to show up in the first few pages of Google.

But isn’t every site different? Doesn’t it depend entirely on what Google thinks of each site and the indexed content? How can I get potential SEO clients interested in my services if I don’t know what type of results they can expect and when? How do you handle this type of situation and what advice can you give me?

Thanks so much Kalena

Kelly

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Hi Kelly

Thanks for reaching out – and your question is a good one. Search engine optimization is a unique service in that you rarely see the results of your efforts right away. It can take days, weeks or even months for Google and the other search engines to index and re-rank your newly optimized pages. It’s vital that you explain this to your clients up front. Most of your clients will be expecting results quickly and it’s your job to extinguish that myth. The key to managing client expectations is to be as transparent as possible about your process and educate them in the process.

It always astounds me when I hear about SEO companies who don’t actually explain to clients what they do. Some SEOs don’t even inform the clients what changes they are going to make to their web sites! Sometimes I’ll take on a new client who has worked with another SEO in the past and when I ask them “what changes did the SEO make to your site? What SEO tasks did they perform?” they will have NO CLUE. Or they’ve been told that the process is “secret” or “proprietory”. What a load of bollocks. How can a client possibly understand the value of what you do if you don’t explain to them what you actually do?

You want to know why some SEOs refuse to reveal their process to clients? Because they don’t actually know how to optimize a web site. It’s true. Many of the large so called *SEO* firms you see advertising and cold calling these days claim to be selling SEO services, but they DON’T PERFORM ANY SEO WHATSOEVER. What they are actually selling is Google AdWords. They make grand claims to help customers get their sites ranking high in Google using *proprietory SEO methods*, when what they’re actually doing is buying up masses of cheap keywords on AdWords via bulk accounts and displaying ads pointing to their customer sites. Yes, the ads might appear above the organic search results from time to time and deliver traffic, but the click costs usually increase month on month. As soon as that customer stops paying, the traffic stops coming. And what are the clients left with? The same unoptimized site they started with, no more traffic and the opinion that SEO simply doesn’t work.

No wonder SEO has such a bad name!

Some SEOs I’ve talked to are afraid that the client will take that knowledge and use it to perform their own SEO or to train staff in-house to take over the SEO process, putting them out of a job. You know what I say to that? Fantastic. The best SEOs work themselves out of a role, in my opinion.

If you can educate your client to the point where they understand the importance of SEO and the value to their business, you have done the very best job possible and I guarantee you they will be singing your praises for life. Because you will have turned them from a customer into a fan, you will probably get more business from an ex-client you’ve educated than you would have from that same client if you had kept them as a long term customer. How? Via referrals and word of mouth. A passionate testimonial from a happy customer can win many, many clients. You can use that testimonial on your web site, business cards and marketing material. You can use that client as a verbal referee if future clients want to talk to a previous customer.

So don’t be afraid to educate your clients during every single step of the SEO process. Make sure they track their own progress via Google Analytics. Show them what you’re doing and manage their expectations by explaining to them that you don’t know exactly when their site rankings and traffic will start to climb and you may have to tweak things along the way.

Simply be honest with them and they will ultimately respect you more and thank you for it.

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Like to learn how to earn a full time income as a part time SEO consultant? Check out my Udemy course on the subject.

 

Q and A: What are some ideas for SEO lead generation?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve recently struck out on my own as a search engine optimization freelancer and I’m finding it really difficult to get new leads.

I can’t afford to pay per click the amounts that the big players are paying on Google AdWords and I’m not confident enough with Bing Ads to try that. I did experiment with some Facebook advertising, but the response wasn’t great so I don’t think it’s really where my market is.

I know you recommended in the past to try some freelancing sites, but I was on Elance for a month and was out-bid by a lot of SEO crews based in South East Asia, who seem to low-ball everybody and win most of the projects. I know my work is higher quality than what they are offering, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the client.

Any creative ideas for how I can generate new leads and find genuine SEO clients who are willing to pay fairly for quality?

Thanks
Anthony

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Hi Anthony

I feel your pain, I truly do. Having my own SEO consultancy, I am fully aware just how challenging it can be to secure a steady flow of new business and compete with rivals after the same clients.

Here are my tips for gaining new SEO leads:

1) Install MySiteAuditor on Your Main Sales PageMy Site Auditor is a custom-built lead generation tool for SEO professionals and freelancers. You simply install the code somewhere prominent on your site and it allows visitors to generate a one minute SEO audit for a URL of their choice, for a particular keyword or phrase. Visitors need to enter their email address in order to generate the audit, creating automatic leads to follow up.

You can see it in action over at Site Audit NZ. There is a 10 day free trial and two low cost monthly subscription plans, depending on whether you want to embed the tool, white-label the audits and have leads emailed to you.  We use it and it’s a great way to increase SEO sales and leads by simply embedding a useful tool on your site.

2) Utilize Keyword Alert and Social Monitoring Tools – Services like Google Alerts and the fairly new Talkwalker Alerts allow you to track mentions of your target keywords or search phrases across the web without lifting a finger. You simply choose the search terms you want to be alerted about and then the service will email you whenever it finds a new mention of those terms in Google search results (for Google Alerts) or in news sites, blogs and discussion boards across the entire web (for Talkwalker). Klout, Social Mention and HootSuite all offer a similar service to track real time mentions on social sites. Raven Tools used to offer the same, but have sadly discontinued it.

What this means is that you can pin-point potential leads by what they are searching for / talking about. So, for example, we are always looking for new students to join Search Engine College and a great way to find potentials is to see who is discussing topics like “I want to learn SEO” or “Teach myself SEO”.  We can then (tactfully) approach those persons directly on the sites where the discussion was found to see if our courses might be a good fit for them.

You can do the same thing by creating alerts for phrases like “Need help with SEO” or “SEO my site”. Just make sure you follow up fast though, because discussions can become stale quickly, especially on social networks. Also be super careful that you take a helpful approach rather than dive in with a sales pitch, or you’re likely to frighten off any genuine potentials.

3) Give Bing Ads a Whirl - You can teach yourself how to use it fairly quickly and the CPC is much, much cheaper than Google AdWords in my experience. If you want to contact me directly, I can even send you a USD100 voucher for ad credit (as I’m a Bing Partner).

4) Give Stuff Away – Got an ebook or a white-paper lying around? Turn it into a free give-away on your site, in exchange for a visitor’s email address. Companies like HubSpot do this type of incentive-based lead generation exceptionally well. With a little forethought, any client case study or interesting SEO research can be turned into a downloadable incentive to part with an email address. Just make sure you have their permission to contact these visitors with your marketing messages later on.

These tactics may not work for you, but they consistently work for me, so I’m confident you will get some good results.

Best of luck :-)

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Like to learn SEO with a view to starting your own business? Access your Free SEO Lessons. No catch!

 

Emoji Added to Title Tags for SEO Purposes

emoji-expediaSo remember last week when Google added full color emoji characters to their search results?

Yeah, well travel portal Expedia has taken the new functionality a step further by adding emoji characters to their title tags in an apparent attempt to gain attention in the search results. Pretty clever, no?

For some reason, the emoji aren’t displaying in the Google.com results showing from NZ, so it may be that only some data-centers have the feature supported right now, but you can see an example in the image above and others via the previous link.

It would be fascinating to know if the move has increased click-through and by what percentage. I would imagine it would be having some positive effect, similar to the impact author photos had in search results for articles and blog posts using the now defunct Google Authorship tag (yeah, thanks for pulling that one Google).

The question now is: how long before I get asked by a client to add emoji to their title tags and how much can I justify charging for adding smilies to HTML code? And more importantly, how long before Google pull the pin on support for emoji in title tags after millions of SEOs start copying Expedia?

Only time will tell.

POSTSCRIPT: In a Google Webmaster Hangout today, John Mueller confirmed that it is likely Google will pull support for emoji in search results in the next few months. Thanks to Jennifer Slegg for the heads up.

 

 

Social Media Marketing for Business: Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton Workshops

Social-MediaThe next round of workshops I’m conducting for the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) is on the subject of Social Media Marketing for Business.

This full-day workshop will show you step-by-step how to implement a social media marketing strategy for a business of any size.

Included will be real-life case studies, practical examples and clever ideas for using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media channels that you can immediately adapt to suit your own requirements.

It will also include group analysis of existing social media strategies of willing attendees.

Whether you’re a marketer, content creator, IT manager, website coordinator or business owner, knowing how to reach your target audiences via social media is vital for any online business.

At the end of the course, attendees will be able to:

  • Create an effective social media marketing strategy
  • Distinguish between the major social media marketing channels
  • Determine if social media is suitable for their business model
  • Create a Twitter account for a business
  • Create a Facebook account for a business
  • Create a Google+ account for a business
  • Create a YouTube account for a business
  • Pinpoint the most important social media channels for their audience
  • Understand the difference between effective and ineffective social media campaigns
  • Understand basic social media business etiquette
  • Understand how to use social media for reputation management, customer support and public relations
  • Implement clever and effective social media marketing campaigns
  • Understand how social media differs from blogging
  • Understand how social media integrates with SEO and other marketing strategies
  • Draft a corporate Social Media Policy
  • Determine suitable goals for social media campaigns
  • Accurately budget for social media campaigns
  • Track social media campaign effectiveness and ROI

Below are the details and booking links for Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton events, so please share with anyone you know who might benefit from attending:

Social Media Marketing for Business – Wellington
Date: 28 April 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Conference Centre
Terrace 2, Levels 2 – 4
St John House
114 The Terrace
Wellington

Social Media Marketing for Business – Auckland
Date: 27 July 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: CBD Office
Executive Boardroom
Level 4, 17 Albert Street
Auckland

Social Media Marketing for Business – Hamilton
Date: 4 August 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Wintec House Long Room
Gallagher Hub
Wintec City Campus,
Gate 5 Tristram Street
Hamilton

Social Media Marketing for Business – Wellington
Date: 8 September 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: NZICA
Conference Room 2,
Level 7, Tower Building
50 Customhouse Quay
Wellington

Social Media Marketing for Business – Auckland
Date: 5 October 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: CBD Office
Executive Boardroom
Level 4, 17 Albert Street
Auckland

Events for Christchurch and Dunedin are not currently booked, but can be arranged upon request by clicking the On Demand link on the pages above.

Hope to see you at one of these events.

 

Yahoo and Microsoft Extend Search Partnership

YahooBingLogoIn a joint release issued today, Microsoft and Yahoo announced that they will be amending and extending the strategic search partnership they originally signed in 2009.

The renewed partnership has two major amendments:

1) Yahoo will have increased flexibility to provide search functionality to other platforms, on both desktop and mobile search as the partnership is non-exclusive. Yahoo will continue serving search results and Bing Ads to desktop search audiences.

2) Microsoft will become the exclusive sales force for ads delivered by the Bing Ads platform, while Yahoo will continue to be the exclusive sales force for Yahoo’s Gemini ads platform.

The revenue split of the original partnership appears to remain unchanged. Yahoo will continue to receive a share of the profits delivered to Microsoft via Bing Ads displayed within Yahoo search results.

The partnership extension clearly indicates the joint venture has been a profitable one for both companies and a tactic that continues to help each of the companies compete with the market Goliath that is Google.