Business is about results and this is
why it's quite natural if your client wants results and increase in
traffic as one of the physical dimensions of SEO improvement.
However, unlike many other areas where you can show a deliverable or
some other form of tangible results right after you finish the
project, this isn't the case with SEO. With SEO, results may come
months or years after the start and the worst is they might never
come at all.
This is too bad because your client
will hardly be happy to pay for no results. However, when there will
be results, there are some sound indicators for that, as we'll
discuss later but first let's discuss what your client can expect.
It's ROI, Not Traffic that Matters Most
I know some clients will find it hard to understand that traffic
isn't the most important measure of SEO success or failure but for
the majority of clients it's clear that traffic is just one side of
the coin. What matters most is ROI – i.e. how much more you are
making as a result of your SEO campaign.
For instance, for one of my affiliate projects, I didn't bother at
all to check traffic ups and downs – I checked just conversions
because this was the most important. Even if the increased traffic
were times the initial, if the commissions were the same, I would
have declared this campaign a failure because I am not interested in
hits but in conversions.
Of course, presumably the more traffic you have, the higher the
ROI. As a result, even if traffic is up but ROI isn't that much,
offer your client to change the strategy to PPC because it usually
works better than SEO for conversions.
Explain to Your Client What Traffic Is Realistic
Another issue you need to clarify with your client before you go
to the indicators of SEO success or failure is what traffic is
realistic to expect and when. Your client might dream that after
spending $100 on tons of low quality backlinks, this will land him or
her on the first page for a competitive word but as we know, this
will never happen. In fact, if you are dealing with a bad client, I
can repeat the advice in the 35
Lessons a Decade in SEO Has Taught Me article – part ways with
the client before you get a heart attack.
You also need to tell your client (if he or she isn't already
aware) that it takes time for SEO results to become noticeable.
Sometimes you might have to wait for months till you see any
improvement, so patience here is a virtue.
Always Keep Your Client Up-to-Date with Your
Good communication with clients is always essential and SEO
campaigns aren't an exception. This is why it is recommendable to
send your clients weekly, biweekly or monthly reports about your
progress during the period – i.e. you have acquired 5 PR5 backlinks
from (list sites here), you have added 3 new posts to their blog
(list URLs here), etc. These reports help the client know where you
are, so don't regard them as a piece of useless red tape.
On the other hand, if the client has an idea about SEO, you could
coordinate the tasks you plan to do in advance. This also helps him
or her keep track of what's going on with the project. If the client
has no idea about SEO, then it's tricky because even if you tell him
or her about your plans, he or she won't be able to follow and it
will also be harder for you to explain to them what the results are.
You might even have to explain to him or her the basics about how
to get traffic to a site.
Key Indicators Your SEO Is Bringing Results
Now, after you have clarified with your client what can and can't
be expected trafficwise, here are some indicators that show you are
(or aren't) on the right track.
1. Better Rankings for Minor Keywords
It is much better, if you can report better rankings for major
keywords but since this is a goal that might take years to achieve,
you can go for the minor keywords. Minor keywords are where you start
because they are easier and faster to conquer, yet they can bring a
substantial amount of targeted traffic.
To report better rankings for minor keywords, just compare the
number of hits for each of them before you started the SEO campaign
and now. Of course, this isn't very precise because there could be
other reasons – for instance seasonal fluctuations that drive
traffic for a given minor keyword up and down but all equal, minor
keywords are a great indicator about progress or lack of it.
2. Increased Number of Unique Keywords
You can also report the number of unique keywords that led users
to your site. In Google Analytics, go to Sources ? Search ?
Organic and at the bottom you will see which keywords brought
traffic. If the number of unique keywords is increasing, then you are
doing better than before.
3. Increased Traffic from Search Engines
Increased traffic might be not only from Google but also from
other search engines. Google is number one but still traffic from
other search engines is generally more targeted and it also counts.
To check if you see an increase in traffic from search engines as a
whole, look in the server logs, in the referrer field, and you will
see where traffic comes to you from.
4. Improved Rankings with Ranking Services
One more indicator your client's site is doing better than before
are improved rankings with ranking services. These ranking
services include Google's Page Rank, as well as ranking services,
such as Alexa, Domain Authority (DA) and other similar services.
Of these, Alexa is the most flexible because they update their
rankings daily. PR is updated 4 times a year and DA is also updated
not very frequently, so it is quite possible that the present rank
(or the newly updated one) doesn't take your recent efforts into
It's tricky to report results when these results are not in a
physical form but it isn't impossible. Use the indicators above to
convince your client your SEO efforts will bring traffic and keep the