How to Explain SEO to Clients (And Earn Trust)

How to Explain SEO to Clients (And Earn Trust)

Most clients know a thing or two about SEO, but they are not sure what it is exactly and how it is done. That’s the reason why they are hiring SEO agencies and contractors in the first place. They just know that SEO is important for the success of their business in the online space and they need to get SEO professionals for the job.

It’s important for clients to know SEO. This way, they can be involved in the process and align their SEO goals with their business objectives. They will also be able to see the value you provide to their business. But how do you explain SEO to clients, exactly?

An SEO client talking to an agency's chat bot.

1. Start with the basics

Clients don’t need to know everything about SEO since it should be your primary job, not theirs. But they should know enough, so they can keep up and make decisions and adjustments in their SEO journey. Start with the absolute basics. They will serve as the foundation for more complex concepts. The absolute basics involve defining SEO, explaining the importance of search engines, and differentiating organic and paid search results.

  • Literally define what SEO is. Define SEO as Search Engine Optimization. From these words alone, they can get a better idea of what it is exactly – it’s optimizing for search engines like Google. You can provide analogies here to make the concept of SEO easier to understand, especially for non-techie business owners. For example, you can compare optimizing for search engines to optimizing a storefront to make it more appealing to passersby.
  • Explain the significance of search engines in online traffic. Explain SEO to clients by describing search engines as a gateway to information online. People use search engines to find information, not just random facts, but also products and services. Again, you can use the same analogy with the storefront. Physical storefronts will want to increase their visibility on the street. Likewise, SEO is about increasing visibility online.
  • Differentiate organic and paid search. Share with your clients that there are essentially two kinds of search results – organic and paid. Organic search results are search results that naturally appear on search results pages while paid search results are basically advertisements. This is an important distinction because you may have to use both organic and paid executions for their SEO campaigns and strategies.

2. Explain the benefits of SEO

One of the best ways to keep an SEO client is to let them see the value of your work. That’s why it’s important to explain the benefits of SEO to your clients. When they see the benefits, they are more likely to stay with you. Another advantage of explaining these benefits is that it shifts the technical jargon conversation to real-life outcomes that matter more to their business. There are three main points you need to cover: online visibility, web traffic, and client ROI.

  • Talk about enhancing online visibility. Explain that optimizing for search engines enhances their online visibility. Their website and other online spaces like social media profiles are more likely to show up as searchers search for relevant products and services using search engines. You can say that an enhanced online visibility is analogous to a high-foot-traffic area storefront.
  • Share the importance of increasing web traffic. When you are optimizing for search engines, you are not just getting random searchers to your website and other online spaces. You are getting targeted searchers that are more likely to convert. This makes SEO an effective way of getting leads and new customers. Again, you can mention the high-foot-traffic area storefront. The more traffic you get, the more people are engaging with your products and services, and the more chances for you to convert someone into a customer.
  • Emphasize their SEO investment and its beneficial returns. SEO is not just a business expense. It’s also an investment. If a business invests in SEO, they can expect benefits that may outweigh their initial investment. Businesses, after all, want some kind of return when they shell out money. Make sure to emphasize to your SEO clients that their investments will potentially have better returns.

3. Break down the SEO process into steps

SEO is just a concept until you break down the actionable steps on how to do it. Besides, SEO can be a complex concept in itself, so breaking down the entire process into more digestible pieces can make it easier to grasp for your SEO clients. Use this opportunity to share the importance of analysis and strategy and on-page and off-page SEO.

  • Start with audits and strategies. The first step of SEO is analysis. You have to conduct audits to analyze a website’s SEO, look at things that you can take advantage of and things you can improve, and study your competitors to know what you can take from them and what you can do better. From the analyses and insights you have gathered, you can formulate strategies. And make sure that these strategies align with your SEO client’s goals and objectives.
  • Move to on-page optimization. On-page optimization is easier to explain to SEO clients, so make sure to start here. Talk about content optimization in general, including titles, headings, meta tags, and the body of the content itself. You can also dive into keyword research and how you can incorporate these keywords into the content.
  • Finish with off-page optimization. Off-page optimization is more difficult to explain to SEO clients. But if you successfully educated your clients about SEO basics, audits and strategies, and on-page optimizations, it can be easier to explain. You can talk about website authority and credibility. And then you can dive deeper into backlinks, social signals, and other key metrics you can track in your SEO campaigns.

4. Stress the importance of personalized strategies

You don’t have to be so generic when you are explaining SEO to clients. You can customize your SEO concepts to cater to their industry, niche, target audience, and business objectives. After all, your SEO clients will have different needs and wants. No two businesses are the same. And by customizing your SEO explanations to the current SEO client you are educating, you are showing your deep understanding of their specific case and your flexibility as an SEO professional.

  • Know the specific client’s business goals. Education doesn’t have to be one-way. Talk to your client and ask about their business goals and objectives. What kind of products and services do they have? What kind of audience are they targeting? What do they expect to achieve with SEO? These important pieces of information will help you craft a more solid explanation of SEO, an explanation that will directly relate to their business landscape.
  • Relate concepts to their industry or niche. Education is not just about absorbing concepts. It’s also about applying the concepts and seeing them in action. While educating your clients about SEO, give them practical applications for their specific industry and niche. Maybe you can share specific SEO strategies, case studies, and success stories that align with their field.
  • Choose relevant metrics and benefits. The type of business they have, the size of their business, their SEO strategies, and their goals can affect the kind of metrics you need to track. For example, if your SEO client has a content-driven website, engagement metrics such as bounce rates and times on page may be more important. And if your SEO client is an e-commerce website, metrics like conversion rates and sales may be more important.

5. Share the importance of analytics

Explain to your SEO clients that there are tangible things you can track to analyze their current SEO situation, see progress over time, and make adjustments when necessary. They are called metrics. You are going to report to your SEO clients anyway, and these reports will have metrics. Make sure to educate your clients about these metrics, so they can actually read and understand your reports and see the value of your work.

  • Explain the significance of each metric. There are so many different metrics in SEO, such as bounce rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and keyword rankings. Explain each metric to your SEO clients, especially the metrics that you will be using for their personalized strategies. Also explain why these metrics are important for online visibility, user engagement, and most of all, conversions.
  • Tell them how to read each metric. Reports and the metrics that come with them will be useless if your SEO clients don’t know how to read them. How will they know if the reports and metrics indicate a good or bad performance for their SEO campaigns? Provide context. What is a high bounce rate? Why is this a negative indicator of user engagement?
  • Align your explanations with their business goals. Make sure that the metrics you are highlighting are metrics that align with their business goals. This way, when SEO clients understand these metrics well enough, they can make more informed decisions and see the value you provide for their SEO situation. For example, if a specific client’s goal is to increase sales, tell them about conversion rates, sales, and revenues.

6. Provide real-life examples

SEO concepts can be difficult to grasp. But you can make it easier by providing real-life examples since these are scenarios that SEO clients will be able to relate to. By providing examples, you are building a bridge between concept and application – and that bridge can be the one you need to successfully explain SEO to clients and earn their trust.

  • Explain concepts with analogies. A problem with SEO is that, sometimes, it can be full of jargon. And if you explain it with jargon, you are just alienating your SEO clients. One way to avoid jargon is to explain concepts with real-world analogies. For example, you can liken a website with high traffic to a storefront in a high-foot-traffic area. You can explain backlinks as “votes” from other websites, making your client’s website more authoritative. With analogies, you are making abstract concepts more tangible.
  • Share case studies and success stories. Case studies and success stories are a great way to show improvement to your SEO clients. Tell them about common SEO challenges, strategies and adjustments, and measurable results. This is also beneficial for you as an SEO agency or contractor, especially if you showcase your own work in your case studies and success stories. It will help build your reputation and foster trust.
  • Try before and after comparisons. Effective SEO can be very transformative to a business. With SEO, a client can experience a boost in brand awareness, sales, user engagement, and more. You can demonstrate this transformation with metrics and visual representations, such as charts and graphs.

7. Control expectations

When you are explaining SEO to your clients, you are talking about increasing website traffic, making more conversions, improving user engagement, boosting brand awareness, and more. This may make SEO clients have unrealistic expectations. Tell them that SEO is a long game built on consistency and perseverance. It’s not just about making one piece of content viral. Controlling expectations will be good for you too. It prevents misunderstandings with your SEO clients that can lead to mistrust and other bad things.

  • Make a preliminary assessment and set goals. Analyze your client’s SEO situation, their industry and niche, and their competitive landscape. With your assessment and insights, you can collaborate with your SEO client to come up with achievable goals and objectives, littered with milestones on a timeline.
  • Educate clients about the true nature of SEO. While explaining SEO to clients, highlight the true nature of search engine optimization – that it’s influenced by various factors like search engine algorithms, market trends, and even competition. Tell them that SEO is a gradual process involving controllable and uncontrollable factors. Things change, and things may only materialize after months of hard work.
  • Report and showcase improvements. When you are trying to control an SEO client’s expectations, there is a tendency for them to be doubtful of your capabilities. After all, they may have seen other SEO agencies or contractors giving them outrageous promises. One way to show that you know what you are doing is through your reports. Explain the importance of scheduled reports and how you will be showcasing improvements there, particularly on metrics relevant to your personalized strategies.

8. Maintain open lines of communication

SEO requires a continuous learning process. After all, it’s not a stagnant field. There will be algorithm changes, new SEO techniques, and opportunities that can arise. This is why it’s important to continuously communicate with your SEO clients and educate them. Constant communication is also great for client engagement and retention. It builds trust and fosters a positive and transparent work environment.

  • Be proactive in communicating. Don’t wait for SEO clients to communicate with you. Reach out to them, educate them about SEO, ask questions yourself, share industry updates, and make adjustments to SEO executions. When you are a proactive communicator, you will give the impression that you are invested in their success. This is something clients want to feel.
  • Give timely responses to inquiries. Your SEO clients may have a question or two about SEO. They may also have questions about their SEO campaigns and executions. Make sure that you promptly reply not just to their inquiries, but also to their feedback and insights. Timely responses show how you are committed to their success and how valuable you see their input.
  • Provide regular updates and reports. Reports are not just used to keep your SEO clients informed. They are also used to educate clients about SEO. Provide clients with regular updates and reports, complete with key performance indicators and insights. Clients can build their SEO knowledge by consuming these reports on a regular basis.

Explain SEO to clients and earn their trust

Your clients hire you because you know more about SEO than them. But this doesn’t mean that you should be the only one who knows about SEO. When your clients know about SEO too, they can share insights to align their business goals better, collaborate with you for more SEO efforts, and see the value you provide to their business.

Educate your clients about SEO, earn their trust, and build a collaborative and positive working environment with them.


  • Andrew David Scherer

    My name is Andrew David Scherer and I've been involved in digital marketing since 2006.. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about marketing your local clients online, I'm always happy to help and share what I know. I've built local businesses from 0 to 6 figures in sales. Leased, sold, and rented a handful of them. And I've had hundreds of them as clients. Marketer's Center gives digital marketing consultants the ability to easily scale their local marketing agencies in a way that isn't labor-intensive and still very profitable. If you want to get my "6 Month SEO Plan" please request a free reseller dashboard account here. You'll also be able to download a price list for all of the services we offer. You can connect with me via Facebook in our Local Marketing Freethinkers group, or via Twitter and Linkedin.

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