The Google dictionary describes transparency as:
The transparency of a process, situation, or statement is its quality of being easily understood or recognized, for example because there are no secrets connected with it, or because it is expressed in a clear way.
In the world of SEO, it’s crucial that an SEO provider be transparent with its client. Admittedly, that can be difficult. For example, many web development companies outsource their search engine optimization services to other companies which, in turn, may outsource various link building and other optimization services to oversees individuals and companies. The end result – when you weave your way up and down and through the chain – is services are provided without a transparent information flow from the actual implementer to the client who owns the website.
A few days ago I examined a website for a prospective client and observed a lot of spammy link building. As I do with most clients, I had asked them to detail any previous “SEO work” done on their website. If a client responds to that request, I can pretty quickly get a feel for any value that has been added to a website based on my knowledge of a number of SEO providers and the work they do as well as my ability (like anyone else) to swing over to that provider’s website and gain a reasonable grasp fairly quickly for the style of their SEO. After all, there are multiple shades and colors of “SEO.”
With this particular client, apparently a web development company had marketed to the client optimization services which they then outsourced to some overseas providers in India. The end result was the typical blog post spam comments and forum spam comments, all done with the purpose of “link building.” Essentially, a waste of money. Was the client aware of what was taking place? No. Did they know that they had purchased SEO services? Yes. Were they frustrated by the lack of visible results? Yes. Was there communication taking place educating the client about SEO? No.
I then compare this particular situation with another website I recently evaluated. In this case, a local Lancaster, PA SEO web development company with an in-house SEO consultant had been hired to do link building and optimize the site. What a contrast! While there still was minimal transparency and communication taking place between the SEO provider and the client, there was good, solid optimization strategy in place and the client was fairly pleased.
However, as I pointed out, with both scenarios, the communication and transparency was just not in place. Is it possible to constantly educate the client about the ins and outs of SEO? Each client will come to the table with varying educational backgrounds and exposure to how websites work and how search engines function. Each client will come with varying desires to learn. For myself, whenever we take on a new client, I love to learn everything I can about them. I believe, personally, that the more I am able to put my feet into their shoes, persay, the more effectively and successfully I’ll be able to market them online. If I was a client receiving SEO services from someone else, because of my love of knowledge, I would want to know exactly what I was paying for and how everything “worked.”
But many clients are busy with their business and are just looking for a professional to entrust their website’s optimization to. Is this bad? No, as long as the SEO provider is trustworthy. A client should always hold their SEO provider to high standards and expect (and require) ongoing feedback. Clear lines of communication and accountability should be developed. Because of this, at Sozo Firm, we strive to record every minute of our work for any given client with a brief note of what took place during that time period. Some clients request this timesheet monthly while others may never request it. We also strive to educate our clients regarding the philosophy behind search engine optimization strategy – based on their desire to learn.
Some may ask me, “Don’t you feel that is a risk? What if the client learned so much that they didn’t need you any more?” My response is that I invest myself into each client to ensure their success. If I invest so much that I’ve equipped them to be self sufficient, then so be it. I can be sure that, should they need additional advice down the road, they’ll know whom to turn to for help.
At Sozo Firm, we strive to be transparent. We strive to educate our clients – to the degree they are interested in learning how the wheels turn and the gears operate. We strive to develop lasting relationships with each client and to help them achieve the success they deserve online. If this is the kind of SEO provider you are looking for, then why don’t you fill out our no obligation quote form today?
Image credits: top Andrey Popov / Fotolia; bottom almagami / Fotolia.