How to Explain SEO to Clients: An Agency Guide - Oyova
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Tips for Digital Marketing Agencies: How to Explain SEO to Your Clients


Anyone who has dabbled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knows that it can be complicated. Explaining it to those who have little to no experience with it can be a daunting task. However, as agencies, it’s our job to not only create and implement successful marketing campaigns but also keep clients informed and up-to-date on best practices and industry changes – including those related to SEO.

If you’re struggling to explain how SEO works to your clients, here are some simple tips to help you – and your clients – out.


6 Simple Tips to Explain SEO to Your Clients

1. Set Expectations Early

Everyone wants a quick fix. Often, clients believe that as soon as you begin work on their website, they will start to rank #1 for 1000 industry keywords and terms, and the phone is going to start ringing off the hook – and around the clock. And, while we would all love for that to be a reality, it just isn’t.



The truth of the matter is, it takes time. Yes, it’s the last thing anyone wants to hear. “You need to be patient. These things take time.” But it’s the truth. Now, it’s not to say you can’t discuss the plan and the goals you’re trying to achieve. You most certainly should. But while you’re reviewing, be sure to address the fact that this isn’t a quick fix. Yes, you will begin to see changes to your website’s health and traffic, but to really see the changes, can take months. And if the client is seriously bad off, it could take more.

Prepare to give them weekly updates and monthly reporting to discuss the changes. Highlight what’s working – all improvements – and address items that aren’t showing gains. If you can explain why, let them know. If you don’t know why, be transparent. Let them know you’re reviewing and will provide insight on changes to the plan to rectify the issue. Clear communication on what to expect and when is crucial.


2. Communicate Results – Often

Far too often, we’ve worked with companies whose biggest complaint was, “The other marketing team just never let us know what was going on with our SEO.” They were disheartened by the lack of reporting and explanation of what was being done and what the results were. In fact, they felt as though they were taken advantage of and lost trust in their marketing company.

Your clients want to know that the money they’re investing is generating results. If you fail to touch base with them regularly and provide adequate reporting with easy-to-understand explanations, be prepared to lose their business.

Work with your team and your client to schedule regular check-ins and reporting schedules. Be prepared to provide them with metrics, such as search traffic, keyword rankings, site health, and more. And while providing a ton of information is important, be sure it’s clear, concise, and presented in a way that isn’t going to overwhelm them. Do not send over a 10-page Word Doc of an SEO synopsis and walk away. Doing that is going to piss off your clients and send them packing.


3. Assess their Level of SEO Knowledge

Understanding whether your client is an SEO novice or Guru will help you better determine what level of communication and reporting you should be providing. Do you need to start from the beginning, explaining what SEO is and what it can do for their business? Or have they actively worked on it in the past and are well-versed?



Make sure your client is aware that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It may seem silly but it’s small things like that which can make a world of difference. When we’re immersed in it all day – every day – we can easily take the simple things for granted. Don’t expect them to know what you know.

Once you’ve got a firm grasp on their level of SEO knowledge, you can begin framing your communications and reporting in a way that not only clearly articulates your work – and creates better efficiencies for your team.

At Oyova, when we begin the discussion of SEO work with our clients, we have a list of questions we ask to assess not only their needs but their overall knowledge on the subject. From there, we clearly define what KPIs are needed and to who we’re reporting them. Doing so allows us to know how to frame the correspondence and when.


4. Let them Know Google Runs the Show

If you’ve worked in SEO, then you can attest to the fact that, despite your best efforts, Google decides whether or not your website succeeds or not. They’re constantly releasing new updates that impact website rankings and traffic, making an SEO marketer’s world a nightmare. The best approach there is transparency. When a release takes place, send them an email letting them know, even if their site was not directly impacted.

Now, if you are following industry best practices, your client’s website won’t experience Google’s wrath as much as those who do not.


5. Provide a Brief Explanation Industry Best Practices

As a marketer, you serve as a type of teacher for your clients. You’re the expert. The one who can explain to them how things work and why. When explaining SEO to your clients, provide a brief overview of SEO best practices. Let them know what search engines are looking for and how you will provide it.

Moz elements of an optimized landing page for SEO

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For example, if you’re discussing content marketing and blogging, consider the discussion of the importance of On-Page SEO. Why it’s important to have page titles, meta descriptions, alt text, etc., and why providing key terms within your content is important. At Oyova, we work with clients who, at times, choose to write blogs for the website. To assist them with their SEO, we provide a checklist of key items they should focus on when creating content to help guide them. It also allows them to be hands-on in SEO and become more knowledgeable about the process.

Tip: We always recommend providing quick write-ups, checklists, or PDFs as quick references for your clients. It’s something they can refer back to should they have a question and can minimize the times you need to review certain items. You can even share a blog post you have on your website that can help them out. Use your resources!


6. Keep them Informed

SEO is ever-evolving. When changes happen, be sure to make your client aware. It doesn’t have to be right away – unless it will directly impact their site soon. It could be a list of items you round up for your next sit-down or phone call. Or, maybe you just wrote a new blog and thought they’d benefit from reading it. Send them a link and let them know you were thinking of them and thought they should check it out.

And while you’re keeping them “in the know,” you are doing your due diligence to stay on your SEO A-game. It’s a win-win for everyone.


Your Next Steps

If you’re struggling to explain SEO to your clients, don’t worry. You’re not alone. The good news is, it’s a simple problem to remedy. It just takes a little time to know your clients better and provide them with the tools that best fit their learning styles and needs.

Some clients are visual, while others are more hands-on. Devise an SEO plan that can both provide results and keep them engaged. Make it a point to communicate with them regularly and set expectations. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions to assess their level of SEO knowledge. Stay up-to-date on industry news, best practices, and all of the thousand Google algorithm releases, and keep your clients in the know often. Provide them with simple write-ups, checklists, and PDFs to reference if it’s something that will help them. Soon enough, they’ll get on track with SEO, and you will have created a lasting partnership.

And if that doesn’t work out, maybe contact a digital agency that’s done this kind of thing before – like Oyova. (Hint hint. Wink Wink.) We’ve worked with other agencies to streamline their SEO processes and provide long-lasting, positive results for their clients.

Interested? Give our team a call. They like to talk – and they like providing simple solutions to make you – and your clients – successful.