Over the past several years, I’ve had the enormous pleasure of working with some the most amazing clients ever.
Some are company owners with very little knowledge of SEO. Some are company SEOs who have been in the industry for over a decade. Some are marketing managers. I can easily work with all of them because they have one major thing in common: they’re willing to talk to me and to listen to me.
The relationship between any marketer who isn’t working in-house and his or her in-house contact is a very important one, one that sets the tone for any work to be in done, in my opinion. It’s hard to really put your heart and soul into something when you don’t feel like you’re a part of a team.
Just as I’ve had amazing clients, I’ve had some where the relationship was either nonexistent or fractious. I’ll be honest and say that when someone basically commands me to “just shut up and do what I say,” I don’t really feel like I can put in the same level of effort as with a client who wants to be involved and help me do a better job.
We link builders are always harping on relationship building, so let’s go over a few questions to ask that will hopefully help you have a better client-link-builder relationship right from the start.
We send them monthly, in general, but some clients want them more frequently, especially when we start a campaign.
I have no problem with that, but we have had a few clients who assumed I’d be emailing them every time we secured a link, even though we’d told them our typical frequency was monthly. Nail it down in the beginning so everyone knows what to expect.
With the way we work (which is as off-site link help) we don’t always choose the anchors and targets. Some clients want us to do the research and come up with the plan ourselves, and some have an in-house SEO handling that.
Many clients are now of the opinion that letting a webmaster decide how to link is the most natural way of doing it, so I like to talk about that with any new client and ask if it’s okay if we do it that way. Or if they want us to go after something specific, I’ll ask if we’re allowed to adjust it as necessary.
As far as targets are concerned, you might find an amazing place for a client’s resource, but it isn’t “on the list.” Set up expectations for how to handle those situations.
As much as I don’t like to think about metrics, clients do. It’s much easier for some people to tell you that they want a minimum Domain Authority (DA) of 30 for a site than it is to explain their idea of relevance.
We have our in-house guidelines, and I go over those with clients, asking for their input to add additional guidelines and get their idea of metrics that they’d like to see.
I’d much rather start out knowing that a client thinks a DA 35 is actually horrible and won’t be happy unless the DA is 50. I’d rather know that the client thinks that travel sites should be avoided. All of this means that the client will usually be much happier when you do start bringing in the links.
Due to the way we charge, this is a tricky one to work out. We charge a fee per successful link, so outside of a monthly catch-up, anything else needs to be agreed on.
Some clients like a lot of contact, and some almost never communicate with us. It also seems that at times, the clients paying the least are the most demanding, for various reasons.
I’d rather work out an expected schedule than have them get annoyed that I don’t have five hours a week to devote to conference calls.
This is a big one. Luckily, it is rare that a client really hates a link that we built for them, but it’s definitely happened. In cases like that, we have the link taken down, but we do work out a payment agreement for labor.
Because removing a link can be tricky, we want to make sure that the relationship doesn’t suffer, so we always go through all of that with clients. I feel that any negative issues can be avoided by a lot of communication up front. Ask for guidelines and see if they’re reasonable for you. Ideally, there won’t be a big problem.
Most of our current clients handle this on their end. However, because we’ve established a good relationship, if they think that something needs to be adjusted, they let us know, and we do the same.
I don’t mind if the client or their SEO does this, and I don’t mind doing it, but we definitely need to know that someone is on it.
This one is so critical that I truly cannot believe it when we take over campaigns from a company that has never explained the risks involved with what they’re doing. We harp on it from the very beginning, way before we sign a contract.
I think that any company doing something risky needs to inform you about the potential damage that can be done. But as we all know, that doesn’t always happen — so for clients, make sure that you ask about this and are satisfied with the answer.
It’s a fact that for various reasons, some clients will want to use risky tactics. I don’t have a problem with that, but I make quite sure that they all understand exactly what could go wrong.
Some of our clients have introduced us to other key players in the company, and I love, love, LOVE when that happens. I love being in touch with their content team, especially. I also follow them on social platforms, subscribe to their newsletters and have alerts set up for their brands so that I know what’s going on, even if they don’t tell me.
I’ve also never had one single client who minded it when I reached out to ask, “Is there anything big happening that could help me build better links?” Always keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.
Okay, so there’s no really nice way to put that question. While I love having clients get more involved, I have had a few who had no actual link experience yet felt compelled to bark orders at me and ignore my warnings about overdoing exact match anchor text.
I also realize what a true luxury it is to be able to turn down clients that don’t match up with how we do things, but that is key for us to avoid control issues. We do things a certain way, so we lay that out for any potential client. They lay out what they want and expect, and if we don’t mesh, we don’t work together.
As a client, you need to ask a lot of questions about how you can help, how much involvement the team wants/expects and so on. Know that most link teams will naturally be very open to hearing from you, and you should also be able to entrust them with your campaigns.
The first months of a link campaign are so critical, in my opinion, as that’s when you learn how well you fit together. If a link team is doing something you hate, speak up. If they aren’t telling you what they’re doing, run like heck.
Bottom line: You can do a better job with better communication, established boundaries and awareness of each side’s expectations. Both parties need to be very upfront, especially in the early stages of the relationship, as poor communication can very easily sour what could have been a great partnership.
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