In Search Podcast: Grow Your SEO Client Accounts


Are you a little bit too focused on bringing in new SEO clients when it could be much easier to grow your existing accounts? That’s what we’re going to discuss today with a lady who specializes in business growth and internal team development. She has a strong data and analytics background and is currently SEO director at Reprise Digital. Welcome to the In Search SEO podcast Ilaria Fabbri.

In this episode, Ilaria shares three ways to grow your SEO client accounts, including:

  • Target your core audience
  • Forecast friction
  • Become your client’s partner vs. your client’s consultant

Ilaria: Hello, David. Thank you for having me.

David: Hey, Ilaria, thanks so much for joining us. Well, you can find Ilaria over at Reprise Digital. So today, you’re sharing three ways to grow your existing client account. So starting off with number one, target your core audience.

1. Target your core audience

I: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, the first point I think is always to define your target audience. And for your target audience, what I mean is your share of consumers. So we know that consumers are a very, very large, number of people in the entire world. And they can be interested in many, many different brands. So the main objective here is to define your share of these consumers around the internet, online around the markets. And as much as possible, basically, focus on them in a way that you basically optimize your effort and your results. So you really don’t want to go after people who are not exactly interested in your brand, otherwise is going to be basically spending money, time, and effort on something that will not respond in the most efficient way.

I mean, the first question is probably, how do you do that? There are many, many ways like using tools and manual ways of understanding the market. I guess the very first step is having what I call an imagine session with the client in which you share your point of view, but also take on board the point of view of the brand of your clients, understanding what they aim for, and what are their objectives are in-house. So this can be like a first step in the relationship. After that, usually, you go away and you’re looking at your SEO tools or your agency tools. And something else you can do and something is a little bit more minor but very, very important is obviously the conductor or SERP research, a SERP analysis, and a competitor analysis.

D: Right. Okay. So there are many tools that you can use to define your core audience. How do you go about, I guess, taking the next step and actually creating content for that core audience?

I: So that is actually the next step. I think having a core audience is what you need before going ahead and creating your content. And this is important because as I said before, this allows you to save time and money. So once you’re right to the point of actually writing your content and putting together your content, you would focus on the right piece of the cake. On the right market share and obviously the content it would be much more impactful and much more effective on the result. So what you’re spared from the content is to increase the click-through rate and to increase, at the end of the process, the conversion rate as well because you are already targeting the right people. The content itself can be even more granular, and following the purchase funnel, description of the purchase funnel like the split between awareness, consideration, and action or purchase. So this can be the next step. But initially, if you have a clear idea, which is your target audience, it will help you to organize your time and effort in the best way possible.

D: In terms of defining your core audience, are you a fan of also creating an ideal buyer persona as well? So an imagined individual that’s the ideal person to make a purchase from your brand and writing for that individual, or do you tend to write for the audience in general?

I: That is another good question. I think that sometimes it can be confused the concept of target audience and buyer persona. I think a target audience is slightly more general than a buyer persona. Also, a buyer persona is something that doesn’t really exist and is more something you create based on what you would like to achieve. So it’s more connected to behavioral aspects or social aspects like lifestyle, whereas the target audience is more data-focused and is more something connected to age maybe like profits or areas of geography, in terms of where this target audience is located. So I think those two pieces of information are both very, very important and crucial. But buyer persona is something more connected with social teams or more media teams. In terms of an SEO team, what they want to achieve, I think, having a target audience is a little bit more important. But having both of them, we will be great.

D: And the second way of growing your existing clients is forecast frictions. What does that mean?

2. Forecast friction

I: Yeah, so I don’t know if is all an experience I had in the past. But, I’m pretty sure lots of people, went through the same situation with their clients. Lots of clients ask the SEO team to produce forecasts for the year to come or something like that. And we all know that SEO needs to be clear on the caveats and what you can achieve and what you cannot control in reality. Because the main point of SEO is visibility. So this is where we can forecast as best as possible. But at the same time, lots of clients, and lots of brands have their own needs in terms of forecasts. They probably need to get back to stakeholders in the business or more general and industry-level needs. So I think, again, it’s very important to have an imagine session or a brief session where we both share information. And we both share points of view in terms of what the client needs to show to their business internally to in the business. And what actually SEO can achieve in terms of forecast. After that, I think the best way to produce something valuable for the client is to go away checking on, obviously, current rankings, and current search volumes, but also the interest of the client in producing new content. And also if it’s an existing client comparing last year’s experience in terms of how much of this content actually went live, and how quick the response was from the client to the recommendation from the SEO team. So all these aspects, can like have an impact on our forecast. And another two things which are a little bit wider and more general are including and considering the movements in the industry. So for instance, run new competitors to take on board and to consider. It can be a little bit more competitive, the entire environment. And also, as we saw all of us in the last few years, social impacts such as a new pandemic, or something like that can completely change the market and the ambition of your brand.

D: So it sounds like you’re also talking about pre-empting any potential disagreements with the client, and also ensuring that your goals are aligned. Is that right?

I: Yeah, exactly. So the word friction, like how I describe frictional forecast is that we absolutely want to avoid friction, and we want to avoid situations where we provide too much or too little. So I think the best way is, first of all, to have this open conversation with the client to understand what they need to achieve for the year. And how SEO can help out. And after that, looking at our data, which is obviously related to the SEO bit of all elements of the whole forecast. Getting back to the client and finding basically an average of a good deal between us. So after that, it’s much easier to go ahead and work on the activities and make sure that we can meet the objectives and the results we planned at the beginning of the year.

D: And number three become your client’s partner versus your client’s consultant.

3. Become your client’s partner vs your client’s consultant

I: Yeah, so this is very important in my way of working and in my experience so far with my clients. I have very good examples of how collaboration can be so beneficial in terms of results and in terms of long-lasting relationships. There are many activities that you can implement, depending on the situation and depending on the client you have in front of you. Just to mention activities can be CMS success, for instance, is very, very useful in case it’s possible for the SEO team to have CMS success. Same as having an impact or helping out on JIRA tickets. So working directly with the dev teams, for instance, but also within the strategy team and within the brand managers. Another example is also trying to be always very specific when you talk about your activities, and report about the effort like the client effort, especially talking about like the dev team, if it’s needed, if he’s involved in the activity. But also the impact that they can have. I think those two things like the client having a foot on the path is like the perfect equation that gives you priority. So if you have those two elements in your mind, and you are clear about that you can define the priority of the task, for instance, or have their tactics.

D: Now, I think we’ve all had SEO clients that are not so easy to talk to, and perhaps are quite fixed in terms of what they want. For instance, in the past, I’ve had SEO clients that just want a number of links per month and don’t want to be on regular account calls. And it’s difficult to forge that relationship with them. Do you have any advice for clients that are a little bit tricky to involve in potential more partnership conversations?

I: Yeah, I think something like that happens to everyone, having tricky clients. The more you are connected with data, and more you can present your proposal, your recommendations with good sources, examples, and even case studies if you have any of them, relative to what you want to achieve with your client is always a good example. And something that can help you to go through with your recommendation or your strategy. Being very aware of the industry, not only our industry, such as Google updates, or things like that but also being aware of their industry, the industry they act in is also very important, because it demonstrates that you know about their specific challenges.

D: Great tip, great tip, actually, I remember having a client that was in the hotel industry. And I got in with them more by talking about previous experiences that I’d had in the hospitality industry. So I think that’s a great piece of advice. Well, when you can demonstrate either experience or interest in the industry that they happen to be in, I’m sure you can get the conversation going more.

I: Yeah, absolutely. If you had a similar client is always helpful.

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The Pareto Pickle – Optimize Your Urls

D: Well, let’s finish off with Parito Pickle. Parito says that you can get 80% of the results from 20% of your efforts. What’s one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?

I: Cool, based on some real experience I had, something very quick you can do and usually has a great impact is looking at your URLs. And make sure your URLs are descriptive and optimized. What I mean is including the keyword or the term we really want to focus on and you really want to target your page on. This is something that can be done in a very quick way and it can have a great impact. This is obviously just the cherry on the cake it cannot be like taken as the only advice. But that plus refreshing, for instance, existing content is again, something you can do slightly quicker than creating new content, but it gives you a good impact.

D: Now, if you have existing URLs, which aren’t particularly keyword-friendly, they just contain lots of numbers and letters. I presume that you would say, just keep the existing URLs. Keep the existing SEO rankings for those URLs, but perhaps for future URLs, or would you actually suggest changing old ones as well?

I: No, yeah, of course, like for future URLs. But depending on the situation, depending on the type of page. If it’s a page that is not really too old in terms of how long has been live or it doesn’t really have too many backlinks or it’s not likely to gain too much authority, we can even think about like changing it. Usually, this is ideal when you plan a new page in order to have all steps connected with the strategy and this is the best way to approach that. But yeah, it happened to me in the past when we reviewed the URLs and we had a great impact on that.

D: And what are the main benefits? So I mean, you talk about the greater impact there. Are you talking about helping search engines better understand the context and meaning of your page? Are you talking about perhaps having a better click-through rate from the SERP because of the improved understanding of what the page might be about to the user or something else?

I: Yeah, and also better ranking for the keyword or the topic we want to focus on we want to target. Lastly, if this entire strategy is connected with PPC as well, having a strong page content-wise as a landing page, we can share with the PPC team as well, for them to use in the paid ads is again, like an extra bit of a push.

I’ve been your host ever been. You can find Ilaria by searching Ilaria Fabbri on LinkedIn. Ilaria, thanks so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.

I: Thank you.

D: And thank you for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Similarweb platform.

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