One question we get all the time as a digital marketing agency fulfilling on SEO for a wide variety of clients is “How much client involvement is needed for a successful SEO campaign?” While some clients are eager to hand over the reins and check back on our progress months later, others feel the need to micromanage our every move.

Knowing the right amount of involvement is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle for the first time. It has to do with balance; without the right balance you won’t be going anywhere. Once you strike the right balance, you can really take off.

So how do you climb onto that bike and ride off toward SEO success? What is the right amount of client involvement?

The answer is fairly simple: somewhere between no client involvement and too much client involvement.

No (or far too little) Client Involvement

It’s hard to imagine a business that really has no interest being involved in its own SEO efforts, but it happens more often than you’d think.

What happens when you ignore your SEO campaign and leave it all up to your digital marketing partner? Three or four months down the road you will start to feel lost and behind. There will be backtracking and delays. All of this you can count on if you’ve provided your white label SEO partner with no (or far too little) input and guidance.

Unless you’re willing to put in at least a little time at the start to help to guide your SEO campaign, then it’s going to lack direction.

What do I mean about lack of direction? Well, quite simply, nobody knows your business like you do. There’s an initial stage of any new marketing partnership when the agency tries to learn as much about their client as possible.

It’s true that a very good SEO company will still provide you with direction, but if you’re not involved then it might not be the direction you want. Yes, progress can be made, but the SEO campaign likely won’t be as successful as it needs to be.

On the other side of things, there will be problems if you, the client, don’t take time to listen to your SEO agency. Not only do they need your help completing certain tasks (like allowing access to the backend of your website), but they may have valuable insight in ways that your overall marketing strategies can help compliment their SEO efforts.

One example of this insight is online reviews, which are a vital SEO component for local businesses (that operate primarily within a specific geographic location).  Positive reviews can help your Google rankings immensely, and so it’s often a good strategy to find ways to encourage your happy customers to leave online reviews. If you aren’t listening to your SEO agency, you could miss out on these types of opportunities where other aspects of your business can potentially impact SEO in a positive way.

Part of the job of an SEO agency is to consult with and advise the client to take action. They can’t do this unless you’re willing to listen and participate as a member of a partnership. By providing direction, as well as listening to their input, you can hold each other accountable.

Accountability is one of the best reasons to be involved with your SEO campaign. If at the end of four months you realize for the first time that you’re not achieving your goals, then how are you going to hold anyone accountable if you’ve been AWOL for the duration of the campaign? (Well, you can probably hold at least one person accountable–you–for dropping the ball by not being involved.)

Everybody cares about the results eventually. Be involved with your SEO campaign often enough to avoid getting lost or falling behind.

Too Much Client Involvement

It really is possible to be overly involved. Believe us, it happens all the time.

Understanding the importance of being involved with your SEO campaign might tempt you to micromanage every aspect of it. The problem with this, is that it can be a monumental waste of time. You’re already paying someone to give you results. If they have to spend most of their time consulting and reporting on minor details, they will have less time to devote to important aspects of your campaign.

Just because you don’t hear from the SEO company constantly doesn’t mean that work isn’t being done. You have to trust your SEO company with the day-to-day tasks. There is a time and place for reporting. However, if you’re asking to approve every single email that your SEO agency sends out as part of their link-building strategy, then you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Results-based reporting is always preferred to obsessing over the specifics of a campaign.

The Perfect Balance of Client Involvement

You really do need to be involved in your SEO campaign, but not too involved. So, what is the right balance? What does a successful, long-term white label SEO partnership look like?

If you’re looking for a specific amount of time (x hours per week), then you’re out of luck. We can’t tell you that you need to invest at least 2 hours per week interacting with your SEO firm, because that might be overkill for some businesses and inadequate for others. The perfect balance of client involvement depends on multiple factors, including the scope of the campaign and your SEO goals.

General rule of thumb: More time is needed at the start, and regular interaction thereafter is a good thing.

More Time is Needed at the Start

No matter how awesome your SEO company is, there will always be a period of adjustment at the start of any campaign. This is when you provide the crucial direction we need to get started. We need to be educated about things like targeting and brand strategies. We’ll need answers to questions like:

  1. Who are your target customers really? What are their hopes and dreams, problems and triumphs?
  2. How does your company solve your customers’ problems? What is your “unique purchase appeal?”
  3. What are your SEO goals? What does success look like to you?
  4. What are the metrics we are going to measure to make sure we’re achieving your goals? Which KPIs are you going to track along the way to ensure success?

We don’t work in your industry every day like you do. We need to have an in-depth knowledge of your business if we are going to do the things we need to do, such as:

  • Write compelling content targeted to your customers
  • Contact the right websites for link building
  • Utilize your existing relationships (that you can share with us) for SEO purposes
  • Target the right keywords you want to rank for
  • Optimize your website to improve SEO and customer experience

At the start of an SEO campaign, on-site optimization should be the focus. A lot of factors contribute to your Google rankings, and many of those factors have to do with the back-end of your website. Properly optimized, this builds the framework for continued success in the future. It also requires more client involvement at the start. There will be changes to the website that may require a developer. For example, a large number of important site adjustments won’t happen within the CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.). Many modifications happen on the server side, and may require minor to moderate site design changes.

The SEO company also needs to spend time at the start educating the client. This helps you know what to expect from us. Otherwise, we could run into problems later because you don’t understand what you are paying for and the results you should be getting.

Regular Interaction is a Good Thing

After the first month or two of getting up to speed, you still need to be involved with the SEO campaign on a regular basis.

You should receive regular reports from the SEO company. Read them! Then you can address any concerns you have.

You should receive regular emails from the account manager filling you in on important updates and progress. Read and respond to them. From an account manager’s perspective, no response to emails equals no problems (or no caring).

A regular call can also be beneficial. It allows you to review the strategy of the campaign and decide what worked, what didn’t, and what to do moving forward. Talking over the phone is a great way to follow up on previously discussed ideas. It’s a “checks and balances” approach; both sides can hold each other accountable.

No SEO campaign goes perfectly. There are bound to be problems, misunderstandings, or even some level of dissatisfaction when working with an SEO company, as with any professional partnership. When problems arise, PLEASE communicate them to your SEO provider. If they are worth their salt they will be thankful for the constructive feedback and will make attempts to remedy the issue.

Keep the SEO Company Updated on Your Other Marketing Efforts

For your part, you also need to keep the SEO agency updated with any developments that could affect the SEO campaign. It may be possible to coordinate these changes with your SEO campaign, making both efforts all the more powerful.

SEO isn’t an island unto itself. To be truly effective, SEO needs to be coordinated with your overall marketing efforts (including PR, social media, branding, and targeting). If not, you could be missing out on some valuable opportunities.

Here are just 3 examples of opportunities we’ve found that complimented our client’s other marketing efforts:

  • Sponsorships. One of our clients decided they wanted to sponsor a local charity once a month. We were able to reach out to the charity and make sure they linked back to our client’s website, which improved their rankings considerably.
  • Newsletters. Another client started creating a monthly newsletter. We helped them turn it into an opportunity for getting positive online reviews, which in turn helped build positive SEO results.
  • Trade shows.You might be surprised to learn that trade shows can improve your SEO. For one of our clients, attending events and trade shows created inspiration for us to write new content for their website, helping to increase site traffic. Not only did the new content (in the form of blog posts) improve their Google rankings, it also helped generate leads through their website.

Coordinating different aspects of your marketing efforts is even more powerful when your SEO company also handles other services such as social media and pay-per-click (PPC). Both social media and PPC can drive huge amounts of traffic to your website, and that’s just good SEO. By coordinating all three, (SEO, Social Media, and PPC) each blog post, landing page, infographic, video, etc., is leveraged to its full potential.

Learn More About What It’s Like to Work With an SEO Company

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Megan Rothey
Megan is an Digital Marketing Manager at Big Leap who loves coming up with strategies that help businesses grow. She has a fondness for SEO since that was her focus when she entered the digital marketing industry. She is a board games master, a tennis enthusiast, and she adores her husband.