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Educating Businesses on SEO

By Char

Targeting your search resultsOne day last week I got a call from a client and she wanted to know why her business web site did not appear on the front page of Google when she typed in a specific search phrase. For the sake of this discussion we’ll just say that she was wondering why her Widgets site did not appear on the front page of Google when she typed in “widgets in walla walla.”

“Walla Walla,” I asked? There is no mention of Walla Walla anywhere on your site. Never has been.

So I spent the next 30 minutes explaining to her that the search engines don’t have some special mind reading powers. If you want the search engine to find you based on a certain phrase, that phrase has to be somewhere on your site – preferably in more than one relevant place in the copy.

I try to educate my clients on the SEO basics:

  1. Meaningful title tag
  2. Keywords that are relevant and show up in the content
  3. Solid Description
  4. Keyword rich alt tags on images
  5. Keyword rich descriptor tags on links
  6. Plenty of original, well written, keyword rich (not spammy) content
  7. Good site organization with clean, up to date coding
  8. Don’t pay $99.99 for submission into “500 search engines”
  9. Your typical small business web site will take about 6 months to really get anywhere on Google organically – they just don’t have the back links, page rank and update frequency to get there any faster.
  10. If you are going to do a Google Adwords campaign or other paid sponsorship campaign, you really need to educate yourself and enlist the services of a professional.

And while I do my best to hammer home that doing the basics, mixed with good quality content and revisiting this list every few months to tweak, I still seem to get the same question – “Why doesn’t my site show up #1 for widgets in walla walla?”

I would love to know how you educate your clients on SEO. What tips do you give them? What are some of your favorite articles on SEO for the average small business client?

Categories : Doing Business, SEO Tips



I would like to know what to say as well, it just seems like this is something really hard to explain/understand when the client has no really knowledge of how it all works.


I usually give me clients a very basic brief of how it works. (other websites linking to your site are what control your rankings in the search engines, but some sites linking to you will hurt your rankings…that’s why you need us to handle it for you.)

And they seem satisfied with that response.


Its a bit like a shop, if its well presented (Google) people will visit and if the services you offer are good, people will recommend you (backlinks).

Always try and use some offline example.

If they are really keen and don’t want to pay for full time SEO or Google Adwords, then I suggest a business blog.



Oh, man. This is one of those client education issues that strikes terror in my heart, and I am a former teacher!

I have a handful of clients that periodically ask the same sort of question. Then I sit down and reexplain SEO in terms I think they can grasp, and make my recommendations for their site. Maybe give them a couple of simple-to-understand articles to read on the topic.

Then they say they’ll think about what I’ve told them and then in about six months they ask me the very same question.

I think they want the site to perform magically, and they just think that paying for ongoing SEO tweaks is snake oil.

Ay, yai, yai. Looking for answers here, too. Maybe the answer should come from a client who has learned what it is and has seen good results from ongoing SEO efforts, rather than from a practitioner.


I’ve struggled with this topic and how to explain it to clients as well. Even with the simplest of terms, they get that “deer in the headlights” expression and I know it’s not sinking in.

SEO is so hard to keep up with as a small business owner trying to learn enough to grow your own site – let alone for clients who want you to grow theirs too. They never seem to understand that SEO has become an industry in and of itself. Other than the little things you mentioned above Char, there’s nothing I can do for them, and if they hope to achieve anything beyond that I recommend that they contract a company specializing in SEO.

As much as I’d like to offer a service like that, I just can’t sell something I don’t know how to deliver.

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