One thing I've found over the last few years of dealing with clients, especially when it comes to SEO, is that most of them seem to have this irresistible obsession for checking their rankings every 15 minutes.
I’ve had clients calling me the very next day after having only just signed the contract, asking “When do you think my site will move up?”, or “I’ve just checked my site and it’s still on page 6, what’s going on?” As annoying as this is, it's to be expected.
Even though everything, including expected timeframes and results are outlined within the SEO proposal and contract, they still feel compelled to check on things every 5 minutes and annoy you with silly phone calls and lengthy emails.
As you know, SEO takes time, and that time can vary greatly between projects. Whilst one campaign may only take 10 days, another may take 6 months. There really is no definitive timeframe for results, it's just a matter of implementing the tasks and strategies to gain the desired outcome. And that takes time.
Let me give you an example.
Just recently I ranked a clients website first page on Google. The business owner was a personal trainer, and was keen to attract clients via the web. The site was relatively new, and within 2 weeks, I had it position 3 for its primary keyword. Needless to say, my client was ecstatic and very pleased with the work performed, and thanked me dearly. Infact he made a point of referring a number of other clients my way which was greatly appreciated. However, after just 2 months of that site hitting first page, and staying there, it suddenly plummeted from the first page, back to page 38. Within minutes, emails quickly followed and my phone began to ring non stop.
My site has dropped in Google, oh noes!
The client was, to put it mildly, panicking, and wondered what on earth was going on. Thankfully I had seen this many times beforehand and went into immediate damage control over the phone. I reassured the client that this could be simply an update or shuffle of the search results and that the best thing to do was “wait it out”. I was met with some resistance, as the client wanted it, in their own words ....“fixed immediately”.
I must point out here that I always think rationally and remain calm, no matter how heated or emotional a client becomes. This is important. Always remain in control and explain to your client that fluctuations like this are normal. It's only if a site drops for extended periods of time that there is likely to be an issue that requires attention. Running in circles screaming “the sky is falling” isn't exactly being very proactive at all.
After speaking with the client I did some initial research and strangely enough the site had been dropped almost 37 pages. This was a little odd, although I had been aware of a recent algorithm change and wanted to see if the site would “right itself” given some time.
Over the next 3 days the site came back to first page, and this time to 2nd position. With no changes made whatsoever. This then reassured me that the slip in rankings was obviously due to a change within the search engine and nothing related to either on or offsite optimization.
I called my client and informed him that the site had returned to first page and had actually “moved up” a spot to 2nd. Oddly enough, this time his tone had changed significantlly and he was a lot more cheery – funny that! The site was back, the client was happy and I hadn't changed a thing!
Fluctuations are a normal part of the ranking process.
Which brings me to my point…..
Firstly, dealing with panicky clients unfortunately is sometimes unavoidable, and this is where it's important to educate your client as best you can ahead of them signing up with you as a consultant. I usually always indicate potential fluctuations and variences in search placement results, and make them aware that this is completely normal.
Secondly, never start trying to “fix” a sites rankings unless you know they are definitely broken! If you start making changes or altering your optimization efforts, there’s no real way of knowing whether or not you’ve made the situation better or worse. As a rule of thumb, I always wait at least 2-3 weeks before I begin making assumptions about sudden fluctuations in search placements, and whether or not those fluctuations are normal, or if it requires immediate attention.
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