Agencies Need a Different SEO: Service Engine Optimization
Every successful agency is working as hard as it can to make itself more competitive through content creation and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, many are putting their businesses at risk by losing focus on an even more important SEO: Service Engine Optimization. In other words, they aren’t ensuring that their client services employees operate as finely calibrated teams, creating exceptional client experiences and turning clients into passionate advocates for their agencies. Client services is the face of a great agency, creating and extending client relationships, ensuring profitability, and executing complex and oftentimes challenging projects.
Yes, Service Engine Optimization is a gimmicky term. But if you think about it, both kinds of SEO follow the same principles for achieving success. And, each requires an understanding of people and process.
Four core philosophies to help you perfect the art of Client SEO
You have to understand keywords
In online SEO, Google’s algorithm now takes into account the context in which keywords are used by analyzing the user’s entire query to better understand user intent. Good client service requires the same ability. Agencies who want to be strategic partners to their clients often need to look beyond the literal question being asked and seek to understand the underlying problem the client is trying to solve. Doing so helps ensure that they become strategic partners who solve their clients’ most complex problems, not just tactical implementers.
You can’t win by gaming the system
Many companies have learned the hard way that they can’t manipulate search engine results through tricks like artificially loading their sites with keywords. Google stresses the importance of designing sites with the user, not the search engine, in mind―and warns against using sneaky redirects, cloaking, and hidden text. From a client service standpoint, successful agencies embrace authenticity, transparency, and genuine partnership over Roger Sterling-style, sneaky and manipulative tactics every time.
You need to be responsive
In the online world, the most successful sites are responsive―readable and accessible from every device and multimedia platform―and optimized for each. Similarly, effective client service people are available on the client’s terms. They do not try to force-fit a cookie-cutter approach and process. Instead, by asking the right questions and listening carefully, they customize and personalize the client experience so it feels intuitive and seamless to each individual.
You must be relevant and credible
Search engines give priority to content that is relevant, original, engaging, and recognized by others as authoritative. A strong client service team focuses on the same priorities. They know their client’s business inside-out, they bring fresh thinking to the table, they collaborate with their clients to arrive at solutions, and they inspire confidence by anticipating client needs and delivering on the promises they make. Above all, they have a sincere commitment to serve their clients at the highest possible level.
Agencies that continually challenge themselves to optimize their client service approach are rewarded with both increased success for their clients and increased traffic to their own front doors.
Lynne Field is the Client Service Practice Lead and a Senior Strategy Director at Monigle.