How to Write a Decent SEO Recommendation

Zac Heinrichs
How to Write an SEO Recommendation That Makes Sense

Pssssst! Hey, you! Want to know the best way to drive a client crazy? Talk. A lot. But tell them nothing.

The SEO industry has a lot of people who are really, really good at that. We’ve seen some true artists; men and women who can speak or write thousands of words without uttering a single useful thought. Stuff like this:

“Your goal is to rank well for your target phrases. Your site isn’t ranking well for those phrases, though. That’s because you don’t have a high enough keyword density in important parts of your pages. For example, you need to use your key phrases more often in your title tags and in on-page content.”

Someone paid an SEO ‘expert’ for that. It’s like voting for Abraham Lincoln and getting Donald Trump.
Here’s how a client feels when they read something like that:

What Goes Through a Client's Head

Image and commentary courtesy of Ian Lurie

The Result

That’s how we end up with lots of clients who think the entire SEO industry was cloned by the same Empire.

Writing a Decent Recommendation

A good SEO recommendation will have:

  • Self-sufficiency. It should stand on its own.
  • Clarity. It should make sense to a non-SEO.
  • Actionable advice. The reader should know what to do next. Exactly.

My formula is usually something like this:

[Provide a specific example]. [Explain why it’s a problem]. [Explain how to fix it]. [Provide a specific example]. [Sell the payoff].

Here’s an example:

“The title tags on your product pages don’t include the key phrases people use to find those products. For example, the ‘Flux Capacitors’ page on your site has the title tag ‘Part number 123456’. But consumers search for ‘Flux Capacitors’.Since the title tag is the strongest on-page ranking factor, you have no chance of appearing in the top 10 for that phrase. Even if you do, the title tag, which appears in the search snippet, will confuse readers, so they won’t click through to your site. To fix this, use the product name, instead of the part number, in your title tags. You can use this template: [Product name] – [Category]. I’ve attached a code snippet that will work in most PHP-based store systems. For example, on the ‘Flux Capacitors’ page, the title tag would be ‘DeLorean Flux Capacitors – Automotive Time Travel.”

Not perfect, but you get the idea.

Another great way to get your game-changing SEO recommendation actually implemented by a client is to show them. Taking screen captures of what the current state looks like is my favorite way to show the direness of the problem.

Example of poor title tags

A picture is worth a thousand words, yadda, yadda, yadda

Correct title tag usage

SERP mockups courtesy of the Portent SERP Preview Tool

Even better yet, use data to support your recommendation (Gasp!):

“Google shows that there are currently about 27,100 average monthly searches for ‘flux capacitor’. If you can rank third in the search results, you can expect to see about 10% of those searchers to click through. That would be 2,710 additional users on the site. Analytics show that the conversion rate on that product page is 6%; that’s more than 160 additional conversions a month. On top of the increase in organic traffic and conversions, you could save over $25,000 a month on paid traffic because your PPC campaign is spending almost $10 per click for that phrase.”

Aside: According to the AdWords Keyword Planner tool, there truly are 27,100 average monthly searches for ‘flux capacitor’, which I think is amazing. The first page is pretty competitive too, with news and image results, the “People also ask” answer boxes with four different questions, and Google shopping products including USB chargers for your car *adds to cart* and authentic looking replicas, which are expensive!

Back to the point…

Provide clear, useful, and actionable recommendations. You’ll keep more clients.

Actually, wait. Continue writing vague and difficult-to-understand stuff. Then we get to keep more clients.

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