Kris Jones: Having Tough Conversations With SEO Clients (Like Why Your Content Isn’t Ranking)


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Sometimes the very best SEOs produce content that doesn’t rank. 

So I asked Kris Jones of LSEO to come on and talk to us about how he handles awkward situations like these. He’s a best selling SEO author, prominent industry speaker and regularly contributes to blogs like Search Engine Journal, yet even he sometimes has content that fails.

I thought this episode would talk about tactics that boost content.

I was wrong.

He says the real gold lies in playing the long game, building trust with your clients and even reveals the exact workflow process he uses to build that trust (the same way you might trust a doctor).

Let’s get into it.


So what should you do if your content isn’t ranking? Is there a checklist to look back on or maybe some questions to ask yourself?

  • Kris tries to be honest with the fact that not every piece will rank right off the bat and it’s good to be honest with this fact
  • It’s more about the theme of the content you are writing and fitting it into your website’s architecture
  • As you grow, (as long as you are doing good internal linking), that whole theme will grow and each individual page within that theme will lift in authority 
  • Also, consider generating some inbound links

Some commentary: The “theme” Kris is talking about here is sort of like a pillar page or hub and spoke model where many related pages are connected by internal links. All of these pages will grow together.

Hub and Spoke Model

To explain the concept further, here is a visual. For example, if you recently published the article “Grooming” notice that it is also linked to the articles Exercise and Feeding. What Kris is saying is that as the articles “Excercise” and “Feeding” grow, so will the article “Grooming” because they are internally linked.
So is your antidote to failing content more internal structure than off-site efforts?

  • It’s really a mindset shift. Play the bigger game by thinking long term. It’s not necessarily how many links you acquired that month or how many articles you produced.
  • As an agency, you have to convince your clients that this is a long term process and the results they can expect will have a compounding effect.
  • It’s not “where’s the traffic after month 2?” It’s building great content consistently over time
  • This is a long term investment

A lot of SEOs understand that it is a long term investment, but having a conversation about that with a client can be very challenging. How do you approach a conversation?

  • He spends a lot of time upfront letting them know that they are experts and ultimately he works to build trust.
  • He also has a Director of Client Relations 
  • Just don’t get caught up in this short term game
  • Take pride in client services
  • He reminds his team that they are like doctors. You assume they are skilled and can make the decisions to make you well. You don’t interrupt them when they are doing their service because you develop a high level of respect.
  • You need to see yourself as a strategist rather than focusing on tactics which is what differentiates good SEO companies from great SEOs.

How do you go about establishing this high level of trust?

  • Writing for Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land
  • Become a thought leader even if it’s just on your own website
  • Speaking at conferences
  • Invest in educating your clients on your products and services
  • “Am I constantly selling?” or “Am I evaluating my products/services on how much value they provide?”
  • It’s difficult at the start though it isn’t impossible. He started by putting himself in the right place at the right time. He was at a bar and saw one of the conference organizers. I went over and introduced myself which then led to the opportunity to speak at the conference


How do you educate your clients?

  • He has a head of Client Services, SEO and Paid Media
  • The Head of Client services will check in on a regular and the leads will get involved in the overall strategy (minimal monthly call)
  • Account managers do most of the work and report to division leads
  • In terms of how he educates clients, the team reaches out whenever a new post from the CEO is published. 
  • If you have the time, use video. If you want to win a client, do a 5-10 minute video speaking directly to the client. This is great for engagement
  • Always put your clients first


How do you create these videos 

  • Instead of a typical HD video, he uses Camtasia to create a video and makes an audit using tools like Ahrefs and Moz in the video
  • The videos are made in a fairly critical way so that the client knows exactly where they sit

Do you ever have instances where you do worry about a piece of content that isn’t ranking?

  • Make sure that there is a great internal strategy
  • Link to it from your Homepage (without abusing it)
  • Make sure you are following best practices
  • Target keyword exists
  • Get your title tag, H1s, etc in order
  • Consider adding a video
  • A service page is one that I would worry about if it isn’t ranking
  • Consider doing some offsite SEO as well like link building
  • Also if you have a sub-page that isn’t ranking well, send some of the external authority to the parent page as the link juice tends to flow down rather than up
  • You’ve been in SEO for such a long time, it’d be interesting to hear your opinion on where you think SEO is going in the next 5 years or so.
  • We need to develop mobile-first SEO strategies. More than 50% of engagement with your site includes mobile devices
  • When you picture a customer, you imagine them on a desktop, not on a mobile device.
  • Mobile is the predominant way we should think about how we can meet people coming to our businesses
  • The future is a non-web based world (mobile and voice-based)
  • It will continue to be a thriving industry
  • It’s going to be much less tactical

What is one challenge you find SEOs in general really struggle with?

  • Where do we focus our energy?
  • It’s hard to predict where Google is going
  • AMP pages were a potential turning point for how traffic is delivered to our websites
  • I thought the future of mobile was native and that you would have to build an app but the mobile browser is now so advanced that isn’t really necessary
  • As SEOs, we need to pay attention to developments. We need to become experts on ways to drive organic traffic to our websites. 

Instagram: @KBJcapital

Twitter: @krisjonescom

Facebook: KBJcapital

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