Client Relationship

The Secret of the SEO Plan and Kickoff Meeting

Kickoff Call Quote

An important part of being an SEO contractor is setting appropriate expectations with clients. This is especially vital in a field that has the potential to come across as mysterious. It is our job as SEOs to demystify the process as well as what can be expected as the results.

Kickoff Meeting

The kickoff meeting should revolve around a plan for the first several months of SEO.

This plan serves a few purposes:

1. It builds initial trust between you and the client by showing that you have thought several months out and are prepared. 2. It builds extended trust between you and the client as you set and meet deadlines. 3. It lays out a plan for success for you for the first several months so you can send your client deliverables throughout the month. Continuing to plan in advance will deepen this trust as well as give the client advance notice if any industry expertise is needed.

Before the call, write your plan and send the document out to everyone involved. Label it a preliminary plan and note that changes can be made during and after the call.

SEO Plan

A good plan for the first several months of SEO should include the following:


An overview should be about three sentences. This is where you can let the client know that this plan is preliminary.

Here's an example:

"The following is a preliminary plan and timeline for optimizing [website url] for search engines. This plan should be discussed during the kickoff call tentatively scheduled for [insert time]. A final plan will be distributed to team members following the kickoff call."

Team Members

Everyone who will be involved in the SEO process should be listed including:

  • a liaison from the the client company
  • a member of the company's  marketing team, or the owner of the company if there is a small staff
  • other people within your SEO company who will be involved, however it's best to stay a little light on the details here. Stick only with team members who will be talking directly to the client.

If you're at all hesitant to include the client on the team, just remember that in SEO the client has an important role.

Some examples of duties that may fall on the client are:

  • To share industry specific expertise as a part of content creation.
  • To clue you in when marketing efforts are made outside of SEO.
  • To review content within a reasonable time frame and give approval.

It's best to let the client know their importance up front.


Assumptions can be defined as low-level risks. In an SEO kickoff call, the assumptions should be anything you see as being potentially in the way of successfully optimizing the website and material.

A few examples:

  • Preliminary marketing information is collected from CLIENT.
  • Deadlines stated in timeline are met by both SEO COMPANY and CLIENT.
  • Industry specific expertise is provided from CLIENT when needed for content creation.


The timeline should include onsite and offsite SEO.

Consider starting your timeline with onsite SEO. Include dates for:

  • research
  • development tasks
  • reports
  • check in calls

For offsite SEO, you may choose to lay out a general plan from month to month and fill out specifics after you've familiarized yourself with the company's target market.

An example of text that could be included in the timeline to this point is:

"The schedule may repeat similarly from month to month as offsite optimization progresses. Diagnostics and research will be performed each month and content will be created based on its conclusions."

A well written project plan and well managed kickoff call are two best practices that will get your client relationship off to a good start. Keep up with your deadlines and provide plans a couple of months in advance throughout the relationship and you are well on your way to SEO success.

Did I forget anything? Please let me know by commenting below.

Follow Steph McGuinn on Twitter, @HeartBuzzAgency.