It is usually unintentional but ultimately unavoidable when things go south and not-as-planned during search engine optimization for a client. This especially becomes a problem when you are either behind schedule, have a client who is finding it hard to understand how SEO works, or have seen your website get penalized because of search engine algorithm changes.
Dealing with SEO clients is often considered to be much more difficult than all the SEO work itself. SEO firms, or any other organization for that matter, might often come across and be forced to deal with what are generally known to be ‘difficult’ clients.
As a result, situations may arise which give way to conflict, disagreements and tensions.
Here are 5 common types of problems that I have personally seen SEOs face when dealing with clients:
- Clients fail to understand the work involved and are impatient– especially those who might be new to the concept of search engine optimization. This usually results in clients having unrealistic and often inflated expectations about SEO, especially the scope of work involved. Having unrealistic expectation about SEO is all-too-common, where clients will expect to be ranked no.1 on Google and start getting ten-fold traffic within days.
- Clients understand the work involved a little too well – yes, we’ve all come across those perfectionist clients, who claim to know about SEO, more than you or anyone else. These clients then demand that whatever they say be followed, instead of letting you do your work like you should.
- Clients fail to gauge ‘success’ properly – and automatically assume that success in SEO only means ending up as being the first result on the first page of Google. Yes, SEO is about rankings, but clients are unaware that rankings themselves are dependent on a whole host of internal and external factors. The same also applies to traffic. Getting a large volume to traffic is easy, however getting targeted traffic which results in conversion, a high CTR and a high-revenue is what matters.
- SEOs fail to stick to deadlines, try blacklisted SEO methods and get caught, or a change in search engine algorithm renders their SEO useless.
- The client fails to do as said – most often because of communication issues and barriers. People are busy – clients are busy with their businesses and SEO, as anyone reading this would be well-aware is in itself an extremely time-consuming task, what with all sorts of link-building, working with code, and the whole shebang. Moreover, often times clients are working with multiple SEO consultants or firms, and something recommended by one could potentially conflict with another consultant’s recommendations. Communicating over email when you should’ve called, for instance, or not getting your point across properly results in communication problems.
There are many things you can do to avoid any problems or difficult situations from arising in the first place. However when things do take a turn for the worst, there are ways in which you can deal with your SEO clients and come out of the battle unscathed, with your reputation and relationship with the client intact.
- Be professional – be a pro and prepare a complete scope-of-work and a detailed schedule, with deadlines, contingencies, a plan B, as well as budget and resource details. Use project management software for the purpose. Not only will this give a good impression, it will help avoid many of the problems described above, during the course of the project.
- Be realistic – being realistic from the get-go, with your work, and your client’s expectation, could turn out to be a potential life-saver in the long-run.
- Be honest – work on the project together as a team, and that really is the best bit of advice I can give you here. It might be easier said than done, but it is important to remember at all times that you and your clients are one team and should act like one.
- Avoid finger-pointing – If a problem was your fault, you will need to man up and take full responsibility, while making sure that…
- …You work towards the solution – especially in terms of (a) what exactly you did with respect to damage control, and coming up with a fix, and (b) what preventive measure have you taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
- If the problem was on the client’s end or something totally out of your control (an algorithm update, for instance), be upfront about it as well, so it can be rectified and fixed, if possible.
- Avoid going into denial – because simply put, it won’t do anyone any good at this stage of time. Make sure that you put all your energies, resources and focus on the solution and fix. And make sure the client knows this and is on the same page as well.
- Providing explanation – Selective information or full-disclosure, your call – if you think going into the specifics of the problem won’t do any good and perhaps quite possibly might even be harmful, don’t go there.
- Be solution oriented – if I was an SEO client, this is what I’d be the most interested in. Prove your worth by showing that you are a solution-oriented individual or organization. Speak with your peers, do your research and devise a solution to the problem for your client.