There are clients SEOs love to have... and then there are those other kind. Every SEO has them and very few SEOs can be so selective as to weed out every client that isn't the "perfect client" (and those that do generally work only for themselves.)
Being the perfect client may not be attainable, but you can certainly avoid being the bad client nobody wants. Here are seven things bad SEO clients do:
It's not always the client's fault when there are unreasonable expectations. Sometimes the SEOs propagate misinformation in order to get the sale. Other times once they get involved in the site things look far different than they originally appeared. It is the responsibility of the client to ensure their expectations are in check with reality, despite any claims of the SEO. This is especially true when it comes to overall expectations vs. monetary investment. There is only so much that can be done with the time and money allotted.
Expectations should be closely guarded with plenty of room for moving the goalpost, depending on the situation. Bad SEO clients expect results outside the bounds of what is likely and refuse to temper those as things change.
There is nothing worse than an SEO campaign being slowed down or halted by lack of client communication. If your SEO is asking for feedback, there is a reason for it. If they are waiting on you to provide information it's possible that your campaign will remain at a standstill until they get it. Make it a point to answer all communications from your SEO as quickly as possible. The only person that suffers from holding things up is you!
Clients need to be engaged with the marketing process. Bad SEO clients can often be their own worst enemy and can impair the marketing efforts by not returning calls and emails to the SEO.
Why is it that SEO clients often have trouble with recommendations proposed by their SEO but whenever they get a spam email they forward it asking, "why aren't you doing this?" This is the ultimate example of not trusting the SEO. You're putting your faith in a complete stranger who's spamming every site they can rather than trusting that your SEO knows what they are doing. If your site can't be found, did you ever wonder how the spammers found you?
Clients need to be involved in the campaign development process, but bad SEO clients forward every SEO spam email they get. This forces the SEO to take time away from actual SEO work to explain why the email is wrong, why things aren't as the email says they are, and to defend their work. That's hours of wasted time.
This is a personal pet peeve. SEOs go though a lot of research and effort before making any changes to a client's site. Whether the changes are a major reworking of a page, or a few minor edits to a title tag, they all have reason and merit. The quickest way to keep an SEO from being successful with your optimization campaign is to overwrite their changes with your own. Fortunately, the CodeMonitor tool will notify the SEOs within 24 hours any time a monitored page changes (we monitor all our client's optimized pages.) However it's still up to the client to ensure such overwriting doesn't happen.
To be successful the SEOs work must remain in tact. Bad SEO client's don't take the time to ensure they or their team work only from the live SEOd version of the site.
I once had a client that went item by item arguing every recommendation we made. Calls to action? Too lowbrow for his audience. Using keywords? Too pedantic. It's important for the client to seek to understand the reasoning behind the changes, but you can't expect the SEO to improve your website's exposure if you are tying their hands in their efforts. If you don't agree with what the SEO is doing, give them the rope to hang themselves. Track the results, if conversions drop then undo it. But at least give it a chance to perform.
Clients need to understand the value of what the SEO is doing. Bad SEO clients question every change forcing the SEO to exhaust hours of time explaining and defending every decision.
I'm a strong proponent of the client being involved and having an understanding of the overall SEO campaign. However there comes a point where the client has to let the SEO do their job. The SEO was hired because they have a skill set and area of expertise, presumably one the client themselves don't have. The client can't assume they know more about SEO than the SEO does and must give the SEO freedom to implement SEO their way.
Working with the SEO with brainstorming and strategy development is a good thing. Bad SEO clients push for every SEO tactic they learn about or supplement their own SEO knowledge into the campaign.
Communication is essential to a well-oiled optimization machine, but too much of anything is a bad thing. Clients who call the SEO up on a regular bases because they want to talk about this, that or the other, are not doing themselves any favors. Whether they want to talk strategy, success, implementation or whatever, these communications must be done in an orderly fashion. The SEO should not be expected to field regular unwarranted calls from the client that suck up the time they would otherwise be investing in that client's SEO campaign.
Clients should be interested in their campaign but not at the expense of the campaign itself. Bad SEO clients spend more time talking to the SEO than the SEO has available, preventing them from doing the job they were hired for.
SEOs love to work with good clients. Consequently, good SEO clients get better results than bad SEO clients. Bad SEO clients suck up the SEO's time, create distractions from the campaign and prevent the SEO from doing the things that get the results the client ultimately wants. Ensuring that you are not a bad SEO client also ensures that the SEO can focus on your success.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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