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November 2, 2007

Good and Bad Clients: an SEO’s Point of View

Filed under: Articles by Irony,SEO General — Irony @ 6:47 am

I have been in this industry for a few years now and I have had everything that goes with it: good experience and bad experience, joy and disappointment, days of frustration and hours of glory. I have worked with all different kinds of clients and provided very different packages, always tailored to the situation and to the client’s wishes. Most of those people are remembered for positive reasons with a few notable exceptions.

This article is addressed mostly to people who consider hiring an SEO. If you understand from the start what an SEO expects from a client, you’ll probably find it easier to achieve understanding. In our profession, the client’s understanding is often a key to success.

And I’m sure that any SEO practitioner will smile more than once while reading my article and remember something very similar from their own SEO career.

The people described in the examples below will remain nameless and the letters used to denote them have nothing to do with their real names… but you will all know who you are if you happen to read this.

Good Clients

Mr. A. You are a typical client of mine: a freelance copywriter running your own business. I like working with such small businesses. It’s easier to achieve mutual understanding this way.

We agree from the start that you will be writing all the content yourself. I just incorporate the new pages and take care of the meta information. Of course I also make sure all the design issues are fixed, but there aren’t many. Your site has valid code (it’s probably the first time in my SEO career when I don’t have to yell about the importance of validation) and it’s even been designed without a single <table> tag, which makes it even more wonderful.

The work runs smoothly: you write, I add new pages, your brilliant web designer co-operates. Rankings start going up at once and you rejoice at every victory, however small, and share your happiness with me. I’ll never forget the joy of working with you.

Ms. B. You are a writer, too, but more than just a writer; you’ve got a lot of talents and you take SEO seriously. You’ve subjected me to the most serious research and have shown due diligence at its finest. It is not always easy to answer your questions, but I enjoy it nevertheless and do my best to answer to your concerns most fully and honestly. I tell you about my successes and about my failures and it is probably my honesty that finally wins you over.

The package we agree upon involves more consultancy than practical SEO work on my part. I believe it will be very easy to teach you how to do it all yourself. You already know a lot about SEO and though some information has obviously been picked up from the wrong places, your amazing common sense guides you perfectly. Often you ask me a question and then answer it yourself before I get a chance to type the reply.

Not that everything goes smoothly, but we find solutions that suit both of us. I don’t know if Google can feel how marvellous it is to work with you, but it suddenly rewards us with some very nice rankings and does so long before I expect anything of the kind. Guess “miracles happen every day”, as Forrest Gump once said.

When our work together is over, I’ll miss you! You know you are my best client: I’ve told you so.

Bad clients

Mr. X. You come to me because one of your friends has recommended me. You are polite and co-operative, show genuine interest in everything we do and pay invoices without a word. Then, suddenly, once we configure your PPC campaign, you disappear completely, as if you wanted no more of our SEO. You no longer answer emails and you ignore my invoice. I understand that you have probably found out that PPC offers you a better ROI than SEO, but a simple goodbye along with a brief explanation wouldn’t hurt. And of course, not paying for the work that has already been done is not such a nice business practice.

Mr. Y. Your site is built upon a content management system that can best be described as an SEO’s worst nightmare. Of course, I immediately spot all the common SEO mistakes on your site, but I can’t fix them, because the terrible CMS gives me no access to anything at all and there is no FTP access. But it’s no use speaking to you about it, as your only desire – in your own words – is to hire someone who will take care of your website for you so you can forget about it. So I contact the CMS provider, who also maintains the site itself and the hosting, and politely ask him to implement certain changes, which for me, as an SEO, are just basics. I receive a resolute “No!” to most of my requests and, worse still, your web designer lets me know how little he thinks of all SEOs. Later, he acknowledges the fact that I’m probably not an idiot (yes, he actually uses this word), but only agrees to implement a few of my requests and not the rest of them.

You, Mr. Y, receive all the carbon copies of our messages, but you don’t interfere. Through the entire campaign, you hardly show any interest in the process. Your copywriter delays the delivery of content – as I find out later – due to a misunderstanding between you both, which left him frustrated. Yet I resolve this and the copy starts coming into my mailbox (two months later than I expected) and I start implementing it. I know that with all design issues involved in your CMS it won’t take us far, and I know that you won’t pay for a complete redesign of your site, but I’m determined to still do my best as far as SEO goes. At least your site is pretty to look at and won’t scare off potential clients.

Your rankings start going up, but then, all of a sudden, you remove my access to your back-end. You don’t even offer me the courtesy of an explanation. Only later, when I start enquiring as to why, you tell me that you’ve decided to give the project to someone else, because after three months your rankings are still not satisfactory.

You won’t listen to what I have to tell you. I guess you are one of those clients who expect an SEO to wave a magic wand and bring you into the Top 10 of any search engine instantly and without any co-operation from other parties. Well, a week later, your site (still bearing no traces of any work done by any other SEO but me) jumps to #1 in Google for one of the important terms and other terms keep going up. I don’t bother to tell you about it; I’m happy you are gone.

Mr. Z. You never become my client at all. All you do is call our company and ask for someone from the SEO department to return the call, which I do. You show me a site with two or three pages of content and more pages still under construction. You tell me you want high rankings for competitive terms. “I’m looking for someone who knows how to achieve this”, you tell me.

I try to explain to you the usual things like “SEO is not quite so simple” and “though there are a lot of ways to achieve the result, there is no way to offer a guarantee”. “I don’t want to be rude, but I think you are in the wrong job”, you tell me then.

I hang up. Why did you waste my time and money on that meaningless phone call?

The above, of course, is just a small part of my personal SEO history, which is full of various remarkable episodes, some of them funny and others the cause of much frustration and anger. Looking back, it appears bad clients are in a tiny minority. Usually, I hear a warm, “Thank You” from my clients.

I love my work.

5 Comments

  1. Hi Irony,
    In the field of SEO and Marketing,
    We continuously look after what the client requirements and needs,
    When the project work going well there won’t be any issue, but SEO’s should have to maintain the client positions,
    It won’t be lose than he had earlier.
    Client won’t be good or bad, it depends on work we are providing.
    It’s fact some time client not having any knowledge regarding SEO’s and PPC and might be misunderstood, but the one SEO experts should have to convince in a Professional way. Clients are not having SEO knowledge, if they have do they need SEO’s ?
    Let me know what you think about for the same ?

    Thanks,
    Bloomtools.

    Comment by Bloomtools — January 28, 2008 @ 12:44 am

  2. Hi Bloomtools.

    Hmmm… well, good luck with “maintaining positions”, when Google starts another update, like the one that is happening now.

    I believe you can only convince someone when they are willing to listen. Trust me I always do my best, but some cases are just hopeless.

    Something tells me you are very new to this business.

    Comment by Irony — January 30, 2008 @ 2:26 am

  3. Hi Irony,

    Thanks for the reply.
    I seen your every post keenly, it’s having such a help full information.

    Yes, it might happen that some cases are hopeless We need to maintain the positions, that actually we need to do.

    Thanks again & regards,
    Bloomtools.

    Comment by Bloomtools — January 31, 2008 @ 2:10 am

  4. Irony, I think chaitanya is right, We seo duty to maintain and upgrade the ranking even if there is new update.

    Comment by geckointeractive — March 1, 2008 @ 4:34 am

  5. Go for it guys. You can start with Mr. Y’s wonderful site powered by even more wonderful CMS, and I’ll see how it will go.

    The SEO’s duty is to build a great site first and foremost. When the client makes it impossible and the designer refuses to co-operate, there is not mich we can do. As for “even though there is new update”, all I can say is LOL and good luck with it.

    I see we are having quite an influx of comments from people working for the same company here. Just curious: are you guys switching from doing in-house SEO only to offering SEO services to others? If so, hope you have a good copywriter partnered with you.

    AS for your “maintaining position” illusions, you’ll soon lose them, trust me. Google will see to that.

    Comment by Irony — March 3, 2008 @ 12:22 am

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