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One of the hardest parts of client SEO is, well… the clients.

Many SEO’s regard client SEO as a nice way to make money or start an agency, but in the end, they say it’s just too hard. They could easily do pay per lead or affiliate stuff and just work on their own.

Then they quickly find that each of these different segments of the search industry have their own problems. There’s no easy money in this business, no matter how much the guru’s say it.

In my time at an SEO agency, I noticed that clients often are looking for different things than the SEOs.

For instance, there was a month where traffic was up, calls were up, impressions were up, and rankings were up. By all accounts, it should have been a smashing success and an easy monthly call.

Instead, it turned out to be quite the opposite.

An email was sent to one of my superiors about the report that I had sent. Though the stats were all extremely positive, the business owner wasn’t happy. He felt that I hadn’t done enough to justify what he was paying the firm. I had been on multiple calls during the month with this client and we had emailed back and forth about specific tasks that I was doing.

Because of all of those interactions, I didn’t feel it was necessary to put all of that in the monthly report. This was an obvious mistake, and I freely admit that.



From this interaction, I gained a new level of insight that I hadn’t considered before.

We know what we want to accomplish, and they know what they expect, but do we actually know what they expect? See how there could be indirect self-sabotage there?

SEO’s have to know their clients and what makes them tick, and many times, it’s not just about the results.

They’re looking at completely different things.

Business owners are looking for 1) solutions to their problems and 2) a justification for what they’re paying (and for keeping you around).


This is where results come up. Some businesses are completely focused on this. They look at the pluses and minuses and if they look like they’re headed in the right direction, they’re happy. Solutions have to do with getting traffic, leads, calls, sales, that sort of thing. This is what SEO’s are usually focused on, but they miss another important element.

Are you just busy doing your daily work, or are you working on providing real solutions?


They want to feel justified at all times of the investment that they’re making with you. Whether things are going good or not, the expense itself is stressful to business owners. It may seem illogical, but that money flowing out has to be replaced from thin air… by you. And as we all know, online marketing isn’t a short term investment.

Also included with justification is why they keep paying you. I’ve had clients whose campaigns weren’t going overly well, but they trusted me. They trusted that I had a plan that I would execute and would be a transparent partner to them. Any and all questions were welcomed and the answer would be educating for them. Foster relationships, don’t just get clients.

If both of these qualifications aren’t met, there’s a chance that your client will bolt at the first chance. They need to see stats, but they also need to feel justified.

Here are a few things that solve these issues.

  1. Reports must be detailed and justify the expense- if it’s not in the report, it didn’t happen. The report shows exactly what happened, fulfillment vs stats. Both are necessary, whether you think so or not.
  2. Mention what you’re excited about- “hey, I’ve been thinking about a campaign that we can do in the fall that could be an awesome PR opportunity.” Something as simple as this can help them see your passion and that you actually care about their company. Not to mention, in order to see that campaign, they have to stay with you 🙂
  3. Multiple touches- I covered yesterday what multiple touches meant and how these interactions can lead to sales. They also help you retain clients. When something great happens, shoot over a one line email. I recently sent over an email with the subject line, “Lookie :-)” with a screenshot of their main keyword that had jumped to the first page. He was overjoyed. On the same token, I’ve emailed clients about negative things too (once they know your transparency, they’ll actually appreciate these types of emails). I told them that their site had been negative SEO’d and they had lost rankings. I reassured them that I was on top of things and would work hard to correct the issue. They were glad that I had come to them instead of finding out some other way.

In conclusion, dealing with clients is hard, but becomes increasingly manageable if you know what they expect from you. If you’re showing even marginal results, along with justifying the expense and building a transparent relationship, you’ll be able to get more clients and retain them longer.