Stop! Before You Fire Anyone, Try These Proven Tips for Handling Difficult SEO Clients

We’ve all been there at some point or another in our SEO careers. Struggling with those oh-so-very-special clients who wreak havoc on your sanity and make you want to rip your hair out. Problem clients can come in multiple challenging varieties, from the I’ll-hire-you-then-tell-you-how-to-do-your-job micromanagers to the I-want-results-NOW-and-don’t-understand-why-SEO-takes-time types of the client world. They don’t just demoralize you, but can suck the energy and passion from the entire SEO team.

Difficult clients are unavoidable, no matter which industry you’re in. Even if you are in a position to be able to fire them, that isn’t the optimal solution, apart from the rare extreme case. The good news is you do have the power to improve the relationship — and it doesn’t involve praying for aliens to come abduct them.

Usually, the problems all boil down to just two issues: a lack of trust creating fear and uncertainty and a lack of understanding that may give rise to misaligned expectations and anger. Take back the control in your relationship by performing an extreme relationship makeover with these proven tips:

When the Problems Stem From a Lack of Trust

Often a lack of trust — either in you or SEO in general — can lead to clients being abrasive and lashing out or micromanaging. If you sense distrust or a lack of confidence in the proposed strategy, dig deeper and ask questions to understand why. Have they been burned by SEOs in the past? Is the guarantee-less nature of SEO making them very nervous? Are they worried you may not have their best interests at heart? Here, it’s clear that fear is sullying your relationship.

By seeking to understand the root of their fear, you can work to build a more effective rapport.

Top Tips for Building Trust:

Clearly understand their overall business goals — even the non-SEO ones. This will allow you to not only better optimize your SEO strategy but also more effectively showcase it to them. While explaining your strategies and tactics, tie each one back to how it can help with their goals, providing specifics of why it will help with that particular goal. For example, if they are actively working on improving conversion rate, be sure to reinforce that the work you’re doing to optimize site speed can have a positive impact on conversion rates as well, so that project will provide additional help to SEO.

Stop! Before You Fire Anyone, Try These Proven Tips for Handling Difficult SEO Clients


Rick Duris is CopyRanger.

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