What If You Only Worked with SEO Clients You Loved?

Two colleagues high fiving

At some point in their existence, most businesses have taken on clients that just weren’t a good fit. But as time goes on, you begin to better understand who your ideal client is – and isn’t.

Good working relationships are the cornerstone of any business, but in SEO, we lean on our clients a lot to make good decisions and to take reasonable action.

When you’re not in alignment with clients in SEO, things can go all kinds of wrong.

So here are what I believe to be three areas that are non-negotiable for working with SEO clients you love:

  1. Values
  2. Action
  3. Fit
  4. FAQ: What are the three non-negotiable areas for working with SEO clients you love? 

1. Values

I’m not talking about aligning your political views or sharing the same passions in life (although passion projects can be great), I’m talking about SEO values. When it comes to SEO, you need to make sure that your prospects are on the same page with your business values.

For example, if you’re an SEO firm focused on quality content creation, it might be difficult to work with a client who insists that buying links is the best SEO strategy. A conversation upfront about their experience with and knowledge of SEO can be key.

Here at Bruce Clay Inc., we put all of our clients through our SEO training right away so they not only understand the basics of SEO, but also our approach to it.

Does that mean we have never had to let a client go because they insist on spam? No. But it greatly reduces those instances.

Another important piece is understanding what the client wants out of an SEO company.

  • What are the things they value in a good working relationship?
  • What attributes do they look for when hiring an SEO?
  • Do they know what questions to ask from an SEO perspective?

This can help you decide if the client is a good fit for you and what expectations they have for a working relationship.

2. Action

One of the top reasons why SEO projects fail is when clients don’t take the recommended SEO actions. Some SEO companies implement changes for clients, while others advise clients on what needs to be done. In many cases, it can be a mix of both.

When the client becomes a roadblock for necessary website changes, SEO progress is at a standstill. This can cause more problems down the road when the client expects to see results but hasn’t put in the work.

So what happens if roadblocks do come up? There are ways to manage smaller roadblocks before they turn into large problems. Making a conscious effort to thwart impending roadblocks is critical for maintaining positive client relationships.

For example:

  • Set expectations about the work that is involved on the client’s part, perhaps as soon as the sales call(s) and certainly during the onboarding process.
  • Communicate key timelines like how long it may be before they see SEO results, even when they do everything you tell them to do.
  • Talk about who at their company will need to be involved in the process for them to be able to make the recommended changes (Is it C-Suite? IT? Someone else?).

Oftentimes, clients are at a standstill when different teams need to be rowing together and are not.

In these cases, we ask things like:

  • How can we educate other stakeholders on the importance of SEO? In our case, we often send unlikely teams to our SEO training – a client’s IT pro or web designer, for example.We also develop resources like the Declaration of SEO: 6 Fundamental Truths To Live By video/e-book package, as well as our Free Executive’s Guide to SEO video training. I recommend sharing these with your stakeholders to teach them about the value of SEO.
  • How can we creatively get the changes done? Is it by converting an SEO task to a “bug fix” that IT folks can understand? Is it by showing the executives that if you don’t make the change, your competitor will continue to steal 30% of your potential organic traffic?

Make sure your clients are taking action so that you can work together to change the trajectory of the client’s business online.

3. Fit

Sometimes you take on a project thinking it will be a win and it just … isn’t.

And maybe this is something you thought might be true upfront, but you – or someone else – ignored it while they signed on the dotted line.

Of course, there could be many reasons for this “fit” problem – personality clashes, strategy disagreements, challenges at the client’s workplace, or something else. Perhaps you’ve tried your hardest to make it work, but it isn’t producing meaningful outcomes for the client and frankly, it’s causing stress.

In these cases – it’s not easy or enjoyable – but it’s time to part ways.

We recommend setting up your contracts in a way that makes it easy for either you or your client to end the contract. Flexible contracts serve both parties.

For example, we offer our clients the ability to cancel existing engagements at the end of each quarter.

Let’s Talk About Money

Ideally, you will be in a position where you don’t have to keep a client because of money. If you are not in that position, it can be difficult to decide what to do.

Business coaches and self-improvement gurus will tell you to visualize your ideal client and to hold your ground – do not work with anyone or any business that does not meet your standards.

But let’s be honest: In today’s economy, many businesses are struggling, or are planning for the worst, so letting go of a good-paying client that is not-so-ideal may feel not-so-smart.

We’ve been in business for 27 years and survived recessions, wars, 9/11, and a plague, so we’ve had our fair share of challenging times. (In fact, we even hosted a webinar about this — it’s called “4 SEO Strategies To Survive a Recession.”)

It is in these challenging times, however, that the good clients become even more critical.

At the end of the day, most SEO businesses want to do their best work and produce meaningful outcomes, not just trade time for money (and stress).

So I urge any business that is just holding on to a client that they perhaps know is not a good fit to reassess the situation. By rejecting one client, we open ourselves up to another potentially more beneficial opportunity that could be right around the corner.

We love all our clients. And if you’re in need of expert SEO services, we’d love to discuss how we can help. Fill out our contact form to schedule a FREE 1:1 consultation.

FAQ: What are three non-negotiable areas for working with SEO clients you love?

As part of your efforts in working with SEO clients that you enjoy, there are three areas you should prioritize to ensure a fruitful working relationship. Focusing on these aspects will allow you to establish yourself as a specialist and establish long-term relationships with those who respect your expertise.

Communication is of utmost importance in any business relationship and this holds especially true in SEO. Open lines of communication allow you to build rapport with clients by understanding their expectations and goals while providing regular updates about the progress of SEO campaigns. Proactive and timely communications build trust while promptly responding to concerns or answering queries quickly — these elements form the basis of successful collaborative relationships.

Second, to provide effective SEO services, you must gain an intimate knowledge of the businesses and industries of your clients. Understanding their industries includes understanding their intricacies and subtleties as well as their target audiences, competition, and market trends. Using this data, you can design SEO strategies tailored specifically for their goals and challenges as well as demonstrate industry expertise.

Thirdly, you must commit to producing results that can be measured. Clients expect tangible outcomes when they invest in SEO services. Set reasonable goals and monitor progress along with providing clear metrics to showcase the success of your efforts. It is also key that regular reports provide detailed analyses highlighting KPIs such as organic traffic growth, keyword rankings, and conversion rates to cement yourself as an authority SEO provider by showing them results and value you add.

Working with SEO clients that you enjoy requires three key areas of focus. They include strong communication skills, in-depth knowledge of their business needs and an enduring dedication to delivering tangible results. Prioritizing these aspects will enable you to establish yourself as an industry specialist while cultivating lasting client relationships and long-term collaborations. Communicating effectively, providing industry expertise and taking an approach focused on producing tangible results will allow you to satisfy clients and ensure their success in an increasingly competitive SEO marketplace.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (4)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!

4 Replies to “What If You Only Worked with SEO Clients You Loved?”

Wouldn’t that be nice!

Appreciate the idea of working exclusively with SEO clients we genuinely love. Your suggestion aligns well with creating a more fulfilling and successful professional journey. Thanks!

Good working relationships are the cornerstone of any business

Good advice —> “So I urge any business that is just holding on to a client that they perhaps know is not a good fit to reassess the situation.” <— I have let, and will let clients go if/when the fit is getting too uncomfortable :-)


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | PO Box 1338 | Moorpark CA, 93020
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919