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9 Ways to Deal with Unresponsive SEO Clients

Has one of your SEO clients fallen off the map? This can be extremely frustrating. Use these nine ideas to reopen channels of communication.


You’ve sent your third email in as many weeks to a client, but they haven’t responded.

You can’t move forward with your project until they send over some important information – and in the meantime, you’re ready to tear your hair out.

Sound familiar?

Unresponsive SEO clients are a common problem that most agencies have to deal with at some point.

Fortunately, re-establishing contact is often simpler than you might think. A little extra preparation can also help you avoid situations like this in the future.

Use these ideas to reopen channels of communication with a client who’s fallen off the map.

1. Provide Plenty of Information

Sometimes, an unresponsive client is just a confused client.

If a client doesn’t understand what your agency is doing or how you’re doing it, they might struggle to make decisions or help you out in a meaningful way.

The antidote?

Be as transparent as you can about how your agency works and what strategies you’re using for the client.

Don’t talk down to clients, but do explain things in plain English instead of jargon they might not be familiar with.

Besides that, encourage your clients to ask questions about any aspect of your work that they don’t understand.

This will help them feel more involved in their own SEO, which will probably lead to more communication from them.

2. Get to the Point

There’s a fine line between providing enough information and providing too much information.

Be careful not to confuse your clients or complicate your questions unnecessarily.

Keep your emails and calls brief, and tell the client what they need to know up front. Don’t make clients pick through your emails to find the important points.

3. Be Patient (Within Reason)

A quiet client may not actually have forgotten about your last email. They could just need some extra time to think about a decision.

This is especially true if you’re working on a big, complex project or if you need approval from more than one person at the company.

It’s OK to follow up in situations like this. If you haven’t heard back from a client in a week or so, try sending a polite email to check up on where they are in the decision-making process.

Ask if they need any more information that would help move the process along.

In the meantime, try to build up your roster enough that a slow week with one client doesn’t tank your agency’s overall productivity.

4. Ask Specific Questions

Make it as simple as possible for your clients to make decisions. This is an especially helpful strategy with clients who aren’t well-versed in SEO.

Try asking just one important question that lets you move forward with a project, instead of sending a whole list that might not get answered until next week.

Or, if there are several potential paths you could take, simplify the main points and lay them out multiple-choice-style for the client.

5. Revise Your Onboarding Process

If you find yourself dealing with unresponsive or otherwise difficult clients frequently, try adjusting your onboarding process.

During the onboarding phase, you should do all of the following with a new client:

  • Explain what your agency can realistically achieve.
  • Establish the client’s goals.
  • Create a plan and timeline for how you will achieve those goals.
  • Decide how often you will meet with the client to discuss progress.
  • Discuss how your agency will proceed if you can’t get in touch with the client.

Many agencies succeed at establishing clear expectations up front, but don’t make a plan for what happens if the client goes dark.

Figuring this out right away can save you a lot of “what-do-I-do-now” headaches down the road. It also lets the client know that you can’t do your job optimally without their participation.

6. Try Different Modes of Communication

Can’t reach a client by email?

It might be time for an old-fashioned phone call.

Other ideas: find your client on social media (but be sure to message them privately), or use a meeting scheduling tool to invite them to talk at a time that works for them.

7. Ask Someone Else

Sometimes you might not be able to wait for an answer from a client.

If you’re working on something time-sensitive and you can’t move forward without the client’s go-ahead, consider asking someone else at the company.

One idea is to figure out who your main contact reports to and ask that person. This isn’t an ideal solution, but if you’re in a bind, it can sometimes get you an answer.

8. Emphasize the Consequences

Let your disappearing client know what will happen if you don’t hear from them within a specified timeframe.

For instance, maybe you’ll need to reschedule a project deadline, or maybe you just won’t be able to get good results on a project without some critical information you’re missing.

Be careful not to vent any annoyance you might be feeling to the client. Just make sure they understand why their input is so important to your success (and theirs).

9. Find Other Ways to Make Progress

Even if you have to put one project on hold for a while, you might be able to continue getting good results for your client in other areas.

For instance, look for ways to re-promote or repurpose their old content while you’re in a lull. The client will most likely appreciate your initiative when they do get back to you.

The Takeaway

Good SEO takes a team effort between agency and client.

Without your clients’ help and participation, it’s hard (if not impossible) to reap the kind of results they’re looking for.

But you do have some strategies at your disposal if a client falls off the map.

Keep your cool, follow up with them at reasonable intervals, and do whatever work you can in the meantime – even if that means switching your focus to different projects for a while.

With some patience and persistence, chances are good that you’ll be able to reconnect with even the most difficult-to-reach clients.

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Category Careers SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Adam Heitzman Managing Partner at HigherVisibility

Adam Heitzman is a co-founder and managing partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm. Having been a marketing executive ...

9 Ways to Deal with Unresponsive SEO Clients

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