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20 Signs You & Your Clients Are Alienating Each Other

The client/SEO provider relationship can make or break a campaign. Are you guilty of any of these alienating behaviors?

20 Signs You And Your Clients Are Alienating Each Other

The client/SEO provider relationship is something that can make or break a campaign.

Frustrations come from both sides, making it that much more difficult to work together in order to get the best ROI.

Are you guilty of these alienating behaviors?

Alienating Behaviors from Clients

1. They Try to Dictate the Strategy for Work Despite Having No SEO Experience

You wouldn’t tell a mechanic how to fix your car, would you?

It seems these days that so many people have read a couple of articles about SEO and now think they know all there is to know.

If you’re paying someone to do SEO for you, let them handle it.

2. They Bombard You With Nonstop Requests for Out-of-Scope & Non-Billable Work

Depending on how you work this could be a minor or major problem.

For me doing link building, it’s definitely been an issue when someone wants me to “just take a look at something” that turns into an SEO audit job that they don’t want to pay for.

If you hire someone to do technical SEO, don’t ask them to evaluate your links.

If you hire a link builder, don’t have them go through your paid ads to see what you can cut out.

If you do ask for something extra, be prepared to pay for it.

3. They Refuse to Implement Suggestions That Could Improve the Site

This one really bugs me.

I’ve made internal linking suggestions that go completely ignored when something simple really could improve the results.

Lately one of the biggest problems I’ve seen is that a site has multiple pages that could be combined into one page.

Building links to these multiple pages most likely isn’t going to be as effective as it would be to build links to one page.

I’ve also dealt with clients who think they have link problems but when it turns out that they don’t, they don’t want to fix the actual issues (e.g., having a load time of 20 seconds or having ultra-thin content).

do not agree

4. They Are Routinely Late on Invoices, Having to Be Bugged for Months to Pay the Bills

(Or they’re just not paying until they are threatened.)

In the current situation, this is an even more critical issue.

I’ve had some really bad experiences and lost a decent amount of money on clients that kept saying they’d pay soon, so just keep working.

Now I stop if anyone is falling behind more than one month.

This all depends on what you can risk, but continuing to work with people who have to be chased to pay you is not always worth the trouble.

5. They Take Advice from an SEO Professional Who Doesn’t Have Your Topical Expertise

I don’t get this as much as I used to luckily, but there have been many times where I was sent articles written by someone who isn’t a link builder but had written an article about links.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on links.

I wouldn’t tell a client how to do paid ads.

I have done them and can do them, but it’s just not my thing and it’s also not what I’m paid to do.

6. They Stop Work for Indefinite Periods of Time

In the current situation, this is definitely going to happen with some clients, and that is perfectly understandable.

It’s also obvious that some industries have uptimes and downtimes so they may not always have the budget for work.

However, it’s difficult to plan work when you never know who is going to stop and for how long.

I have a few clients who may pause for a month here and there and that’s no problem, but I have had some who just stop for months at a time and then circle back when I’m full and can’t work with them.

7. They Insist on Phone Calls out of the Blue & Then Become Angry When You Can’t Do It

I’m not a phone person anyway, but this tends to really annoy me.

I have a structured day and can’t just break off because someone needs to chat about something that could be handled via email in one minute.

worried man

8. They Add More Restrictions on Work After an Agreement Was in Place

I have done my best to alleviate this problem but still, it persists.

Let’s say we agree on some minimum metrics in one tool for a link building campaign.

After a few links, the client then decides they are also going to look at another tool’s metrics so we need to look at that, too.

After that, they decide that they have a personal vendetta against travel blogs.

It can go on and on until I’m boxed into a corner.

9. They Aren’t Upfront & Honest With You About What They’re Doing or What Other Teams Are Working On

I’ve had a few clients who had other link teams working and it works fine sometimes, but sometimes it’s a nightmare.

I had one client last year who would turn down potential sites where we could get links and then would pursue them on their own so they didn’t have to pay me to do it.

Almost everyone who wants to build links will swear that they’ve never bought any.

They will say they had no idea what the previous link builder did.

They have no idea that their SEO built out 500 microsites or bought 500 old domains and redirected them.

Sometimes that is true.

Many times it’s not.

10. They Are Unresponsive to Pressing Questions That Impact Delivery Time

If a client wants to change direction and focus on something new that’s completely fine, but sometimes they take weeks to give me what I need.

If you want something done by the end of May, don’t wait until May 25 to give me what I need.

Alienating Behaviors from SEO Providers

11. They Aren’t Transparent About What Work They Are Doing

I spent years not understanding that some companies simply don’t tell the clients what they’re doing.

Some don’t even show them the links they build.

Some are definitely outsourcing to other companies and not being honest about it.

You have every right to know what work is being done for your account.

12. They Don’t Talk to You About Risk

The first thing I do is discuss risk.

If you’re proposing doing something that violates Google’s guidelines, you need to be upfront about that.

You also need to discuss the fact that there is the potential that whatever you do won’t magically shoot the site to the top.

Even if it does, there may be issues with the site that impact conversions.

It’s not very different than buying a giant billboard that everyone sees but your salesman can’t close a deal.

That’s the risk we all take in marketing.

risk assessment

13. They Keep Telling You to ‘Wait & See’ or That ‘It Depends’ with No Concrete Answers

Now, I definitely do use the “it depends” statement more than I should, because I feel like I have seen many sites rank well off little SEO and bad links, and I’ve seen sites that seemingly should be at the top of the SERPs rank almost nowhere.

However, you can’t expect to do that forever and for every question.

Who wants to pay for that?

It’s necessary to wait and see a lot of the time, but if you’re telling a client that after doing work for a year, you aren’t a very good SEO provider.

14. They Aren’t Willing to Listen to You as the Expert on Your Business

Just as you want to be seen as the expert on your end, so does the client.

If they tell you that X is and has always been their demographic, don’t try to market only to Y.

I recently decided upon what I thought would be the best target pages for a new link campaign.

When the client asked how I made that decision, I said that it was based on my analysis of what might move the needle the fastest, because that was my objective.

He pointed out that the pages I’d picked made very little money for the company. We ended up going with his suggestion because again, he’s the expert, not me.

15. They Don’t Tell You That They’re Having Someone Else Do the Work

While the majority of the white-label link campaigns we’ve done for people are transparent, I know of at least three companies who wanted to work with us and who were not planning on informing the client that they were outsourcing their link campaigns.

We didn’t work with any of them.

If your SEO wants to outsource the work, you should sign off on it.


16. They Aren’t Willing to Try Something New If Their Current Efforts Aren’t Generating Results

I don’t mean that you should toss articles at them and insist they do things the way some other SEO has said they should be done.

I mean that they should be able to step back and come up with another way to make it work.

17. They Don’t Get Work Done on Time

Some things can’t be helped… we can’t control when people link to a site, for example.

Sometimes it takes one webmaster a month to do it.

Some do it immediately.

If you’re paying someone for an audit and they say it’s going to take 4 weeks, it should be ready in 4 weeks unless they can explain what the issue is.

Everyone will be late with work at one point, but a consistent habit of it is a bad sign.

18. They Are Full of Excuses for Why Their Efforts Aren’t Paying Off

This goes along with the “wait and see” and “it depends” a lot of the time.

If I built links for a site and their rankings/traffic/conversions didn’t improve, I’d be expected to explain what the problem was.

If what your SEO is doing just isn’t working, definitely ask why, and give them some time because it can take a while, but don’t spend tons of money and time when you’re getting nothing positive from it.

19. They Go Silent or Become Angry When You Question What They’re Doing

A friend of mine recently said that it had been over 6 months since they had gotten a report or heard from an agency that they were paying to run their paid ads.

That is unreal to me.

I don’t think that anyone truly enjoys being questioned about what they’re doing but it’s part of the job.

20. They Don’t Listen to Your Feedback About Their Work

If you’re getting links on mommy blogs and the client tells you not to, don’t keep doing it.

If a client doesn’t like the content you’re creating, be willing to talk about why they don’t and figure out how to come up with something that they do like.

I’m not saying that you should let them dictate how you work when you’re the expert, but you need to be willing to listen and adapt if it’s the right thing to do.

won't listen

Times are tougher than ever for businesses right now, on both ends. If we’re going to keep going, we need to figure out a way to better work together.

More Resources:

Category Careers SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Julie Joyce Owner at Link Fish Media

Julie Joyce owns the NC-based link building company Link Fish Media, is one of the founding members of the SEO ...

20 Signs You & Your Clients Are Alienating Each Other

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