How to Maintain a Good Relationship with Your SEO and Web Marketing Company

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Side note, I am talking about reputable SEO & Web marketing companies and consultants in this post. Do your homework.

If your business is considering working with an SEO and Web marketing company (or consultant) I have 12 suggestions below that  could help your business relationship remain a good one.

I think there are times that businesses don’t realize that their behavior is offensive to those they are working with – this can be from a lack of understanding or after dealing with many employees & vendors they forget how to respect others.

I can tell you that this is one industry that has no issue with firing clients and here are a few reasons why:

  • What we do makes our clients a lot of money. We make you a lot more money than you pay us and when we don’t get respect we have no reason to stay involved.
  • There is always another client that will appreciate what we do and treat us right.
  • Life is too short to be stressed and irritated over a client. We have families for that and we don’t need it at work.

1). Show Respect, the More the Better.

We have the skills to create a very stable foundation for your online marketing efforts, improve your business reputation and make you a lot of money. The only way to get skills such as these is years of study, practice, work and implementation.

You are paying not only for the knowledge and skills we have to help you succeed, you are also paying for the knowledge that prevents your campaign from failing. Believe it or not these are two different skills.

We deserve respect for the time it took to learn and excel at these skills. A lack of respect will ruin any relationship.

2). Don’t be Condescending!

When you behave in a condescending manner you doom the relationship from the start. No one likes being spoken down to and if a consultant or company doesn’t end the relationship over this type of behavior they will have no reason to work hard for you. You want people like us to work hard for you. You want us to work harder because we enjoy the business relationship and appreciate the respect we receive. This applies to any industry!

Oh, and don’t let members of your staff be condescending either. They can kill a business relationship that you need and appreciate.

3). Remember, You Have Responsibilities Too.

Let me review some of the things clients tend to forget:

  • Website projects cannot get done without content and images. If you are late the website launch date will be late. Adding and formatting content takes a lot of time. The optimization takes a lot of time. Editing, uploading and placing images takes a ton of time. None of this can be done at the last minute.
  • Don’t be late for meetings because you are wasting our time and costing us money. Who says we don’t have other things to do? We have meetings after meetings with you, we have work to do and projects to finish. When you are late you are literally taking money from us.
  • Campaigns cannot be started without the data we need to do the research required to create a successful campaign. If you don’t provide the data in a timely matter do not expect the services you need to be done on time.
  • Read the emails, completely, from your marketing company. There is nothing more irritating than sending a client an email with information and then having the client email 3-4 times asking for and/or about information that was already sent in a previous email.

One thing to keep in mind, if you are consistently late providing the data needed to complete a project you will almost certainly be put on the back burner behind new clients that have their information ready.

4). Don’t Be an Email or Texting Bully.

There are those that think they are big and bad when they are writing emails and texts. They say rude and insulting things because they are agitated at the moment, but when meeting in person they never have the “you know whats” to tell anyone off. This type of behavior is unprofessional and kills a relationship. Before you go off on your vendor consider all you have to lose if you that vendor walks away.

5). Don’t Expect Hand-Holding & Unlimited Time

We get paid by the hour typically and we know what we need to make to keep the bills paid. So for example, if you are paying for 5 hours of my time in a week I will have other clients taking up the other 35 hours. This is done to ensure I make a proper living.

Paying for 5 hours of work time does not entitle you to 10 more hours of phone calls, emails and meetings. If you want that extra time you need to pay for it and not get upset when the person you are working with doesn’t give you all the extra time you want. Time is money, for you and for us.

If you need hand holding and extra time tell your consultant or company ahead of time and be prepared to pay for the time you need.

6). Don’t Treat Your SEO or Web Marketing Person Like an Employee

Employees work for you. You can behave how you want, talk to them how you want and have unrealistic expectations with employees. When you are paying for a service that we offer you have no right to create expectations that were never discussed or agreed upon.

We also don’t have to reply to a phone call or email within an hour to please you because WE ARE NOT your employee. We work for ourselves and we have other clients, meetings and work to do. You may have to wait a few hours or even an entire day to hear back. Additionally, we do not need to answer the phone or emails when work hours are over. You are important, but you are not the only client…which brings me to my next point.

7). Keep in Mind, You Are Not THE ONLY Client

As I said above, we have several clients. Everyone needs our time and we have a responsibility to each client. We cannot give you 100% of our time, respond to your calls in minutes and we cannot chase you around to get the information we need from you so projects are finished on schedule (this is not our job). Always keep in mind that you are not the only one and cannot expect to be treated as the only one (unless you pay for it).

Oh and in the wise words of my business partner, “Your emergency is not our emergency.” If your computer stops working or the web is loading slow for you this is not something we can fix for you and these are certainly not reasons to stop our work.

8). Listen. Open Your Mind and Listen.

When suggestions come from reputable companies, I would say about 100% of the facts and advice given comes from a place completely focused on your success. We don’t just throw facts and suggestions out for no reason.

If we say something is wrong with your website design, layout or coding it is because there is something wrong. I usually tell people that if they don’t use my company I suggest they find someone to fix it because it isn’t about the money, but about what is best for the client’s business.

Information offered about SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing and other forms of online marketing is all for your best interest. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but questioning integrity will offend and you could possibly lose the one truly talented person that can do this work in your area.

Just try to listen.

9). Don’t Burn Bridges.

My dad always told me to never burn bridges because you never know when you might need them again. This is really good advice.

I have had 5 clients who have ticked me off to no end and I have walked away. Four of those clients have come back and requested (some begged) for my work and I refuse to work with them. Once I am burned it is over. I prefer clients that appreciate what I offer and are smart enough to care about the business relationship. I deserve to be treated like a professional and a human.

10). Don’t Expect Advice for Free.

I am not sure what the deal is, but for some reason people believe that the smart people in this industry should just offer all of their information for free. Why? Consulting and training is part of what we do, but we get paid for it. You can’t keep asking and digging for information and advice unless you are expecting to pay for it. Pay us by the hour and you will get the information you want.

11). Don’t Ask Your Friends What They Think About What We Are Doing.

I actually had one client say that he wasn’t going to be happy with his website until everyone that was sitting at Starbucks with him said they liked it too. OK moron, are the people in Starbucks your target audience? I think not.

All of our plans whether it is PPC, SEO, Social Media or a website design are aimed at meeting the needs of your target markets and beating your competitors. Your “friends” most likely won’t be looking at things like we do. If you don’t like something please tell us, but leave your friends out of it please.

12). Remember, Nerds and Geeks are Smart.

I know when people think of geeks and nerds they think of people like Bill Gates, Sheldon Cooper and George Lucas. What do these three people have in common? They are super smart.

If you hired the right company or consultant I can almost guarantee you that the person you are looking at is extremely smart. Have some faith and remember the following items I mentioned above:

  • Show Respect
  • Don’t Be Condescending
  • Listen

Because they are very smart they pick up on things (behaviors) most people don’t, so make sure you treat them right. Remember, we analyze (and it isn’t just data). Don’t take a chance on burning a bridge with someone that can help your business reach new and better levels. If members of your staff are intimidated by people that know more than them about any subject you may want to consider excluding them from interactions with your web marketing specialists.

In Conclusion

If you are lucky enough to find a consultant or company that has the skills you need please find a way to cherish the quality work they offer and cherish the people themselves. Fact – there are A LOT of people out there offering the services we offer and they have no clue what they are doing. When you find someone good you want to make sure you always have the opportunity to work with them in the future.

Respect is key.

 I know many readers have tips they could add to this post. Please add them in the comments below.

Melissa Fach

Melissa Fach

Melissa is the owner of SEO Aware, LLC. She is a consultant and trainer helping companies make the most of their content marketing and SEO. She specializes is the Psychology behind blogging and content marketing. Melissa is also an associate on the Community team at Moz, an associate and writer at CopyPress and an editor at Authority Labs. She is a self-proclaimed Star Wars and Internet geek and volunteers with big cats at
Melissa Fach

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    I completely agree with #10. Once you’re a client I am more than happy to answer any and all questions, no matter how in-depth. But I can’t stand when prospective SEO clients want me to do a full onsite BEFORE they agree to hire my company. First off, I CAN’T give you that information without having a “look under the hood” of your website. Secondly, I’m not going to give away all my knowledge in one fell swoop–why would you bother hiring me after that?

    • Melissa Fach

      LOL, I agree! 🙂

  • Ric starost

    Although I believe in respecting working relationships between company and service provider, this article comes off as a bit harsh towards the company. SEO and other marketing services are extremely important. However there are a lot of them out there, some good some bad. As a company you have to be on the defensive and a bit skeptical so as to not be taken advantage of. A company hires a service firm because of the inability to effectively manage/run that service in house. A level of respect by the company to that service agency should be expected if not demanded. But i would be careful, from a service provider perspective, of following the “we don’t need the client” mentality. Internet marketing is a fairly young industry and is only going to get more competitive. There is a fine line here. Business do and will continue, even more so in the future, to have options in the firms they hire to represent their online marketing needs.

    • Melissa Fach

      Ric, I understand your points, but I think anyone that works in this industry complete understands why I have said what I have.

      I know there is reason to be skeptical on a company’s part, but there is also a reason why we need distance ourselves from difficult clients and the main reason is it isn’t healthy – mentally or physically.

  • Grace Morris

    This is awesome, I tackled the exact same issue on my companies blog! I wish I was more direct in my approach, but you nailed it! Exactly what I was thinking too.

    • Melissa Fach

      Thanks Grace, I will check out your article 🙂 Glad you get it 😉

  • Alex

    Completely agree with number 9, I’ve also finished working with a company only to be begged to continue once they find out what the standard of SEO services out there is like!

  • Mike Glover

    Melissa – I understand where you are coming from. We’ve all had those clients that have displayed the various triats as listed above. However, if we take on a client, then we owe it to that client to work FOR them. They are are the client afterall, they are paying the bills. I find that most times, a difficult client will tend to be difficult right from the start. In other words, if the proposal process if difficult (they won’t return calls or emails, want several revisions or special concessions in the porposal), then chances are they are going to be difficult clients as well.

    I am not disagreeing with you, but I also think sometimes we take on clients we should not, and then gripe about it/them on the back side, and that’s not really fair either.

    • Melissa Fach

      Mike, the post was not necessarily about all my clients, but a combination of complaints I hear from this in our industry.

      I agree with you that difficult clients are easy to spot from the beginning and I think part of learning how to work in this industry is learning how to not take every client. You have to pick and choose carefully and avoid clients that will stress you out.

  • Jon-Mikel Bailey

    I am filing this under “Best Post Ever”! There is no magic button in business. Like Seth Godin always preaches, success takes hard work. We do everything we can to empower and support our clients to succeed in what they do but we cannot take them all the way. This is a great list and should be required reading for any company in the middle of or about to kick off a web project. Thanks!

    • Melissa Fach

      Thanks Jon-Mikel 🙂

  •!/asifdilshad AsifDilshad

    Hey Melissa nice article. I think you have faced some bad experience with some of your clients. The tone of the article very much represented it. I agreed each and every point you mention in your post we all face this situation on regular basis but the problem starts when we trying to explain these things to our client they don’t want to listen our wordings and only want to give orders because they think “they pay money and the own us”. As an inbound marketers we must join hands to create awareness about this issue so our life became little bit easier.

    • Melissa Fach

      I agree with and not all the points come from my past experiences. They are an overall list from complaints I hear (all the time :-)/

  • Ryan

    This is the greatest post ever.
    Some clients can be such a pain, but you are so right with everything you said throughout here.
    I love my clients and work very hard for them, but I have some bad apples in my bunch.
    Thanks for the post…gotta retweet this.

  • Karl Gephart

    Another great post, Melissa! As a designer, I always hear, “Aw, c’mon, it would only take you a couple extra mnutes to add this item for me.” That’s not the point. How long would it take for the client to add it?! I also tire of comparisons of Web Design to TV, print, and art (the clients’ backgrounds). We structure client-demanded, in-person meetings to cover consulting/training, not to be taken off-topic with minor or irrelevant concerns or distracted with client phone calls. Time should be respected on both sides!