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How to Work With an SEO Agency (And Secrets They Won’t Tell You)

There are secrets to building a good SEO agency-client relationship. Learn how to grow, nurture, and get the most out of this partnership.

Your SEO agency won’t tell you everything.

There is an excellent chance that you aren’t getting the most out of your agency relationship because of what you don’t know.

If you are a bad client, you are leaving money on the table.

If you delay or make things difficult when your agency needs something, you leave money on the table.

If you treat your agency like a waiter taking your order rather than a strategic partner, you are leaving money on the table.

I’m going to pull back the kimono a bit and tell you some secrets that your agency will never tell you because if they did, they’d likely make you mad. And mad clients are apt not to pay their bills.

3 Types of SEO Clients

There are three types of SEO clients.

Two of these clients are good clients.

One is… not so much.

Let’s talk about the good clients first.

1. Clients Who Understand What Their Agency Is Trying to Do With SEO

These are good clients.

If clients know SEO, they can frequently work with their agency to ensure they are setting the right priorities.

Clients who know SEO can provide valuable resources to the agency’s work.

These resources frequently result in the success being more significant than what either the agency or the client could achieve on their own.

2. Clients Who Don’t Understand SEO… and Know They Don’t Understand It

These are good clients.

These clients typically let an SEO professional do their job.

As long as the results are promising, these clients allow the work to be done.

These clients work best with SEO practitioners who can provide a turn-key solution and not merely a roadmap.

These clients allow SEO pros to flex their creative muscles, as they typically aren’t limited by preconceived notions about how SEO should be done.

SEO pros can do what they think is right, as opposed to doing what the client thinks should be done, as we will talk about when we discuss the bad clients.

And now, the third, and only bad type of client.

3. Clients Who Think They Know SEO and Want to Dictate the SEO Process

These are typically bad clients.

These are the clients who will send you every SEO tip they read from folks that, frankly, aren’t that qualified to do SEO.

They will forward you the emails from spammers who claim that the client’s site is not well-optimized.

These clients believe the far-fetched claims of these random, shotgunned emails that aren’t worth the pixels they take up on the screen.

These clients are drawn to the latest shiny object of the SEO world, regardless of whether it applies to them.

Working with these clients can be a nightmare.

As an agency, your only hope is to turn them and either educate them to become a client that can contribute – or get them to back off and let you do your job.

For some client personality types, either option can be difficult to achieve.

Trust Your SEO, or Fire Them

The relationship between an SEO professional and the client is over when the client loses trust in the SEO pro.

Sometimes this happens before the relationship even begins.

About half of the clients that come through our door have had a bad experience with a previous SEO.

So, frequently, we are dealing with baggage we didn’t create.

Trust is definitely earned.

But if a client is not open to letting an SEO pro earn their trust, the relationship is doomed from the start.

If you’ve been burned by an SEO agency in the past, make sure that your new SEO agency knows what happened and why you feel slighted.

Give your new agency the chance to earn your trust.

If you can’t, your efforts will fail no matter how good the new SEO agency is.

On the other hand, if you find that can no longer trust that your SEO agency is going to help you achieve your goals, it’s time to part ways.

There is no shame in parting ways.

It doesn’t mean that the SEO agency is bad – or that the client is bad.

It means that there wasn’t a fit.

I’ve learned over the years that there are many competent SEO pros out there, but not all are a fit for all clients.

Once the trust is gone, success is elusive.

Try to Be Your Agency’s Favorite Client

The absolute best way to get the most out of your agency is to be their favorite client.

SEO agency work is thankless. When things go well, you rarely get the credit you deserve.

The agency is almost always the one that gets the blame when something goes wrong, whether it’s their fault or not.

As agency workers, we must constantly communicate our success to the client. In most cases, they aren’t going to recognize the program’s achievements even if the results are beyond any reasonable expectation.

On a short-term basis, you can get more out of an agency by wielding a stick and threatening all sorts of chaos if you don’t get your way.

But over time, that strategy will backfire.

Eventually, you’ll be the boy who cried wolf, and your agency team won’t jump when you really need them to.

In some cases, you will get fired as a client. Yes, I fire an average of 2-3 clients per year.

When dealing with your agency, the carrot is a greater weapon than the stick.

If you become your agency’s favorite client, you can get more out of them.

Most agency employees don’t really care how much you are paying.

They know that information, but most likely their compensation is not dependent solely upon your retainer fees.

If your day-to-day contacts like you, they will work on your stuff more than their other clients.

They will look to you when they have extra hours or other perks that frequently come up at agencies such as participation in beta programs, etc.

This isn’t to say that you should just let the agency go and not communicate with them.

Actually, quite the opposite.

If you are silent, you can be ignored.

But if you treat your agency representative with respect, thank them for their work and provide them what they need, you’ll be surprised how much more you can get without spending any extra money.

Bottom line, treat your agency people like friends and human beings and the rewards can be great.

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Category SEO

I am a 19-year veteran of the digital marketing world with previous experience in journalism, public relations and advertising. I’ve ...

How to Work With an SEO Agency (And Secrets They Won’t Tell You)

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