My Favorite Worst SEO Leads

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**Full disclosure, this is meant to be a humorous type post and rant for fellow SEO professional, sorry if I have offended anyone! 🙂

After 13 years in this industry, I have had my share of absolutely horrible SEO leads. I know that dealing with bad leads comes with the territory of being a business owner, regardless of industry, but sometimes I feel like SEO has to deal with more (or much worse) bad leads than other industries. Here are four of my favorite worst SEO leads I’ve come across over the years. How many of these have you had to deal with?

The “Serial Entrepreneur” Lead

Whenever I talk with an SEO lead that refers to themselves as a “serial entrepreneur,” all I can usually think is “hyper client.” I know there are people out there that make a fantastic living building a business from the ground up and then selling it and moving onto the next project, but I’ve found that the ones who are really successful at that aren’t trying to juggle 10 companies at once.

I was speaking with a lead a few months ago that had 90 websites he wanted SEO services for. Almost all of them were brand new (meaning zero search engine trust factor), poorly designed and had next to no content. I don’t like taking on clients that I don’t think I can actually help, and I knew that my company wasn’t a good fit for this site owner. I recommended that he take a few SEO training courses and learn the basics of SEO for himself and really narrow his focus on which sites he thought had the most potential and then maybe a few months down the road we could revisit an SEO partnership. His response? He didn’t have the money to take any SEO classes. Then how are you going to pay for full-service SEO on 90 websites?!

In my experience, “serial entrepreneurs” usually turn into hyper clients. They have a hard time focusing on what needs to be done (and getting in down in a set time frame) and aren’t ready to settle in for the long haul. SEO requires a lot of patience and a lot of trust in your provider, and leads like this usually have neither.

The Vanishing Lead

I do my best to get back to every lead that comes into my company, whether it is by phone or our online lead form. I am more than happy to spend a few hours going back and forth with a potential SEO client and walking them through my company’s SEO process. I do my best to address any concerns and questions, especially if they have been burned by a black hat SEO company in the past. I’ll draw up a proposal, and even meet them in person if I think it’s a potentially great client. But then what happens sometimes? They vanish off the face of the earth. Suddenly emails stopped getting answered, phone calls don’t get returned and that proposal is probably sitting in someone’s trash folder.

If you decide your site isn’t ready for outsourcing SEO, or you found another SEO provider to work with that’s fine, just let me know! I’ve put a lot of my time and effort into guiding you through the process, please don’t just disappear on me.

The Needy Lead

How many phone calls, proposals, face-to-face meetings and back-and-forth emails does one lead really need? I understand that choosing an SEO provider isn’t like deciding where you want to go for lunch, but there comes a point where you have all the information I can give you without you becoming an actual client. I want to make the process as transparent as possible and make you feel confident about choosing my SEO company as your SEO provider but there is only so much I can do!

Also, don’t expect me to outline an entire onsite and link building campaign for your website during the sales process. I’m not holding out on you, but I truly can’t make educated recommendations without having access to your site’s analytics, an insider’s look at your business and much more. Unless you are prepared to let me dig through your site don’t expect a custom SEO plan upfront.

The “Well,This Other SEO Firm Said…” Lead

I really hate it when leads try to play me against other SEO firms. If you liked what you heard from another SEO company so much that you feel the need to bring it up in our conversation why haven’t you hired them already? Trust your gut and go with it! I especially feel like it comes up a lot when leads start asking about pricing and they are trying to get me to lower the cost of my monthly SEO services by saying that company X was only going to charge them so much. I understand that some leads are just trying to get a feel for the types of SEO providers out there and figure out which one is the best fit for them, but it feels like others are trying to pit us against each other just so they can get a better deal. There is no “secret” to SEO success, and trying to convince me that another SEO company knows one and I better divulge it if I want you as a client isn’t going to work.

These are just a few of the types of terrible SEO leads I’ve dealt with over the years. I’d love to hear your horror stories in the comments!

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston SEO firm. With nearly 13 years of experience in the Internet Marketing industry,... Read Full Bio
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis

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17 thoughts on “My Favorite Worst SEO Leads

  1. Nice post Nick. Always a bit risky to mention ‘those’ type of leads but we all know they exist. More’s the pity. It’s the one who says they will definitely get back to you but don’t that get me. Even a simple ‘no’ is better than being lied to.

  2. Yep, Nick…I’ve had all of those. I look at them as practice on research, communication and proposal writing. But I usually don’t even address the “..this other SEO said this..” crap. I just say, “We work with companies who cannot afford to gamble on the success of their online business.”

    I was recently sent a proposal request from a partner group. It was for a large Global manufacturing company (billion$).

    I spent three days crafting it w/ the sales person and just as I was about to send it, I got an email…

    “Wrong site…sorry!”

    The site he meant to request a proposal for was a local mom and pop drugstore with a $200/month PPC budget!

    The proposal for that simply read:
    “Monthly PPC management services: $7,500/month.”

    1. Great post Nick, I constantly come across the know it all jerk so I play on it by telling the website owner how rubbish their site is and if I was a customer of the site I wouldn’t buy let alone keep shopping around, just blatantly giving it to them before I go into one about their off page tactics. I know its the wrong thing to do and I should always be professional but the kid inside me just comes out. All the more fun when you know someone is just not committed to running a business.

  3. The needy clients are by far the worst.

    They are the ones that have a minimum budget but expect the world. I prefer to have a handful of great clients that are not needy and pay me top dollar for the value of my work.

    Usually the needy clients do not understand SEO and the value that comes with it.

  4. Same here Nick, Till date I haven’t had any experience with your 1st type of lead (serial entrepreneur) but the other 3 are so frustrating at times.

    Vanishing leads are by far the worst, I have ha few clients in the past, who will come in, get all details, encourage me to send the proposal and then disappear off the face of earth. But that’s not the end of them, some enterprising clients will pop back after 6-8 months and then claim they want the services as per the proposal sent to them before. Feel like asking them if they have any business ethics!!

  5. I sold SEO before deciding to do it myself and I’ve had experience with all of these types of clients in the past! For me the worst has to be the “Serial Entrepreneur” they seem to all not have any money and have 1001 ideas and can’t seem to make a decision. I swear I was close to having a Gordon Ramsey moment with one particular bloke.

    You know these guys never had business training and watch Dragons Den non stop (and live in makebeliveliand) not to mention think they’ve got the most amazing idea ever but will never do feasibility studies into their market. I reckon most Serial Entrepreneurs need a kick up the backside and get real on their ambitions!

  6. Serial entrepreneurs are the best!

    Scenario #1:
    “I have an idea! Do you know any really good developers?”

    Me, “Sure, here’s a list.”. Give me a call once you start the project.

    “so wold you be willing to work on a profit share program?’

    Me, ”possibly, give me a call once everything else is in place….I’ll be here!’


    1. Serial Entrepreneurs are all talk no action. Bit like Dell Boy from Old Fools and Horses. “Next year we’ll be millionaires”

  7. I once gave 4 hours of my life to a lead. He wanted to meet me twice during which I explained how we do business. Then he asked for a written proposal of all the things I can do for him. I spend another hour doing it and one more hour during a third interview.

    After 3 years, I hear, he is still interviewing marketing companies while his awesome product is languishing with affiliates…

    Now I am especially careful dealing with people who come unrecommended!

  8. Awesome article but you forgot about the “I’ve Done SEO myself and I think I know more than you” lead. They’ve been going about things all wrong, using some black hat techniques and just don’t understand when you try to apply white techniques that work…

  9. Thanks Nick,
    Great post. I too have had to constantly go round the mulberry bush.
    This Marketing person said this, and the website designer said that.
    Should the social media icons be on the top of the page or the bottom,
    Take a look at this website(competitor) why is his site ranking higher than mine?


  10. My favorite is when a lead tells me that they “spoke with another SEO company that said they would produce 1,000 backlinks per week.” Good luck with that.