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4 Ways to Prepare Your Clients for Algorithm Updates

These four tactics will help you better prepare and educate your SEO clients about the inevitable updates to search engine algorithms.

4 Ways to Prepare Your Clients for Algorithm Updates

The reason why ethical SEO professionals don’t offer guarantees is simple:

We don’t control Google.

Going all the way back to 2003 and the first major algorithm update – nicknamed Florida – SEO professionals have dreaded and eagerly anticipated algorithm updates.

No matter how experienced you are, you can’t predict how a major algorithm update will affect your site’s rankings.

An SEO professional can do everything right and still see a negative impact from an algorithm update.

Can I Get a Medic, Please?

Recently, Google confirmed a major broad core algorithm update.

This update appears to mostly have affected healthcare-related sites.

In typical Google fashion, Google’s guidance on how to recover your rankings if you were negatively impacted was non-existent. They basically said just keep creating great sites.

Google’s advice isn’t too comforting if your site is experiencing a significant drop in traffic, sales, or leads (or all three).

According to Google, major algorithm updates happen several times per year.

Major shifts are nothing new for SEO pros.

But how are we preparing our clients, or for in-house folks, our bosses – for the inevitable negative impact of a major algorithm update?

3 Different Types of Clients/Bosses

I like to classify our clients into three different categories. For those of you who work in-house, you can probably find that one of these categories fits your boss or whoever judges how your efforts are going.

It’s important to recognize the type of client or boss you are dealing with when creating strategies for preparing them for algorithmic shifts.

Two of these types of clients/bosses are good to have. One is not that great, but can be tolerable if handled correctly.

I Don’t Care

This client has little to no knowledge of digital marketing, and they don’t want to know about it.

They hired you for a reason, to get their search engine marketing done.

They may look at the reports you give them, but their eyes glaze over if you try to explain them.

These clients can be frustrating when you need some direction from them – as they usually won’t be able to give any.

They can also be prone to a snake-oil sales pitch, so it’s important to make sure they know about the great results you’re providing even if communicating those results can be painful.

But this type of client also allows many SEO professionals to do some great work.

When you work for these clients, your results are up to you. You aren’t encumbered by micro-management or told that the results are not because of your efforts.

For the most part, these are good clients to have.

I Know SEO

This client is great because they understand what you are trying to accomplish.

In many cases – especially on enterprise accounts – these clients can steer you through the red tape. They actually help you do your job better.

These clients are not easily bamboozled, so snake-oil salesmen look elsewhere.

They can be frustrating when there are disagreements. They hired you to help them, but often they’ll override your judgment.

This type of client can also be hard to please.

They want results and they know what it takes to get them. They can often cause you to overservice (or, in the case of in-house, put in more hours) in order to make them happy.

Overall, this is a great client to have because they can actually enhance your SEO efforts.

I’m Confident & Clueless

We’ve all seen this type of client, or boss.


  • Question every move you make.
  • Forward email from SEO spammers, asking why they keep getting emails saying their SEO isn’t up to par.
  • Follow every “SEO guru” and get distracted by every shiny object.

The best way to handle this type of client is to continually focus on results – celebrating every win, big or small.

Client education is also very important for this type of client.

If done right, they eventually morph into one of the other two types of clients – not always, but often enough.

4 Ways to Prepare Clients for Algorithm Updates

As stated earlier, it’s important to understand the type of client or boss you’re dealing with when putting together a plan to prepare for algorithm updates.

Below are four top tactics to prepare clients for an inevitable shift.

Not all of these work for all types of clients, so I’ve specified which types are most likely to respond to each technique.

1. Provide Weather Reports

Not only do you need to keep up with what is going on with Google’s algorithms, you need to communicate what’s going on to your client or boss as well.

Even if there is an update that doesn’t affect you, you should mention it to your client in an update.

If you don’t already, I highly recommend reading Barry Schwartz’s Search Engine Roundtable every day as he covers pretty much every major algo update in detail.

Also, it’s a good idea to monitor the SERPs for your main keywords – not just for your own site’s rankings, but for fluctuations of all of the sites. A major algorithm update doesn’t have to happen for your site to be affected.

BEST FOR: I Know SEO / I’m Confident & Clueless

2. Celebrate Every Win & Keep Score

SEO is a “what have you done for me lately” game.

Clients and bosses tend to forget all the good things you’ve done when something goes wrong.

Few clients or bosses are going to be your cheerleader. In most cases, you are responsible for publicizing wins.

Celebrate wins early and often. Communicate every win you have.

Don’t skimp on communicating the challenges or setbacks – but don’t let those overshadow your wins.

You may need to remind your boss or your client of how well they have done in the past when the present you receive from an algorithm update puts them in a panic.

Remind them that the best indication of strong future gains are past results.

BEST FOR: All clients

3. Be the First to Know

Communicate early and often.

There is nothing worse than having your client or your boss tell you about a traffic or rankings drop. When they beat you to the punch, it looks like you aren’t paying attention – even if you are.

This relates highly to the weather alert recommendation above – if you see something is wrong, you need to tell the client. No exceptions.

If you’re celebrating your wins, keeping score, and communicating what’s going on, you shouldn’t have an issue putting out a five-alarm alert when your site is negatively impacted by something Google has done.

The quicker you get everyone on board with working toward recovery, the better off you are.

By communicating the problem and shifting the blame to Google, you can navigate the rough waters of a decline. If you try to hide the decline, you’re probably going to get fired.

BEST FOR: All clients

4. Educate

You need to make sure that your client or boss knows that, eventually, they will probably be negatively affected by an algorithm update.

Let them know that they will also benefit from algorithm shift sometimes.

Teach clients and bosses about how Google works. Tell them about past updates and tell stories about how other clients have been affected by updates of the past.

If you continually educate and talk about what really happens during an update – which is frequently nothing – you’ll have a better client/boss when the updates happen.

BEST FOR: All clients

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Featured Image: Created by author, August 2018

Category Careers SEO

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

4 Ways to Prepare Your Clients for Algorithm Updates

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