SEO Clients: Getting The Best Out Of The Worst

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The field of SEO is multifaceted – you have to worry about algorithm updates, keyword density, changes in search traffic, and creating amazing content. In addition to this, there is the client who has their own ideas about what SEO is and how it should be implemented on their site. With these preconceived ideas come clients who will be easy to work with and those that will take a bit more work. A client that seems to come with “problems” isn’t necessarily wrong, they just require you to expand your view on how to run your campaigns and collaborate with your SEO clients.

So how do you deal with clients who have their own ideas about how their campaign should be run? The first step is to analyze the situation and then formulate a solution.  So, where is your client coming from? Once you consider their point of view, you can work towards turning the client relationship into an ongoing partnership that is both productive and successful.

The Unresponsive Client

The Situation: Sandy, the owner of a local company, was very excited to start improving her SEO with your company, but now she has lost steam and isn’t returning your phone calls or emails. You have reached out to her twice a week through email and have left several messages on her answering machine and with her secretary.

The Solution: Sandy is the owner, this means she has a lot on her plate and she might feel like she doesn’t have time to meet you. With that being said, make the effort to get yourself on her schedule and meet with her. Set up a time to go visit Sandy at her office. By putting yourself in direct contact with Sandy, you will be able to ask her if she is pleased with your efforts and catch her up on her SEO campaign. Make sure to have a list of all possible questions, since you might not in contact with her again anytime soon. Remember, Sandy is super busy so you need to be efficient, but also make sure she understands the value of your service and get her excited about the campaign again.

The Controlling Client

The Situation: Bill is the marketing coordinator at a local corporation. Bill is requesting that he approve every detail you want to change on the site. This is creating a problem for results because he takes longer to approve changes than you would like.

The Solution: Bill isn’t wrong in wanting to have a say in his campaign, you just need to change the way you approach him. Since you are already working with Bill, start preparing everything you want to do during the next month now. Once you have a comprehensive list together, set up a timeline for when you will have things over to him for approval and dates they need to be approve by. Make Bill feel like he is on the team and so he can see his importance to the campaign’s success.

The Know-It-All Client

The Situation: Kelvin is the vice president of an international company. He has come to you looking to improve his SEO and has a lot of ideas on how to do it. Once you work through his site pointing out places you can make improvements, he says that he will make those improvements and wants you to instead work on adding the up-and-coming technology to his site. The latest advancements aren’t standard yet and adding them to the site will prevent a large part of their target audience from accurately seeing their website.

The Solution: Be honest with yourself and with Kelvin. You are not here to offer free ideas to Kelvin. Take a step back and examine your relationship. First try reasoning with him, show Kelvin that your skill set and tools will be able to take his campaign to a place he won’t be able to and let him know that the advanced technologies are not going to optimize his website. If he is still dead set on you applying the new technology on his site, then it might be time to end your relationship with Kelvin on the SEO front and look for other ways that you can aid him in his SEO efforts, such as a website redesign.

The Uninvolved Client

The Situation: Sam, a business owner, lives in a different part of the state. She has hired your firm to provide her SEO because she has heard great things about your company. She has told you that she just wants you to get her to the top of the search engine results. She doesn’t care how you do it, she just wants you to make it happen.

The Solution: Try to have as much contact with Sam as you need while remembering she has allowed you to make executive decisions. Sam will be a great client as long as you set her expectations and make sure she understands that SEO takes time and she can’t expect to be number one tomorrow. Let her know of successes and keep her updated weekly even if she doesn’t respond. She will be appreciative that you are trying to inform her of what has been going on with her SEO.

When it comes down to it, remember that even the toughest situations can be turned around. You just have to show the client your value with results. Let them know that you will be able to devote the time needed to their campaign on a regular basis. Fill them in on any major changes as you get ready to make them. Even if you are only making minor changes, update them weekly so they feel involved. Don’t forget to set realistic expectations for search traffic and fully explain your process so that the client fully understands what they are getting from your services.

Andrea Kroeger

Andrea Kroeger

SEO Strategist at Webspec Design
Andrea Kroeger is an SEO Strategist for Webspec Design in Des Moines, Iowa. She organizes and runs SEO campaigns for her clients while working in tandem with the Webspec team on new design, programming and content projects to improve user experience and boost rankings.
Andrea Kroeger
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  • Stephen Moyers

    In the SEO industry we are facing a different kind of clients and the ways which you have shown to deal with clients are really great and help lot to handle such a client. Thank for sharing!!!


    • Andrea Kroeger

      Thank you! I am glad that you have found value in my experiences with clients as an SEO. I hope that you will be able to implement the techniques that have helped me and wish you the best of luck on your SEO endeavors.

      Andrea Kroeger

    • Andrea Kroeger

      Thank you! I am glad that you found value in the the situations that I have experienced with my SEO clients. I hope that the techniques that I have found useful will aid you as well. I wish the the best with all of your SEO endeavors.

      Andrea Kroeger

  • Thomas Smith

    We have dealt with all of the types of clients mentioned above and can safely say that the “know-it-all” client is by far one of the hardest to come across to. Trying to portray how SEO should be done to someone who has their own ideas but doesn’t know the right methods in the first place is intense. A lot of times it can be the make or break of a new contract. Fortunately, we’ve always managed to prove our points and such clients, as difficult as they are, aren’t as difficult as they once were.

    • Kate Kennett

      A client that doesn’t understand the value of your SEO Services is often hard to deal with too. They’ve most likely been told by someone that they know that they should invest in SEO, but don’t understand why, underestimate the cost involved or expect faster results. Developing natural quality links that help to improve positions and boost traffic and conversions take time.

  • Andrea Kroeger

    Thank you!! I am glad that you have found value in my experiences in dealing with difficult SEO clients. I hope that the techniques that have worked for me will be beneficial to you as well. I wish you the best in all of your SEO endeavors.


  • Andrea Kroeger

    I have found that the “know-it-all” is one of the most difficult types of clients to deal with as well and you are right it is very intense, I am glad that you haven’t had to fire a client over it though. Thanks for commenting and I wish you the best in all of your SEO endeavors. We’ve got to stick together!


  • Tino

    Hi Andrea, I found your article really interesting and reassures me that I handle my clients in a good manner. One of our SEO clients is really insistent on providing results on a weekly basis when we first started work with them. Once we managed to get them great results, they gradually let us get on with it and was more than happy to receive monthly reports.

    But what also keeps a client happy and satisfied with your business is constantly informing them of a specific milestone such as achieving a first page position for every keyword they are ranking for. For example, just today we sent a complimentary email to a client telling them to enjoy their weekend and at the end of the message we told them to check page 1 and position 8 of for “client’s keyword” , as their website had just broken into the first page of Google for a very competitive keyword they’ve been trying to rank for. It’s very satisfying to hear their response. Therefore, open, pivotal and honest communication is essential for any lasting relationship.

  • Sunayna Gupta

    Very useful piece of information. All business people go thru simple as well as difficult clients.

  • Martha Stevenson

    A great piece of information when you’re dealing with busy SEO clients 🙂 Andrea your valuable thoughts may help many people in the industry. Thanks and pls keep sharing 🙂 (y)

    Dr. Martha Stevenson

    • Andrea Kroeger


      Thank you. I am glad that you found the information valuable. Thank you for the encouragement, I am a new writer in the SEJ community and would love to keep sharing my experiences. I wish you the best of luck on your campaigns.