SEO Clients Sometimes Don’t Implement My SEO Recommendations!

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After being in the SEO industry for 13 years, I am still always amazed when a site owner chooses to completely disregard my on-site SEO recommendations. I can understand that some changes might not be possible—maybe the way your website was built won’t allow for it, maybe it would cost too much or take too long and not produce a significant enough of a return, or maybe you just don’t agree with it—and those are all completely valid reasons.

At the end of the day it’s your website and your online brand, so you make all the final calls; as your SEO provider I can give you the best possible strategy I can based on my experience and what I know about your website, but the final call is all yours.

That being said, why on earth would a site owner hire an SEO firm or SEO consultant and not implement any of their recommendations? In my mind, that’s like hiring a personal trainer and never showing up for a single session; you’re paying for expertise but aren’t using it to your advantage! What’s the point?

I’ve worked with several full service SEO clients over the years that seemed really gung-ho about their SEO campaign—they were excited, intrigued, and eager to learn more. I’d put, however, many hours into creating an on-site SEO recommendations document that included keyword research, content optimization, high-level recommendations, and more—only to have that document sit on someone’s desk (or inbox) for three months.

After three to four months of working with me and my team, my client wants to know why their SEO campaign isn’t delivering more traffic, why their rankings aren’t going up, and why they aren’t doing better for non-branded keywords. I always try to explain that without a strong website to build an SEO campaign from, the end results aren’t going to be as profitable as they could be and on-site SEO is a critical component of a strong website.

I’ve run through this scenario with several different clients of different sizes in different industries over the years, and I have decided that the following four things might be why some clients have a hard time implementing on-site SEO recommendations:

No Internal Support From Their Management

Depending on how large your client’s company is, their webmaster might have a pretty full plate every day and just doesn’t have the time to make implementing your on-site SEO recommendations a priority.

A marketing manager can ask time and time again, but sometimes they need that extra support from management to help make SEO a priority in the rest of the company’s departments. If your contact doesn’t have this high-level support for SEO, it’s likely they will run into some internal bottlenecks, making it much harder to get the ball rolling.

Internal Red Tape

Red tape is the death of SEO! I know that every business has a chain of command that major changes, like an on-site SEO document, need to work their way through, but when it takes three to six months to get anything approved your SEO campaign is never going to get off the ground. What makes it even harder is when each step in the chain of command puts in their two cents and sends the document back for revision, then the process has to start over again and again!

Also worth mentioning, red tape kills content marketing. Does everyone in your office really need to read and approve every single blog post before it goes live? It’ll take six weeks, and by the time it’s been edited, approved, re-edited, re-approved, completely scrapped, and finally published, it will be a shell of what it started as.

Personnel Changes

Whenever there is a big change-up with your client’s personnel, especially if your main contact changes, that usually means there is going to be a very definite pause in implementing any on-site SEO changes. Think about how much time and energy you put into educating your contact about SEO, walking them through the process, and explaining the reason behind what you are recommending—if they leave or move to a different position within the company, they take that knowledge with them and you’re back at square one with a new face!

Too Overwhelmed

I recently sent a 300+-page document to a client filled with on-site SEO recommendations, and that wasn’t even for their entire site! Luckily this client has all hands on deck when it comes to SEO, but imagine if you were working with a marketing manager of a mid-sized company or the business owner themselves—300 pages is going to knock them out of their chair!

Depending on how much help their site needs, your recommendations might require a lot of work on their part that maybe they weren’t expecting to see and they are just completely overwhelmed by it all.

These are just four conclusions that I’ve come to over the years of why some SEO clients seem to have such a hard time implementing on-site SEO recommendations. If you’ve got more insights, I’d love to hear them!

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Yuri Arcurs

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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  • Good observations Nick. Many owners know they need ‘seo’ but don’t really understand what is needed to make it happen.

  • It’s not just SEO recommendations, but full scale IT decisions and implementations that clients will often totally ignore. I have had people make complete 180 decisions from my recommendations for software purchases and implementations only to complain about it later…most of the time it has to do with “friends” offering the terrible solutions they can’t refuse.

  • While we do not offer “straight up” SEO services, we work with an organization that makes Google it’s, well, you know what I’m thinking. They’re absolutely brilliant and have done more for our clients than I could have ever imagined. We provide adjunct services – as in implementing some of the strategies our SEO dude recommends and by helping clients implement them. The truth is, it takes time. A lot of time. I’ve come to believe that some simply do not understand the time and effort that goes in to ranking a site. They’re looking for someone else to do it. And now that is nothing to scoff at…if you want to pay me to follow the SEO dude’s instructions, well, that’s fine by me. But in the long run, it’s really about finding the balance for the client. What are the steps they can implement and continue to follow up on.

    • Laurel LaFlamme

      * exactly, Ally!

  • This is a really good article. I seriously believe education is the way forward in the agency/client SEO relationship and that agencies should consider running SEO seminars for their clients as a great way to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

  • A number of clients are now actually rolling their sleeves up and doing it themselfs!!! I wonder how successfully they can be?

  • Amy

    Good lord… This happens in-house too! Infuriating and defeating.

  • Laurel LaFlamme

    All really, really good points here. I’m not here to contribute an epiphany, just to let off steam. It’s been the same for me for a long time.

    The topic reminds me of something I once heard a minister say. There’s a parable that goes, “WHY do you follow me calling out ‘Lord, Lord’ and DO NOT DO THE THINGS I SAY?” Now, SEO has nothing to do with being Christ-like; however, being prosperous in business and in life is something that every business owner on the planet hopes to accomplish or else they wouldn’t be doing it.

    You don’t get up and “go to fun” every day, you go to “work.” It takes a lot of hard work to keep a business alive these days. Their message has GOT to get in front of the people who need it the most & who will buy their widgets.

    They call us up and count on us to make that happen and then DO NOT DO THE THINGS WE SAY!

    For me, it’s exactly what “Ally” from DesignSpike said, “The truth is, it takes time. A lot of time. I’ve come to believe that some simply do not understand the time and effort that goes into ranking a site. They’re looking for someone else to do it.”

    And, “…if you want to pay me to do it,” that’s fine by me. ” —> That’s what keeps (some) SEO clients from following our directions; in a nutshell from my personal experiences over the years.

    1. It takes too much of their time. #1 excuse

    I have a client right now that just boggles my mind. I laid out “Plan X Y and Z” and they let it sit there forever, saying, “It’s too much work & too time consuming.” Well, okay, it’s YOUR business! *shaking my head*

    2. They’re looking for someone else to “do” it. That’s a perfectly acceptable answer. None of us expect a client to stop doctoring, lawyering, or selling and stay home to get his website well-indexed. That’s what “we” do.

    However, circling back to the gargantuan amount of time & talent these projects need to take off, a lot of small business owners just don’t have the cash to cough to make it so, either.

    It’s a vicious Catch-22 –> Clients need more exposure to attract customers and make a profit, they need better rankings, they need to be competitive with all the other like-businesses already well established in social media, etc… they’re working full time at their Craft-Trade with no time to do their own SEO & they lack the skill necessary to obtain the results they desire, they cannot afford to pay US to do it professionally for them…because…. they need more exposure to attract customers and make a profit.

    I tell my clients they need to “…stop, drop, & roll” and do it with the same sense of urgency as if you’re on fire!

    Stop what you’re doing and take a look at the larger picture. Drop everything the “old” way you were doing it because obviously that wasn’t working out so well for ya.” And time to roll with the new way of taking your message to the Marketplace and that’s by getting Social.

    I guess it all boils down to economics in the end. Just because you have a skill doesn’t necessarily mean you should put out a Shingle. There’s a ridiculous amount of carts before the horses. Creating a business card & picking up a plunger is not going to make “Bob’s Plumbing” as successful venture.

    I’ll never ever stop trying to help business owners in my community do better for themselves, in any way possible. Like everyone here in this forum, we all go way above & beyond, I’m sure, to get Clients the reults they need and deserve.

    For the ones that don’t listen, you just gotta shrug them off and move on. Chances are they’re going to circle back to you in the long run.