Fellow SEO Providers – We Can’t Help Every SEO Prospect!

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As someone who has built an SEO business from the ground up, it wasn’t so long ago that I was taking on every single SEO project I could get my hands on. It didn’t matter what kind of shape the website was in; I didn’t care if their former less-than-scrupulous SEO provider had run the site into the ground, I didn’t care how big or how small the project was — if they were willing to pay me, then I was willing to take the job. I know many reading this can identify.

SEO providers climbing

Looking back on that time in my career, I know there were projects I probably lost a lot of money on when you break down how many hours I spent versus how much I got paid. But what could I do? I was a new business owner with a mortgage and a growing family to pay for—I had to make money somehow.

To any other SEO provider going through the same situation I can commiserate with you and I want you to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will come a day when you don’t have to take every project that comes your way simply because you need the paycheck. One day you’ll be able to pick and choose who you work with and have clients that actually appreciate the work you are and doing and become a valuable partner, not just a commodity, to their business.

And that brings me to today’s post—as an SEO provider it’s important to remember that you can’t help every SEO client that comes your way…and that’s ok! Here are few instances that I’ve run into over the years where I just couldn’t help a client.

 The prospect was a jerk.

Okay, so maybe I could have helped this site owner, but to be totally honest I just didn’t want to! I believe in treating all my clients with the utmost respect and I expect to be treated similarly in return. If you’re straight up rude and difficult to work with during the sales cycle I can only imagine what will happen if I take you on as a client! There is a difference between being a savvy and dedicated website owner that wants to ensure they are working with the best possible SEO provider and just being a jerk.

The site was too far gone to be saved.

Over the years I’ve run into a few sites that were just too far gone to be saved. Given enough time and money could things have been turned around? Probably. But most site owners don’t have a year or two and tens of thousands of dollars to pour into a site that is going the way of the Titanic. When a site is in that much trouble it becomes more of a business issue and not just an SEO problem. I’ll do everything I can to help a site recover, but sometimes you do everything and then some and still can’t make things work. I can offer my opinion, but it’s up to the client decide if it might be better to just close up shop and start fresh than go down with the ship.

The site owner won’t (can’t) get out of their own way.

Other site owners I’ve spoken with are drowning but refuse to admit it might just be their own fault. I actually talked about this in an interview with Andy Beal who has also turned away clients for a similar reason. He said, “There have been many individuals and companies that I have refused to work with. Most of the time it’s because they want to conduct a cover-up without actually changing the behavior that caused the reputation attack in the first place.” I’m happy to do my best to help any client with a struggling site, but sometimes the site owner is actually part of the problem! If you can’t get out your own way there isn’t much I can do.

The prospect wanted me to compromise my work ethic.

I’m a strictly white hat SEO provider and have been my whole career. I know that a lot of other providers use different tactics for their clients and are successful in their efforts, but it’s just not something I’m willing to compromise on. If a prospect wants me to forgo my white hat approach to help their website chances are I won’t be taking them on as a client. I know that we’ll just butt heads every step of the way because I won’t be willing to do what they want and it’s not worth the fight. I want to enjoy my client and I want them to enjoy working with me. What’s the point in a business relationship if we are always in opposition?

These are just a few scenarios I’ve run into over the years where I decided that I just couldn’t work with a particular prospect in good faith. I don’t want to waste my time or a site owner’s money if I feel like our business relationship isn’t going to make life easier for everyone.

I would love to hear from other SEO providers. Who are the SEO prospects that you just can’t help?

Photo credits: SEO Climber – courtesy © alexeyzet – Fotolia.com

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 to see this share, Nick. I am sure every pro SEO experiences such prospects once in a while and often more frequently if you’re good at your job. I have learnt to deal with such inquiries and how to say know while keeping my point their way nicely.

    I read you often and sure you’re a professional with great business ethic, Nick 🙂


  • Hi Nick,

    I agree- as SEO providers, we can’t help everyone… and it’s taken me a while to recognize this. Similar to a client who “cannot get out of their own way” – clients that aren’t engaged are a challenge for me. They pay for my serivces, recommendations and ideas yet implement nothing and don’t spend any time trying to improve efforts. It’s tough because without change, nothing changes! 🙂

  • I totally agree. I am currently in this position of wanting to take on every client who comes my way. But the sad part is that sometimes you can’t help them, especially when they don’t want to give you a respectable budget to work with, yet expect the world. Also many clients often take a hands off approach when it comes to SEO–They just drop the project on your lap and go off and do other things. While I do understand why it is this way, the best results I have achieved for clients’ SEO programs are when the client is actively involved in helping their sites rank. I like it when clients are involved because usually more can be achieved. The more white hat SEO work that can be done, the better results you’ll get. This has been my own experience anyhow; I’m sure many SEO providers prefer the client not getting involved for various reasons.

  • Whenever a client says that they want to optimize their website, we can’t help but to struggle a bit because in many cases, SEO can help, but once the website visitor arrives to their website. I also only like to take on clients that I truly believe we can help so as to not waste their money.

  • I just completed the SEO course and i know what is secret in website and where it necessary. Do you need to SEO in your website? I can help you if you think you need to optimize your website.

  • I agree. we can’t help everyone.
    And I like take clients that I trust me.