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.
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?
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