Bad SEO Clients That Suck

SEO clients that suck.

Learning how to recognize bad SEO clients can save you a lot of time, energy and grief in the long run.

Bad SEO clients are always around, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a chance to make your life rough. This is what they do. You know it. They know it. And they don’t care. They don’t value your work. They don’t value your time. They have lots for you to do when it’s free but not so much when it will cost them.

This article was originally created on November 08, 2015 and updated on August 14, 2016.

If you’ve done SEO for any amount of time, you’ve definitely run into at least a couple of bad SEO clients and the following examples will help you to not only recognize them but to avoid falling into their traps in the first place.

How to attract crappy SEO clients:

Advertise on Craigslist or Kijiji.

This is probably the worst way to look for new clients. Most people who cruise the classified websites like Kijiji are looking for deals. And not just normal deals:

Really, really super-cheap deals.

Despite knowing that you really do end up getting what you have paid for, some people just can’t help themselves and will only accept what they believe is the cheapest option, regardless of outcome. Places like Craigslist and Kijiji are where these SEO deal-seekers lurk, so don’t advertise there.

You will also be associating your services with some real bottom-feeding and black-hat SEO folks running SEO scams if you do, so just avoid the whole classified-ad thing altogether.

Agree to do free work up-front.

Also known as work being done “On Spec”, a lot of people seem to think it’s OK to demand that we prove ourselves with some free work. This almost never happens elsewhere, like when you hire a plumber or an auto mechanic, for example, so why expect if from us?

A frequent example is being asked to review someone’s website and to “get back to them with any recommendations”.

A proper evaluation of a website can take anywhere from two to five hours, so anything past a couple of emails, a phone call and a brief assessment of your website will require a deposit.

Offer discounts and lowered rates.

This one is tough for anyone just starting out with their own SEO business.

You’re eager to work and willing to take on clients for a little less than you ideally would, and earning less is infinitely better than earning nothing at all. In the beginning stages, you essentially ‘have to do what you have to do’ to get going.

Do work for friends and family members.

We all seem to learn this the hard way.

All start-ups need clients and hitting-up your friends and family is the obvious route when you’re starting out.

The problem is that they will all expect a deal. And they’ll boss you around. And they’ll never be happy with what you give them. And they’ll question your expertise. And undermine your efforts.

And, in a lot of cases, they won’t even want to pay you the discounted rate you agreed on in the first place.

Family members and friends tend to feel entitled and typically won’t have any shame in emailing or calling to see if you’ve completed their free work in a timely manner.

If anyone I know asks me to help them, I now tell them they need to find an independent company but that I will review any contracts and pricing with them once they’ve received a quote.

Bad SEO clients that suck.

We are all people first.

As SEO service providers, tt seems a tad ironic to me that we are trying to make our living off of the internet and then condemn someone for communicating information they’ve taken from it. Put another way, most business owners have some sort of knowledge about SEO and of course they are going to ask questions. Almost everyone these days has a bit of knowledge about something and, in the arena of search engine optimization, it’s our job to educate them. They’re just people, after all, and they are obviously invested in making their companies more profitable. I’d probably be more concerned if they weren’t asking questions at all, to be honest.

Try to be as specific as possible so that potential misunderstandings are minimized.

Know who you are and what you can do.

Part of the overall issue between clients and service providers lies in not knowing how to handle a given situation or what your bottom-line may be. If you can justify your recommendations and rates, for example, feel free to explain them to clients and to stand firm.

At the end of the day, a customer/client can either appreciate your candor or not and there isn’t much you can do about it either way.

At the very least, a customer should know where he or she stands and who else will be the one to explain it to them? It’s your company, so be strong and stand up for yourself.

Put everything in writing.

One of my very first clients – when he wasn’t a client any longer – accused me of not delivering services that he had paid for. I referred him back to the trail of emails where he had agreed to the services and payment dates and, you guessed it, I never heard from him again.

Agreed-upon services and payment schedules are no longer a matter of opinion once they are in writing and you can solve nearly any disagreement quickly by ensuring they are in place.

Don’t be vague. Ever.

A very important aspect of what we do – or of what we hope to achieve – is in the wording. Try to be as specific as possible where possible so that potential misunderstandings are minimized. Plan to review something on a specific date as opposed to “in a couple of weeks”, for example.

Client’s don’t actually suck.

We all have some funny stories about a client who didn’t know what a web browser was, or that they weren’t actually connected to the internet, but then again I know virtually nothing about cars and I’m sure my mechanic has laughed at me a couple of times. What he hasn’t done is make me feel silly and I always feel as though I’ve received a professional service and I become a little more educated each time I’m there.

Your clients probably have funny stories about their clients, too, so let’s all lighten-up a bit and be as professional and respectful as we can.


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