I have been a lead strategist for SEO agencies (digital marketing in general too) for 15 years. More than enough time has passed for me to look back at my overall experience and contemplate what I love the most about this industry, and what I like the least.
Service is a big reason why I entered this career field. For me personally, working a career that allows you to be of service to others helps keep me spiritually balanced. There is beauty in hinging your ability to grow onto how you facilitate growth for others. I take great pride in helping businesses hit their revenue targets, and the better I got at this, the further I climbed up the ladder and increased my own earning potential. I also just felt a little bit more complete due to the circle of giving, and getting.
Now for the single most annoying point: difficult clients. Every SEO agency has them, though in my experience they have been few. But these few I did have were so completely unrealistic in their expectations (and really had no business ensuring the profitability of their own brand), that their growth never germinated to maximum potential, and they forced my hand to offer a level of service that I knew could have been tripled had they simply allowed their hired professionals to do their jobs.
This article has three intentions: (1) to hold up a mirror in front of company faces who may be on the verge of being fired by their SEO agency, (2) to help SEO agencies discover what is tolerable, and what isn’t in light of mutual growth, and (3) to simply share so interesting client interactions one has in 15 years of agency life.
Ghosting Your SEO Agency
One sure way to get fired by your SEO agency is to ghost them. It’s crazy, but it happens: I have seen several instances where a company will invest with an award-winning Google-partner SEO agency, and in the onboarding process ignore ALL requests for website and Google Analytics access. In one specific case we had just received a signed contract with a Fortune 1000 company (a car manufacturer) that was one of our biggest clients to date. The SEO team was pumped and the energy from our team’s excitement was off the hook! Then three weeks later, we fired them.
In week one two emails were sent asking for access to their website and analytics, and both emails were ignored. In week two we went above our contact’s head and emailed her supervisor explaining that the project was paused until we could get logins and access. After three days and no response from the boss, the email was bumped to the top of his inbox and he responded by copying our point person to the email, asking her to give us what we need. She responded only giving us logins for the website, and said she was too busy to send GA access.
Even though this was a huge client, we let them go because we knew they would never be successful doing SEO, and therefore we would not be successful. Clearly, the person in charge of their internal marketing put the wrong person in their internal seat to manage the relationship with the SEO agency. Furthermore, there was no sense of internal respect for their own investment, nor was there any willingness to collaborate. Better our agency lose money on a few days of prep work than a few months of running in circles.
Demanding too Much Time from Your SEO Agency
When clients demand a ridiculous amount of your time, it is just as bad as ghosting them because it results in the same level of inefficiency. Keep in mind you are not your SEO agency’s only client. If you intend to treat your SEO agency like they are an internal part of your team, you are setting yourself up for epic disappointment.
Here are a list of headaches clients have directly caused related to disrespecting time that, if you do, will surely frustrate your SEO agency:
- You send your SEO point person emails outside of office hours
- You get annoyed and complain when emails sent outside of office hours are missed or not responded to in a manner that works for you
- You demand your agency log the number of hours they spend on your project
- You send excessive emails throughout the day rather than covering multiple points in a single email
- You demand a meeting or a phone call over something that can be easily covered in an email
- You don’t respect meeting time limitations (back-to-back meetings are common in the world of SEO agencies, and you can’t expect to eat up another client’s time)
- You demand ongoing meetings for reasons that are unnecessary (spelling issues, a single question about a report–anything that can be easily addressed in an email)
- You insist on approval processes that are unnecessarily lengthy with too many steps that eat up your agency’s time (and your own)
Remember, time is money–especially in the world of digital marketing agencies. When you don’t respect your SEO team’s time, you ultimately run the risk of causing a slowdown and pileup for their internal tasks that live behind the scenes.
You Fail to Stay Goal Focused
Why did you hire your SEO agency? Was it to increase organic traffic and rankings? Was it to get more sales from organic traffic. Here’s the fact of the matter: these go hand-in-hand. If you want to use SEO as a way to generate sales then you need to rank your website and conversion-orientated landing pages for your target buyers.
If your goal is to draw organic traffic to a website with no content (or content you’ve written that is terrible for SEO but you, personally, think it’s the greatest thing online, then you should probably do one of two things: (1) form a solid compromise with your SEO agency that leans more heavily to the side that actually fosters organic growth, or stop wasting your time and money, drop the SEO, and invest in paid media. But here’s the thing: according to Forbes, more than 80 percent of mid-size businesses who think their branded content is spot on in speaking to their target buyers fails to convert to sales.
Take off your blinders, stay goal-focused, and let your SEO experts be the SEO experts. Remember, their ability to continue to grow as a digital marketing agency relies on the success of their clients. And if you take the tires off their car and tell them to go win the race anyway, you will be fired.
Now Go Form an Amazing Relationship with Your SEO Agency
When you start vetting SEO agencies for a growth partnership, mention these talking points; ask your SEO experts how they intend to help you achieve your high-revenue targets, and what they expect from you as a client to help facilitate that growth. If you feel like you are verging on the brink of being overly demanding, there is a lack of understanding on your part. Speak up, ask for clarity, and don’t tell your SEO agency you understand the process if you truly don’t. Finally, don’t be a barrier, be a facilitator. Be willing to give your team the information they need, but don’t shove them away from the captain’s wheel because you lack the compass. Let your SEO team work hard for you, and keep in mind that demanding too much time, shutting down data-proves strategies, and tiring your tea, out by contacting them outside of house won’t put either one of you in a position to win.
Learn More About the Modern Customer-Focused Approach to SEO
Ready for a modern approach to SEO that will rank your content for the RIGHT buyers, and convert organic traffic? If you are willing to loosen your grip on the reigns in place for a reasonable collaborative approach, and you won’t ghost your agency because you are truly ready to start making sales from organic traffic, download this guide on our new SEO service. If you think your business is a great fit, give us a call and let us learn more about your goals, customers and products!