Last Updated on December 8, 2021
Clients are from Mars…
Running an online marketing agency is great, but it does have its complexities. As with any business based on a client/ agency relationship there can always be communication issues. With many businesses not understanding how SEO, PPC and other aspects of digital marketing work, there can be an added level of difficulty.
Here we’ll discuss some of the main reasons we’ve seen client and SEO agency relationships deteriorate and explain how we try to fix them.
“We Can’t/ Don’t have time to do that” – This can happen with small and big clients. If for example you’re running PPC campaigns for a client, but think the landing page needs to be updated to really see results, what can you do if they say they don’t have time to fix it?
As with many problems, communication is key. If you think a project you’re working on needs buy-in from different internal stakeholders it’s better to get it at the start, rather than finding them blocking your progress later on. Often the “don’t have time” excuse is code for “I don’t see the value in what you’re doing”, if you can overcome that hurdle, then your client will find the time.
Here it is important to be clear with your client how far your responsibilities go. Going back to the PPC campaign example. If you’re running the PPC campaign, but have no power to change their landing pages, the client cannot judge if your work has been successful based on conversions alone. Because the landing page is a large part of gaining a conversion. Better metrics would be improving CTR or number of clicks. BUT, you need to discuss this BEFORE starting the project, not after, to retain your credibility.
“We expected results by now” – SEO done the right way (White Hat SEO) is slow. There’s no real way around that. When you’re signing up a new client, or bidding for work, it’s very tempting to promise quick results, or instant improvements. But we feel you should always under-promise and over-deliver.
Typically clients will already know this. Or at least they will think they do. But when they start paying a monthly retainer they seem to forget it pretty quickly…. To counter this you need to communicate as much progress as you can. Setting up solid reporting is a good start, as is having regular meetings.
When you’re talking about SEO you need to break things down into macro goals and micro goals. Getting a client to page 1 of Google is a macro goal. But updating meta descriptions is a micro goal. You need to explain to the client that all the micro goals add up and communicate them along the way.
“We think we can do this alone” – Of all of the reasons for breaking a client/ agency relationship, this is the most legitimate. While SEO can be difficult, it isn’t rocket science. If an agency is communicating well with a client, documenting all the work they are doing, there is no reason that the client can’t pick up the baton and maintain their SEO alone.
However, again, this is an issue of communication. While the first few months of working with an SEO agency can provide a great deal of value (establishing best practices, updating meta descriptions, removing Google penalties, cleaning link profiles etc), that doesn’t mean that’s where things need to finish.
If an agency sells itself to a client as someone who can “fix their SEO” then cancelling a contract after 6 months is logical. You don’t hire a mechanic on retainer to fix your car do you? But if the agency sells itself as a lead generation tool, adding conversions and customers month on month, then the client will know that by cancelling their contract they’re going to lose X number of leads per month.
Confessions of An SEO Agency
Are you working with a SEO agency? Have you seen any of the problems above firsthand? We’d love to hear your client/ agency stories.