firing and SEO client

Can you believe this actually happens in todays economy?

I recently read an article posted by another SEO Services company.  I was floored.  The base premise of the article was that some customers are “too difficult” to work with and that as an effective SEO you should know when to cut them loose and “fire them”.  You’re kidding me right?  You actually have enough business in this economy that you can afford to fire any customer for being difficult?  That is utterly AMAZING to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had to deal with difficult customers from day one.  In fact, each new customer brings a new challenge.  Their technical proficiency varies by landslides, their knowledge and understanding of the “lingo” varies, their budgets vary, their wants and desires vary…I mean each and every client situation and goal is different.  But that’s exactly what I love about this business!  I have never “fired” a customer.  I have left them with tough decisions, I have put ultimatums to them and they have quit the process on their own, but never have I said that I would no longer work with a client because they were being too difficult.  Why you might ask? 

It’s because I see customer dissatisfaction or reluctance to act as a failure on my part, not theirs.  It’s my job to manage the relationship, not theirs.  They are the customer….and the customer is always right! 

Most of the time anyway, and when they are wrong, it’s my job to correct them and get them back on the right path so we can both be successful in our goals for their site.  That’s what they are paying me to do. 

I understand that there are certain people in this world that are just plain difficult to work with no matter what, but that being said, shame on me if I don’t recognize that right up front and then make adjustments to my processes to accommodate them.  Bottom line, if I think I can help a client, I will take them on and stay with them until we work through the process together to get them the results they deserve.  It may take longer, it may be frustrating on my part, but how does that hurt me?  It’s their site that is not being optimized for search engine rankings, not mine.  Here is my process for educating customers about SEO and what they should expect.  If done properly, it really is an effective tool set for preventing disappointment and heart ache when traveling down this road.

  • What are the client expectations?  This entails a lot of questions on my part.  I have developed a small questionnaire that covers the basics and I usually go through it during my first meeting or phone interview.  Things like:  “what key words are you trying to rank for?”,  “How long do you think SEO takes?”, “do you make changes to your own site or does someone else?”, Do you have access to site domain and FTP accounts?”.  There are a lot more, but I think you get the idea. 
  • What is the clients understanding of the SEO process?  Do they understand the difference between “on-site” and “off-site” SEO?  Do they understand it may take up to a year (or more) to rank for very competitive keywords?
  • Do they understand that they will have to be intimately involved in the process even though they hired me?  The customer should always sign-off on final keyword selection, article/content creation done on their behalf, press release content and meta-tag changes.  They will also have to provide certain information in the beginning and on-going to make sure that it is a smooth process for all involved.

Bottom line, I see it as my responsibility to create and then live up to any expectations on the customers’ part.  If I allow unreasonable expectations to be created by or assumed by the client, then shame on me for not taking control of the situation early on and making sure unreasonable expectations are quashed early on in the relationship

That is the one word that can sum this whole rant up.  Relationship.  You either have one with your client or you don’t.  You either manage that relationship or you don’t. 

Trust me when I say….I love when you don’t.  It will only give me and the other professional SEO’s out there who do, a shot to show those customers what professional SEO Services are all about!

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