The Real Truth About Doing SEO for Clients 2016

Clients often employ SEO agencies or Freelance SEO experts to do SEO for them which is always good for people who provide SEO services but what are they actually getting for that money. The real truth about doing SEO for clients is that it can be a bit of a nightmare.

I do have a handful of clients I do SEO for and will always be happy to do SEO for – these guys because I’m simply allowed to get on with the job. From time to time I do get some clients come to me asking about SEO and they get confused as to why I decline to do the work.

Sure offering anyone money to provide a service they offer seems like a done deal? It is not really like that in the world of SEO. There are many problems that can happen when taking on a new SEO client. I’m listing a few of them below so that people can understand it from the SEO’s point of view as doing SEO for a high number of clients is impossible unless you have the right set up and structure in place.

Expectation of Success

When working with a new client who has next to no idea what’s involved in internet marketing you can be sure that the expectation level in almost every case is going to be highly unrealistic. What happens is the client comes on board and gives you exactly what they want to rank for. After 2 or 3 months if they are not ranking position 1 on page 1 for every single one of them, the moaning starts.

Part of the original proposal is that there is NOT a focus on one particular keyword. The job is to get more traffic to clients websites via a number of different keywords and at times a number of different sources too, whether that be social media, adwords and SEO.

Clients want Reports, Communication & Changes all the time

When pricing an SEO package it is very hard because I need to take into consideration how much time and effort is going to have to be put into rank well in the niche I’m quoting on. Now there are tools available to do competitor analysis, keyword research and all of that type of thing which means that this can be done quickly.

An SEO will use such tools to save time and automate some of the research that goes in by choosing to use whatever tools they want to use.

What I can’t quote accurately for is the amount of time that goes into working out how different clients want to know different things for example they want to dig deep into what’s involved in SEO and some of them even ask for weekly updates ( that isn’t a joke ). Now clients do deserve a report monthly or quarterly whichever you agree too, but do you need weekly communication? Do you need the interruptions when the phone goes for the client to ask the most bizarre question going?  Can’t the client understand that the SEO guy might not want to answer the phone whilst he is in the middle of doing some work?

I do SEO for myself alongside doing work for clients. The great thing is when I rank my own sites, I don’t get the calls, emails or have to do any reporting which allows me more time to crack on and do some valuable work on my websites.

I estimate that around 40% of most clients budgets can be spent on things that offer no value to the client. By that I mean there is so much time being spent reporting, answering questions and doing general admin duties that there isn’t any time being spent marketing the clients business – a lot of it is pure admin and appearance work.

Even Big Companies Make Mistakes

I’m asked regularly to do website audits or consultancy work on websites that are in a lot of cases not ranking as well as they should be. Some of these companies turn over millions of pounds but end up running into problems because of things like:

  • The bosses nephew or some bloke down the pub was building the links
  • The company employed someone who read an SEO book for a couple of hours and took 3K a month of them for doing nothing at all
  • The company wanted so much reporting done the SEO guy had no time left in the day to do any work

There is a massive need for good honest SEO people who are able to provide a good job, so you need to be careful when doing work for clients as it is very easy to get bogged down with certain clients.

Provide SEO Services to Clients

Making it big in the SEO world and doing SEO for a high number of clients is likely to result in failure, you should probably stick to doing a lower amount of clients that value your service. If you go down the route of working with a high number of clients you can basically:

  • Stop being your own boss
  • Start to spend huge amounts of time messing about with client communication, reports and any other issues that may crop up
  • If you are really good you will catch 1 in every 5 quotes you send out
  • Get loads of grief for issues that are probably nothing to do with you such as domain names and web hosting problems. In fact you can expect to get dragged into any mess going as you are expected to be the IT whizzkid just because you do SEO
  • Earn substantially less than what you could if you actually do SEO for yourself.

Some Examples of Unrealistic Expectations

In recent weeks I’ve had a chap who sells Paper Cups approach me to do SEO for him. He told me he loved my blog, liked my approach and we chatted about SEO for about 45 minutes. The conclusion was that someone has been charging him 1K per month and not got them onto page 1. They did have some fairly decent rankings and the onsite SEO looked in decent shape, so there was some genuine graft put in however, in my opinion they needed some decent relevant links.

I spoke with the client and told him that he can pay 1 month in advance and I’ll get him ranking. He agreed to go ahead. After day 1 I got a call from the client asking “how are things progressing?” I politely told him to give us half a chance and I had another hour speaking to him about timescales, how we need to wait for Google to crawl and index links and all of the usual stuff.

Day 2 : Another call from the client, asking me about some Amazon sales ( how he can set up a page on there to sell his cups and if we could do all of the graphic work.) At this point I’m thinking this clearly isn’t SEO, go do this yourself or get someone else to do it but the guy seemed as if he had lost trust so stupidly I agreed to help with this.

Day 5 : He calls and said that he used some cheap and nasty backlink checker ( not even one I’d heard of ) and that he can’t see any backlinks being added. ( Guys clearly not got a clue ) as if any SEO would show him that.

Day 6 : He calls, talks again for about 45 minutes, saying he needs to prove to his finance director that he’s got the right SEO guy and that could I possibly show him some backlinks I have built. I politely told him to judge me on rankings and that if he wanted to go and buy links and get a spreadsheet with that data then he could go and use one of the usual link builders that provide you with the trashy links they have got you.

Day 7 : I had to shoot the guy an email telling him that he is not going to be wasting any more of my time and that he can go and seek someone who can provide all of this free time. This guy wanted to talk all day every day ( he even wanted to go on Skype ) and sat with his little headset on chatting crap to me about nothing to do with SEO.

The truth was I never actually got paid anything at all with this guy. I didn’t start any work as I don’t generally start until people pay but instead I had wasted about 10+ hours on someone who clearly has no clue about Internet Marketing or what’s involved/what to expect. I appreciate he may have had his fingers burnt in the past but this type of client just cannot work. How do you price that? You would need to be an SEO, Web Designer, Graphic Designer, Business Consultant and you would need to be charging him way more than the £500 per month budget he put on the table to get some link building done.

When you do SEO in 2016 you are going to have a hard time with many clients out there who have un-realistic expectations, or  who bog you down with every other problem their business has. How you manage that is the hard part, of course there is some great customers out there who have a genuine SEO requirement and will allow you to do your job effectively but just be careful you get more of this type of client than the other type as the majority of your time will be spent doing SEO reporting and communicating with clients to a point where no work gets done.

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