Being an SEO consultant isn’t easy. Many clients expect overnight results, and blame you if they don’t achieve sales. Most people you meet don’t understand what you do and some treat you with a combination of mistrust and contempt, as if you are a practitioner of some kind of black magic.
But amongst the charlatans, the opportunists and the mass emails from India and Pakistan, the SEO industry has at its core a dedicated group of sincere and highly skilled professionals.
They work hard to stay up to date with Google’s constant changes and honestly love seeing clients get great results.
But that doesn’t mean every client is always delighted with the results of every campaign. We are fortunate at JDR in that we have an extremely high client retention rate and achieve very consistent results, but sometimes even with excellent results and communication sometimes things break down.
We have also rescued many business owners from failed SEO campaigns, and usually our first objective is to understand why their campaign failed so ours won’t. So I write this from a perspective of first-hand experience.
So why do some SEO campaigns fail?
1) Unrealistic Client Expectations
SEO is a long term investment, not an overnight quick fix. If you want instant results, use Google Adwords or other forms of paid search advertising. But if you wa
nt to avoid constantly having to pay Google and want your website to be found on its own merit and achieve lasting traffic… then you need SEO. But good SEO is not usually about quick wins, it’s about gradually shaping your website into the most authoritative website in your field through a combination of content creation, technical optimisation and link building. So often, good SEO campaigns with momentum are stopped while they are on the up, simply because the client expected to achieve more by a certain timescale.
As an SEO client, sometimes you have to hold your nerve. Rankings can fluctuate or they can appear to stall and there are times when it can appear that no progress is being made. In these moments it is natural to start questioning the agency, and whether SEO is the right decision for your business. But my advice here is: trust your agency and trust in the SEO process. As long as good quality links are consistently being built, as long as they are working with Google guidelines, as long as good quality content is being produced – you WILL make the breakthroughs you want to. It’s a matter of time. I have seen the traffic spikes when breakthroughs are made for important keywords and they are usually worth waiting for.
3) Lack Of Understanding
When investing in SEO it is important to understand the process. I have had many directors say ‘I don’t want to know how it works. Just get me there.’ Quite often those same directors then turn around after a month and say: ‘why are we not on page one yet?’ At JDR, we go to (in my opinion) great lengths to ensure clients understand the process before beginning a campaign. Not all agencies do this, and as an SEO consumer, you (in my opinion) have a responsibility to your business and to the agency you work with to understand how SEO works, what they’ll be doing and what is required of you.
4) The SEO Agency Is Genuinely Not Delivering
It is fair to say that for as many great agencies out there, there are also some bad ones. There are some which are deliberately misleading, and many more which are simply badly run – they lose clients through a lack of communication, organisation and, quite frankly, caring enough. I have met business owners who have complained about their SEO agency – which is something we always take with a pinch of salt at first – and when we’ve looked in to it they have genuinely not been doing some of the basic things they should have.
5) Poor Communication From One, Or Both Parties
You have a great relationship with an SEO agency when it feels like they are an extension of your business, almost like a team of expert homeworkers. This communication is vital to long term success and it relies on you, as a client, being proactive, open and honest. It relies on the agency to be persistent, chase up important tasks and coach the client to make the adjustments and changes they need to make internally and with their website. Both parties need to be easily accessible by phone, and although SEO can be done from distance, I find face to face meetings have a huge benefit on a working relationship.
6) Internal Sabotage
Hiring an SEO agency can put noses out of joint. Sometimes the internal web or IT team feel overlooked. Sometimes directors have contacts in other agencies or SEO companies they would have preferred to hire. SEO is not a precise science and although there are standard best practices different agencies will focus on different things and do themin a different way, so there is always someone with an alternative view on any piece of work being done. There are a myriad of companies willing to perform free assessments to look for every flaw they can find, and I have seen many successful campaigns be derailed by internal critics who look for any and every opportunity to criticise.
7) Slow, Or Non-Existent Responses
Sometimes, in order to help a client achieve sales or enquiries, you need the client to act. Making changes to their website, providing content, approving content or website changes. If these are slow to materialise it holds up the whole campaign.
8) Not Monitoring ROI
Or, what if your turnover would have halved is it wasn’t for your SEO campaign bringing in lots of new enquiries? Tracking the source and where possible, keywords used by each and every enquiry provides data which can be used to improve website conversion rates and monitor which keywords to focus on.
I’m always interested in how these problems can be solved. Have you had a bad experience with SEO? I’d like to hear about it. If you’re an agency, what problems have you had with clients? How have you solved them?