The Secret to Handling Impatient Clients

There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a client who refuses to wait for results. Just this morning, I received an email from a client that I did very brief work for (keyword research and wrote some tags for them). They made the recommended changes to their site, and after waiting 24 hours, emailed me back wondering why their rankings hadn't change. In fact, they were quite upset that they hadn't.

I'm not sure if they were concerned that I was some sort of snake oil salesman, or if they really are that impatient. After reviewing the report I gave them, I hardly believe it is even remotely possible for them to think of me as a scammer, so I decided it must have been that latter. I'm actually not sure which is worse.

So how do you handle this? The first thing you need to do is go through all the recommended changes you gave them, and make sure they implemented them. In my case they hadn't. Even if they had, you can still mention it in the email and it will show them that you are looking into the issue. You could start the email off like:

Implemented Incorrectly:

I took a look at the changes we recommended you make to your site, and noticed that only a handful of them were implemented. I apologize for not stressing this before, but it is very important that you make all of the changes we recommend, and make them exactly as we described.

Implemented Correctly:

I took a look at the changes we recommended for your site and noticed that they were all implemented successfully.

The next step involves explaining how the Search Engines work and why changes that you made 24 hours ago might not have changed your ranking position yet. This is a problem I see very often, and I think it can be avoidable if you do a good job explaining how Search Engines and SEO works in your preliminary meetings. I remember when I had a potential client who wanted to rank organically with his new site for the keyword "clothes" by the next day. After explaining that it was damn near impossible to make that happen, he kindly decided to not proceed with the organic SEO work. Did I lose the account? Yes, but I avoided wasted work that would eventually lead to an unhappy customer.

Once you're ready to send out that email, make sure you have someone read it over to make sure you don't sound irritated (which you probably are right now.) The tone of your email has to sound calm, and reassuring that you know what you are doing. At this point, it is really important that you don't use industry jargon and that you really dumb it down and tell them like it is.

Now that we've hopefully diffused this bomb, I think it is important to bring up a different question: Should you agree to only do part of an SEO project? For example, the client I was referring to above only had keyword research and meta tags written for them. But what about building links and fixing architectural issues that are also holding their site back in the SERPs? Shouldn't those also be addressed? You might say, "but what if the client can't afford it?" or "some help is better than no help at all!" I'm really torn as to what the right answer is. What do you think?

Take the poll below and explain in the comments why you think you should or shouldn't have to do a full SEO project.

Category: SEO Viewing 1839 | Added in February 3, 2014

2 Responses

  1. avatar DanielthePoet Says:
    February 3, 2014

    I used to be more of a snob with clients, insisting that they do all or nothing. I may return to that model when I do more independent SEO, but for now, I can see the value in showing a client ROI and building up to a full campaign.


    Granted, this presupposes that you are not in the position to turn away clients right and left. If you are swamped with work and need to be picky with new clients, this doesn’t apply. When demand exceeds supply, you can always set the rules.


    However, when you are in the client building phase, you can relax your standards. Partial campaigns equals less money (usually), but it also means less work. Set expectations properly up front and when you return months later to show the path of success you’ve already charted for them, you can discuss how much better their campaign COULD BE with x, y, and z added. Many clients just want that history of trust and results before agreeing to spend more and do more. Some will always be stingy, and these you can let go of after a reasonable attempt to upsell.


    I’ve seen it work. On my last day at my last job, I sold a new retirement facility client on SEO by showing him how we can start small to show him it works. I have no idea what will happen with him, since I’m no longer there, but I know that he wouldn’t have been a client with a full SEO pitch.

  2. avatar Jim Gianoglio Says:
    February 3, 2014

     Clearly, each situation will call for a somewhat unique solution.

    One client may not have any knowledge of what SEO is and may just be sticking their toes in the water to test it out before plunging in cannonball style. That’s fine - once you educate them and show them results from just a partial SEO project, and explain to them how implementing more SEO strategies in the future can further their results, they may be more than willing to expand their efforts, especially now that you’ve earned their trust.

    Alternatively, maybe you’re dealing with a smaller business that hasn’t budgeted the necessary funds for a full blown campaign. They might never budget the necessary funds if you don’t show them, perhaps with a smaller SEO effort, what the possibilities can be. By starting small, you may be earning a bigger chuck down the road.

    Maybe I’m pointing out the obvious, but I think if you do agree to do only part of an SEO project, the most important thing you can do to foster trust and good will, and avoid an unhappy client in the future, is by explaining the full SEO picture as clearly as possible to the client. By telling them upfront that there are other things to consider besides just keyword research and meta tags, you are doing 2 things: 1) letting them know that they aren’t going to skyrocket to #1 overnight with any sort of “quick fix” and 2) preparing them for future solutions.

    So, back to the question at hand: “Should you agree to only do part of an SEO project?”

    I would say, without a shadow of a doubt, without hesitation…

    maybe.

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