How To Work With An SEO Agency (And The Secrets They Won’t Tell You)

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Your SEO agency won’t tell you everything.

Chances are, you’re not getting the most out of your agency relationship because of what you don’t know.

If you are a bad customer, you are leaving money on the table.

If you delay or complicate things when your agency needs something, you are leaving money on the table.

If you treat your agency like a waiter taking your order rather than a strategic partner, you are leaving money on the table.

I’m going to take the kimono off a bit and tell you some secrets your agency will never tell you because if they did, they would probably drive you crazy. And crazy customers tend not to pay their bills.

3 types of SEO clients

There are three types of SEO clients.

Two of these clients are good clients.

One is… not so much.

Let’s talk about good customers first.

1. Clients who understand what their agency is trying to do with SEO

They are good clients.

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If clients are familiar with SEO, they can often work with their agency to make sure they’re setting the right priorities.

Clients who are familiar with SEO can provide valuable resources to the agency’s work.

These resources often result in success being more important than what the agency or client could achieve on their own.

2. Customers who don’t understand SEO … and know they don’t understand it

They are good clients.

These clients usually let an SEO professional do their job.

As long as the results are promising, these clients let the job get done.

These clients work best with SEO practitioners who can provide a turnkey solution, not just a roadmap.

These clients allow SEO professionals to get creative, as they are usually not limited by preconceptions of how SEO should be done.

SEO professionals can do what they think is right, as opposed to what the client thinks it should be done, as we’ll discuss when discussing bad clients.

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And now for the third and only bad type of customer.

3. Customers who think they know about SEO and want to dictate the SEO process

They are usually bad customers.

These are the clients who will send you all the SEO tips they read from people who, frankly, are not qualified to do SEO.

They will forward you emails from spammers claiming that the customer’s site is not well optimized.

These customers believe in the wacky claims of those random, cannon-fired emails that are not worth the pixels they occupy on the screen.

These clients are drawn to the latest shiny object in the SEO world, whether or not it applies to them.

Working with these clients can be a nightmare.

As an agency, your only hope is to transform them and educate them to become a client who can contribute – or to take them back and let you do your job.

For some customer personality types, either option may be difficult to achieve.

Trust your SEO, or fire them

The relationship between an SEO professional and the client is over when the client loses trust in the SEO professional.

Sometimes this happens before the relationship even begins.

About half of the customers who come through our door have had a bad experience with a previous referral.

So frequently we are dealing with baggage that we did not create.

Trust is definitely earned.

But if a client isn’t willing to let an SEO professional gain their trust, the relationship is doomed to fail from the start.

If you’ve been burned by an SEO agency in the past, make sure your new SEO agency knows what happened and why you feel wronged.

Give your new agency the chance to earn your trust.

If you can’t, your efforts will fail, no matter how good the new SEO agency is.

On the other hand, if you find that you can no longer believe that your SEO agency is going to help you achieve your goals, it is time to go our separate ways.

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There is no shame in separating.

It doesn’t mean the SEO agency is bad – or the client is bad.

This means that there was no crisis.

I’ve learned over the years that there are many great SEO professionals out there, but not all are suitable for all clients.

Once confidence is lost, success is elusive.

Try to be your agency’s preferred client

The best way to get the most out of your agency is to be their preferred client.

The job of SEO agencies is thankless. When the going is good, you rarely get the credit you deserve.

The agency is almost always the one to blame when something goes wrong, whether it’s their fault or not.

As agency workers, we must constantly communicate our success to the client. In most cases, they will not recognize the achievements of the program, even if the results exceed any reasonable expectation.

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In the short term, you can get the most out of an agency by wielding a stick and threatening all kinds of mayhem if you don’t get what you want.

But over time, this strategy will backfire.

Eventually, you’ll be the boy who cried wolf, and your agency team won’t jump in when you really need them.

In some cases, you will be fired as a customer. Yes, I lay off an average of 2-3 clients per year.

When dealing with your agency, the carrot is a more powerful weapon than the stick.

If you become your agency’s preferred client, you can get the most out of it.

Most agency workers don’t really care how much you pay.

They know this information, but it is very likely that their compensation does not depend solely on your fees.

If your daily contacts like you, they will work on your business more than their other customers.

They will turn to you when they have overtime or other perks that come up frequently at agencies, such as participating in beta programs, etc.

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This doesn’t mean that you should just let the agency go and not contact them.

In fact, quite the contrary.

If you are silent, you can be ignored.

But if you treat your agency representative with respect, thank them for their work and provide them with what they need, you’ll be surprised how much more you can get without spending the extra money.

At the end of the day, treat your agency employees like friends and human beings and the rewards can be great.

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