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Good SEO Consulting Starts with Good Clients

Posted by Melanie Phung on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 12:28 pm

What do you need to be a good SEO consultant? Besides a modicum of skills, that is. Answer: Good clients.

Aaron Wall perfectly outlines why providing quality SEO consulting is much harder than simply being good at SEO:

“Most prospective SEO customers are not ranked well because their businesses are unremarkable and have little to no competitive advantage. Worse yet, some of them have arbitrary constraints that hold back growth potential. … Those [customers] who have not fully bought off on the power of SEO often end up underpaying the first time they buy services, which precludes honest consultants from working with them. After they got burned once, they want to minimize future risks, which sets off a market for lemons effect.”

Poorly run companies who start off with a handicap generally aren’t willing to invest what it’ll take to overcome that handicap. They hand you a bunch of rotting lemons, don’t allow you to add sugar or water, and are then disappointed when you don’t give them back top-shelf lemonade. See, they say, SEO is ineffective.

If you care about the quality of your work product, that’s bound to make you, as the SEO, pretty crappy. Avoid feeling crappy by not taking clients who are setting you up to fail.

What most good SEO clients bring to the table:

  • A solid business model
  • An understanding that SEO is a process whose success is measured in months, not days
  • Strong marketing knowledge of their own space
  • A willingness to work with you, to integrate SEO into their broader marketing strategy
  • The ability to make changes to their site

That last bullet seems laughably simple, but a lot of bad SEO clients don’t seem to get that this is critical and don’t bother to mention that they are unable or unwilling to execute on your recommendations until after you’ve started working with them.

Building a rewarding career as an SEO consultant isn’t as easy as simply being good at SEO — don’t put your success in the hands of clients who aren’t willing to invest in their own.

Oh, and a final consideration for when you’re taking on new SEO clients:

  • They have a track record of actually paying their vendors

Comments (4)

Category: search marketing


Comment by SEO Hack

Made Friday, 18 of July , 2008 at 1:16 am

i’ve had the good fortune to work with one or two good clients and you’re right – they make you better at your job.

another sign of a bad client is there lack of being available. sometimes you get these people who want you to do it all, but don’t want to be involved. and you think, “but it’s your fucking site!”

and the paying part is such a good way to tell the good from the bad. Get at least half up front. 😉

Comment by SEO Toronto

Made Monday, 8 of September , 2008 at 6:03 pm

100% right! Good clients are supportive, work *with* you and guide you to achieve their goals. They definitely help you do a better job, and do it happily, which really matters for me personally.

Comment by Stan James

Made Friday, 26 of September , 2008 at 2:03 pm

I have never been a fan of social bookmarking or media. Everytime I go on there some lame site is at the top because they pay people to digg their site or whatever. It is not legit at all.

Comment by Bryan

Made Wednesday, 22 of October , 2008 at 11:09 pm

Great article. As as small business SEO owner I couldn’t agree with you more. SEO itself has become so bastardized and popularized for the wrong reasons, thanks to unethical SEO companies who don’t care who they work with and just want money now, that it can be hard to find a decent SEO consultant or online marketing company in general.

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