By Kaitie Frank
11 Jan 2024

How to Lose Your SEO Clients: Unrealistic Expectations

SEO Reporting

When managing a client's search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, it is essential to set realistic expectations and understand that achieving good SEO results requires a consistent and long-term effort. It is not a one-time task that can be accomplished overnight. 

Many clients may have unrealistic expectations, expecting quick results from their SEO campaigns. However, such shortcuts can be counterproductive, resulting in a failed campaign. Therefore, it is crucial to educate clients about the importance of a sustainable approach to SEO and manage their expectations throughout the campaign.  

Overpromising Results

It's essential to avoid making unrealistic promises about immediate success or ranking improvements in SEO. Overpromising can lead to disappointment if expectations are not met.  Instead, create transparency about the time it takes to see tangible results

SEO results take time, and clients need to understand the gradual nature of the process. To set clear expectations, provide a realistic timeline for results. Emphasize the long-term benefits of SEO and focus on continuous improvement rather than quick fixes to ensure sustainable growth.

Guaranteeing Top Rankings

SEO is constantly changing, and it is impossible to guarantee specific rankings. Search engine algorithms are complex and ever-evolving, which means that factors beyond your control can cause rankings to fluctuate. You must communicate this uncertainty to clients to maintain a truthful relationship between them and the agency.

Rather than making guarantees, it is better to provide examples of past successes and outline a strategic plan. By doing so, clients can understand the potential for improvement while acknowledging the dynamic nature of search engine rankings. This approach helps prevent potential dissatisfaction and ensures a realistic outlook for the client.

Ignoring Communication

Lack of communication creates uncertainty and can result in misunderstandings, damaging the client-agency relationship. To avoid this, it is necessary to provide regular updates on progress, setbacks, and changes in strategy. This approach helps clients stay informed and engaged in the process.

To establish effective communication, you need to set a regular schedule for updates — either weekly or monthly. You can use reporting tools and hold periodic meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and adjustments to the strategy. This way, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and the project stays on track.

Neglecting Education

SEO can be complex, and clients may need help understanding how it works. It's important to avoid assuming that they know everything and take the time to educate them on the process, timelines, and the factors that influence SEO success.

By educating your clients, you can help them understand the value of your services and make them more informed partners in the SEO journey. You can offer workshops, webinars, or other educational materials to help clients understand SEO basics. Additionally, providing ongoing resources and explanations can help empower clients with knowledge.

Neglecting Technical Details

The technical aspects of SEO can be complex and challenging for clients to comprehend. It is important to explain technical elements to ensure your clients understand the work. This fosters transparency and helps clients appreciate the depth of the work being done and the impact of technical optimizations on search visibility.

To simplify things for your clients, create reports or presentations that break down the technical aspects into understandable terms. Offer to walk clients through the technical optimizations and how they affect overall performance. This helps clients better understand the work and promotes a more productive working relationship.

Ignoring Competition

It's important to have a realistic understanding of the competitive landscape for your client's industry. Remember that in highly competitive markets, achieving results may take longer and require more resources. It's essential to set achievable expectations while considering the level of competition.

To prevent clients from expecting quick wins in highly competitive markets, conduct a competitive analysis at the outset and share your insights with them. Set realistic goals based on the competitive landscape and emphasize the need for ongoing efforts to stay competitive.

Not Setting Milestones

Establishing milestones enables clients to track progress effectively, and setting achievable milestones and celebrating small victories along the way can help keep clients engaged and motivated.

Create milestones that help communicate the key points in the SEO campaign, including:

Create reports around these milestones to inform clients of how the campaign is progressing. Ensure that all milestones relate to the campaign and support the overall goals.

Disregarding Budget Constraints

It is important to respect the financial limitations of your clients. Avoid suggesting strategies or tactics that exceed their budget without providing alternative solutions. You can establish a positive and sustainable long-term relationship by proposing strategies that align with their financial capacity.

To achieve this, develop scalable strategies that fit the client's budget. Consider offering options for phased implementations or prioritizing high-impact activities feasible within their budget constraints. This will help establish trust and demonstrate your commitment to their success.

Avoiding Analytics and Metrics

You and your client should define key performance indicators (KPIs) and explain how they align with the overall business goals. It is essential to clearly define KPIs and share analytics insights regularly to help clients understand the campaign's impact on their business goals.

Some KPIs to include in your report are:

  • Keyword rankings;
  • Backlink metrics;
  • User engagement metrics;
  • Click-through rate;
  • Conversion rate.

Remember to avoid showing solely vanity metrics. Vanity metrics look good on paper but have little return on investment (ROI). However, if you want to include vanity metrics in your reports, contextualize them with other, more concrete metrics. 

Ignoring Algorithm Updates

SEO can be affected by algorithm updates from search engines — updates that happen often and with little notice. It is important to keep your clients informed about potential impacts and necessary adjustments in their SEO strategy to adapt to these changes.

As search engine algorithms evolve, you must stay proactive and update your knowledge with industry news and algorithm updates. Communicate potential impacts on the strategy and recommend adjustments to maintain optimal performance. This demonstrates your proactive approach and commitment to staying current in the field and building trust with your clients.

Effective communication is the glue that holds client expectations together for SEO. Educating clients on the process, timelines, and factors influencing SEO is key to building a successful SEO campaign. By avoiding unrealistic expectations, setting achievable milestones, and maintaining transparency, you can ensure your clients remain engaged while helping them achieve their SEO goals.

Kaitie Frank

Kaitie is a copywriter and content writer for Page One Power who specializes in SEO-optimized content. She has written for various niches and prides herself in knowing random tidbits of information. In addition to putting words to paper, she indulges in physical fitness and telling her cat why he is, in fact, a good boy.