SEO is a hard marketing discipline to wrap one’s head around. It’s sort of a battle of wits between SEO agencies and Google, in which Google conceals a lot of information — and the agency measures, theorizes and sometimes resorts to trial and error to figure out what will work.
This being the case, it’s no wonder agency-client relationships are frequently accidents waiting to happen. Here are seven common reasons SEO agencies end up getting fired.
Incidentally, this post is not what similar posts often turn into, an excuse to dump on clients and vent agency anger. All of the situations below are meant to apply to professional, ethical agencies and clients doing their best to achieve results in the spirit of partnership.
Our insights on this issue are not just theoretical. Since our agency was founded in 1997 …
- We have been retained by several thousand B2B and B2C clients for SEO campaigns of varying scope and duration.
- Our current SEO client retention rate is 95 percent.
- Perhaps most significantly, our sales team talks to 125-175 SEO prospects in an average month, giving us a strong impression of where SEO clients are experiencing frustration and failure.
1. Poor ROI
Ultimately, a client will spend money on SEO only if it generates revenue. Agencies can bring in all the organic traffic in the world, but if the website visitors don’t buy, eventually the client will turn to another agency or other marketing options.
2. Poor perceived ROI
If the agency isn’t tracking conversions fully or accurately, the client won’t realize how much ROI the SEO campaign is producing. Setting up granular web form and phone tracking is tricky, but essential.
3. Lousy content
SEO is more and more the art of creating valuable on-site and off-site content. Google’s search algorithm places a lot of emphasis on content quality; if the agency and client can’t figure out a way to collaborate and create it, organic search visibility and link building efforts go nowhere.
4. Poor communication
When an agency doesn’t communicate regularly and straightforwardly, clients usually go nuts. When clients don’t hear from the agency, they wonder what, if anything, is being accomplished.
SEO usually reaches a certain level of traffic and conversions that are very hard to push up further. To do so requires a more sophisticated strategy, more work and a bigger budget. Agencies are sometimes unable to devise the right strategy and/or don’t have the staff to take on more work. And, of course, clients don’t always want to spend more.
6. A good fit goes bad
If a client moves out of the agency’s sweet spot, the relationship is doomed. Clients go from small to big and from local to national or global. They get bought out, downsize, shift marketing strategies, add e-commerce or eliminate e-commerce. Any of these changes can put the SEO in uncharted territory.
7. Competitive pressure
Endless quibbling can go on whether a lost client is the agency’s fault or the client’s fault. But sometimes, neither party is to blame. If a major competitor with deep SEO pockets ramps up its campaign, it can drive smaller players out of the game.
Of all these issues, communication is the most important. If the agency and client talk regularly about campaign successes, failures and strategic options, progress is far more likely. The relationship may not last forever, but at least both parties will feel as though it lasted as long as it could have.