How to Win Clients Who Have Bad Experiences with SEO Agencies

How to Win Clients Who Have Bad Experiences with SEO Agencies

SEO remains a critical strategy for businesses online. Unfortunately, many businesses have bad experiences with SEO agencies. They get lackluster results, poor communication, and everything in between.

In this article, we will share the biggest tips on how to win over these clients who are understandably skeptical because of their bad experiences. Make your SEO agency a lead generation machine with these convincing strategies.

SEO professional thinking of a way to convert leads who have bad experiences with other agencies

Table of contents

1. Identify common complaints and show empathy

To win over clients who already have bad experiences with SEO agencies, it’s important to understand their grievances first. If you know their pain points, you are one step closer to truly understanding their frustrations, letting you position your SEO agency as a problem solver instead of a headache. Show these leads genuine empathy to rebuild trust and lay the foundation of a successful SEO collaboration.

  • Tackle the lack of transparency. The lack of transparency is one of the biggest reasons why SEO clients get frustrated with their SEO agency. They never get informed about what the SEO professionals actually do and they don’t see results. To show your commitment to transparency, you can be upfront with your processes and methodologies. You can even provide detailed project plans and progress reports you have done for others. For the ultimate transparency commitment, you can give your clients a project management tool. Here at Marketer’s Center, we have a client dashboard that makes project management easy and guarantees transparency.
  • Show you are committed to regular communication. Poor communication is another common complaint of businesses. The SEO clients may rarely hear from the SEO agency, chasing them down for updates. This makes the clients feel that they are undervalued and neglected. Show your commitment to regular communication by establishing a regular communication schedule. Ensure there are multiple channels clients can use to reach out, including emails, phone numbers, and instant messaging accounts.
  • Clarify the high costs and low ROI. SEO clients are often frustrated because of the significant amounts of money they invest in SEO but see little to no return on their investment, especially when an agency consistently asks for additional investments. This issue can make them wary of employing your SEO services. This problem requires a multi-faceted solution, including using case studies and data, having flexible pricing options, and setting up realistic expectations. All of these are elaborated later in this article.

2. Demonstrate expertise and transparency

Demonstrating your expertise and commitment to transparency is crucial to winning the trust of these skeptical SEO leads. They need to be confident that you can get the job done and that you are honest and open throughout the entire process. By showcasing your knowledge and experience, providing detailed case studies and testimonials, and explaining your processes, you can build trust and confidence.

  • Demonstrate your deep understanding of SEO. Many times, SEO agencies do this by creating a blog and building a social media presence. In their posts, they share their knowledge and insights about algorithm changes, SEO best practices, and more. Marketer’s Center has a blog that focuses on SEO as a business, so we position ourselves as experts on the business side of digital marketing. You can position yourself in a niche too through your blog and social media posts.
  • Highlight case studies and testimonials. Around the Marketer’s Center website, you can see many testimonials from our past clients regarding their success. This is a great strategy for building social proof and expertise. You can be as detailed as you can. For example, you can say that your SEO executions have helped an e-commerce company increase their organic traffic by 50% in just six months.
  • Explain your SEO process in detail. SEO clients are frustrated because they are out of the loop. They don’t know what their SEO agency is doing and how they are doing it. While you are pitching your SEO services or onboarding SEO clients, share a step-by-step outline of your SEO process. For example, you can say that the first month is about site audits and competitor analyses, the second month is about technical fixes, and so on. This is another reason why you should have standard operating procedures in your SEO agency.

3. Set realistic expectations from the start

Be honest and clear about what can be achieved in what timeframes. This can help build a foundation of trust. The problem with many SEO agencies is that they tend to overpromise and underdeliver, leading to client dissatisfaction that makes them walk away.

  • Be honest with your timelines. Sure, you can have quick wins in SEO. But generally, SEO is a long-term strategy. Many businesses think that they can simply hire an SEO agency to go viral overnight and get new loyal fans. This isn’t sustainable or ideal. During your consultation with your SEO lead, break down your timeline in an outline with milestones. For example, you can say that the first few months are about technical SEO, and the next ones are about content creation and link building, and that traffic and ranking improvements can only be expected after six to twelve months.
  • Identify your deliverables. Let your SEO clients see the raw value of their money. The problem with other agencies is that they don’t clearly indicate their deliverables, so their clients don’t know exactly what they are paying for and why. For example, you can explain what meta tags are and how they can lay the foundation for better search engine rankings.
  • Set achievable goals. You need to collaborate with your SEO clients to set realistic goals. Every client is just different. Some clients are working from the ground up, so they may need more time to achieve big milestones. On the other hand, some clients already somewhat know what they are doing and just need a little push to take their SEO to the next level. Use analytics data to set goals. For example, you can make an increase of 10-20% in organic visitors in six months as a goal.

4. Offer flexible contracts and guarantees

This is a powerful way to win over clients who have had bad experiences with their previous SEO agencies. It shows your commitment to delivering results and your willingness to adjust based on your lead’s needs. This strategy makes businesses feel more secure in their investment and confident in your ability to drive their SEO success.

  • Offer flexible contract terms. Some SEO agencies lock their clients down with their long 12-month contracts. When these agencies perform poorly, the SEO clients will have no choice but to continue until the terms are fulfilled. Offer month-to-month contracts or shorter initial terms to let the businesses test the waters. This approach allows SEO clients to evaluate your value to them without a long-term commitment.
  • Give performance-based guarantees. One of an SEO client’s biggest concerns is that they may pay top money without any return on investment. By offering guarantees tied to specific performance metrics, such as increased conversion rates and keyword ranking improvements, you show your confidence in achieving results and not wasting your client’s money. If your goals are not met, you can say that you can offer additional months of service for free to show your ultimate confidence and dedication to their success.
  • Set up customizable service packages. One of the best ways to make your SEO agency attractive is to offer custom packages. Different leads have different needs and budgets. By being flexible with your offerings, you are casting a bigger net and addressing the very specific requirements of your leads. For example, a basic package can contain keyword research and on-page optimization, and a premium package adds content marketing and link building to the mix.

5. Regularly communicate and report

Keeping SEO clients informed not only reassures them of your ongoing SEO efforts but also demonstrates your transparency and accountability. These two things are particularly important for maintaining trust, especially for clients who already have negative experiences with SEO agencies. Assure them of your proactive communication and you can convert their inhibitions to interest.

  • Establish scheduled updates. SEO clients get frustrated because their previous SEO agencies don’t give them regular updates. The solution here is to establish an update schedule with your SEO clients. These meetings can be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. Use these meetings to discuss progress, address concerns, and plan the next steps of their SEO journeys.
  • Develop a standardized reporting template. Another problem businesses experience with SEO agencies is confusing reporting. Create easy-to-understand templates for your reports, highlighting key performance indicators, progress, and the next steps of the SEO campaigns. As much as possible, communicate in plain language to avoid overwhelming your clients.
  • Reach out even without major updates. Updates don’t have to be clockwork. You can check in with your SEO clients between scheduled updates to share minor changes, industry news, or even slight improvement suggestions. This proactive approach shows your commitment to SEO client success.

6. Show value through data

By using comprehensive analytics, highlighting key performance indicators, and using data to tell a compelling story, you can convincingly demonstrate the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. This data-driven approach is crucial for converting SEO leads who already have bad experiences with SEO agencies. It makes them feel more confident in their potential investment.

  • Use comprehensive analytics. Some SEO agencies don’t maximize data to show how their work benefits their SEO clients. Avoid being one of these agencies by using powerful analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Create customized dashboards with these tools, showing month-to-month comparisons of relevant metrics. With analytics, you can track and present the impact of your SEO executions.
  • Highlight key performance indicators. Different clients have different needs and wants, resulting in different key performance indicators. A problem with many SEO agencies is that they use the same metrics for all their clients, leading to a general and non-personalized approach that is often ineffective. If the client’s goal is to increase lead generation, track metrics such as click-through rates, form submissions, and phone calls. In your reports, illustrate how your SEO efforts have led to a 20% increase in their form submissions in three months. By showing numbers and timelines, you let them see the value of your work.
  • Use data to tell a story. Many SEO clients are just confused by SEO. That’s why they are hiring SEO agencies in the first place. They may not understand your key performance indicators and jargon. Explain your data by relating the numbers to their business goals. For example, you can show how longtail keyword optimization has led to a spike in organic traffic. This helps SEO clients see the direct correlation between SEO and business growth. Storytelling is also a powerful branding tool.

7. Provide excellent customer service

Excellent customer service goes beyond just delivering results. It also involves being responsive, proactive, and genuinely caring about SEO client success. In a world full of SEO agencies who just take advantage of their clients, be one who genuinely cares. This helps you build positive and long-lasting relationships with clients, including those who have negative experiences with SEO agencies before.

  • Be responsive when communicating. Some SEO clients may feel ignored because their agencies don’t respond promptly. Win over these clients by implementing a 24-hour response policy or something similar. For example, if a client emails you because they have a concern about a temporary drop in rankings, acknowledge their email and provide an analysis within the day if possible. Your responsiveness shows how you are actively managing their SEO needs.
  • Be a proactive problem solver. Say to your leads that you do constant website audits to check technical issues, including broken links, slow load times, and indexing errors. This demonstrates your proactiveness in looking for issues and solving them before they become bigger problems. Clients want to feel like you are giving them your utmost attention, and nothing does this better than continuously analyzing their SEO and providing immediate solutions.
  • Offer personalized services. Some SEO agencies treat their clients like numbers in spreadsheets. They are just another client giving them money. This often leads to templated SEO campaigns and poor performances. At Marketer’s Center, we make sure that our services are specifically tailored to your needs. For example, if your focus is on local SEO, we can optimize for different local SEO solutions, including Google My Business and local link building.

A tactical approach to winning skeptical SEO clients

Winning clients who have had bad experiences with SEO agencies require a comprehensive and thoughtful approach. By implementing our strategies, you not only differentiate yourself from bad SEO agencies but also position yourself as a good one.

Establish a positive and trusting relationship like what we do here in Marketer’s Center and see your SEO agency win over the most skeptical SEO leads.


  • Andrew David Scherer

    My name is Andrew David Scherer and I've been involved in digital marketing since 2006.. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about marketing your local clients online, I'm always happy to help and share what I know. I've built local businesses from 0 to 6 figures in sales. Leased, sold, and rented a handful of them. And I've had hundreds of them as clients. Marketer's Center gives digital marketing consultants the ability to easily scale their local marketing agencies in a way that isn't labor-intensive and still very profitable. If you want to get my "6 Month SEO Plan" please request a free reseller dashboard account here. You'll also be able to download a price list for all of the services we offer. You can connect with me via Facebook in our Local Marketing Freethinkers group, or via Twitter and Linkedin.

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