Reasons Why You Are Losing SEO Clients (And How to Fix Them)

Reasons Why You Are Losing SEO Clients (And How to Fix Them)

If you are an SEO agency or contractor, you know full well that your clients are your life and blood. Without clients, you don’t get money to sustain your digital marketing business, show proof of your results, or build your reputation in the field. If you are losing SEO clients, you are basically dying in a field that is already ultra-competitive.

Here are the reasons why you are losing SEO clients. Fix them now, retain your clients, and stay competitive in the digital marketing space.

SEO contractor working on multiple clients

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Important reminder – it’s not always your fault

Before we get started, here’s an important reminder – it’s not always your fault. If you are losing clients, it’s easy to assume that it’s your fault. But sometimes, it’s the fault of the client. And also sometimes, it’s just not meant to be. Here are some examples of such cases:

  • Your client may just be difficult to work with. Some clients are just hard to deal with. They may have unrealistic expectations such as automatic first-page rankings simply because they are hiring SEO professionals. They may be very indecisive – not knowing what they actually want and not taking your recommendations into consideration. And they may just be straight-up unprofessional and unresponsive. In these cases, no matter how solid you are, you are likely to lose the client.
  • Your client is just not ready for SEO products and services. SEO can play a significant part in a business’s growth and success. Many businesses know this, and so they immediately employ SEO agencies like yours. But not all businesses are ready for SEO products and services. Sometimes, they need to set up their fundamentals first, such as their business model, branding, and target customers, before they venture into SEO. Without business fundamentals, SEO strategies can fail, no matter how good they are.
  • You and your client are just not a good fit. Some SEO agencies and contractors niche down. They specialize in specific SEO products and services and industries to become competitive in these fields. For example, an SEO agency can focus on link building only, or they can focus on a particular industry, such as home services like plumbing and roofing. When you are looking for clients, make sure you have the expertise to help them. If you don’t, you may not be a good fit, often resulting in a loss of clients.

Don’t let these cases be excuses though. You can always do something to improve client retention. And yes, sometimes, it really is your fault why you are losing clients. Here are things you may be doing that are making you lose SEO clients, and some solutions to fix them.

1. You can’t sell your expertise

Before you hire an SEO specialist who can help you in your agency, you look at their credentials, get a feel of their reputation, and test their expertise. Your SEO clients are doing the same thing to you – they want to be impressed first. You need to know how to sell your company to your clients. If you fail to do this, your clients may not believe in you or trust in your expertise. They may look the other way and employ your competitor instead. Here are some solutions to this problem:

  • Establish yourself as an expert in the field. There are many ways to show your authority and competitiveness. You can start with your own channels – your website and business profiles. On your website, have a blog that can show you know your stuff, and have a case study section that can showcase your results. In your business profiles, you can also share valuable information and showcase reviews from satisfied clients. You can also build authority and competitiveness outside of your own channels. Guest posts on relevant websites can be a good start.
  • Offer the latest and most effective SEO techniques. SEO strategies can change over time. This can be because of a search engine algorithm update that makes certain strategies less effective or just flat-out obsolete. It can also be because of how premature or advanced your client’s business is. Some businesses are simple and new. And some businesses are complex and established. These may require different SEO strategies. Because digital marketing is a very competitive space, you always have to be up-to-date to keep your competitive edge.
  • Understand your client’s market and offer suggestions. Some SEO businesses are so used to SEO that they follow very strict templates for their SEO campaigns. This has its advantages. You may be able to automate some processes and even make your business more scalable. But the disadvantage is that not all clients and their situations are template-able. Understand your client’s business and market. And then recommend an SEO plan based on your findings. Don’t just use the same strategies for all clients.

2. You don’t show how your products and services are valuable

People avail products and services because they see value in them. But what is value? It can be the products and services bolstering your client’s authority in their industry. It can be them improving their sales. And it can be them getting more visibility and reaching more potential customers. Whatever that value is, make sure to present it to your client. If you don’t, you may lose them, because they see no reason why they should keep giving you money. Here are some solutions you can try:

  • Educate your client and show the value of their money. Your clients hired you because you are the one who knows SEO. But this doesn’t mean that your clients should be completely clueless. Teach them a thing or two about SEO, especially aspects that translate well to their business, such as conversion rates. Your clients will appreciate your communication and they will be more confident in your abilities, including in your ability to stay up-to-date. Show them the reason why you are worth paying.
  • Offer more products and services that your client may need. Some clients approach SEO agencies or contractors with specific SEO techniques in mind. Maybe they just want to build links for their website. Or maybe they want a particular way to build links, like guest posts via blogger outreach. Sure, you should always cater first to what your clients want. But don’t be afraid to make suggestions and offer more SEO services that you think they may need. If you are auditing your clients, you will have an idea of what SEO services they may need other than the ones they already want.
  • Avoid financial restraints. Some businesses are international enterprises with millions of dollars to spend on SEO and marketing. And some businesses are mom-and-pop stores that have little to no extra budget for such things. Whether your clients are enterprises or small shops, things happen. And SEO and marketing budgets are almost always the first ones to go for them to save some money. It’s difficult to argue against clients when it comes to budgeting, but you will have to convince them that SEO and marketing are investments, not expenditures. This goes back to the first point – educate your clients and show them the value of their money.

3. You fail to set realistic expectations

Unfortunately, many businesses think that they can simply hire SEO professionals to cheat their way to the first page of Google Search Results Pages. We can’t really blame them since many of them are not very informed, which is why they are approaching you in the first place. It’s your duty to educate them. Control their expectations. You may even have to control their goals. If you don’t, you may not fulfill their over-the-top expectations and goals, making you look like a failure. And if you look like a failure, you will lose clients. Here are some ways to avoid such a thing:

  • Set realistic targets and don’t oversell yourself. A common mistake from those in the SEO business is that they often oversell themselves. They make these outrageous promises, such as being on the first page of the SERPs. In reality, you can’t really guarantee results, especially if your clients are in very competitive industries or niches. Audit your clients, understand their business, and communicate with them. This way, you can set targets and goals relevant to your client’s condition, and at the same time, satisfy them and make them feel that you are worth the money.
  • Still respect your client’s wants. Some clients approach you for very specific purposes. For example, they may want to hire you to create an insane social media campaign with a high conversion rate. And then you audit this client and you find out that social media isn’t even a good place to start for their SEO and marketing. Still, you have to respect what your clients want. It’s okay to make suggestions and offer other services. But sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do. Just make sure to educate them about the matter and control their expectations.
  • Understand your client’s brand. Your clients already have a certain vision in their heads. You have to respect this. Again, you have to cater to your client’s wants, even though you and your clients have different approaches to everything. This is why when formulating an SEO strategy for a client, you need to know their brand, their voice, and what they stand for. This is so you can personalize the strategy to fit well with your client.

4. You leave your clients in the dark

Keep your clients in the loop. Let them know what you are doing and how it’s helping their business. This is another way to educate your clients and show them the value of their money. If you keep them in the dark, you may lose your SEO clients because they don’t see the value of the money they are paying you. There are ways to keep your clients involved, such as:

  • Be consistent in reporting. Talk to your clients to agree on the important metrics you should look at, such as the increase in conversions, traffic, and rankings. Also, agree on the frequency of reporting – monthly is a good baseline. When these things are established, make sure to be consistent in your reporting formats and styles. And don’t be afraid to quantify things that are usually not quantifiable, such as the increase in brand visibility. Don’t be afraid to show them the value of these little things. These unquantifiable metrics may be the very things that retain clients for you.
  • Look at value in dollars, not just in numbers in spreadsheets. Sure, numbers are great. You can impress your SEO clients if you have the numbers to prove increases in conversions, traffic, and rankings. But don’t forget to translate these to values that are more understandable to them – dollars. Show how these numbers are beneficial to them, especially in the long run.
  • Communicate proactively. Some SEO agencies and contractors communicate reactively. They will only talk when the clients talk to them. This is one of the worst things you can do. You should be more proactive in your communication. Be the ones to initiate conversations and updates. You can set up a regular meeting schedule. And during such meetings, you can also do reporting. You can even walk them through reports to make the reporting process more interactive.

5. You don’t produce results

You are losing SEO clients because you don’t produce results. It can be that simple. There are many reasons why you don’t produce results. You may not have a solid SEO plan catered to the specific cases of your clients. You may not be doing a good job in managing and executing this plan. Or you are just using outdated and ineffective plans and company processes.

  • Have a solid SEO plan. Consult with your clients, understand their businesses, and define goals and objectives. Make an audit of their current situation, analyze their competitors, and perform keyword research. From here, you can develop a customized SEO strategy with different techniques, such as content creation, on-page SEO, and link building. Make sure you establish key performance indicators, so you can track whether something is working properly or not. If it’s not, you can always refine it.
  • Use project management tools. Your solid SEO plan will be useless if you can’t manage and execute it properly. Use project management tools. Usually, SEO agencies and contractors have dashboards where they can handle client requests and campaigns. If you don’t have one, consider investing in one. In the meantime, you can have account managers handle everything for your individual clients and their campaigns. There are also many project management apps online, such as Airtable, Asana, Basecamp, and Trello.
  • Always review your processes and strategies. You have to have a clear workflow. Jot down your entire work process. You may even form a template that involves the entire process – from client acquisition to SEO plan execution. Use these templates for your campaigns. And then review them and refine them to make them better. Also, stay updated on SEO. As an SEO agency or contractor, your SEO knowledge is obviously an important tool.

6. You have internal problems

Problems within your agency or team can make you start losing SEO clients. If you have internal problems, you can fail to communicate properly with your clients or fail to execute your SEO plan. Depending on the quality of your colleagues, you can also deal with ethical breaches and questionable SEO practices. You have to solve all internal problems and minimize all internal bottlenecks to give your digital marketing business a chance to succeed in this already competitive space. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Consider outsourcing some of your products and services. If you can’t handle some of your products or services, consider outsourcing them to another SEO agency or contractor. This has many advantages. It can save you money because you don’t need an internal team anymore for these specific products and services. It can also make it easier to scale your SEO offerings without too much in-house investment.
  • Look for competent white label SEO companies or contractors. Join an SEO reseller program. If you are an SEO reseller, you are outsourcing SEO products and services to a white label company and rebranding them as your own. The white label company will do all the hard work, but you get all the glory for a job well done. This is one of the most efficient ways to outsource SEO products and services. Just make sure you are outsourcing to a competent white label SEO company. See if they have the infrastructure for white labeling, and do some research about them to see if they really are good at SEO.
  • Always train your team. Always give your team an opportunity to learn new skills and update their knowledge about SEO. It’s a very competitive space, and the only way to stay sharp is to be updated on the latest algorithm changes and SEO techniques. You don’t necessarily have to enroll your team in courses. You can actually just discuss among yourselves, brainstorm, and learn from each other in a set schedule.

Stop losing SEO clients

Here’s the overall reason why you are losing SEO clients – misalignment. You can’t make SEO clients see your competence or the value of your products and services. You can’t align expectations and goals with your clients and you keep them in the dark. And you have issues that result in poor communication, project management, and result delivery.

If you fix these issues, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t lose clients. All businesses, not just SEO agencies and contractors, lose customers all the time. But you can make yourself accountable. Look at the things you can do to minimize client attrition. It can be the very thing that makes your digital marketing business stay afloat, maybe become even competitive.


  • 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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