How To Deal: Problems You Might Run Into While Running an SEO Firm

Business.com / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Running your own SEO/marketing firm can be difficult but here is how to deal with those problems.

The world of content marketing is full of clients that know what they want and clients who do not. It is also full of clients who knew a bit about SEO or content marketing in 2009 but aren’t sure how Google’s algorithms have changed.

The fact that SEO/content marketing is a worldwide industry allows a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to hires, contractors, and clients.

There is a myriad of different problems that you might encounter while running this type of business.

The way in which you respond to these problems can decide whether you are viewed as a well-known company or just a flash in the pan. While every company is different, listed below are a few problems you might encounter and how you can deal with them.

Related Article: Partners in Perfection: How to Choose the Right SEO Agency

Clients Want Exact Match Anchor Text

Clients that want exact match anchor text can make outreach quite difficult, setting themselves up for a penalty from Google. There will be clients that will not budge on this specific detail because they might have read something from Search Engine Journal from five or six years ago. Here are some of the ways you can help to mitigate these problems.

  • Ask your client to do a mix of exact match and generic anchor text. An influx of exact match looks unnatural to Google and they could penalize it.
  • Send your client some literature about what might happen when using overly optimized anchor text.
  • Increase your prices as this can make the job of your writers and outreach team much more difficult.

Contractors Keep Missing Deadlines

Missed deadlines can strain any client relationship and it is frustrating when you have outsourced some work only for it to be late. Many contractors will tell you anything to get you to sign a contract with them. This could include saying that deadlines wouldn’t be a problem only to have the work be incomplete nearly a month after the deadline.

How To Deal With This:

  • Have weekly milestones that the contractor has to hit so you can modify a deadline if need be.
  • If using multiple contractors, make sure you have a failsafe with a reliable one. For example, if the contractors have to build 40 links total. Giving both of them 25 then halting production once 40 has been reached can be great.
  • Set a deadline a few weeks before the actual deadline if a contractor normally completes tasks a few weeks late.

Budget Dumps Can Clog Up Workflow Systems

Marketing budget dumps can be a nightmare for workflow systems which are only supposed to support a certain amount of work. While your workflow systems should be scalable, there are some that cannot handle an excess of work. These dumps usually come at the end of each quarter so they can be planned for. Sabri Suby the CEO of King Kong notes that “Handling large marketing budget dumps are what separates the moderately successful firms from those who are industry giants, being ready for them every three months could not be more important.”

Related Article:7 Things to Keep In Mind When Choosing an SEO Agency

How To Plan for This:

  • Contract employees can be brought in at the end of each quarter.
  • Getting work done for other clients before the end of the quarter can free up hours for the rest of the staff at the end of the quarter rush.
  • Ask clients that have done this in the past if they plan on doing it again. This will allow you to add hours to staff or contract this out efficiently.

Clients Being Very Nonchalant About Paying Yet Still Demanding High Production Quality

There will come a time when a client takes their time to pay you on a monthly basis but still has high expectations of your work. This can be quite a difficult situation as smaller companies can rely on clients paying on time to make payroll or cover other bills.

How To Deal With This:

  • Try to set up some kind of autopay system if a client is chronically late. Most of the time this isn’t malicious but it can strain client/company relationships.
  • If this becomes an every month thing and the client has refused any type of auto pay then you might have to be a bit tougher. Let them know that you cannot progress with their work if they have not paid for the month. This halt in production can give the client the kick they need to pay on time.
  • Some companies take weekly payment for work that has been completed. This can be a good situation for companies that might not have all of the money up front or at the beginning of a quarter or month.
  • Dropping a client isn’t always the answer but if missed payments persist and there is no change despite numerous talks, it may be time to drop this client. Clients that don’t respect contractors can disappear without payment after a month and never come back. The international quality of SEO tends to let this happen more often than it should.

Contractors Have Been Using Sketchy Techniques

In SEO and content marketing there are plenty of opportunities to outsource work for a large profit. The only negative aspect of this is that some contractors use Blackhat SEO techniques that can cripple a client’s website. This can cause a client’s site to be penalized or deindexed if you aren’t careful. The explanation that you have outsourced their work isn’t going to fly so here is how to deal with it before it happens:

  • Reach out to sites that have links to see if the site wants the payment to post an article or link.
  • Ask in-depth about their outreach tactics and ask to see the results they have for other clients.
  • Give these contacts a small test campaign to see if the work they do is ethical in the eyes of the almighty Google.

Client Keeps Hinting Other Companies Are Offering Cheaper Services

There will come a time when a big client tries to flex their muscles to let you know that another competitor can offer the same services cheaper. This is something you have to be very careful in handling as the client could be bluffing. Some managers or CEOs may find this disrespectful depending on the amount of time the client and company have been working together. As sensitive of a subject that this is, here are a few different ways to deal with this:

  • If you are confident in the services that you provide, then it can be wise to allow the company to test the waters elsewhere. Let the company know that prices will be higher when they return as there isn’t a customer loyalty discount for those who aren’t loyal.
  • Knowing your margins is important because you might be able to drop the price a bit. Do not drop the price without signing a long-term deal, although a company could take a few months off the reduced price and leave anyway.
  • Investigate the company or competitor companies to see how their prices stack up. It is possible that your client is bluffing about lower prices as everyone wants to improve their bottom line.

Related Article:My Cheat Sheet: An SEO Manager's Go-To Digital Marketing Tools

As you can see the SEO/content marketing space is filled with different problems that can occur. The profits and margins that can be made trump all of these problems and can help a client turn into an industry giant. The best thing that you can do is deliver high-quality work on time and deal with problems proactively. Even if problems do occur, do not blow them out of proportion. This can lead to new problems. Deal with what comes at you in a professional and efficient manner to take your business to the next level.

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