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10 Types of Client Behavior That Drive Every SEO Professional Insane

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As an SEO professional, you probably have a catalog of horror stories you could tell.

Each business is unique, and every client that comes through your door is different than the one before.

Most of the time, these clients have a genuine interest in learning how the right approach to SEO can help their brand grow.

Still, there are certain things that clients do or say that can make your job a little more challenging.

You’ve probably encountered all of them, but here are 10 client behaviors that are guaranteed to make any SEO professional a little crazy.

1. Having An Unnatural Obsession with Position 1

There’s just enough vague information about SEO floating around the internet that it makes perfect sense that so many businesses think it’s all about earning a ranking in one of the top three spots (which can be especially volatile as of late).

Sure, rank is important, but the main goals of SEO should be increasing visibility, building a reputation, and driving growth in the number of quality visitors landing on their site.

Position 1 isn’t the only way of accomplishing this.

You can help your SEO clients refocus by pointing out all the ways that effective SEO brings traffic to their door.

For example, leveraging local SEO tactics might land a business in the local 3-pack, rather than Position 1.

For a local business, the 3-pack is exponentially more effective than any other position on Page 1.

2.  Believing That SEO Replaces PPC 100 Percent

Effective PPC ads are an investment and one that many businesses are hesitant to make – especially if they’re working with a limited marketing budget.

Even though it’s estimated that 41 percent of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on page one, businesses will turn to SEO in hopes of generating the exact same type of fast, super targeted traffic.

Unfortunately, with these expectations, they will almost always end up disappointed.

It isn’t that SEO isn’t effective or that it comes in second place to PPC. It’s just that it’s different, and this is what’s difficult for some clients to understand.

PPC is like throwing a dart and hitting the target on the first try, where SEO is about nurturing and brand building for the long term.

Both win when working together.

3. Thinking That It’s All Just a Numbers Game

There are few things in life where quantity wins out over quality, and traffic from a well-built SEO strategy isn’t one of them.

It’s incredibly frustrating when a client comes to you wanting to see nothing more than a boost in numbers.

Yes, directing more traffic to their website is a big part of the picture, but it’s the quality of the traffic that lands there that matters more than the sheer number of visitors.

These are the types of clients that want to see immediate results, and a bump in traffic is a tangible way to measure the benefit of paying for SEO services.

However, it’s important to reinforce what SEO means for the long-term to this client.

Show them how devoting energy to bringing in quality leads is more important for their ROI, even if overall traffic numbers aren’t what they were hoping to see.

4. Wanting Everything Now

Occasionally, a client will come to you in a flurry of desperation.

By using questionable tactics in the past they may have experienced a penalty.

Or, they’ve failed at their own attempts at SEO and they feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them.

They need to grow their brand, and they need to do it fast before they lose so much momentum that they’re unable to recover.

They want your help with SEO and they want results yesterday.

It’s important that this client understand that SEO can help to pull their business up out of the quicksand, but search engine optimization takes time to build and it rarely provides instant gratification.

Clients in this position should not only look at elevating their approach to SEO, but also think about other strategies like PPC, or maybe look at other areas of their business operations that could be sinking the ship.

5. Having a Ridiculously Low Budget & Over the Top Expectations

Honestly, you can’t blame someone for wanting to maximize every dollar of their marketing budget, especially if they’re working with limited funds.

They made a smart move by contacting an SEO professional to help them with this, the only problem is that their expectations of what a baseline, budget level SEO service can do are a bit unrealistic.

It’s important to sit down and have a serious consultation with this client so that they’re aware of exactly what is included and what isn’t in your services.

Likewise, it’s smart to put down on paper a few realistic SEO goals and expectations so that their disappointment doesn’t end up costing you your reputation.

6. Expecting Miracles with an Outdated Website

This one is tough.

Many business owners feel protective of their website design, especially if they had any part in creating it, and unfortunately, they’re usually not too keen on hearing that their beloved web design poses a major threat to the health of their SEO.

Today’s SEO is more complex and takes into consideration more factors than it did just a few years ago, and the quality of web design’s UX has an impact on SEO.

Usability and user experience are crucial to effective SEO, which can mean a complete web design overhaul for sites that are:

  • Outdated.
  • Slow loading.
  • Not optimized for mobile users.
  • Generally fail to meet the modern consumer’s demands.

7. Refusing to Change

This is the client that wants results but doesn’t want to make the changes that will bring them about.

It could be anything from optimizing their content strategy to taking an active role in reputation management or rethinking their approach link building – whatever it is, they don’t necessarily think what they’re doing is wrong and they don’t see a reason to change.

Instead, they expect you to create miracles in some other way.

Working with this client takes a special approach that involves showing them how others have built success and how easy implementing these new strategies can be.

8. Not Understanding That SEO Is About Consistency

You might be familiar with the hit-and-run client.

It could be that they’re frugal or they simply don’t have the resources to enlist an SEO professional long term.

Their solution is to work with an agency just long enough to gain some insights, get started on the right track, and begin to see results.

Then they disappear and you’re unlikely to hear from them again until they find themselves sinking in the digital abyss.

This is one of the most frustrating scenarios because both you and the client are genuinely invested in their success, but what they fail to realize is that SEO is about consistency for the long run.

It requires a dedicated approach that’s continually adapting to changes in the industry, search engine algorithms, and consumer behaviors.

The hit-and-run approach might generate some results, but it isn’t going to help the brand reach their potential.

9. Being Clueless About Goals

Sometimes a client appears on your doorstep because they’ve heard that they should be focusing on SEO, but don’t have a solid idea of what that means or what they’re hoping to accomplish.

This isn’t the worst thing that a client can do, because most of the time they’re willing to learn, but it can put extra weight on your shoulders as the SEO professional they’re counting on to lead the way.

The key to making this relationship a successful one is keeping the client engaged. Help them understand what the small goals are and how they play into the big ones.

Use every opportunity to educate them so that they’re better prepared to navigate the digital landscape for their business.

10. Having a Very Hands-Off Approach

Here is the client that feels that they’re paying you for a service, so they expect you to handle every aspect of it – to the point that the only thing they’re concerned about is the results that you occasionally report back to them.

This client means no harm, it just that they have their hands so full with other business operations that hiring someone to take care of this for them has been a huge relief.

The best approach here is to make clear what your role is and then move forward, keeping them informed every step of the way. Once the information is in their hands, it’s entirely up to them what they do with it.

How to Handle Difficult SEO Clients

As an SEO professional, you will encounter a range of clients every day.

Some are easy to work with, while others pose some unique challenges.

Either way, handling yourself professionally and communicating the value and proof positive results of professional SEO services will help your agency grow and build a reputation of trust with the businesses you work with today, and the new ones you’ll meet tomorrow.

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BrightLocal launches ‘Local RankFlux’ Google local algorithm tracking tool

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BrightLocal has launched a new free tool called “Local RankFlux,” designed to alert marketers to changes in local search rankings across multiple industries.

Exclusively focused on the Google local algorithm, it offers tracking for 26 verticals. The ranking fluctuations of individual industries can then be compared to the overall sample.

Tracking over 14,000 keywords. Local RankFlux tracks roughly 560 keywords per industry vertical in 20 cities, according to BrightLocal’s blog post. It “plots the ranking position of each business in the top 20 search results and compares that ranking to the previous day’s position to determine the daily change.” 

Source: BrightLocal

Changes in higher SERP positions (e.g., 1 – 2) are weighted more heavily and are treated as more significant than changes in lower rankings (e.g., 19 – 20) in its scoring. “Local RankFlux then multiplies the change in position between today’s and yesterday’s rankings by the weighting to create a total daily fluctuation. This total is then converted into an average based on the number of keywords that returned meaningful results^ and a score produced for All Industries and for each individual industry.”

Scores above 6 suggest an update. BrightLocal explains that scores between 0 – 3 indicate nothing meaningful has happened – given that there are regular, even daily fluctuations going on. Scores of more than 3 but less than 6 indicate a minor change in the algorithm, according to BrightLocal, while scores of 6 to 10 suggest a local algorithm update. The spike in the chart below (industry average of 6.1) on August 8 suggests a meaningful change in the algorithm.

Local RankFlux score: legal category vs industry average

Source: BrightLocal

In early August Google made a core algorithm update. But the last time there was a significant local impact was in August of last year (and possibly in June, 2019 after another core update). In August 2018, SterlingSky’s Joy Hawkins detailed the ways in which her small business customers were impacted by that 2018 core algorithm update.

Why we should care. This free tool will be a useful way for local SEOs to reality check against broader industry benchmarks, to confirm whether there was indeed a local algorithm update. Informally, a number of local SEOs praised the tool based on early exposure.

Take a look and provide feedback on whether it aligns with your observations and experiences. And be sure not to miss SMX East’s full–day track on local SEO and location-based marketing for brands.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.

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Google’s John Mueller on Where to Insert JSON-LD Structured Data

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In the latest instalment of the #AskGoogleWebmasters video series, Google’s John Mueller answers a common question about JSON-LD structured data.

Here is the question that was submitted:

“Is it possible to insert JSON structured data at the bottom of theinstead of the? It seems to work fine for many websites.”

In response, Mueller says “yes.” JSON-LD structured data can absolutely be inserted in either the head or body of the page. Just as the person who submitted the question assumed – it will work fine either way.

JSON-LD can also be inserted into pages using JavaScript, if that’s what happens to suit your pages better.

What’s the Difference Between JSON-LD and Other Structured Data Types?

Before answering the question, Mueller gave a brief explanation of each type of structured data and how they’re different from each other.

There are two other types of structured data in addition to JSON-LD. Here are the differences between each of them.

  • JSON-LD: A JavaScript notation embedded in a script tag in the page head or body.
  • Microdata: An open-community HTML mspecification used to nest structured data within HTML content.
  • RDFA: An HTML5 extension that supports link data through additional attributes added to existing HTML tags on the page.

Although all of these types of structured data are acceptable to use, Mueller has gone on record saying Google prefers the use of JSON-LD.



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Subdomain leasing and the giant hole in Google’s Medic update

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ConsumerAffairs provides buying guides for everything from mattresses to home warranties. But they also direct consumers on purchasing hearing aids, dentures, diabetic supplies, and even lasik surgery. Many have questioned the legitimacy of ConsumerAffairs buying guides, largely because top-rated brands often have financial relationships with the organization. ConsumerAffairs’ health content has been hit in the post-medic world, but now it seems they’ve found a way to circumvent the algorithm update by hosting slightly modified versions of their buying guides on local news websites around the country. Google “hearing aids in Phoenix” and you’ll discover just how well this strategy is working. Local ABC affiliate station ABC15 hosts all of ConsumerAffairs’ buying guides, including those in the health category, on their new “reviews” subdomain. So far, I’ve counted almost 100 of these ConsumerAffairs content mirrors. Despite cracking down on low-authority medical advice and subdomain leasing, Google seems to be missing this huge hack on their ranking algorithm.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Abram Bailey, AuD is a Doctor of Audiology and the founder of HearingTracker.com, the leading independent resource for informed hearing aid consumers.

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