How To Interpret What Your Clients Want

For those about to take on clients, I salute you. Because honestly, many of them suck (all present clients excluded, naturally.)

The key to effective SEO, and keeping a client, is knowing how to avoid the common pitfalls of SEO-client misinterpretation. I speak from experience and, being a giver, just want to spare you some agony. This information is especially helpful for those optimistic new people who think they can “make a difference”…poor things. Also, it’s been a slow week for my brain so I apologize for not tackling something news-worthy or actually interesting. If you’re looking for that go somewhere else.

Client says…”Yes we’ll give you whatever you need, so just ask!” This is usually said in a very chirpy tone by someone completely unauthorized to give you anything at all that you could possibly need in order to do a damned thing. Ask for identification before believing this.

Interpretation: No, we feckin’ won’t. You can still ask though! That shows interest in doing a halfway decent job and honestly, that’s all that matters. Especially when you’re seriously incompetent and/or just plain lazy.

Client says…”Our budget is unlimited so spend whatever it takes.” Normally this is said by a man in a suit who doesn’t think that it’s going to cost him more than a few hundred dollars, if that. Boy is he going to be surprised when his credit card gets hit, especially if you’ve used it accidentally on Amazon. Whoops!

Interpretation: If you spend more than a few hundred dollars, we’re going to come down on you like the wrath of God. We may even attempt to make YOU foot the bill for this highly unauthorized expenditure, especially if it didn’t immediately bring us an asston of sales.

Client says…”We just want to be number one at all times.” This tends to be said in a smug manner with the client giving you that “keep your pecker up” look.

Interpretation: Um, they usually actually mean this one unfortunately.

Client says…”We don’t understand why we rank lower than this bastard who is so obviously doing something underhanded and most likely is killing grannies in his spare time.” This tends to be said by people with really masculine names who do a bit of fist-slamming on the conference table to emphasize their points.

Interpretation: Find and kill the bastard. He’s obviously cloaking, spamming, and has irrelevant content so wipe the earth with his ass. Then sit back and wait for him to find you.

Client says…”Yes I understand. That makes perfect sense.” Usually this is said by just about anyone who doesn’t know anything at all about SEO and is amazed that anything exists outside his realm of the Wall Street Journal.

Interpretation: No I don’t have a freaking clue what you’re talking about but I do plan on sueing you the first chance I get. Possibly for massive fraud.

Client says…”We’ll give you the keys to the kingdom if we see some good early results.” Again, this tends to be said by the guys who nod a lot and like to frequent strip clubs at lunch.

Interpretation: We’ll dangle those keys in front of you like a van-driving serial killer uses a puppy to tempt his next victim. This never ends well.

Client says…”We don’t care about rankings.” This is such a pat phrase that it could be said by the office janitor who heard it said on CSI Miami.

Interpretation: If we aren’t number one, we’re gonna ride your ass like a jockey. And not in a good way, either so wipe that smile off your face. We want to be number one, we want our traffic to quadruple, and if our sales don’t go through the roof you’re going to get a few daily phone calls from us you cun…sorry. This one tends to really hit home with me, especially since I don’t tend to get my clients anywhere NEAR number one. I like to keep them guessing. Gives me a bit of power.

Now, if I could just figure out how to interpret my fellow SEOs…

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5 Responses to “How To Interpret What Your Clients Want”

  1. Yes, those are classic issues.

    I don’t know whether you allow links in comments, but here is a great illustration of how client needs and actual product delivery don’t always match:

    http://www.soloseo.com/blog/2007/11/03/what-the-customer-actually-wanted/

  2. ha ha, genius interpretations Julie! So true :)

  3. Wow – that soo brings home why I don’t have clients… and how insane was the brief thought/inclination I had a few months ago on starting a consultancy…

    I have total admiration and respect for those of you who have to deal with clients though – it’s a thankless job.

    Much appreciated insight, Julie.

  4. g1smd says:

    I keep asking one site how they are going to rank for anything at all, when, after 16 months they still haven’t written any content.

    I ask less frequently these days. Last time was about 3 months ago. Probably won’t ask again.

  5. Thank you for curing me of that brief moment of insanity I had there much like Anita.

    I am so lucky to have the job I have – MY JOB ROCKS!

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