3 Horror stories of “perfect” SEO clients

Image credit: seolium.com

Understanding a client is not a simple task, but understanding an SEO client is even harder. This is precisely the reason why we were all sitting at our agency’s roundtable, trying to understand how some of our clients think and operate. And then it hit us – it doesn’t matter how they think and why they do what they do [as long as they pay!], because they are ultimately always right!

And because SEO and every customer is unique, fluffy and perfect – we wanted to share a few stories, to show you just how to perfect SEO clients can be and just how thrilling the life in an SEO agency is.

However, here’s a bit of a disclaimer: some of these are sad and terrifying stories, and they left us a bit unsettled. I guess “perfect” is a very tricky word in SEO… Anyway, we had to change all the names, but these stories are based on true events.

Do yourself a favor and run away from this article if you’re:

  • a digital marketing intern;
  • a digital marketing startup founder;
  • buying SEO services [especially from us!] – in which case – you’re already perfect;
  • a native English speaker. Because we’re not. And while we know English is important – SEO is more important;
  • a cardiac patient;

So, here goes, after a lot of brainstorming, we were able to isolate a few problematic SEO customer personas.

#1 The Nazi

This one was an AdWords client. Yes, past tense, because we had to part ways. No reason for keeping the unreasonable. Feel free to pitch them if you want, but hear my story first. We should have known because there were signs from the beginning! But they paid well and we all thought that once the ad campaigns will be set up – the calls would eventually stop. But they didn’t and it even got worse: more questions, more emails, more visits to our office and so on. She even used to call or text Sharon (our lead AdWords expert) at night, during the weekend, even on vacation; it’s gotten to a point when she had nightmares.

And the worse part – this wasn’t a startup and it wasn’t a one-man show. She was a workaholic and this was harassment, I tell you! But it all turned around for the best when she decided to test their ads in another city. So she drove 800 miles to another country (Czechia) just to test if their ads appear there as well. And she kept googling for stuff that should pop in our country (Romania) because the queries were city, language, and country-specific. Obviously – nothing there. Man, she was mad. And, man, it was such a pleasure to fire them.

As to Sharon – she took yoga lessons and now she’s better.

#2 The Ungrateful

This one is a real piece of work. The guy, let’s call him Jamal, had a startup in accounting and financial consultancy services. They only served a one million population city, were cheap and provided decent services, so they landed most prospect SMBs. To this day it’s a mystery how such a dinosaur website could generate leads. But they were successful, and we wanted to bring them into the national league. We said, “Let’s make your website great again!”

And so, while doing regular SEO work – we also were working for free at changing their website (because then we would have our monthly budget increased tenfold). In 3 months we were able to migrate the old one to a new responsive and beautiful, modern website, with many cool feature and financial instruments.

So far so good, right? No! Wrong! We did such a good job that the client came complaining he got far too many leads! And he couldn’t handle them. His phone was ringing day and night! So he fired us. But at least they said “thanks, we’ll call you”, right?

#3 The Just-Askin’

Love is a scary thing that can make people act crazy. Friendship is even worse.


This is an ingenious type. We’ve actually had several clients like this, back in the day. And you know how if something doesn’t kill you – it makes you stronger? Well – we had to adjust our agreements after these experiences.

So here is what happened. We signed a contract for a small amount of work, let’s say – 3-4 blog posts per month. And it all went well; we even became friends with the customer, having an occasional chat over the phone or via email (or Facebook in some cases).

And then hell unleashed: at first they emailed us about their URLs, asking us for an SEO friendly structure. Then they got greedier and greedier, they kept asking a lot of things in the name of our friendship. But the most amusing part – they always came up with the best of excuses:

  • Please, we’ve just finished the new website, I need to quickly send fine-tuning tasks to the developers;
  • This is an emergency; I’m talking to the hosting company on the phone. Please, pretty please;
  • I’ve just posted an article on our blog. Can you take a look? What do you think? And by the way – what do you think those anchors should be?