How You Are Making Your SEOs Life Miserable and How You Can Stop

SEOs – the seemingly mystical creatures that live in the netherworld of the internet and usually only surface for beer or really expensive whiskey.

Four years ago I launched a startup and I hired an SEO to help me with the online marketing for my site. I was an OCD client. In fact, my SEO ended up firing me. That was my first tango with an SEO. You’ve probably had a few tangos with SEOs too.

The story usually goes like this – you hired an SEO who promised you the most at the cheapest price. But all your SEO did was buy directory links, spam blog comments, and subcontract with article spinners. Then you got pounded in the rankings after Google rolled out an animal-themed update.

(Side thought: what is Google trying to say by picking animals whose colors are predominately black-and-white?).


Your feelings got hurt and you lost money. But just like the eager Ted Lawson in Small Wonder who saw ways to capitalize on Vicki the super powered robot, you couldn’t resist working with another SEO because deep down inside you know there is real opportunity and potential there.

Then you hired another SEO. And this time you did your job well by hiring somebody legit. But because you had a terrible experience in the past you’re taking actions to protect yourself.

Understandable, however, these actions are holding your SEO back and straining your relationship, and your SEO is probably doing everything humanly possible not to talk about you on Twitter.

9 steps you can take to stop making your SEOs life miserable

So based on my own experience and failures, here are 9 action steps you can take to stop making your SEOs life miserable, get better results, and hopefully have a great long-term relationship:

  1. Pay. Your. Bills. Pay them on time. It’s the right thing to do. [Nod/Sympathies to Kris Roadruck]
  2. Let your SEO meet you and your team in real life. Let them work onsite with your marketing team. [Nod to John Doherty & Distilled]
  3. Give your SEO access to data. Data = Power. [Nod/Respect to Annie Cushing]
  4. Keep your appointments. Take your SEOs calls and answer their emails.
  5. Be patient with your SEO. They are marketers, not miracle workers. I repeat: SEOs are marketers. [Nod to Matt Gratt]
  6. Encourage your in-house team to put their egos aside and work harmoniously with your SEO.
  7. Listen to your SEO. If you chose a legit SEO you should follow their advice. [Nod to Matthew Egan]
  8. Read the reports they send you. Learn how to interpret what they mean.
  9. Read your SEOs blog posts. This will help you understand how they think and the ‘why’ behind what they do. [Nod to Julie Joyce, Peter Attia, Sean Revell, Jason Acidre, and Alessio Madeyski]

Bonus tip

If you don’t have the roadblocks of non-disclosures, let your SEO agency do a case study on you. An SEO agency with a solid content team will tell a beautiful story about your company and give you a link. Double score.

Bonus, bonus tip

You may want your SEO to make promises about what they can do and how much ROI they can generate. That’s not very easy or realistic for a reputable SEO to do, so keep your expectations in check and trust you made a great decision. When you let an SEO do their job and they do it well, gross profit goes up. Trust me, it’s not hard to connect the two.


Last thing, if you’ve never hired an SEO before, but are thinking about it, beware about going with the SEO who makes big promises.

If that SEO takes actions that hurt your site, it’s your fault and you are ultimately responsible.

Choose wisely.

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  • Bryan Krause

    A great topic for an article (coming from an in-house SEO). I’d also add that you should try to learn from your SEO. There are many parts of a site that can impact SEO and you should work with your SEO to understand where these areas are and how you can work together to optimize them.

    You are certainly right that there are some awful SEOs out there, but there are also legit ones. Here is a little bit of SEO 101 info, if an agency guarantees you the #1 position they are NOT a legit SEO company.

    • David Cohen

      You’re absolutely right, there are many legit SEOs out there. I was having a convo on Twitter today with one and he made an excellent point that if you look at successful SEO agencies, it’s the leadership and environment that makes all the difference.

      And great insights leaning on your SEO to understand where there are areas of opportunity or weakness. Thanks for taking the time to share, Bryan. Appreciate it.

  • Philip Rudy

    cool blog post. Just read this one and the last one on your golden gem 18 year old. Looks like there still are some good blogs out there i’m not reading :)

    • David Cohen

      Thanks, Philip for stopping by and giving some of these stories a read. Appreciate it.

  • Johan Woods

    SEO these days is just another form of marketing. Given the Google algorithm updates, SEO tactics are just looking like marketing tactics of various kind. This is not a bad thing, at all, as, IMHO, it has always been a sub-set of marketing.

    I’ve found that at least half of your job in marketing is educating your clients. Client retention and management is much “easier” if you’re both on the same page regarding expectations and both understanding what needs to be done.