Thursday, August 21, 2008


There are plenty of articles about how to avoid bad SEOs, so I wasn’t too surprised when I started my research to see how many articles have been written about avoiding bad clients. Many were…eloquent, to say the least. They reminded me a little bit of a particularly bad boss I had once. He possessed three nasty qualities: first, everything was a crisis and had to be done immediately; second, he refused to use a computer or even a typewriter (so I had to print out his email and get handwritten replies from him); and third, his handwriting required about a month to learn how to read with any accuracy.

I mention this because clients are short-term bosses. If your client wants you to work under conditions you wouldn’t take from a boss, you shouldn’t be working with that client. Clients are not spouses; you should not take them on hoping that they’ll change (you shouldn’t do that with a spouse either, of course, but that’s a different article). If you turn down a client because it isn’t working, or it isn’t going to work, you end up saving both you and the client a lot of pain and misspent energy and resources.

As with prospective employers or romantic partners, turning a client down doesn’t mean that the client or you are bad, it just means that you aren’t a good match for each other. For example, if you can’t help a business reach its SEO goals for the amount of money they can afford to spend, you should turn them away, and if possible point them to a colleague who can. This can happen for businesses with a highly local clientele. A very small regional real estate company, for example, might or might not get enough traffic from an SEO campaign to justify its expense.
It’s not always that simple though. You might run across clients with attitudes which make your job more difficult. And I’ll start covering these dangerous characters in the next section.