Mastering SEO account management: The recipe for success

Mastering SEO account management: The recipe for success

SEO is full of challenges, but among the hardest is account management.

In this article, I’ll share some tips on:

  • Keeping clients happy.
  • Knowing how to balance work and account management.
  • When to push back.
  • How to manage stress.
  • Workload management.
  • And a lot more.

Go easy on yourself

First, you need to go easy on yourself.

SEO is complex.

You’re often expected to work miracles quickly, trying to keep clients happy. These clients often pay budgets that are too low and won’t sign up for lengthy retainers.

This situation isn’t your fault.

It’s the fault of the SEO agencies that have burned clients through black hat tactics, poor work, overpromising and underdelivering.

Add a sprinkle of economic downturn, and you will have a market with the upper hand. Lower demand means we must do more to keep clients and, in some cases, deliver more for less money.

If it feels hard right now, it’s because it is.

Give yourself a break. You don’t have superpowers.

How to keep the most unhappy clients smiling

OK, so that is an attention-bait header. 

You need to face the harsh reality of SEO:

Clients will churn.

Churn happens when:

  • You’ve made clients rich.
  • They see a shiny new tactic online.
  • Because you have yet to get results.
  • If you do bad work.
  • If Google does an update that harms clients.
  • When another SEO agency emails your client to point out that something still needs to be fixed.
  • When they lose a business deal or client themselves.
  • Because the wind changes.

Your clients will churn, but we also need to inject a degree of realism here.

Clients come to SEO agencies and hire SEOs because they want to grow their businesses and get off the hamster wheel of paying Google for traffic.

But every client is faced with an issue.


Most clients will need more budgets to do what is required.

No, your $2,000 per month SEO budget cannot replace the $10,000 per month you’ve been spending on paid search (in three months).

SEO doesn’t work like that.

Generally speaking, websites do not start SEO from scratch.

We stand on the shoulders of PR, marketing activity and other SEO agencies.

SEO is a game of inches, not miles. And eventually, those inches take us over the finish line.

Until the client reaches the closing parts of their journey and the page-one rankings they crave, you are always at a high risk of churn.

And even then, when you reach the end of your journey with them, they can still leave.

What can you do?

How to balance work and client happiness

Your role as an SEO is to do two things.

  • Do the work that you can that is in line with the budget and the goal of maintaining the account’s profitability.
  • Communicate to the client what you’re trying to do for them and why.

You have no power over whether a client will be happy with you as an agency or SEO professional.

Client happiness occurs when the client feels that the account’s progress is fair and reasonable for the money they are paying.

Yes, price is a number to you, but it is a feeling to the client.

As such, communicating honestly is the best way to ensure that the feeling is “as good as possible”:

  • This is what we are doing.
  • This is why we are doing it.
  • This is why there is a delay.
  • This is what we’ve done.
  • This is what we were unable to do because of this.

When it comes to SEO, there is no perfect service.

  • Content doesn’t get uploaded on time.
  • Sites have issues.
  • The content needs revisions.
  • Internal links take a while to implement because the site is slow.
  • People have days off.
  • We have bank holidays.
  • People go sick.

The reality of SEO is that we deal with many moving parts, including humans.

All you can be is genuine and honest and show you are working hard.

And you do this with honest and to-the-point communication.

Dig deeper: How to keep your SEO clients engaged: 8 communication touchpoints

When to push back

There will come a point where client communications start to add up.

Solicitors charge for every communication. SEO agencies generally don’t have this luxury, especially if they have few clients or have lost some.

There is no formula for this.

My advice is not to push back but to divert.

Clients can be diverted with one powerful phrase.

“I’m happy to discuss this on a call.”

While email communication can be something that goes unrecorded in the cracks of client management.

Calls are highly consultative back and forths that can be justified to be taken out of a retainer.

How to manage stress in SEO account management

If you work at a large agency, you might have an entire client services team and a dedicated one for all your clients.

This is double the stress.

You’ll probably be trying to satisfy client services’ demands while responding to client emails and requests and doing the actual work.

You will get stressed. This is natural.

You’ll be hit with good days, bad days and feedback that is positive and negative.

You will feel like you live in a pinball machine and you are the pinball.

My advice (and I do need to remind myself of this occasionally).

  • Take feedback professionally.
  • Remind yourself you are only human.
  • Our job is to help websites reach the people they seek to serve.

That last part is key.

We are not saving lives.

Most SEO contracts can be canceled easily and without clients spending much.

Yes, what we do matters. We can change the fortunes of a business and drive enormous revenue.

But a lot has to happen to achieve this, and very often, it will not happen fast enough for clients.

We have to put things into perspective.

SEOs can work miracles.

But we are not miracle workers. However, you can make this process easier.

Managing your workload like a superpower

If you are good at your job, you’ll be busy.

If you have a good sales team, you’ll be busy.

There will likely always be too much work and too little time to do it.

There are three solutions to this.

  • Box time in your diary each month to do all the tasks required by a client’s retainer.
  • Turn off distractions.
  • Communicate via email at a certain time of the day (pick which suits you).


I first heard of timeboxing from Nir Eyal, and it remains a superpower in my productivity arsenal.

An example is when an SEO came to me for advice, feeling they simply had too much work to do.

We looked at their diary, tallied all the client hours, found slots to do the work and boxed them off.

We quickly found that they indeed did have enough time; it’s just that they weren’t planning it wisely.

Dig deeper: How to protect deep work time and retain focus as an SEO

Turn off distractions

I mute my phone 90% of the time.

Do I miss a few calls? Yes.

But smartphones and social media apps are designed to distract and keep you distracted.

Most phones have productivity modes, and apps can help. But I just hit the mute button until I want to use my social media.

Use social media; do not let it use you.

Dig deeper: 10 things to eliminate from your life to be more productive at work

Communicate via email at a certain time of the day

It is tempting to reply quickly to each email.

But every email someone sends you is their priority.

They have a need you “may” be able to assist with.

My advice is never to open an email unless you can reply to it and, indeed, act on their request immediately.

Which goes back to time boxing.

Box off key time in your diary to answer emails.

Morning, afternoon or both – it is up to you.

But do not get into the habit of opening emails and replying to them all day. You’ll never get anything done.

SEO is a hard business to work in.

The above will hopefully make it a lot easier.

Dig deeper: How to get more of what you want in SEO

July 11, 2024

Original Source https://searchengineland.com/mastering-seo-account-management-444031

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