How to Deliver Bad News to SEO Client? (Yet make him Satisfied)

Your rankings are dropped dramatically and the website is now out of top 100! but I am not responsible for it, that is outside my realm.


Screw that.


Yes, you are responsible if rankings are dropped and the website has gone down from the top.


I observed this is the most prevailing attitude of SEO experts today- and I think it needs to stop now!


You should have guts and integrity to take accountability for your actions without pulling off your client’s confidence.


Yes, I know bad news hits harder, but what you can possibly do to soften the blow?


Are you going to make it worst? Or handling it with confidence without making it overly alarming?


Or are you using your communication skills to break bad news while keeping clients happy & satisfied?


I know the latter attracts more, but what if the communications skills are not that much powerful to report poor performance?


Don’t worry. Here I am going to explain some tips that can help you present bad news effectively without even losing your client and making him upset.


Face the truth, or the truth will face you!


Let’s imagine.


You have turned on your laptop in the morning and found out that the client’s website has dropped its ranking for all the major keywords you have been targeting for months.


What would be your next step?


You would be extremely worried to face the truth. You won’t even have the courage to tell anyone, and you might try to hide and keep your phone busy for several hours.


But let me tell you the truth, this is the worst thing you could do as an SEO professional.


The most sensible thing to cover the loss is, contact your client immediately before they contact you.


I know they will get too much vocal and show an extreme level of disappointment but they will also appreciate your courage to face the challenge and manage the next step to make things better.


I have always experienced that communicating bad news is better instead of waiting and thinking for long hours. Remember, denying the situation, manipulating the things, and hiding it from the clients won’t do anything good for your profession. So, it’s better to face the truth, no matter how hard it is.


Be accountable for the negative results


As Shelby Martin says: Personal accountability requires mindfulness, acceptance, honesty, and courage


I know it’s hard to take accountability, but when you are ready to accept the truth, the next step is to resolve the issue.


If you want to solve the problem, you need to recreate your relationship positively with your client. Be honest with him.


Discuss the reasons politely and evaluate whether it was your fault or just happened due to an algorithmic change.


Remember your client will react in one of the two basic ways


First, they will show extreme anger and blame you for everything.


Or second, they will ask you to look into the reasons and come up with some good news.


When you will show genuine concerns regarding their business, they will be more likely to give you a second chance.


Another essential thing to do is to document everything carefully. I know making reports is more than a headache but it’s also quite significant to show the clients how you add maximum value to their business.


Therefore, it’s better to keep a record of everything you are doing. Send your clients a detailed report so they can analyze your hard work and believe you have done everything to make it work.


Spend time in evaluation


After accepting the truth that your client website has dropped out of the top 100, you must be evaluating the possible reasons.


Because you have to answer your client when he will ask, ‘how did this happen?’


So, you need to get the answer ready and tell him with confidence that you and your team are already working on it and might give some good news along with the next strategy after a couple of hours.


But in order to make him calm, you need to list down a few reasons as well as refer to some tasks that you have managed in the past.


If it has happened due to an algorithmic update, then it’s important to make him aware of the possible impacts and how you could bring the site back in its previous position.


If you are blank without any reasonable explanation, then it will be possibly impossible to restore his faith in your ability to manage SEO for his website.


Show them how you can solve the problem, what would be your next plan, and how this could be managed to avoid the problem again in the future.


Build a strong actionable strategy


You have a strong explanation for this disastrous happening.


Now what?


You need a strong and actionable strategy to soften the impact of bad news.


You need to restore the confidence of your client by normalizing the situation and making him believe that only you can make it better.


But how would you manage this?


The key is, performing strong research on the issues and get a detailed picture of all the tough challenges you might need to face ahead, set higher benchmarks, and make plans to go beyond the expectations.


Coming up without a strategy or action plan, your client will never trust you and you might consider you a reason behind this.


So, even before picking up your phone and delivering that bad news to your client, you need to have a powerful recovery strategy in hand, as well as a robust plan of action that could possibly restore the position.


And as a result, your client may understand the situation and allow you to bounce back with another strategy.


Set realistic expectations to make the clients happy!


If your SEO results are not as excellent as you expected, then it’s better to not compound one mistake over another because it makes your clients feel that you are not capable of managing SEO for his website.


That’s the reason, I think you should be very clear about your goals and set realistic expectations so you do not show more poor reports to the client. Never overpromise anything to your clients as they start assuming unachievable excellence in a scheduled amount of time.


It’s also best to highlight potential obstacles that may fluctuate the results in the future. In this way, the client won’t be surprised if anything happens against his expectations.


Another technique is, do not set some exaggerating figures that are even hard to achieve in the next 10 years. Be sure and conservative while making an estimate, so you can exceed beyond expectations in the right amount of time.


How to minimize risks?


It’s quite hard to deliver bad news to your client who is expecting remarkable results from your SEO abilities.


That’s the reason I suggest, you need to minimize all the risks that may involve in you in this nightmarishly hard situation.


Following these practices would be helpful in the future



  • Keep an eye on all the architectural issues of your sites by performing weekly audits.


  • Perform in-depth competitor’s analysis every month so you can be aware of their activities and move one step ahead.


  • Use advanced tools and software to find more popular search terms.


  • Keep a tab on all the algorithmic updates that may take place after a couple of months.


Keeping your clients happy is a real achievement!



According to my favorite saying


Don’t make customers happy, make happy customers


I believe happy clients are the biggest asset for your business. When you lose one happy client due to any mistake, it would be the first step towards loss.



Things are the same in SEO too.



When your clients are happy due to the promising results, you are setting the right example and making your way to success in the future.



But if you have some bad news to deliver, then it becomes super-important to keep your clients in confidence. Inform them in advance about the bad possibilities and make them aware of the situation beforehand.



More importantly, experiencing a bad situation may help you demonstrate your mistakes and take better care of them in the future. You will be able to proactively discover the solution and try your best to implement proper steps.



The pro tip? Consistently deliver successful results as promised and set flexible expectations. This would be a sure-fire way to keep everyone happy and satisfied in the future.
I hope you must find all the tips beneficial.



Besides that, if you have ever delivered bad news to your clients, then it would be further helpful to share your experience, tips, and suggestions.



I would be happy to enlist them here. Leave your thoughts in the comment section and let us know if you find the tips helpful.


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