Seo agency

6 Reasons Your SEO Agency Is Losing Customers & What To Do About It

Acquiring new customers is not a picnic. SEO agencies invest a lot of time and resources to open new accounts.

Permanent clients are an agency’s greatest asset. And while some are successful in retaining the majority of their customers, many others struggle to keep good customers on board.

Often-cited research from Bain & Company shows that an improvement in customer retention of just 5% increases profits by 25-95%.

Keeping your current customers happy is essential for your profitability and growth.

If increasing retention is your agenda, consider these six common reasons SEO agencies lose clients and find out what to do about each of them below.

1. Misaligned expectations

One of the main reasons SEO agencies lose clients is their inability to set realistic expectations from the start.

Mark Williams-Cook, director at Candor and founder of, explains:

“Having worked in multiple agencies, I think the root cause of most client losses is incorrectly setting expectations up front. This happens for a variety of reasons, ranging from sales teams making performance promises to not questioning unreasonable goals the customer sets for themselves.

These honest conversations mean you win or proceed with a little less pitches, but in my opinion, it’s the best long-term strategy.


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Ask yourself if you make too many promises and under-deliver? If it’s not a perfect match, it should be the other way around.

Additionally, many times customers will walk through your door not knowing how SEO works and with very high expectations.

Don’t say yes if you know you won’t be able to deliver.

2. Lack of customer education

I’ve often encountered clients who, despite having worked with one or two SEO agencies for a while, have absolutely no idea how SEO works.

People appreciate being informed and they will also trust you more. Building that level of trust with your customers is essential for the health of your long-term relationship.

I emailed one of my clients the other day telling them that Google has released a new update and that we need to do a review of their website. Their response was:

  • Appreciated to be informed.
  • We are grateful to keep them up to date with industry trends and changes.
  • Understanding of the work that needed to be done and that it could lead to change.


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Educating your customers is not a one-time job. It means communicating with them regularly in a way that reflects your expertise and adds value to them.

This positions you as their go-to expert for any questions or concerns they have, which is exactly where you want them to turn (not random “SEO gurus” they may meet online).

3. Lack of value for money

Customers want to see the value of their SEO investment as soon as possible. This is a perennial challenge for SEO professionals because good SEO can take time.

Daniel Foley Carter, Principal at Assertive, says:

“A lot of SEO agencies lose clients primarily because of a lack of ‘value for money’. Many customers will try to compare SEO ROI the same way as PPC, although SEO is generally a channel that takes longer to produce results.

One way to approach this, depending on the client’s business goals, is to agree on long-term goals. For example, if your client is a publisher, you might suggest a goal of 50% traffic increase in 24 months. “

While we know for sure that you can achieve the 50% increase in traffic sooner (always remember under promise and over deliver), it gives your customer an expectation of tangible and measurable value.

Make sure to show your customers how your SEO efforts are positively impacting revenue and conversions, not just traffic and rankings.

Jonathan berthold, VP of Customer Acquisition at Path IQ, says:

“SEO agencies tend to lose clients due to poor alignment with milestones and deliverables. Agencies that simply rely on reports showing increases in traffic and rankings will struggle to retain clients if there is no tangible and clear increase in revenue generation – or at the very least. , a roadmap to increase conversions.

Rather than focusing on quick wins that inflate traffic or preparing for nonsubstantial audits, agencies are better suited for long-term success by showing how organic research can propel revenue generation. Make sure both parties are aligned with what is expected during the tenure.


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4. Your customers don’t know what you are doing

Don’t let customers guess at the work you do and the effort you put in for them. Keep them up to date with what’s happening now, as well as the next steps.

For example, you can create a monthly email that includes:

  • Performance report.
  • Summary of work carried out and deliverables.
  • Next steps.

Check in once a week with a quick update on all major initiatives or to share a recent victory.

Make sure they understand the direct line between business SEO action and any measurable business outcome.

You can also create a roadmap at the start of the customer contract and update it monthly to show progress.

These regular communications go a long way in keeping your customers informed of what you are doing. It also reflects structure and responsibility, and customers value both.


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Some agencies report the number of hours spent on SEO work for a client each month, even if they don’t bill clients by the hour. This helps to reflect the amount of work put into each task and deliverable.

5. No visible result

So your customers have stayed with you for the duration of their 6 or 12 month contract and they can’t see the results.

We have to assume here that it is not for lack of actually producing anything. If so, you have bigger issues than we can cover in this column.

For the rest of you …

Check the configuration of your internal referencing processes

Even agencies that do a great job for others may lack clear processes and internal models of their own.

It is a recipe for failure.

Build your own proven process. It’s part of the value you deliver to customers.

Make sure you have a solid project management tool setup

If you don’t use one, it will be very difficult to stay organized and execute the SEO strategy well at any scale.


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Regularly review your process

For example, hold team meetings every three or six months to discuss your processes.

When there’s a new Google update, work with your team to see how this will fit into your standard processes.

Train, train and train some more

Always look for opportunities to train your team.

You don’t necessarily need to sign them up for a course, but make sure there is a meeting scheduled every two weeks or monthly where you all discuss the latest and greatest news and tips in the SEO world.

Give team members the opportunity to identify any skills or new areas they want to learn, and make sure they have the time and budget allocated to do so.

6. The product just wasn’t SEO ready

Is SEO Still a Good Channel for Any Business?

Most of the time, SEO is a great channel to generate income. If you have a good product, there is definitely an opportunity for your business to grow with SEO.


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But if your business isn’t ready yet, no amount of SEO will help.

So the real question is: are you at the right stage of your business for SEO?

Sam Wright, Founder of Blink, says:

“Many SEO campaigns fail for strategic reasons; it could be a lack of fit with the product market, a price or a bad positioning or a bad categorization. SMBs (especially in the e-commerce arena) often don’t spend the time on this aspect of the business before embarking on the tactical execution of something like SEO.

This means that they are on fragile bases – it is difficult to make a campaign work under these circumstances. However, many SEO agencies are moving forward regardless, either because they are not in the know or because they do not have the skills or experience to change things from top to bottom. . Often times bad results follow, the client gets frustrated and the relationship ends.

Part of changing this is about educating the client – we now make market analysis and positioning / categorization the first step in almost every project. It’s something traditional marketing agencies have been doing for years, but it’s still a bit unusual for an SEO-focused business like ours.

However, it is important to show that tactics only work if the strategy is right to begin with.


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With all of the above, every SEO agency loses clients. It’s not because the agency is incompetent – it’s part of the industry.

Jeff Ferguson, Partner / Production Manager at Amplitude Digital, leaves us his last words:

“Losing customers is always a mixed bag. It’s easy to blame yourself for losing a customer. In my experience, nine out of ten times it’s for some reason beyond your control – there’s a new CMO (or fewer), a new investment group, or something similar – but it doesn’t. had nothing to do with you and everything to do with diet change.

The real goal is to minimize these losses and improve customer retention by understanding why they happen, recognizing when the relationship is in danger, and knowing how to turn things around.

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Featured Image: fizkes / Shutterstock