Do You Want To Be Pushed Or Guided To Higher Rankings?

The longer I work in the industry, the more apparent it becomes to me that there are essentially two types of clients: those who want to be guided to higher rankings and those who want to be pushed to higher rankings. As SEOs we are capable of doing both, but the goal of this post is to explain the vast superiority of one method over the other.

The Client Who Wants To Be Pushed

Some clients come to wanting to be pushed up the rankings. They view search engine optimization as a ticket to a bigger return on investment and need the whole process to take place pretty quickly. I’m not sure these clients really know what SEO is. They might have been told they need SEO to make more money on their website and called us because we are the first SEO company they saw in the rankings. To be honest, I don’t really know a lot about these clients because they don’t like to talk to us. They consider us their SEO company, nothing more and nothing less. We are in charge of getting them to the first page and they really don’t care how we do it.

More often than not we do achieve first page results for these clients (an accomplishment I am sure must confirm to them they don’t need to be involved to see results). Nevertheless, it can at times seem like an uphill battle, often taking longer than it should to see results. The main problem with a client like this is that they only care about one thing: rankings. If their rankings look good, we are met with praise. If they are taking longer than expected, we are scorned. Yes, we will work with you if you are a client like this, but there is a better way and I will show it to you.

The Client Who Wants To Be Guided

These are the clients we love and have the most fun with. These clients have three great things going for them.

  1. A unique value proposition. They have a great business model combined with a great product or service. They know they deserve to be No. 1 for their keywords.
  2. They have a great website. This isn’t to say their website is perfectly optimized, since we can work on that together. Instead, their website is well designed, has lots of great content and will convert once they start seeing traffic.
  3. They view us as part of their marketing efforts and business strategy, not just SEO. These clients realize that SEO is much more than building links. They want us to work with them to achieve lasting results and increase brand awareness.

The main thing that sets this type of client apart is the level of involvement. Instead of a “set it and forget it” attitude, we become more of consultants, combining SEO best practices with their current marketing efforts.

What SEO Firms Can Do

Not every client will understand what a good SEO does. Let’s face it, there are many SEO companies that will take a client’s money and get them rankings through shady methods without the client ever needing to pick up the phone. But potential clients need to understand that a legitimate long-term SEO strategy will require a lot of work from both the SEO team and themselves. Without the ability to commit on this level there may be some frustrations in the campaign and results may take longer to achieve.

Finally, we as SEOs need to do a better job at setting expectations when taking on a new client. Too many clients have been conditioned through past SEO companies to count links and come with an expectation of a certain amount of links per dollar paid. To convert a client from one who expects to be pushed to one who wants to be guided means dispelling all past expectations they might have heard about the SEO industry and explaining to them what really works and what your vision is for their campaign. Failing to do this could lead to animosity and unmet expectations six months from now. On the other hand, doing this right will lead to rankings, ROI and a great relationship.

So I would like to hear from others, what tips do you have for setting realistic expectations and what myths do you make it a priority to dispel when taking on a new client?


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  1. Charlotte Waller says

    I agree with this completely – one company I work for is extremely results focussed, their main measurement of success being how high they come up in generic searches. Another looks at the whole picture and is far more open to a broader range of ideas. Great blog highlighting differing clients perceptions of SEO.

  2. Matt McClelland says

    This is great. I love the part about being viewed as an extension of their marketing dept. Any consulting firm should be viewed as an extension of the in-house team. Both should work together to achieve a higher ROI for the client. When friction occurs between the in-house team and consulting firm, goals and objections become harder to reach.

  3. Brian Jensen says

    We tend to see growth more quickly with clients who view us as an extension of their marketing team and who are excited and willing to communicate on a regular basis, not just on an as needed basis. Clients who are actively involved in the SEO process will ultimately get the most value out of their campaign.

  4. chen jin fu says

    if i can choose ,i want to be guide by to get higher ranking.
    go to internet and see many seoers say the way to improve their website rank,allthouh,in a short time,their can do it ,but at the same,their website will be pulished by google shortly.can you give me some advice to improve ranke?

    • Christian Greiner says


      You are right, many who claim they can achieve immediate rankings are probably planning to utilize unauthorized practices which can harm your website and brand in the long term.

      My advice to you and others who want lasting results is to have a user friendly and informative website with a Unique Value Proposition. In my opinion this is the best way to begin a natural link building campaign.

  5. Steven TRACY says


    Yes I do totally agree with necessity to partnership with a client in their SEO campaign.

    I start ou by explaining to a client that they are going to gain market shares over the time.

    As a beginning I go through three steps regarding SEO on their website

    1) I right out the summary of their website with them using SEO tools for keyword research to target their niche markets.

    2 Then I let the client write out a few phrases in each rubrique for two reasons :
    a) the client knows his activity a lot better than I do (two pizza restaurants are different for example).
    b) It gives me unique content to work on with a unique proposition and proposal

    3) I rewrite the clients content working on the keywords, keyphrases, links urls etc…

    And from then I work with the client to achieve more and more rankings as the time goes by.

    I work with a communication and marketing company in Paris on their clients as an extension of the marketing campaigns they do for their clients. Its a lot of fun to to work in such a way.

    SEO is not some kind of olympics game where there is a first, second, and third person on a podium.

    SEO is a long terme strategy to gain notoriety and clients.

    • Christian Greiner says


      Those are some good points. I think it is great that you put extra time into really understanding your clients niches and value propositions. I’m sure it pays dividends later on in the campaign. Thank you for your contribution.

      *for those of you whose French is a little rusty a “rubrique” is a heading

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