As an SEO agency, we deal with a wide range of clients. From extremely niche industries, like selling pre-engineered steel buildings, to broader industries, like fitness, our clients come to us from totally different situations with completely different needs. While variations in the industries and needs of our clients presents challenges, there’s almost always a way to help them succeed online with SEO strategies and practices.

Despite how different our clients are and their histories with digital marketing have been, there is a common experience we hear pop up from time to time that’s concerning for us as an agency and others as consumers. A bad SEO experience, or getting burned by an SEO agency, is problematic for both us as service providers and potential clients as consumers for a few reasons:

  1. First and foremost, it’s problematic for the client that’s been burned because they’re angry, didn’t get the results they expected, probably lost money, and are ready to throw in the towel with SEO altogether.
  2. It’s problematic for us as an agency because a bad SEO experience makes the whole industry look shady and unreliable, thereby deterring future opportunities to help businesses.
  3. It presents a unique problem because more often than not, the way to recover from a bad SEO experience is by having a good SEO experience.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it can be a little difficult to explain why a business should consider SEO with another agency after they’ve just lost time, money, and hope on another. “Why should I put more resources into SEO when it’s how I got into this mess in the first place?” “How do I know the same thing that happened with the last SEO agency isn’t going to happen with this one?” We’ve heard both of these valid concerns from clients who have been burned before, and this is how we tell them to overcome a bad SEO experience.

Reflect on what went wrong.

We never blame the client for a bad experience with SEO, but we do ask them to identify what went wrong and how it went wrong. Between businesses and SEOs, it’s easy for the lines of communication to get crossed or for responsibilities to get scrambled, and that’s where problems start to arise. If you’ve had a bad experience with an SEO company, ask yourself: Was I unclear about my expectations? Was there something on my end I needed to do but wasn’t aware of? Were there questions I didn’t know to ask that could’ve prevented this?

By taking a good, critical look at how your situation played out, you can sometimes identify actions or steps that either shifted the course of your strategy or could have been taken to prevent mishaps. If you understand everything that happened and could have been done better on your end, you’ll be more prepared moving forward.

You can learn from your mistakes.

Once you’ve identified what went wrong and have some clarity on the situation, you can use what you’ve learned to have better experiences moving forward. The trick is to use the bad experience you’ve had to set yourself up for success and to do that, you have to prepare. Post bad SEO experience, you have to regroup and reassess your goals. What were the new goals, and what are your goals right now? What needs to happen this time that didn’t happen last time? What questions didn’t get asked last time? Again, use the past experience to broaden your understanding of how SEO works and what was lacking with the company doing it for you.

Think critically about what the solutions to your problems are.

So, the company you hired took you for a ride, and bad SEO has had an adverse effect on your business’s online performance. Now what?

For many businesses that have been burned by SEO, the tendency is to dump it as part of their strategy and never look back. This is understandable, because why would anyone want to invest more time and money into something that failed them? But the problem with that logic is that damage done by bad SEO is often only corrected by good SEO. If bad SEO got your website a penalty, bad rankings, or a messed up site, then good SEO is what gets you out of that.

As natural of a reaction as it may seem, don’t swear off of SEO because you’ve had a bad experience. The right SEOs can and will help you recover and find solutions that will not only help you bounce back but help you have greater success than before.