Think Vis Unofficial Tips 2: Coping with Failure That Isnt Your Fault

by rishil on September 6, 2010

This is post two in my series of Unofficial Think Vis Tips

SEO Mess - Photo credit

SEO Mess - Photo credit

This came about with my chat with Dave Naylor, SEO Specialist and industry legend. I am one of the few fortunate people that feel that they can go up to Dave and have a sneaky chat on any subject – and the man is highly approachable, and extremely intelligent. Dave, having had many years head start and much better skills than I, has worked with a number of big brands. As most people know, I love working for large Brands, working on their strategies and giving advice as part of what I do. Dave came up with an analogy that will probably stick with me for a very long time:

“It’s like your doctor being blamed for you getting Lung cancer by the friends and family.

As much as he shouts and screams that he told you not to smoke, you wouldn’t listen. Then when if you were to get the dreaded disease,  would it be your fault for not heeding the advice of your Medical Specialist, or would it be the Doctors fault? Obviously yours.

But in SEO, when you client refuses to listen to your careful advice, and doesn’t do things right, and when things get messed up, it’s instantly your fault. No one apart from you and the client know this, and everyone outside that deal starts pointing fingers. ”

I hope you followed the gist of the conversation. Why do we as SEO’s get blamed when our clients don’t follow our advice? We can’t actually come out in the open and say “We told them not to do it, but they did it anyway.”  In fact I have partially tweeted  / ranted about this fact, that sometimes you misjudge an SEO’s work based on what you see on the surface, not under the corporate hood, and Jaamit kindly gave life to those tweets.  

The take away?

Don’t let people outside the deal between you and your clients annoy you. Don’t respond, keep your professional cool. Secondly, make sure that your client is aware at every given point of the possible issues in any decisions that they make against your advice. Document them.

Keep a log – and maybe even put together a disaster recovery plan. Even if they don’t pay you to think about that – 9/10 times you may not need it, but the 10% time that you do, you will win the favour of your clients even more.

 Fact is this is and will remain the bane of any SEOs life as long as non SEO people are making decisions for the business. Keep trying to maintain them on the right track, but dont make it personal if they dont always follow your advice. They have other priorities. I have covered most of this in a presentation for Brighton SEO before (see below).

Actually Making SEO Happen

This is the Slideshare version of my presentation:

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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

{ 1 trackback }

Think Vis Unofficial Tips 3: Free Advice Worth £X’000
September 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin Parks September 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Dace (edit: Spelt name incorrectly) Dave is spot on with his example. Also “Why do we as SEO’s get blamed when our clients don’t follow our advice?” I think that’s the old “the customer is always right” coming into play and its something we as an industry conveniently forget when we quote for new business.

Few of us have the relationships in place (or the brains it seems) to respect each others abilities and ask the previous SEO for advice or input.We quickly forget the last time that a client made us look bad from not following our advice.

I make a point of never admonishing another’s work in any way until I know the project and know the client inside out and by then there’s no point in complaining, its better to just get on with it.


Justin Parks September 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm

damn. I spelt Dave’s name wrong in my comment above. Now awaiting admonishments galore… probably from him.


rishil September 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

lol – I edit the comments in most cases…


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