Stop recommending impossible SEO content strategies

Stop Recommending Impossible SEO Content Strategies. Do This Instead.

Years ago, I worked with a sales coach who insisted that I was selling my services all wrong.

She’d get on the phone with my prospects and tell them how their “site looked outdated,” their entire site suffered from sub-par content, and every page needed a rewrite.

Oh, and a redesign too.

At one point, she told a small-business prospect that his budget for writing services was “insulting” and way too low. But, of course, the poor prospect had a hard enough time trying to scrape together 5K for writing services…so my consultant’s quote of 20K was way out of his budget.

(This was the final straw and I fired her the next day.)

The thing is, my consultant wasn’t necessarily wrong. Often, the entire site’s content did suck. And many designs were terrible. 

But forcing the client to eat the entire content enchilada RIGHT NOW — when all he wanted was just a couple bites — was enough to mess up the sale. 

She was dictating a strategy that the client couldn’t implement — not right away.

And that’s the problem.

I’ve been chewing over the statistic that 56% of SEOs say their suggestions get implemented less than 40% of the time.


On the one hand, it’s easy to blame the end client. We’ve all had the client or boss who gives excellent lip service to our brilliant ideas — and then refuses to implement them.

Maybe because it’s “not the right time” or because the company is in a busy period. Bottom-line, nothing happens, and the suggestions go nowhere.

But then, Ammon Johns, a colleague and one of the original SEO folks in the industry, said something interesting on Facebook.

Ammon’s take on the statistic: SEOs suggest strategies that companies can’t implement for whatever reason. It’s not because they don’t want to change their process. It’s that they need a slower runway to make it happen.

We’re giving our clients (and prospects) a pie-in-the-sky, best-case strategy scenario…when what they need is something more baby-stepped and easier to implement.

For instance, these SEO writing suggestions may overwhelm your client

  • Suggesting a client increase their blogging frequency to twice a week when the client is already time-crunched.
  • Advising the client to make a massive investment in SEO content services immediately rather than spreading the work over time.
  • Telling the client that what they want will take more work than they bargained for — for instance, they’ll need a redesign AND a content strategy, AND every page needs a rewrite.

Sure, the content and strategy suggestions may be on point. After all, sometimes, it makes more sense to do a lot of the work immediately. And some site designs do look outdated and have horrible usability.

But if you hit your client (or prospect) with everything at once, you run the risk of the client not implementing your suggestions.

(And guess who the client will blame when they aren’t getting the results they want. Even if they only implemented 10 percent of your suggestions.) 

Or, in the case of selling your services, overwhelming your prospect with ideas that she can’t implement may mean you lose the gig. She’ll take one look at your proposal and think, “This is way more than I bargained for right now. I don’t have the funds/time/brainpower for this.”

Even if she agrees with your recommendations. 

It’s tricky.

You have to meet your SEO writing clients where they are.

That may mean suggesting a fraction of the actual workload now — and explaining a baby-step process that can help get everything done on a longer timeline.

That may mean suggesting a low-budget thing to get your foot in the door — and using that project to sell your skills.

Or sometimes, it means thinking super-creatively to help your client meet their SEO writing goals. For instance, video is fantastic for teams with subject-matter experts who hate to write — but they don’t mind being on-camera for five minutes.

You can take that video (and the transcript) and transform yourself into a content repurposing hero.  

It’s OK to baby-step your content campaign and get things done super slowly. What’s not OK is suggesting deliverables and timelines that aren’t possible for your client/team to implement.

That’s a setup for learned helplessness (why can’t we ever master SEO?), poor results, and resentment. If you’re freelancing, it means lost sales.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

What do you think?

Have you received an overwhelming strategy that you had no idea how to implement? Or, have you accidentally overwhelmed a prospect or team member with all your fantastic ideas? Leave a comment and let me know!

10 replies
  1. Emily Gibson says:

    I am currently learning the AWAI Method for copywriting and am in the process of trying to build a freelance business. I’m right at the ground floor door, excited and ready to climb the stairs, but don’t have the money to get all the way up yet. It looks like there is an amazing training course through AWAI for getting into the SEO market, but it’s way too expensive. I saw your facebook page and signed up for you enewsletter just yesterday. I find your suggestions helpful, but was wondering where you would suggest I start.
    Have you ever used the AWAI courses and/or Bootcamp. It all seems to exciting and useful, but VERY expensive, and I’m wondering how helpful it will really be in the end.
    Any suggestions?
    Thank you!
    Emily R. Gibson

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:


      Granted, I’m biased because I have a training program…but…finding the (right) training is worth its weight in gold. Many of my SEO Copywriting Certification students have made their investments back many times over. Having said that, it has to be a training that gives you everything you want — and you “click” with the instructor and trust their knowledge levels.


      For right now, read all the free information you can. Start your own blog (or figure out another way to practice) and write — even if you don’t have everything figured out yet. Offer to volunteer somewhere where you can try out your services and get recommendations. You don’t need to purchase a course THIS SECOND.

      Does that help?


  2. Lanny Udell says:

    Thanks for addressing this topic, Heather! Very good point to baby-step reluctant clients. I encourage them to think of it as an investment, not an expense, but would never try to shove an overambitious plan down their throat.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Thanks, Lanny! It’s so easy to get excited and want your clients to do EVERYTHING at once. Baby-stepping is always a good strategy. :)

  3. Lauren Priddey says:

    Great article! An SEO campaign should be considered a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s important that clients view content strategies as an investment & don’t expect to see drastic results straight away. Suggesting a lower budget campaign to start off with is a great idea, thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      AI isn’t going to replace writers anytime soon — but some companies have found it helpful for some content. The firm rellify is an interesting one to watch…


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