My #1 Enemy As An SEO Consultant? PRIDE.
The situation is so common that I can practically rehearse it in my sleep: a new potential client has contacted me looking for loading speed improvement or other types of optimization for his WordPress website. “I want my PageSpeed scores to improve,” he might begin. “I want the site to load a lot faster, and, I don’t know how to add whatever ‘GZIP’ is to my server.”
“Okay great!,” I always say, trying to begin each new case on a positive note. “Well, the thing is, your $3 web server from BlueHost (etc) is not really going to provide you with serious performance, and GZIP and other PageSpeed suggestions must be configured at the server level. Would you consider migrating to a new VPS, free of charge? It only takes a few hours.”
“NO THANKS!,” they often reply. “I’m NOT migrating my website, I don’t want to deal with anything like THAT right now. I’m just looking for an expert like… YOU… who can help fix all these things but on my CURRENT server, that’s it.”
..and so expires my hope for humanity, around 10x or more… each week.
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Truly, I don’t know where many people get off acting like this; there is certainly something about the “internet” realm that turns everyone into a non-expert expert of sorts, if you know what I mean. Whether its a logo re-design, website structure adjustment, or even just changing a tiny CSS border color from
#888888… everyone and their mom suddenly turns the should-be “quick” web-related tweak into an hours or days-long televised presidential debate, full of all that sweet democracy and egotism that brings so much efficiency (cough) to the modern social order.
I just don’t get it. When you book a dentist appointment, or a Chinese lesson, or a pelvic exam, do you try to take over the session and play the role of the consultant rather than the consultee? No, of course not! But when creative design or marketing is involved, suddenly many humans feel the need to bring out their inner artist, their inner Steve Jobs, or whatever other form of overly-sensitive my-feelings-are-hurt-because-you-don’t-like-my-idea ego that is dying to rear its face. And an even more ironic addendum to this, I’ve noticed, is that clients who really ARE artists (i.e. photographers, interior designers, etc) are often the WORST OF ALL when it comes to accepting web-related advice!
But the funniest thing to me ever since I got into SEO consulting as a 21-year-old college graduate has always been the fact that I can literally hand a client a “pot of gold” so to speak — whether it be a guarded technique to Google domination, or a huge improvement to their website’s usability (complete with the analytics that prove it) — and they will still go and “throw it all away” just a few weeks later for absolutely no reason other than a personal whim or a prideful sneer.
I could spill all of my “tricks” right here and now, and a good 80% of readers would disregard it completely.
One of my favorite TV shows is called Bar Rescue, hosted by nightlife expert Jon Taffer, which involves failing or nearly-bankrupt bars looking for “last-chance” help i.e. renovation, re-branding, and business management improvements. Episode after episode, Taffer is forced to get into screaming matches with stubborn, prideful (yet bankrupt) bar owners who are refusing to accept even the most basic business advice. But, the (very) small number of owners that take his FREE advice end up making TONS of cash, and become so loyal to the show that they often appear on future episodes to help out other bars in need.
Ultimately, I’ve learned over the years that it’s being able to deal with things like “client pride” that truly sets apart massively successful service providers from the “small fish” that never seem to break out of their glass ceiling. Perhaps nowhere is this better witnessed than the hospitality industry, where 5-star big brand hotels are, when you sit and observe, simply more “prepared” than their 3-star locally-owned competitors when it comes to dealing with egotistical customers.
“Client pride” is something that every service provider eventually will need to deal with — and more than anything, I’ve learned that it takes practice. But it’s also part of the reason why I’m so in love with LittleBizzy’s business model: by focusing on higher-than-average price points and targeting already-successful small business owners, we are able to avoid that so-called 80% of clients who are NEVER going to jive with us, and instead focus on impressing and retaining the 20% of clients that are open-minded, reasonable, loyal, and who cherish and appreciate what we are trying to build here.
But don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I (or any consultant) is 100% right all of the time. But as “expert” consultants who are ever-learning in their field, and whose goal is to provide quality results to their clients in an ongoing effort to grow their reputation, don’t you think being open-minded and slow-to-speak is the only logical approach?