It happens to the best writers.

We write a blog post or sales page that (in our humble opinion) knocks it out of the park. We love the page. The client (or our boss) says that she loves the page. Everyone is happy and can’t wait for the rankings to roll in.

Then, a few days later, you make a weird discovery.

The page that’s uploaded to the site — the one you slaved over and your client “loved” — is way different.

Like botched plastic surgery different.

Your client or boss changed the headline, rewrote some copy, and ruined your SEO flow.

It’s practically not even the same page.

Ugh.

Now, you can’t use the page as a portfolio sample, and you don’t think it will position in Google.

Plus, you’re afraid your client or boss is going to blame you if the content doesn’t position.

Which makes you ask yourself…

Why would someone change your carefully crafted content?

They hired you as the expert, after all. Why would they mess up something they had paid YOU to create?

Good question.

Sometimes, it’s because your client (or someone on their team) “had an idea.” They didn’t understand the SEO or conversion ramifications of their actions. They were just trying to “make the copy better.”

Other times — especially in regulated industries — legal has the final content say. They may see keyphrases as “extra” words that should be omitted. Or, they change your headline to something “safer.”

So, what’s the common thread?

Educating your clients (or your colleagues if your work in-house.)

Here’s how to keep your client from changing your copy.

Do this:

 — During the onboarding process, express how important it is to keep the copy as is. Chances are, your client doesn’t understand that changing the headline could have huge SEO ramifications. Letting them know upfront that their changes could tank their SEO success (ideally, in writing,) can prevent most issues. 

 — Consider adding a 45-day “SEO revision” to your standard services (for an additional fee, of course!) That way, if a client does have changes, you can take care of them the right way. Plus, you may be able to find additional SEO tweaks to make, too. If you work in-house, try to make an SEO revision check part of the editorial calendar.

 — Will someone from legal be reviewing your content? Consider sending them an email (or chatting with them on the phone,) explaining your process, and offering to work with them on the content. Setting up a good relationship early in the game can make the content approval process much easier.

 — When you send the final content drafts, reiterate how important it is that the client uploads the content as is. If any revisions are needed, ask them to contact you.

 — If you do see a botched version of your content online, send a nice email to the client (or boss.) It’s OK to mention the SEO ramification of the client’s actions, but wrap it in a “how can I help the get the content back on track?” approach. This is one of those times that I’d offer to jump on the phone — a five-minute phone call could help your client quickly understand why she should re-upload your original content.

Don’t do this:

 — Freak out and rage-email the client. I’ve seen it happen. 🙂 I get how the copy was your baby and it’s sad to see its new, altered state. I get the frustration of yet another clip that you can’t use in your portfolio. Yes, you want to respond…but maybe wait a day or two. 

— Let it go and ignore the problem. It’s tempting to get into a learned helplessness state and figure “why bother?” Reminding your client about the SEO ramifications is a good thing. Sure, they may not listen to you, but at least they can make their own decision. Plus, if the client asks you why their page isn’t positioning, you can smile sweetly and lovingly say, “I warned you….”

What do you think?

So, how many times have you dealt with this situation? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and let me know!