Are you showcasing your SEO knowledge? Asking most (or all) of these questions will demonstrate to your potential SEO clients that you know what you’re doing.
So you want to get some new clients? Check to see if you’re asking enough – and the appropriate questions. That may appear to be counterintuitive, yet consider this:
There’s a significant probability that your company doesn’t realize the true potential of SEO or why it’s so important to their overall business plan.
According to Clutch, only 36% of small businesses (the most frequent type of organization) have an SEO strategy in 2019. At the same time, Forrester discovered that 71% of consumers use search engines first when looking for new products or services. That implies that 64% of small businesses are missing out on the single most effective way to get their products and services in front of clients.
Defining and communicating value is your job – and your competitive edge. Here are 29 questions to ask potential clients to start their wheels moving on how SEO might improve their firm while also demonstrating your expertise:
Collecting the Information
There’s a tendency to avoid asking too many questions for fear of irritating the client before you’ve even gotten your hands dirty. That is a blunder. SEO has become more connected and intertwined with corporate strategy than ever before. (Content marketing, anyone?) If a company isn’t harmonizing these, then the most advanced SEO tactics won’t work. If you don’t ask enough questions at the start, you won’t have a good understanding of what a firm needs to flourish in the SERPs. So, ask now to avoid an awkward conversation about your numbers later. Some of these questions can be asked in person, over the phone, or via Skype or Zoom.
Other questions, such as those needing thinking or length, should be given to the client through email so that they can provide feedback at their leisure. There are numerous methods for gathering this type of information. You may experiment with Typeform, Google Forms, or Survey Monkey. I like to use Google Sheets to keep things as simple and quick for the client as possible. Why? It’s simple to share the URL.
Once you’ve prepped your information gathering vessel, you’re ready to set sail on a voyage of discovery. The first round of questions is for potential clients. Listed below are some questions to ask once the client has signed on the dotted line.
1. Can I Have Access to the Following?
It is always a fascination to gain access to these tools as soon as possible.
- Website CMS
- Blog CMS
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
Potential clients may be hesitant to give you access to all of their accounts right away. If they are, explain why it is significant. Some of my favorite lines are:
- Creating an SEO plan without data is akin to playing pin the tail on the donkey.
- The easiest approach for me to figure out what’s going on in your ranks right now is to have a comprehensive view of the business from the ground up.
- It will help me understand what we need to do to bring you to where you want to go.
You might also offer to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for their peace of mind.
2. What Are Your Main Goals & KPIs?
You will probably have a solid concept of what their objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) should be. However, candid responses to this question can be illuminating. This data will provide you with the discussion points you need to help the customer understand whether their goals and KPIs are realistic and attainable.
3. What Is Your Current ROI & Goal ROI?
Some businesses will be stumped as to how to respond. That’s OK, but if they do, you’ll have an excellent idea of how well they’re doing with their existing setup and how much you could enhance it. Attempt to determine their average customer acquisition cost, ideally broken down by marketing channel. This may reveal the need for a conversion tracking review and audit, which you should include in your proposal.
Tip: In addition to conventional conversion tracking, ensure that phone calls are tracked as well.
4. Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
Learn about the important demographics and psychographics. When you get your hands dirty with your research, you can come upon a completely new target consumer in an untouched market. Then they’ll warmly welcome you to the squad.
5. Which Countries are You Targeting?
If the potential client intends to dominate the world, you should hone in on their top geolocations. This could provide fodder for discussion about your agency’s multilingual SEO services if you offer them.
Tip: If your client is targeting a certain country, such as the United Kingdom, make sure to advise that they reflect it in Google Search Console.
Giving a helping hand at this point will go a long way toward establishing trust and ensuring the client chooses you over your competition.
6. What Is Your Main Unique Selling Point?
This is probably something you can figure out for yourself. If something is confusing, ask. It is recommended to find out what the client believes distinguishes them from their competition. This frequently leads to important insights about the industry in general, which can aid in the development of your strategy. You might discuss how they can better use their USPs as part of your consulting package. Consider the following questions:
- Are they utilizing USPs in their metadata to increase CTR from SERPs?
- Is the content on their landing pages emphasizing their unique selling points?
- How can you assist them in capitalizing on their distinguishing characteristics?
7. Who Are Your Main Competitors?
You’ll have done your due diligence, but it’s always a good idea to find out who the customer believes their competition is. In other circumstances, these may be firms that you were unaware of since they were not competitive in the SERPs. Gathering this data allows you to add more benchmarks and educate the customer on who their true SEO competition are based on the data you have acquired.
8. What Other Marketing Verticals Are You Investing In?
Determine the type of marketing mix they have in place. Ideally, you’ll want to know how much money they’re putting into each vertical. Obtaining that kind of information before the start of your collaboration is like pulling teeth. There’s also a chance they’re unaware. Inquire about how much money they are putting into traditional marketing, such as newspaper/magazine advertising. It’s always fascinating to see how many organizations continue to commit to (nearly) unmeasurable verticals.
9. Any SEO Agency Before or Currently Worked With?
Knowing who was in charge of the SEO show in the past might provide you with some insight into what has been going on and the standards at which it was delivered. It’s also useful to know if this is their first step into the world of SEO. In that scenario, you should consider contacting the previous agency/freelancer and asking them a few questions about working with the organization.
10. Any SEO-Related Documents We Can See?
Inquire whether the company can email you any old SEO docs that they or someone else has been working on. This could involve
- Keyword research
- Performance reports and metrics
- Strategy briefs
- Old editorial calendar
11. Have You Ever Had a Google Penalty?
You will soon find out if you gain access to their Google Search Console. Still, inquire whether they have ever been subjected to a manual penalty. Most of the time, they’ll know if they have one, but take great attention if you find one that they aren’t aware of. A Google penalty isn’t the same as being affected by an algorithm update, but it can seem the same. Pay notice if they mention anything like an “algorithm penalty,” which isn’t a thing, but if their website has triggered an algorithm, you’ll need to address that in your plan.
12. What Is Your Level of Understanding to SEO?
It’s a difficult question to answer, but I like to try to judge potential clients’ level of expertise in SEO. Knowing how much they know will allow you to communicate effectively with them. The realm of SEO does not have to be intimidating to people who are unfamiliar with it. Do everything you can to explain the complexities in simple words, and you’ll have a client for life.
13. Do You Own Any Other Domains or Subdomains?
It’s always a good idea to find out what other web assets a customer has and whether or not they want you to work on other sites as well. If you’re aware of what’s available from the start, there shouldn’t be any awkward talks later on when the customer says, “Hey, I’ve got this other website.” Can you do the same thing on that site under the same contract? ”
14. Do You Have an In-House Developer?
This one is dependent on whether you intend to make all technical modifications yourself. If that’s the case, and you intend to include the amount in the contract, there’s no problem. However, if you are providing consulting and passing the task on to the customer to implement, you need to ensure that they have capable hands in-house. Be open and honest from the start, and discuss how these technological changes will be handled.
15. What Level of Support Will We Have From the In-House Team?
Aside from the developer, you’ll want to know who you’ll be working with and whether they can commit enough time to make the collaboration work. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn if they have in-house writers, designers, or even digital marketers who will be involved in the cooperation. This information also assists you in determining how much to charge for authoring and designing assets for the content marketing portion of your SEO contract.
16. Are You Working With a PR Agency?
That’s fantastic. This will assist you in obtaining high-quality links. Wherever feasible, try to collaborate directly with the PR agency and assist them in offering their service with SEO in mind. It’s a difficult line to walk because many PR agencies are now attempting to perform SEO and vice versa.
17. How Many Times Has the URL Structure Changed?
This may appear to be a little detail, but URL architectures are quite important in SEO. When they changed the site, the customer may have updated the link structure for their blog or redesigned the hierarchy. In that instance, some follow-up questions to consider are:
- Do you have a record of the adjustments and the 301 redirects?
- Is the site being checked for broken links?
- What is the rationale behind the existing URL structure?
18. On Which CMS was the Website Built?
WordPress is used to power 37.8 percent of all websites. However, don’t assume this is what your client is using. It’s a good idea to know ahead of time how SEO-friendly the back end will be. If it’s a custom build, make sure it has all of the necessary features for the on-page optimization you’ll be doing. If it’s a complete shambles, now is the time to discuss an improvement.
19. How Many Times Has the Site’s CMS Changed?
Perhaps they began with a CSS site, then moved on to Wix, then to Drupal, then moving on to LightCMS just before it shut down and they were forced to adopt WordPress at the end. That’s analogous to putting something through the wringer. It has the potential to wreak havoc on URL structure, file architecture, and other aspects. However, the older the site, the more likely it has undergone a few changes. Knowing its history may be useful when trying to figure out why the content is organized the way it is.
20. Are There Any Plans for a Website Redesign?
Assess whether a potential client’s present website is conversion-worthy before working with them. If it’s more out of date, it’s unlikely to convert. In that circumstance, no amount of SEO will improve their performance. If the design is problematic, inquire whether an upgrade is in the works. Even better, if you provide design services, include them in your pitch. You should be aware of the importance of the site is not mobile responsive.
21. Do You Have Any Other Offices Around the World?
Knowing this can help you determine whether or not you require local SEO. While you’re at it, check to see if they have Google My Business set up. Consider what kind of optimization you might be able to recommend there.
22. Do Changes Need to be Approved By Legal Before They Go Live?
Nothing is more frustrating than missing a deadline due to bureaucracy and red tape. Learn about their internal process. Always make ideas that allow as much autonomy for the SEO team as possible. The more flexibility you have, the faster things get done and the results come in.
23. Have You Experienced Any Abnormal Gains & Losses Over the Past 3 Years?
This may appear to be an odd question to ask, but it can provide a wealth of information on the general health of the business. Responses have been all over the place over the years, making this a nice eclectic question to slip in when the time is perfect. Some answers may include:
- Web traffic abruptly increased or decreased, indicating that either something worked out or something broke.
- I’ll want to explore landing a significant client and see what SEO I can leverage around it.
- Taking advantage of legal action initiated against competitors.
24. Is the Business Seasonal?
Did you know that retailers generate at least 16.7% of their annual income between November and December? This figure can be as high as 26.7 percent in the jewelry industry. Other industries have different “seasons,” and knowing whether your organization is dependent on seasonal or holiday-related trends can influence your SEO strategy.
25. How Involved Would Be?
This is something you should mention in your proposal. The client must understand that they must invest some time for the collaboration to be successful. Get a sense of how self-sufficient you can be with your career. You’ll undoubtedly want to show them all the wonderful things you’re doing, but if you can establish the tone early on about how much freedom you have to get the work done, it will make your life easier in the long term.
26. Do You Have Any Guidelines?
Get some if they have any. Brief the team and ensure that everyone is aware of the company’s idiosyncrasies. Then you may sleep soundly knowing that no one will say or do anything inappropriate while representing the brand.
27. Do You Have a Specific Writing Style?
This is related to the brand guidelines. It’s a good idea to speak with any in-house copywriters and pick their brains on the brand tone. Make sure you have a strong team of writers that are familiar with your new client’s industry and provide them with a short brief. As SEO and digital PR blend more and more, having a creative writing arsenal on hand has never been more crucial.
28. Do You Have Any Design Assets We Can Have Access To?
Get complete access to everything. Images, logos, fonts, brand colors, and so forth. Most businesses will have a “brand book,” which should be kept in a centralized location that every member of your staff can access via a single URL.
29. Do You Have Any Partners Who Would Be Willing to Link to Your Website?
Who knows, you might be missing out on some fantastic link-building possibilities right under your nose. Most businesses have developed relationships with other businesses and organizations through time. Check to see if you can connect to their network and get some direct links back to the client’s domain. Wouldn’t that be a terrific place to start?
Actions Required for Ultimate Client Discovery
Here are some measures you can take as part of the client discovery process to ensure your research is as thorough as possible.
- Perform a technical SEO audit.
- Pages from their website/blog should be read.
- Experiment with their sales funnel.
- Sign up for their newsletter.
- Examine your competition.
- Look into their personnel on LinkedIn.
- Speak with a few members of their team.
- Examine their social media presence.
- Read the reviews and talk to their customers.
- Set up mention tracking and monitor what people are talking about you.
Knowledge Is Power
If you ask all of those questions, you should have a strong understanding of the company, how it operates, and what its SEO needs to do to bring it where you and your potential client want it to go. There is a propensity to avoid assigning additional labor to potential clients. You don’t want to irritate them, but it’s also risky to try to devise a strategy while operating in the dark. That is why you want a sophisticated information-gathering system.
What you can, research; what you can’t, ask. Impress your prospective client with your attentiveness and observation skills, and they’ll remember you when the time comes to pay for SEO services.