There is nothing more exciting than bringing on a new SEO client. However, to get your new relationship off to the right start, you must ask the right questions and get vital information.
The following 27 questions are my favorite to ask any new client to make sure I have a smooth onboarding process and am set up to improve ROI and meet their business objectives.
Each question has been broken down into the following categories:
- Goals and Objectives.
One of the biggest issues facing the SEO industry is the implementation of SEO recommendations, especially when a client expects to see results and has only implemented a fraction of your recommendations.
Questions to ask:
1. Do you have the resources to implement changes into the CMS and make any technical changes to the site?
Also ask what the CMS is capable of (i.e., changing page titles, adding canonicals, etc.)
If your client does not have the resources in-house or through a third party to make these changes, your agency or in-house team can do it for them if you have relevant skills and experience. Most agencies do not want to touch anything code-related due to liability reasons.
2. What are the roles and responsibilities for this engagement?
Always state and document who is doing what and how tickets are being tracked, like through a project management system such as Jira.
3. Where do you prefer we store documents?
Managing a client relationship through email can be tough and cause things to fall through the cracks.
Having a central location to store documents can keep everything organized and help everyone find information quickly and easily.
Getting access to your client’s data is key to setting up your SEO strategy, including establishing reporting, conducting a site review, and analyzing performance over time.
The questions to ask here are:
4. Can we get access to your Google Analytics, Search Console, and Google Ads accounts to share learnings and efficiencies between paid and organic search?
5. Can we get access to the content calendar?
You’ll want to review upcoming tasks, log files, and any project management system the client uses to track projects.
6. Do you have an SEO platform?
Find out – if they do, get access to that as well.
7. Can we get access to any other documents?
If the client has any past quarterly business reviews (QBRs), strategy documents, open and closed technical tickets, and a log of any technical changes to the site over the last few years, it would be a good idea to ask for access to that, too.
Goals & Objectives
This is pretty straightforward. Simply ask the client:
8. What are your goals and objectives?
Always ask for specifics like:
- Traffic numbers.
- How the client will determine the success of this engagement.
This is one of the most critical questions you need to ask to make sure you and your team understand what the client hopes to accomplish.
Knowing what the client wants will help your agency or brand put together a strategy for success.
If the goal is to drive more traffic and leads by 25%, for example, then you must do your due diligence to get your client to reach that goal, or else you might find yourself on the chopping block.
Setting up an SEO strategy helps the client understand what the plan of attack is to meet their key performance indicators.
That’s why one of the most important questions I always ask is around keywords:
9. What keywords are important for your brand to rank on and drive business value?
Sometimes what the client thinks are important keywords turn out to not be that important – or they have no search volume.
Once you conduct your keyword research or look at historical data, you can find out what has worked and what does not work.
Some other great questions to ask:
10. What processes do you have in place with your former agency that you would like to continue and what would you like to change?
This gives the client a chance to open up about what works for them and what they were happy with, as well as what they did not like, which can help you avoid the same mistakes your predecessor made.
11. Who are your top competitors?
It’s important to get clarification on your client’s top competitors. This allows you to review their sites, visibility, links, social presence, page speed, etc., to see why competitors may be beating your client.
It also gives insight into any other tactics that might have been successful for them that your client could also benefit from.
Here are some additional questions to ask about strategy:
- What are the most important products and services and what is your value proposition?
- Are there any code freezes that occur at one point in the year?
- What sections of the site are the most important?
- What are your top business initiatives in the next 90 days?
- What is your process for adding new content and how long does it typically take?
- Brand versus non-brand coverage – which is more important?
- Do you have any other domains? This is an oldie but goodie. Sometimes you may find clients have duplicate domains with the same content or other domains, which make great linking partners.
- Who is your target market and ideal audience? Having the client explain their target market and ideal audience can help you with your SEO strategy, too. For example, let’s say you have a small bank that only operates in Texas. Getting this information is critical because it can help you focus on the right strategies, such as local search, etc.
- What are your key performance indicators? Is it to drive incremental traffic month over month and year over year? What are the main conversion points (e.g., brochure downloads, free trials, newsletter sign-ups, form submits, or something else)?
21. What are your biggest challenges?
Asking about what challenges the client faces will give them a chance to open up about known issues.
For example, let’s say the client has an issue getting five pages of content approved in under two months.
If content is what is going to move the needle, then you and the client need to see what the bottlenecks are and come up with solutions to streamline the process to get approved quicker.
Always ask the client:
22. What are the roles and responsibilities for your team?
Getting to know everyone’s roles and responsibilities is critical to knowing who the main team members are and what their roles and responsibilities are.
This is also important so it is clear who to escalate issues to if there are any problems.
Putting together a roles and responsibilities matrix is vital.
Also ask the client:
23. How do you want to communicate?
Is it via Slack, Teams, phone calls, or in-person meetings? And how often do you want to have meetings?
Knowing the history of what was done to the site is extremely important. Some of the most important questions to ask:
- Has your site ever been penalized by an algorithm update? If the answer is yes, find out which one(s) and when.
- Are you planning to do a redesign, migration, or re-platforming in the next year? Getting answers to this question will help with planning and preserving some hours to work with the team.
- Have you ever purchased any paid links or been part of any link schemes?
- How do you get keyword-level data at the conversion and traffic level? This is critical to finding out how they are looking at conversions from organic search and seeing what keywords convert. If you have your own solution around this, great. But you can also rely on estimations from third-party tools.
Asking the right questions is critical to getting a firm understanding of your clients’ goals, as well as what has been done in the past, how they want to communicate, and signing off on your SEO strategy.
In turn, it will help your team or brand put together a rewarding experience and build a relationship that can last for years.