In 1973, Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Marketing stated, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service fits him and sells itself.” In today’s world when companies are primarily relying on online marketing and SEO to effectively reach out to their customers; this statement is still worth its weight in gold. It is therefore extremely important to come up with well-contemplated client questions, in order to familiarize yourself with prospective clients before you undertake their SEO requirements.

Discussions pertaining to package inclusions, rates, budgets and deadlines are inevitable; but these are 10 fundamental questions that you definitely need to ask your SEO clients to get the ball rolling.

1.    What is your business profile, USPs and target audience?

Most of us know that this question is important; but the more details you get into, the better it is for you. You can ask a number of related questions like “Why do you think you deserve to feature in the top search results?” or “What purpose does your brand serve?” The deeper your understanding of the client’s overall business and standing, the better SEO service you can provide.

2.    Which are your prime competitor websites and what edge do you have over them?

Review the competitor sites vis-a-vis the client’s site, and have an open discussion regarding the strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. Many SEO service providers hesitate to discuss the shortcomings of the clients, but this is required to provide a fair analysis.

3.    What are your objectives from your website?

As an SEO service provider, you need to know the purpose of your client’s site. Is it to increase brand awareness, or to sell directly, or to demonstrate something? Your SEO strategies will depend on the defined objectives.

4.    Which web technology have you employed for your website?

It is necessary to ensure that your team is adept at handling the technology or platform on which their site has been built or developed. If something lies beyond your area of expertise, you might want to reconsider undertaking the project rather than realizing it later.

5.    Have you done any SEO or link building till date? If yes, please provide the details.

There are 3 broad possibilities here. First, if the client has not done any SEO in the past, you have a clean slate to start from (which is relatively easy). Second, if the client has outsourced SEO in the past to a sub-standard service provider, you will have to devote extra time and efforts to undo the damage. Third, if their past SEO attempts have been worthwhile, you need to know why they have approached you, and how you can take it forward from there.

6.    Are there any negative online reviews about your company, and has your website ever been penalized?

If so, you might consider scaling up your rates because you will have a tough task ahead of counteracting the harm done earlier. Find out the details why the site was penalized, and check if it is possible to recover from the same first.

7.    What are your current marketing strategies (online and offline)?

Very often, clients don’t realize the potential of collaborating SEO with their current online as well as offline marketing strategies. For instance, you can post online classified ads about their latest discount offers or schemes, or suggest putting a link to their blog in their marketing emails.

8.    Describe your present community involvement and social media standing?

Ask the client about the forums that they are active on, whether they have a blog or newsletter and get clear understanding of the key influencers and communities in their niche. SEO and SMO are closely interlinked today. If they have a miniscule social media presence and if they are interested in enhancing their social media standing, you can upsell a combined SEO and SMO package for better results.

9.    What are your key performance indicators and metrics?

Find out about their sales cycle, conversion rates, ROI from their website, ROI from their PPC campaign if any, and all other metrics that they utilize to gauge their website’s performance.

10.    What are your expectations from the proposed SEO campaign, and what resources can you provide us with to achieve the same?

It is best to decide on expectations and resources at the very beginning, and try to devise a Memorandum of Understanding on the same to avoid any hiccups later. Ask for a company email, access to Google Analytics, their marketing material, blogs, newsletters as well as previous SEO and Link Building records.

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