In all my years in the field of SEO, I have learnt a very important lesson: under-communicating at the beginning of an SEO undertaking is a huge mistake. A client looking to hire an SEO consultant is probably too busy to handle it himself, and this is why you’re getting hired. As such, they’ve probably read countless manuals on hiring the best SEO expert and interviewed a number of candidates before settling on you.
As such, SEO consultants never quite get the chance to ‘interview’ their client. Of course, it’s impossible to think that you can ask all questions about all the information you might need at the start of an SEO engagement, but asking a few of the right questions can go a long way in putting you on the same page with the client so that you can avoid the pitfalls of miscommunication and under-communication. Below are some of these questions and why they’re so important.
- Access to important accounts
Accessing important data is the most important thing when you’re running Search Engine Optimization campaign. You’ll probably start with a simple or technical SEO audit depending on the state of their accounts and then move on to more complex tasks like link outreach, content creation and promotion among others. For these, you will need to access these accounts at different times:
- Google Search Console – This account offers a ton of useful insights including detailed site search analytics. These can be great when diagnosing indexing issues or XML sitemap errors.
- Google Analytics – This is great for measuring and monitoring website traffic fluctuations.
- Google AdWords– Getting an AdWords account is a bit of a process and can be slightly annoying for a client, but it provides very useful insights for the SEO consultant regarding PPC search query data that can also improve organic keyword research
- Other analytics accounts – This depends on the tools that your client is using, such as Omniture. Any marketing or SEO-related tool accounts should be accessible to you.
- Company email – This is good for content promotion and link outreach on behalf of the client. You’ll need a company-based email (email@example.com). In addition, you may need to be privy the firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com accounts where clients often communicate.
- CMS – This is important if you’re going to be carrying out technical on-page SEO updates on the site. Be sure to clearly communicate what changes are being made, when and why.
- Log files – These are important when performing thorough technical SEO audits.
If the company is changing SEO service providers and therefore does not have all these login details, encourage them to reach out to their former provider to ensure they get them upfront. You want to have as many of these as possible in the beginning so that you can work unhindered by lack of access in some places. As we know, many SEO techniques feed into each other”, says SEO expert Igor Kholkin, who is based in Los Angeles.
- General information on the business
You have SEO expertise already and while you may understand general details about the running of the business, you may not know many of the specific details. You need to have a firm grasp on the internal workings of the business, particularly since you’ll be handling certain communication on behalf of the company. The following are some helpful details you will need:
- What actions are most important for you? – They could be form submissions, newsletter opt-ins, free trials, webinar signups, whitepaper/e-book downloads, etc. The client will know exactly what value such actions offer in terms of lead generation and conversion, especially if the business has been around for a while.
- What are your high-priority areas? – They should name what they want most from the SEO campaign.
- Who is your ideal customer/target? – Encourage the client to give as much information about their target person(s) and give materials on specifics of buyer habits. They should also highlight where they target specific sectors or industries (usually B2B clients).
- Do you enjoy any ‘unfair advantages’? – For example, what problems do you uniquely solve, why do your most loyal customers keep coming back and what sets you apart from the competition?
- Do you suffer any disadvantages? – Why would you say some of your potential clients don’t choose you? What do you struggle with that your competitors don’t?
- What is your definition of success? –Highlighting the deliverables a client expects can go a long way in curbing any crazy expectations. For instance, they can be in specific leads generated or revenue from sales, specific traffic numbers, better rankings, etc. If the client only says rankings, suggest a few more success metrics. Discussing timelines is also important, because some clients expect to see results immediately, which hardly ever works for SEO.
- Known problems and issues
Your leading digital marketing agency – Rochester SEO experts advise that you delve into their marketing history. This is especially true if you’re replacing an SEO consultant or taking over a business that already has an online presence. There could be things your clients don’t know are problems, or concerns and questions they have. For instance:
- Are you happy with your analytics data? – Some clients may feel there’s just something off about their analytics data even though they lack the professional knowledge to say what. Delving into their concerns, you may find incorrect or outdated analytics goals and codes.
- Do you own any other domains? – If the client has a dedicated site for every one of their products, it will be helpful to know since online reputation management requires you to think about the whole image, not just the site you’re in charge of.
- Do you have ‘copies’ of your site? – This occurs where clients have staging servers, have .com and.net versions of their domains displaying the same content and where they have their site content translated to various international languages.
- Have you suffered penalties? – Your client may not know because they didn’t receive a notification from Google. You can allude to instances where there was a massive traffic drop in the past, even if they don’t know why.
You need to encourage your clients to provide as many details to you as possible, even details that seem mundane or unimportant to them. Communicating properly with your client from the beginning will increase your chances of enjoying a successful working relationship free from misunderstanding.