When onboarding a potential client, it is imperative that you have a clear step by step process to ensure you capture all of the correct information. The process will give you a better understanding of the client and the work you may be taking on.
At Twisted Spire, we use a set list of questions to ask potential SEO clients as part of our onboarding process. This process helps us determine how easy (or difficult) a customer may be to work with. At this point of the customer lifecycle, it is essential to remember that the potential client is not yet a paying customer for SEO services – which all depends on the answers to the following questions.
Throughout the onboarding process, it may be necessary to involve different parts of the business, such as sales teams, PR and IT departments. Ensure all key persons are engaged from the start and throughout any SEO campaigns.
Since starting in web design and digital marketing back in 2017, I have worked with businesses of all sizes, from sole tradespeople to international corporations and was nominated as the best SEO company in Chesterfield for the second year running in 2022.
Here are the baseline questions we use at Twisted Spire to evaluate potential clients during the SEO onboarding process.
1. What does the client hope to achieve with SEO?
Many potential clients assume that because they are going to invest a substantial amount of money, they will be able to wave a magic wand and get instant and wild, extravagant results from the word go.
From the outset, it is your responsibility to wind in the customer and make them face facts and set realistic expectations from the very start by pinpointing the leading and most important goals, and setting realistic and achievable KPIs. It is simply not feasible to capture everything and everyone. It is better to get great results from one avenue than be moderately poor at everything.
2. Has your client done any SEO work before?
Utilise the wins and losses, strengths and weaknesses of prior SEO work to determine where efforts may have been wasted in the past and areas which were prosperous.
3. How to communicate with your client about SEO?
Communication with your client is vital. But make sure you communicate with them at a level of their understanding. Some clients may understand the importance of domain authority and how crucial the robots.txt file is. Others want to know how much it’s going to cost.
4. Know the budget
The clients budget is without a doubt one of the most crucial questions to ask potential SEO clients. Do not skirt about the elephant in the room. The client wants to know how much it will cost, and you want to know how much work the client is looking to invest. The client has to be clear upfront about the budget and be as ambitious as they were with the initial goals in question one. Clients often open the initial SEO meeting wanting every positive result under the sun yet fail to match the budget required. Knowing the budget upfront gives you a clear pathway to provide the client with the focused services they can afford to achieve their goals best.
Avoid working with clients who know the importance of SEO but refuse to invest a decent amount every month. SEO is a long term investment focused on positive returns, not unexpectedly quick wins.
5. Access all areas
To provide a successful SEO campaign, you MUST have full access to the CMS, Google Analytics and Google Search Console as a minimum. If a client is reluctant to provide access, suggest signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The majority of times, this gives the client some confidence to provide you with full access, but sometimes there is that one client who will not relinquish control. These are the clients you wish good luck to and walk away.
With some companies, especially those with a robust Quality Assurance process, there may be an internal review process. The review process can sometimes be frustrating, especially when recommending a minor change. You can be waiting days or weeks for the requested change.
If an internal review process is in place, determine the level of autonomy you will have from the outset, and inform the customer that delays caused by the review process may impact the time to see positive results.
Ensure that you accurately record the date and times when you recommend the changes and when the client actions them. This log may become vital information when the client complains that KPIs are not achieved.
6. Identify the target customer persona
It would be best to nail down who you are targeting by determining your key demographics considering the target audience’s age, gender, location, education, job position, etc. The more detailed your demographic, the better results you will gain with a more precise understanding of how competitive the market is, helping you to judge how challenging the project may be.
In 2022 identifying a customer persona for your client may cross the uncomfortable border of woke’ism, but for now, we will leave that as a different subject; it’s time to be realistic. Your client wants results, and to achieve that, your client needs to provide a clear and definitive answer as to identifying the customer persona in as much detail as possible.
7. Know the competition
Ask your client who they consider to be their main competitor. You can easily find out who the organic competitors are using various SEO tools such as SEMrush or SquirrlySPY. Still, your client will give you an answer that didn’t pop up at the top of your research now and again.
8. Determine the Unique Selling Point (USP)
Not all businesses or products are the same; if they were, it would be boring to shop and difficult to bring to market successfully.
By comparing the business with the main identified competitors, you can quickly discover the differences. Focus on the USP, ensuring that you communicate the USP throughout the website with effective SEO in short- and long-tailed keywords.
9. Branding throughout
The brand of your business far goes beyond simply the company logo and colour scheme. It incorporates the text, how the message is delivered, how the customers are engaged, and how the telephone calls and email are scripted.
Throughout an SEO campaign, you must maintain the clients brand every step of the way. Collect as much information from the client regarding the business brand, such as; logos, colour palettes, fonts, images, marketing materials, business cards and flyers. But most importantly, ask your client, “How do you communicate your brand?”
10. Combine SEO with PR
Is the client working with Public Relations? Are they employing an agency, or is the PR work done in-house? By combining SEO and PR, you already have easy access to high-quality backlinks. These backlinks will improve your domain authority and generate better results for you and your client.
11. What CMS is the client using?
Is your client’s website run on WordPress, HubSpot, WIX, Yell? Knowing this will determine how friendly the CMS is.
At Twisted Spire, we work solely with WordPress. Suppose a potential client’s website operates on a different CMS. In that case, we either suggest a website rebuild (correcting all of the technical issues discovered in the process) or recommend an SEO specialist knowledgeable in the CMS that the client is using.
12. Is the website up-to-scratch?
Often you will discover that the client you are potentially going to be working with has a poor quality website for technical SEO. More often than not, the design can also let down the user experience, particularly with older websites that have not kept up to speed with rapidly transforming design trends.
It wasn’t so long ago that not very many people had smartphones, or at least it doesn’t seem so long ago (okay, I’m showing my age here). But here in 2022, virtually everyone has a smartphone in their hand or their pocket, constantly connected to the internet.
If the client’s website is not mobile-responsive or conversion-friendly, then not only are they missing out on 87% of potential customers. The client seriously needs to consider investing in a website re-design as the first step before SEO work.
At Twisted Spire, our websites are all built SEO friendly, designed to rank competitively from the sites’ initial launch. We offer competitive rates when re-designing as part of a planned SEO campaign.
13. Who’s fixing the technical SEO issues?
Most of the time, repairing the technical SEO issues will fall to you, providing the client is prepared to give you absolute control of changes to the website. Sometimes you may have to work cooperatively with a website developer, which the client has retained or works entirely in-house. If this is the case, it is imperative that the level of support you get from this web developer is determined and the frequency with which the changes you recommend are implemented. There is no point in setting up and running a campaign if you have to wait six months for technical issues to be actioned and corrected. This delay will negatively impact your results.
14. Does your client have more than one office location?
If your client has multiple locations, each of those locations needs an independent Google My Business (GMB) listing. Suppose your client only has one central base of operation. In that case, you may need to focus your time and energy on local SEO.
15. Location, Location, Location
What market location does the client wants to target? Local market, regional, national, global? Again, you must know where the target area is. There is no point in having your SEO efforts seen in Auckland, New Zealand, when your goal is to increase home deliveries in the Derbyshire region, especially with the fuel price in 2022.
Ensure that your target location is reflected in Google Search Console so that your SEO marketing results paint a clear and accurate picture.
When meeting the client for this SEO onboarding process, they may seem bombarded with question after question. Sure, it’s not a bad thing to be through, but remember your communication aspect and speak to them at an appropriate level of their background knowledge regarding the importance of SEO.
One thing that I have found is to pre-warm them up to know before the meeting what to expect.
Before the meeting takes place, send an email to confirm the appointment and include the topics to be discussed. If you’re feeling particularly generous, send them a link to this article and help add more traffic to my site (my recommended preferred option).
Some clients may be unwilling to part with all of the information above. Generally speaking, the majority are lovely at sharing as much as possible. You must gather as much information as possible for you to make an informed decision on whether or not to accept the client as a paying customer.
I hope you have found this article helpful and informative. Please share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook using the share links if you did.
Contact us today using the form below for more information on how Twisted Spire can help you achieve your SEO goals with the best SEO company in Chesterfield. At least now, you will know what we will be asking you during our onboarding meeting.