We live in a fascinating time. Perhaps you grew a few affiliate sites organically, went on to help a couple of friends get that #1 spot on search engines, and… boom! -you decided to start an SEO agency.
You know you can get results & can convince potential clients of the same. However, this is no individual work; now, you are in the agency business.
Here, understanding the client’s business thoroughly & understanding their goals and reasons behind hiring your agency (way before you sign that retainer) is vital if you wish to grow to the top level. And it starts with asking some fundamental questions — they will ask you too.
Questions to ask potential SEO clients
Here are the questions you should ask a potential SEO client:
- What exactly do you sell & to whom?
- What are your goals with SEO? What’s the value attached to that goal?
- Do you have any specific keyword(s) you want to rank for & expect us to deliver?
- Who are your five main competitors you envy for their search engine presence?
- Can you name a few publications/sites/forums your target audience frequently visits?
- Have you worked with any other agency or freelancers for SEO? If yes, why did you leave them?
- Ideally, when do you expect to start noticing your preferred SEO results after we start?
- What’s your monthly SEO budget?
- What reports would you like to see & how frequently?
Let’s explore each of these in-depth.
Understanding the client’s business
Question: What exactly do you sell & to whom?
Why you ask it: To get a deeper look into the client’s business, knowing what they sell, cross-sell, upsell, and for how much, will get you essential cues to weave your content & SEO strategy.
The “to whom” part is to learn more about their ideal customer and current customer base. A proper answer to it will include detailed information on the potential customer. For example, their age, location, pronouns, income & social status, occupation, lifestyle, personality, values, buying intent, etc. That and more of the jazz you learn about in the “market segmentation” chapter. The best way to get this info is by asking the client to fill a buyer persona template.
Understanding their objectives
Question: What are your goals with SEO? What’s the value attached to that goal?
Why you ask it: To get the exact info on why they are hiring you. Your potential client’s goals can range from ranking for a low-volume keyword like “best construction consultants in east colorado” to getting more newsletter subscribers or more users to sign up for their free trial. If they are already getting traffic, they might want to optimize for lower bounce rates, conversions, sessions, etc.
Moreover, they might have a $ value attached to that goal. E.g., Someone using the free trial is worth $$ or someone staying on a site for long = $. This will help them quantify the ROI of investing in SEO.
You can also use our SEO calculator.
Knowing what your primary target would be
Question: Do you have any specific keyword(s) you want to rank for & expect us to deliver?
Why you ask it: Many clients already have specific goals in mind. The most common is pouring in the SEO budget towards hitting the top SERPs for high-intent keywords they are aware of but can’t rank for or don’t have the time to put in the effort. E.g., the previously mentioned “best construction consultants in east colorado.”
If they tell you the specific keywords they want to rank for, you can figure out how much time and money they will need to spend on the project to reach that goal.
With this knowledge, you can quote your price.
Learning about the competition
Question: Who are the five competitors you envy for their search engine presence?
Why you ask it: Clients don’t just want to rank; they want to rank above their competition.
They have been seeing their competitors on search engines for a while before they found your agency.
They know which common sites rank for the keywords they’d like to be ranking for.
Plus, this question will take some competition research load off your shoulder.
Understanding client’s clients/customers
Question: Can you name a few publications/sites/forums your target audience frequently visits?
Why you ask it: The end goal is to make your client visible to their potential client/customer. Therefore, recognizing where the client’s potential clients’ attention is, gives you a proper direction to build your content calendar & SEO strategies.
E.g., If you are going to do PR work for link building, publishing on the publication client’s prospects read is better than a random Forbes feature.
Becoming aware of their past interactions with other SEO agencies
Question: Have you worked with any other agency or freelancers for SEO? If yes, why did you leave them?
Why you ask it: To get to know how experienced the clients are in dealing with SEO professionals or SEO in general. This tips you off to red flags and what not to do if you decide to work with the client.
For instance, if they have already worked with an SEO agency, they could’ve left the agency on account of their own error (e.g., not giving accurate details, impatience, etc.) or due to the agency falling short (e.g., not delivering on what was promised.)
Client’s SEO vision
Question: Ideally, when do you expect to start noticing your desired results after we start?
Why you ask it: You understand SEO is a game of patience & consistency that gets exponential returns over the long run but does the client understand it? The answer to this question will reveal the client’s expectations and their capacity to invest long-term.
Of course, if they don’t understand, it’s your responsibility to help them understand how things practically go. After that, if they say something like “we’d like to see X pages indexed by the end of this month” or “we want Y pages on top-50 search engine rank in the next two months”, you know the client won’t bother you & will believe in the process.
The SEO budget
Question: What’s your monthly SEO budget?
Why you ask it: SEO budgets can range from $500/month to $10,000+/month. As an agency, you want to cover all the time & money about to be spent and make a profit. Therefore, identifying how much the client is willing to pay will determine whether or not you should take on the project.
Even after you explain “a typical blog post costs $100 or a link costs $200, and you’ll need X amount of content and Y amount of links even to start seeing the results,” if they say they can only spend an *unreasonably low amount*, then you know right away there’s no deal.
Check out our SEO agency pricing data.
Your reporting duties
Question: What reports would you like to see & how frequently?
Why you ask it: If the client is paying $5000/month & giving you 12 months to show what you can do, they inevitably want to know what you’re doing and achieving for them. Typically, all a client needs is a Google Analytics report or Ahrefs report at the end of each month.
However, there will be some clients that demand daily reports — you should be selective and realistic with these clients.