When you get involved with an SEO agency, you should be prepared to answer quite a few questions.
For SEO professionals, it’s all about getting to know the business, the products or services, and target audiences. But I also need data to get a sense of how the website performs now and in the future.
Surprisingly, websites sometimes don’t have anything in place to monitor visitor traffic. It’s kind of hard to compare the impact of my online marketing SEO services with what happened before I got involved.
Here are some basic questions:
1. Can you provide access to:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- Bing Webmaster Tools
2. Can you create an email account that can help with link building (i.e. [email protected]
3. Do you update the website with an internal developer or outside expert?
4. Do you work with a PR agency?
5. Where do you sell?
Some companies have limited markets – regions, states, etc. Do you primarily sell in the United States? North America? Do you have international customers?
6. Who are your main competitors?
7. What websites do you like? Why?
8. For your primary products or services, who are your target customers (typical titles/positions)?
9. Do you have any personas?
Sure, you likely offer many products or services. But then pick some of the top ones. I need perspective, not every detail (but I’ll take as much as you can provide).
10. What are examples of companies that buy from you?
11. Why did they choose your company?
12. Over time, what have you learned from prospects about why they decided not to work with your business?
13. What is the value of a lead? In other words, how many leads do you need to get a sale? If your service costs $20,000 a year and it takes 10 leads to generate a sale, each lead is worth $2,000.
14. Do you have any new products or services that you’re rolling out?
15. What are your customer acquisition costs?
16. Where do you advertise in print? How do you determine an ROI?
17. Where do you advertise online? How do you determine an ROI?
18. What are your most popular services? What are the sales cycles?
19. What are the least popular services? What are the sales cycles?
20. What are some of your typical margins?
21. How do you perceive ROI given the cost of materials used to create products and any labor or overhead considerations?
For many businesses, they could sell three pieces of equipment totaling $40,000 and that would cover the cost of ads on Google and online marketing consulting services (including SEO) for a year. But is that an ROI? It’s not if you factor in what you spent to build the products and run the company (including wages, training, taxes, rent, insurance and more).
Ultimately, you need a multiplier. For every $1 you spend on digital marketing, you want how many dollars in return? Is it $5? $7 $10? The expected ROI depends on those business. You shouldn’t just wing it and say you need $100 for every $1. An online marketing program isn’t likely to perform at that level.
It’s not unusual for businesses to be uncertain of the ROI they need. They can look at sales and their material/labor costs. But they also need add up their print and advertising expenses, including consulting fees. Additionally, there could be trade show expenses, including displays, exhibit space, travel/lodging.
22. Given the need for ROI, how will you judge SEO success?
- Natural search engine traffic
- Keyword rankings
23. What’s the lifetime value of a customer?
It’s not unusual for business to draw a blank with this question. No, you don’t need a customer for 42 years to answer the question. More than likely, a customer will buy from your company more than once – a second large purchase, parts, consulting, etc. After the initial sale, how much more money does a typical customer spend with you over the next three years?
24. How well known are you in your industry, especially in the geography you target? Choose from 1-10 (10 meaning your business is among the most recognized).
Sometimes companies sell to a very limited market and they are established brand leaders. If that’s the case, why would you invest in SEO and advertising? Do you want to:
- Reinforce your credibility (be visible and show up at the top of search engines)?
- Be found by someone who just started at a company in your target market?
- Other reasons
25. What is your Value Proposition? How do you stand out from the competition?
26. What are the results of your last customer survey? When was it conducted?
27. Do you have a marketing plan? When was it last revised? Can I have a copy?
28. What trade shows do you attend? Why?
29. What educational conferences, workshops have members of your team attended in the last two years?
30. What online forums do you participate in – at least from time to time?
31. Are you active in LinkedIn groups? Which ones?
32. Do you speak at the conferences? If not, why?
33. What online newsletters does your team receive?
34. What industry magazines do you read?
35. Do you write for other websites to promote your expertise? Where has your team been published over the last five years? What places could you target?
36. What organizations are you a member of – individually or as a company?
37. Do your suppliers link to your website? What are some of the main ones? If not, why?
38. What are some of your secondary goals?
It’s not uncommon for website visitors to be in research or general interest mode when they arrive. They’re not even close to buying from you.
- Webinar sign-ups?
- White paper or educational guide requests?
- Free trials?
- Newsletter sign-ups
39. Who will write the new content?
You’re inevitably going to select keywords for your SEO plans and you won’t have website content to support them. Your current content may not be enough. A mere mention of a keyword phrase in the fifth paragraph of a website page isn’t going to cut it.
40. Do you have internal content creation resources or do you need to outsource that work?
41. Do you realize that SEO is a long-term marketing opportunity? Are you willing to be patient?
If you’re ranking No. 88 on Google (ninth page), it could take months to land a spot within the first 1-10 positions (first page).
42. Are you willing to select keyword phrases that aren’t as competitive?
Some of the most competitive keyword phrases have the highest search volume. Keyword phrases that are hardly ever searched are often precise and can support leads and sales. You need to keep that in mind if you’re serious about using online marketing SEO services.
Every website is in a different position; they can’t all be primed to rank well for any keyword phrase that comes to mind. It depends on your website age, size, domain, ability to create new content and overall authority (determined in large part by the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your website).
43. If it takes seven months to get a top ranking for some keyword phrases, are you willing to wait that long?
44. What keyword phrases do you have in mind (as a starting point)? Do you have a list?
45. Do you use live chat? Have you in the past? Have you kept a record of the types of questions prospects ask?
46. When people call your company, do you ever ask how they heard about your products or services?
47. If you don’t, how do you get a sense of how your marketing is working for you?
Even if you make a point to ask sometimes, you can associate some new customers with the different ways you’re spending your money.
Prospects may say:
“I’m not sure. I have had your number awhile.”
“I just did a search.”
“I Googled you.”
“I found you in a directory.”
“I clicked a link on [maybe they will know the website]”
“John/Diane referred me to you.”
48. What domains do you own? Are any of them being redirected to your main website?
49. What other websites do you have or have had?
50. What else can you tell me about your business that I haven’t asked?