Before diving into any technical aspects of SEO, it’s critical to understand the client’s business objectives. Are they looking to increase sales, build brand awareness, or perhaps improve customer engagement? Knowing the business goals will allow you to align the SEO strategy accordingly.
Ask questions like, “What are your short-term and long-term business objectives?” or “What does success look like for you?”. These questions provide foundational knowledge that is crucial for developing a customized SEO strategy.
It’s also beneficial to know if SEO is a part of a broader digital marketing strategy. This will help you understand how SEO can complement other marketing efforts and also set realistic expectations for what SEO can achieve.
Understanding the business goals will not only guide the SEO strategy but also enable you to set relevant KPIs, thus making the endeavor mutually beneficial.
Assessing the Current SEO Situation
The next step is assessing the current state of SEO for the client’s website. This involves understanding both the strengths and weaknesses of their existing SEO efforts. Knowing what has been done so far helps in deciding the future course of action.
Ask the client about any SEO audits, keyword research, or on-page and off-page optimizations they’ve already done. This provides a snapshot of their current SEO status.
It’s also a good time to review some initial data. Look at website metrics, Google Analytics, and other relevant tools to assess current traffic, rankings, and other SEO-relevant data.
Based on this assessment, you can determine what’s missing and what needs improvement, providing valuable context for your SEO strategy.
Identifying the Target Audience
Understanding who the target audience is can help tailor the SEO strategy for maximum effectiveness. Questions like, “Who are your primary and secondary audiences?” or “What problems is your audience facing that your product/service solves?” are key.
This goes beyond just demographics. Dive into psychographics, pain points, and customer journeys. The target audience’s needs and behavior will significantly impact keyword selection, content creation, and other SEO-related activities.
Moreover, understanding the audience will help in creating personalized content that resonates with them, thereby improving engagement and, eventually, rankings.
Don’t overlook this step; a deep understanding of the target audience can make or break an SEO strategy.
Discussing Keywords and Search Intent
Keywords are the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. Begin by asking the client about any keyword research they may have already conducted. If they haven’t done this yet, that’s your cue to take the lead.
Find out which keywords are most relevant to their business, products, or services. But don’t stop at just listing keywords; discuss the search intent behind these keywords. Are users looking for information, looking to make a purchase, or comparing options?
The intent will guide the content strategy. For example, informational intent may warrant blog posts or FAQs, while transactional intent might be best served by product pages.
By aligning keywords with search intent, you can create a more targeted and effective SEO strategy.
Evaluating Content Strategy and Needs
Content is the vehicle that carries your SEO efforts. Discuss the current content strategy with the client, if one exists. Ask about the types of content they produce, their publishing frequency, and how it’s been performing.
Understanding their content needs and gaps is crucial for SEO. For example, if they lack content that caters to top-of-the-funnel users, that’s an area you can address.
Ask the client how they come up with content ideas and whether they’re open to suggestions. This can help you integrate your SEO strategy with their existing content efforts or help build a new one from scratch.
Content and SEO go hand in hand. By aligning them closely, you increase the odds of SEO success.
Importance of Local SEO Queries
If the client’s business serves specific locations, local SEO can’t be ignored. Ask questions like, “Do you have multiple locations?” or “How important is local search to your business?”
Understanding the significance of local SEO queries helps you focus on optimizations like Google My Business, local keywords, and local backlinks. These are vital for businesses looking to dominate local search results.
Not every business will need a strong local SEO strategy, but for those that do, ignoring this aspect can be detrimental.
Local SEO can provide a significant advantage in competitive local markets, so understanding its importance for the client is crucial.
Analyzing Competitors and Market Trends
Knowing the competitive landscape can help you build a more robust SEO strategy. Ask the client who they consider their main competitors, both online and offline. Dive into these competitors’ online presence to understand their SEO strengths and weaknesses.
Staying ahead of market trends can also offer a competitive edge. Ask the client about any industry trends they’ve observed and how they think these trends will impact their business.
Armed with this information, you can perform a competitor analysis focusing on SEO factors. This can provide valuable insights into opportunities and threats in the landscape.
Technical SEO: What to Ask
Technical SEO is the backbone of any SEO strategy. However, not all clients may be familiar with technical aspects like site speed, XML sitemaps, or schema markup. Start by assessing their level of understanding and then delve into the technicalities.
Inquire about the CMS (Content Management System) they’re using, as this will affect your SEO strategy. Questions about website speed, mobile-friendliness, and any known issues like broken links or 404 errors are also important.
Technical SEO can significantly impact site performance and rankings. So, knowing where the website stands technically is a must for any SEO specialist.
Budget and Resource Allocation for SEO
SEO isn’t a one-time effort; it requires ongoing investment. Discuss the client’s budget constraints or limitations early on to manage expectations and plan accordingly.
The budget will determine the scope of your SEO efforts. For instance, if the budget is limited, you may need to prioritize the most critical SEO activities first.
It’s also a good time to discuss the resources available for SEO. This includes not just financial resources but also human resources that can contribute to the effort.
Understanding the client’s budget and resources allows you to develop a realistic and achievable SEO plan.
KPIs and Performance Metrics
Determining how success will be measured is critical. Discuss with the client which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are most relevant to their goals. This could range from organic traffic and rankings to leads and conversions.
Monitoring KPIs will not only show the effectiveness of your SEO efforts but also help in refining the strategy moving forward.
Agree on how often these metrics will be checked and reported. Regular tracking can help catch issues early and pivot the strategy as needed.
Establishing clear KPIs and metrics ensures that both parties are on the same page when it comes to measuring success.
Timeline and Expectations for SEO Efforts
SEO is a long-term investment, and results often take time to manifest. Discuss with the client their expectations regarding timelines. Make sure they understand that while some changes may lead to quick wins, most will yield results over a more extended period.
Outline a tentative timeline for different phases of the SEO strategy, from initial analysis and planning to implementation and review.
Setting a realistic timeline helps manage expectations and allows you to work without the pressure of unrealistic deadlines.
Asking About Past SEO Efforts and Results
It’s essential to know if the client has engaged in SEO efforts in the past and what those results looked like. Understanding what worked and what didn’t can provide valuable insights.
Did they experience any SEO penalties or issues? What strategies were implemented, and how did they affect the rankings and traffic?
Learning from past experiences, both good and bad, can guide the current SEO strategy and help avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Discussing Ongoing Communication and Reporting
Clear communication is essential for the success of any project. Establish how often you will update the client on progress and through which mediums. Will it be weekly emails, monthly reports, or quarterly reviews?
Discuss the format and frequency of reporting. This includes not just rankings and analytics but also any changes to the strategy and upcoming activities.
Ongoing communication ensures that the client remains involved and up-to-date, making it easier to adjust strategies as needed and maintain a strong working relationship.
Asking the right questions at the beginning of an SEO engagement can set the stage for a successful project. It helps align expectations, define goals, and lays the groundwork for a robust SEO strategy. Take the time to understand the client’s needs thoroughly; it will make all subsequent steps in the SEO process more effective and targeted.