Stryde, we reserve the right to work with clients whom we deem “eligible” and not the other way around. This helps ensure that we are stacking the odds in our favor to have a successful campaign and that we are working with clients who are truly ready to engage in online marketing strategies. Enough with the mambo jumbo… here are the ten questions you absolutely, positively be asking before on boarding a client.

What SEO have you done to date?

Gaining a clear understanding of the SEO or online marketing history is critical to the success of your client. If they have a shady past where they engaged with low quality link building companies who jobbed out all work to the Philippines or India, it could be a big problem down the road, if you haven’t already been hit by an algo update like Panda or Penguin.

Have you engaged in any link building activities?

Same type of thing here. Even if a company hasn’t done SEO in the past, maybe they’ve done some link building (because they heard they should). I feel this is almost more important than the first question because bad links can serious hose you when it comes to ranking high in the search engines.

Has your site ever been penalized?

If a potential clients site has been penalized then the road to recovery is going to be a long, painful, and very expensive one. It is important to understand if they’ve been penalized, when it happened, and what caused it to determine the solution. It is also important for the client to understand what it’s going to take to recover.

How is your website structured?

These days there are many different coding languages and many different CMS solutions for websites to run on that it often times makes it difficult to know what it will take to get a site optimized for the search engines. Optimizing a website that runs on a Linux server and is powered by WordPress is much easier to optimize than a site that is coded in Cold Fusion and running on a Windows server. More man hours, especially technical man hours, costs more money and takes more time. Knowing this is absolutely vital to your success.

How would you describe your current marketing strategy (online and offline)?

Although not vital to your success, it is a major help when you know what other online and offline marketing strategies your clients are leveraging. This will allow you to create synergies and work with other departments, teams or agencies they may be working with. It will also give you a good idea of what is working and what isn’t for the client.

What key performance indicators are you tracking?

Before you engage with a client, it is vital to understand what key performance indicators they are currently tracking so you have a good idea of what they use to measure the success of their efforts. If they don’t have an KPIs established, make sure you discuss some of the typical indicators and help them to know that it is crucial for their success.

How will you determine if this campaign is successful?

This is always my favorite question to ask because many clients don’t have an answer for it. I talked with a client two weeks ago who wanted to quit that told me they have been using the number of links built for the last sixty days to determine if it was a successful campaign. What? What a horrible KPI and indicator of a successful campaign. Get this from them up front, before you start, and do your best to help educate them if they wild ideas.

What separates your business from your competitors?

This is an important questions to help you understand what competitive advantages your client either has, or thinks they have and use them to your advantage. Is there something different they do than the competition? What’s their value proposition as compared to the competitors? This and other questions will help you get to know your clients intimately and will help the campaign be more successful.

Who is your target audience?

This question is important for when you embark on your keyword or market research. Understanding who their target audience or their buyer personas are will help you determine keyword sets, landing page content, and topics for your content marketing efforts.

Why do you deserve to dominate the search engines?

The last question I love to ask is, why do you deserve to dominate the search engines? Why do you think you should rank number 1 for your keyword sets? The answers I get are classic. What I’m looking for her are honest answers that show humility and passion about what the clients business does. “We just do” or “we just want to bury the competition” are not good answers here. Obviously there are other questions you can ask before bringing on a new client, but these are some of the best ones we’ve developed over the years. Do you have any others you’d like to add to the list? If so, please add yours in the comments section below.]]>