New SEO Client Questionnaire – 15 Essential Questions

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

When you close a new SEO client, the last thing you want to do is botch the onboarding process. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll be fighting to regain that client's respect and trust during the coming weeks or months.

A new SEO client questionnaire is one of the best tools you can use to make sure the onboarding process goes as smoothly as possible. Our SEO agency has been successfully using SEO client questionnaires to set ourselves — and our clients — up for SEO success for more than a decade.

This article will cover what an SEO client questionnaire is, why you might want to use one, when to use it, and — most importantly — which questions to ask. The sample questions included here have been carefully curated and continually fine-tuned by our agency over the years. They’re a great jumping-off point from which you can create your own SEO onboarding questionnaire.

Here’s what you need to know about SEO client questionnaires:

What is an SEO Client Questionnaire?

An SEO client questionnaire is a specific set of questions that will give you mission-critical insights into your client's business and their related goals during the onboarding process.

Why You Should Use an SEO Client Questionnaire

Getting to know new clients can take time; however, a well-crafted onboarding questionnaire can dramatically speed up that process.

Going over the questionnaire with your client will strengthen your relationship from the beginning. And, this initial questionnaire will give you what you need to start crafting a relevant SEO strategy for your new client.

A questionnaire can also help you uncover any issues that might get in the way of your work. If red flags show up, you’ll be able to turn the client away — or adjust as needed — before things get sticky.

When to Include an SEO Client Onboarding Questionnaire

We recommend you include an SEO client questionnaire during your kickoff call. You could send your client a Google Form or email them your questions, but we’ve found that electronic delivery can feel a bit impersonal and won’t set the right tone for your relationship.

During your kickoff call, walk your client through the questionnaire and ask any necessary follow-up questions based on your client's responses. Creating the time and space for an open-ended conversation will be far more helpful than a written Q&A.

Questions to Include in Your SEO Client Questionnaire

The questions we include in our questionnaires help us get to know our clients, their businesses, and what’s going on with their websites.

Questions to Solidify Your Professional Relationship With Your Client 

Who will we be working with, and what are their roles and responsibilities?

Make sure you identify everyone who will be making the decisions, implementing work and managing aspects of the SEO project. 

Who will be our main point of contact?

By establishing a primary contact, you’ll have one point person for all of your client’s SEO work. If your client doesn’t already have someone for that role, encourage them to choose someone. A designated point person will bring order, simplicity, and consistency to your client communications. It's fine if your client wants you to communicate with various team members (within reason), but make sure you have a default contact to handle important communications. 

How much search engine optimization experience does each person have? 

Knowing the level of SEO experience on your client's team will help you to communicate effectively with them. It will also inform how much SEO education you need to provide your client's team so that they can understand what you are doing on their website.

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Questions to Familiarize Yourself With Your New Client's Business  

How would you describe your business at a dinner party? 

You probably describe your business one way to people who are in your industry, and another way to people who aren’t. We want to figure out how a client describes their business in the simplest way possible. This will direct us in everything from keyword research to identifying categories for a Google Business Profile.

What strategic business goals are you hoping our SEO efforts will support? 

This key question will help identify SEO strategies that will be the most beneficial for your client. It’s essential to know if your client wants to prioritize a certain product or service, if the client just wants more phone calls, etc. Your SEO strategy will be driven by your client’s goals.

How quickly are you hoping for results? 

This question gives you the ability to set expectations around how long it takes for SEO to generate measurable results. Address any unrealistic expectations, e.g. next month, early in the engagement instead of allowing your client to become impatient after months of expecting a game-changing breakthrough.

What would SEO success look like for your business? 

Just like the preceding question, this one will help you and your client get on the same page. It will also help you create realistic client expectations around what you are capable of. This is also a great opportunity to identify any key performance indicators that the client might hold near and dear. 

Do you have a budget for SEO/marketing that we can help you allocate? If so, how much have you budgeted for each month?

This budget will help you gauge if there is money available to supplement the SEO work you are doing for your client. Is there room to hire professional writers, designers, or content creators, for example?

Describe your ideal customer. Who are you trying to reach?

In order to properly target your client’s audience, you need to know who that audience is. By identifying their ideal customer, you’ll be able to find what keywords that audience is using, where and how you can build links, where you might request a guest blog, etc. This information will also help inform your strategy so that you can create content that is both relevant and valuable to your client’s audience.

Where do you do business? Where is your audience located?

Gaining a clearer understanding of where your client’s company primarily does business will help you target customers in local, national, or international markets.

Who are your top three competitors?

Knowing your client’s competition will jumpstart your keyword research and allow you to identify opportunities that the competition isn’t taking advantage of (yet). It will also help you understand how high the bar has been set when it comes to competing in your client’s industry and/or location. 

Website & Technology Questions  

Who can set us up with access to your CMS, Google Analytics, etc — and when? 

You’re going to need to know who can get you the “keys to the castle,” or at least admin access. Make a list of all the software and tools you need access to and review the list with your client. At a minimum, you’ll need access to their CMS, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and any communication or document storage platforms they use, such as Slack or Google Drive. 

When was your website built and/or redesigned? (Skip this question if you built the client’s site.)

Have you ever recommended a website redesign to a client who just had one? We have, and it’s awkward. Avoid this faux pas by using this question, and you’ll get some useful context that may explain why a site is or isn’t performing.  

Are you open to a redesign? 

(Always make sure you ask the previous question first.) This can be a demoralizing question for companies who have recently completed a subpar website redesign. If your client hasn’t had a recent redesign, though, this can be a great question to ask. There are a lot of SEO benefits that can come from a good website redesign. 

Do you have plans for significant website changes in the next 12 months? 

Hopefully, you’ll be able to help steer any upcoming website plans. However, it’s always good to ask so that you can add any existing client plans to your strategy. For example, a client decides to introduce a new set of services, each of which will need a landing page. Or a client decides to introduce new products or a course.

The Take-Home

You may already know some of these answers, thanks to the sales process. You might have other questions that you like to ask your clients. As previously mentioned, this new SEO client questionnaire is a basic template. Take it and improve it however you see fit based on your expertise and industry knowledge. Then, use the answers to inform your strategy and how you communicate with your client.  

And, don't forget that your client probably has questions for you. Make sure you provide an opportunity for them to get their questions answered. 

We suggest that this SEO client onboarding questionnaire facilitate a two-way conversation during your kickoff call. This allows for real-time dialogue with your client so that you can get to know them, they can get to know you, and everyone can get to know what success looks like.

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Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.
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