The consultation phase is absolutely critical to the success of the project.
The first consultation takes 15 minutes. This is an informal exchange. It’s an opportunity for each party to introduce themselves and talk about their respective businesses and themselves.
It’s the subsequent, scheduled follow up consultation, or consultations, that are absolutely crucial.
The purpose of the consultation is to establish your SMART objectives (we go into detail about what these are in this post) and set some KPIs to measure our performance against.
How do we do this? We ask you some questions! As per our expectations of you, we’d need to get these back from you a few days before our consultation, so we have time to prepare.
The questions we ask follow next, along with clarification should you be planning your own responses now.
We may also ask you to connect us to your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts at this stage, so we can deliver some insight about your current situation.
The 10 questions we ask potential new clients – and why we ask them
What exactly are you looking to achieve through this project?
You’re likely to have more than one objective, so it’s helpful for us to know your hopes from the start.
This might be additional sales – which is pretty much the case for everyone. But specifically it might be more enquiries, or more people reading certain pages, or downloading something, or joining a mailing list.
We want you to drill down as much as you can here. Think about your sales funnel. Where are your leads coming form currently and how do you go about converting them.
How exactly do you think we’ll be able to measure successes?
Is it number of sales, or sales value? Is it based on lifetime value of a new customer?
Are you currently tracking number of enquiries, be they completed contact forms, phone calls received or something else? Are you prepared to do this and to disclose this information?
We need to make sure we have things in place to measure successes before we get started.
When are you looking for these successes to be achieved by?
This question is really to do with managing expectations – as well as being essential for SMART goal setting. It may be there’s some urgency because you’re looking to tie in this activity with a specific event in your calendar. We need to have this discussion from the start.
What search terms do you think people are using to find your website?
Search terms, aka keywords, aka queries, are the terms that people type into the search bar of their chosen search engine in hope that they’ll find the content they’re looking for. They’re still a pretty fundamental part of the SEO process.
We want to know if you have a list of keywords you think you should be targeting or are already targeting. If you haven’t we want you to have a think about this before the consultation too. Ask your friends and family too. The words you think people might be searching for could be quite different to what they tell you.
Keyword research won’t form part of the SEO audit. We’ll tackle this as part of the implementation phase, broad keyword by broad keyword, in your priority order. More on that in a minute.
What do the products or services you provide offer searchers that your competitors don’t?
This is really important. Google state in their webmaster guidelines that websites that rank have their own unique voice so they can stand out from the competition. Is critical that we explore the angle or angles that make you stand out from the crowd. What are the unique selling points of your products or services?
Who do you think might amplify any messages we create about your products and services to your market?
We want to know who you see as the key influencers in your market who might amplify – i.e. spread your message. These are the websites that your customers and potential customers are using. Developing links to your website from any of these has a big part to play in the project, but it can take time to develop these relationships. You can’t just email them asking them for a link. Those days are long gone.
What processes are in place to turn visitors to your website into customers?
Converting visitors into customers plays a huge part in SEO – in fact it’s a spin off topic in its own right, but I like to pull it in from the outset. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the set of techniques employed to improve conversions to goals.
Who do you think are your competitors?
We’ll ask you to have a think about who you see as the businesses directly competing with you for the market you’ve targeted. We can ascertain a lot of valuable information through competitor analysis, but it’s important that we’re analysing the right competitors from the off. As we get into the keyword research we’ll have a pretty good idea who your actual competitors are. They’ll be the businesses sitting above yours on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
What are your priorities?
It’s very important to establish which products and/or services you’re looking to prioritise. This might be your entire product range or just part of it. Are some product ranges or services more profitable than others? This might have something to say about your priorities? Maybe you’ve just introduced something new to makrket which you’re keen to push. Perhaps you’ve got a large amount of stock you’re keen to reduce?
The more information here the better.
Where and how do you currently sell your products and services?
And finally we need to know how you sell your products and services currently. If it’s not just via your own site then we need to know.
If you are selling products via another site, Amazon for example, then it may be your product pages are ranking better on their site than your own. This presents a challenge for any SEO. It’s highly likely sales via your own site will improve if you remove your product listings from Amazon, but we wouldn’t suggest that from the outset.
We just need to know your current sales channels, ideally with percentages of total sales attributed to each.
And that’s it.
Once we’ve discussed your responses we’ll pull our thoughts together into a proposal which is likely to include more questions for us to discuss at the next stage.