20 Questions to Ask Potential SEO Clients

20 Questions to Ask Potential SEO Clients

Do you run an inbound marketing agency and offer SEO services to your clients? Then it’s highly recommended that you have a questionnaire to evaluate the customers you choose to work with.

You may ask: but why is this important?

Because this information will reveal to you whether the new business coming your way is right for you and also provide you with crucial insights that can help you craft a better strategy for your clients.

Since starting my inbound marketing agency in 2015, I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes, helping them achieve greater search rankings and improved conversions. And the following set of questions has helped me get a deeper understanding of their business, industry, and most importantly, what they expect to achieve with SEO.

So here are the questions that we at Startup Cafe Digital use to evaluate the clients we choose to work with.

Top 20 SEO Questions to Ask Your Prospective Clients

1. What do you hope to achieve with SEO? What are your main goals and KPIs?

Here’s the harsh truth – A few of your prospects will have extravagant ideas as to what they hope to achieve with SEO. So it’s your job to set realistic expectations right from the start.

This information will reveal how realistic and achievable your client’s goals and KPIs are, and will help you decide whether you should take on this client.

2. Who is your target audience? (Age, gender, education level, etc.)

This information will reveal the key demographics your client is targeting. This will help you understand how competitive or untapped the market is and the level of difficulty the project entails.

Identifying the customer persona of your client is an important step for all your SEO activities, so ensure that you get a clear answer from your client.

Need help creating a buyer persona for your business? Try HubSpot’s free Buyer Persona tool.

3. Which countries are you targeting?

Do they have a global audience or are they just targeting one country? Once again, it’s important to know which country is your main target and how challenging the market is.

Pro Tip: If they are targeting just one country, make sure this reflects in their Google Search Console.

4. Do you have any other offices around the world?

The answer to this question will reveal whether you need to invest your time and energy on local SEO. If they operate out of multiple locations, find out whether each of their offices has its own Google My Business (GMB) listing.

Recommended reading: 10 Best Local SEO Tools to Improve Your Local Search Rankings

5. Who was your previous SEO agency/consultant?

Knowing who was managing their SEO may give you insights into the work that has been done so far and the challenges that you’ll be facing in the future.

6. What is your level of understanding when it comes to SEO?

Knowing how much your client knows about SEO will allow you to communicate with them more effectively.

Not all of them will know the importance of SEO concepts such as keyword research, backlinks, competitor analysis, robots.txt file, and so on. As such, it’s important to gauge their understanding of SEO so they know the difficulty that the project involves.

7. Who are your main competitors? 

While you can easily find who the organic competitors of your client are using agency-focused SEO tools such as Semrush and Mangools, it’s always good to know who your client considers to be their competitors.

8. Do you have an in-house developer?

You will no doubt be fixing technical SEO issues with your client’s website. If you have absolute control over the changes, then there’s no problem. But if they do have an in-house developer who you’ll need to interact with regularly to implement the technical changes, then it’ll open doors for the next question in this list.

9. What level of support will we have from the in-house developer?

If they have an in-house developer, then it’s important to know the frequency with which the changes that you’ve suggested will be implemented.

10. What CMS are you currently using?

Is your client’s website run on WordPress, Drupal, or HubSpot? Getting an answer to this question will reveal how user-friendly the CMS is and how familiar your team is with it.

If you have more experience with WordPress over any other CMS, it’s important to know in advance.

11. What is your budget for SEO?

An all-important question. There are clients who have ambitious goals with SEO, but may not necessarily have the budget. In such cases, stay away.

Make sure the client you’re working with has a sufficient budget for the goals they have in mind.

Always look for businesses that truly know the importance of SEO and are willing to invest a decent amount on a monthly basis.

12. Will I be given access to the following items?

  • CMS
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console

You may need to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to get access to their items, but it’s important you know in advance if they are willing to give you access.

If they’re reluctant, you need to tell them why it’s so important that you have access to these items.

Like I said, suggest signing an NDA with them. That always does the trick!

13. What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)? What is the key differentiator between your product/service from that of your competitors?

Once they have revealed their competitors, it’s time to learn what differentiates their offering from that of their competitors.

You need to ensure that this USP is communicated effectively throughout the website with all the appropriate keywords.

14. Are you working with a PR agency?

SEO and PR activities often complement each other. If your client already has a PR agency for you, then you can be assured that they’ll help them generate high-quality backlinks.

To get more results, your agency and PR agency can work together to achieve greater results for your clients.

15. Do you have plans to redesign your website?

Is their website mobile-responsive? Is it conversion-friendly?

If the answers to these questions are no, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll optimize their conversions, no matter how much effort you put towards improving their SEO.

If you offer website redesign services, make it a part of your pitch.

16. Do you have any brand guidelines?

Businesses often have strict brand guidelines that agencies must adhere to. If your prospect has specific brand guidelines, get to know them, and share them with your team.

17. Are there any websites/forums/subreddits that are frequently visited by your target audience?

This information can come in handy when you’re researching potential keywords and trending topics to create content on.

18. Who would you identify as influencers or thought leaders in your space?

These are the people who your target audience are likely to trust while making a buying decision. Influencers can help spread the word about your client’s products or services and can be potential targets for authoritative backlinks.

19. Do you have any design assets we can have access to?

Get access to design assets such as logos, color palette, fonts, images, etc. Save these assets in a folder on Google Drive and share them with people in your team who will be involved in this project.

20. Do changes you make to the website have to go through an internal approval process?

There’s nothing more frustrating than suggesting a few crucial changes to the website from an SEO perspective and waiting for days before the client approves it. So it’s important to determine the level of autonomy you’ll have when it comes to making changes to the website.


There may be cases where your prospects are unwilling to share any of the aforementioned information with you before getting onboard. So let them know that they may answer only those questions which are they comfortable with.

After all, you wouldn’t want to bombard a potential client with too many questions.

Having said that, it’s important to know what you are getting into before you start making promises and commitments to your client in terms of what they can achieve with SEO.

So get as much information as possible from the client and do your own research before committing to anything.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on October 2, 2017 and has since been updated for relevance and comprehensiveness.

Related Articles

Sandeep Mallya
Sandeep Mallya is the Founder & CEO of Startup Cafe Digital, an award-winning digital marketing agency in Bangalore, India. He is an active member of the startup community, having worked with several early-stage startups and accelerators. 99signals is Sandeep's online marketing blog. The blog currently features 200+ in-depth articles, how-to guides, and hacks on a wide range of online marketing topics such as SEO, social media marketing, content marketing, blogging, and more.


  1. Hi Sandeep,
    Thanks for this list. I’ll make sure to add some of these questions to my regular questionnaire for prospects.
    On my side, I would add few questions about my prospect’s marketing team: do they currently have people working on digital marketing, content creation, what they do exactly, etc.?

    • Thanks, Velizara. Glad you found this list useful. It would certainly make sense to add your questions about digital marketing and content creation to the questionnaire. It all depends on the size of the company. I mostly deal with early-stage or growth-stage startups at my agency, so most of them don’t have dedicated marketing resources.

  2. Having a clear understanding of the client’s target audience by itself is a great help for any SEO work. Just imagine doing keyword research without that knowledge.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here