So you’ve decided to engage an SEO company to help your website generate some awesome targeted traffic.
You’ve done your research, read the reviews and are ready to get the ball rolling. Most reputable SEO agencies will probably take you through some sort of a client intake process in which you will be asked a bunch of questions about your business and your website to get the information they need in order to start working for you.
And since your hard earned money is at play here, you don’t want to just give them the “Green Light” and have the new SEO company do their thing. You want them up and running (working on increasing your website’s rankings) without having to back track and spend time on researching things you’ve done in the past that could potentially be harming you today. So here are some pieces of information that, when asked for, you should be especially clear about.
- Have you done any internet marketing in the past? Don’t lie. We will find out, and it could be messy, like uncovering an optimization crime scene. We need to know this in order to establish what to look for and how to find any possibly negative “leftovers” that require cleanup for future-proofing. Again, most reputable SEO agencies will never just jump into ongoing search engine optimization on a domain/website without doing a fairly deep SEO audit of your website to identify any issues that can potentially slow down the SEO process. But it is in your benefit to let us know that you’ve hired a freelancer overseas about 2 years ago to build 10,000 social bookmarks for you.
Cool: knowing ahead of time that there may be a mass grave of spammy links that will require cleanup.
Uncool: finding a mass grave of spammy links that require cleanup after your client said they have never done marketing in the past.Pretty simple, right?
The sooner you tell us, the sooner you can benefit from having us track it down and take care of it. Not telling us is similar to having an exterminator come to your house because you keep having ant problems, but you forget to tell him about the ant hill hidden in your back yard.
Except instead of a house, it’s your website.. and instead of a hidden ant hill, it’s bad SEO. Don’t do that. The exterminator will end up finding the ant hill, and we’ll end up finding the bad links, but it’s always best to be upfront.
- Are you currently running ads? (Specifically, local ads?) This falls under “Have you done any internet marketing in the past?” but some people forget that advertising = marketing.
Some local ad platforms will be pushing/broadcasting your business’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) out to other citation sources. If we don’t know this, you might end up paying us to try to change information you’re already paying to have published, because you also weren’t sure what your NAP should be when you set those ads up.
One of these ad platforms and citation sources is Yellowpages whose main selling point is that they will get you more exposure and leads – which is great, but it also syndicates your NAP. Platforms that do this aren’t always very clear to the laymen what Local SEO implications their ads have.
When used properly, these ads can be very helpful for your Local rankings. We just need to know that you’re doing it so we can make sure that the information that we are optimizing lines up. If you tell us that you’re advertising somewhere during intake, we’ll be able to look into it and see whether or not it’s Local and what impact it has.
We will always figure this out – I’ve even had to troubleshoot with clients where their ads are sourced from because they can’t remember where they bought an ad at, let alone the fact that they bought an ad, but do try to rack your brain and tell us when you come on board rather than later.
- Local businesses: have you had previous phone numbers and/or addresses or business names? Again, don’t lie. Please try to give us the whole picture when asked. If you have a messy NAP profile, it’s important to give us all the information you can up front, that way we can seek out and correct any potentially harmful discrepancies immediately.
Otherwise, we may not find it right away and cleanup will be delayed. If you’ve had 5 past phone numbers and only provide me with 2, you aren’t really answering the question.
- What is your business name? No, really, WHAT is your business name? If you haven’t settled on a business name yet – I’m talking about a final, solid, single-format business name – you probably shouldn’t be signing up for marketing because you have bigger problems that need to be solved first.
You just gave me “Jonesy Bob’s Plumbing” but on your website you are “Jonesy Bob and Son’s” and on Google for Business you are “The Best Plumbing Service By Jonesy Bob”.
It’s extremely important to figure this out and settle once and for all. I can help tell you which version of your business name is the most prevalent across the web to help you whittle down your best choices, but do not make your SEO company do this for you – it’s not their business, it’s yours.
In case you’re really not sure, check what your business is legally registered as, as that is usually the best format to move forward with since it will make its way into data aggregators like Axciom eventually anyways, affecting your Local NAP consistency.
- Have you been BANNED from Google Places? We once had a potential new client who “couldn’t understand” why their other marketing company couldn’t help with their Places listing.
We got in there, called Google, and were informed that the business had been banned for life for multiple “egregious” TOS violations. They literally used that phrase.
This is definitely something to let your SEO company in on. If you are already aware that you hired someone to spam for your business, please don’t act clueless.. it doesn’t usually work out for anyone.
- What are your most profitable/highest priority products and services? If you’re not clear on this with us, we may strategize for the wrong pages for you, and then have to re-strategize when you decide to be more transparent, essentially wasting time for both of us. If you don’t want to get clients/customers for a service or product that is on your site, you should tell us this when we ask.
To someone who isn’t an insider in your business, the fact that it’s on your website makes it look important to us especially if you were vague on this when we first asked.
Our intake process has been refined and optimized (we are SEO’s, duh) with questions specifically designed to get the information we need to help market your business. Although we always ask that the answers be as complete and precise as possible, we aren’t always given the full picture. To be sure you can get the most from our efforts and your money, be clear with your needs and your history right off the bat. The more you help us, the more we can help you – and that’s really what we’re here for!