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  • Writer's pictureMark A Preston

20 Pre-Sales SEO Questions to Help Grow Your Agency

Updated: May 2

As an SEO advisor & speaker, I feel a responsibility into not just educating agency teams, giving them the knowledge to push their clients’ businesses forward, but to educate and help agency owners to grow in the right way.

If you have read my best-selling book, you will already have an understanding of the pitfalls I came across with running and building my own SEO agencies in the past. You will also understand that I have a saying…

“There is always a solution to any problem.”

Problems are great as it allows us to find new solutions and never get complaisant in what we do.

As you can imagine, I talk to lots of digital marketing agency owners from all over the world. I sit and listen. One thing that stands out from the smaller agencies is that they are great at doing the work and ensuring their clients achieve their online growth plans (well most of them are good), but they struggle turning SEO leads into new paying clients.

The simple truth is, they are just not asking the right pre-sales SEO questions. The better you understand a business and what’s important to them, the better your SEO strategy plan will be.

Below are a few pre-sales SEO questions I have tweaked and perfected during my many years in this industry. Now, I’m not saying that you must bombard your prospects with asking them every single one of these questions. Just pick the questions that relate to the business and person you are talking to.

If nothing else, I hope that I have made you think a little about your own sales process.

“If you have to ‘sell’ SEO to potential clients, then you are not doing it right.”

pre-sales SEO questions

Here we go. Here are my top list of pre-sales SEO questions along with the reason why you should ask that specific question…

1. What was it about us specifically that made you want to get in touch?

If you understand what specifically it was that made your new prospect contact you, it will help you to focus your own marketing.

2. How would one of your customers describe your business?

Instead of asking them to describe their business, turning the question around makes them look at their business in a different light and you will get a much deeper explanation.

3. Now, how would you describe your business in only three words?

These three simple words will be so valuable during the SEO research and strategy planning stages as it allows you to focus on key areas.

4. How long have you been running your business?

Easy question to establish if they are a start-up or an established business as the mindset and mentality towards SEO will differ.

5. What specifically was it that prompted you to setup and launch your business?

A very powerful question as it opens the possibilities of running fantastic outreach and digital PR campaigns. It also gives their business a story. An emotional connection you can pull on during the SEO campaign.

6. What would need to happen for you to see the SEO campaign we run as successful?

By asking this question, you immediately understand what your 'minimum' SEO target is. The focus for this specific client will initially be to secure that target (if you believe it is the right thing to do). Once you do that, you have that SEO client staying with your agency long-term because you have done what they want you to do.

7. What is the value of your average customer to your business?

Using the word 'value' instead of saying 'how much' puts your prospects in the right financial mindset. It is such an important question to ask also because this has a direct impact on the value your agency will provide to that specific client’s business.

8. Have you worked with an SEO agency in the past? If so, what was your experience?

Unless they are a brand-new start-up business, the chances are, they have probably contracted an SEO agency previously which did not work out. If they were happy with them, they would not think about contacting you. It is important for you to understand why it did not work out but NEVER say anything negative about any other agency, even if you know for sure they are bad. Just politely say "I'm sorry that your experience with them did not go well. We don't like to comment on any other agency but focus our energy on what we do well. Helping businesses just like yours to grow."

9. Why do your customers come to you rather than one of your competitors?

Nearly every SEO agency asks, "What's your USP?" Unique Selling Point's do not really exist. As an example, if your client is an accountancy firm and there are 5 other accountancy firms in their target locations. They all ensure the tax man is not going to come knocking on your door asking unpleasant questions. Apart from the quality of service, there is nothing specifically to distinguish them all apart. If anyone ever says that 'service' and 'support' is their USP, that is nonsense. Those things should just be standard. Rephrasing the question puts an emotional attachment to it. It also tells you what their competitors are 'not' doing than it tells you what they are doing right.

10. Where are your customers geographically located?

You are simply understanding what the geographical area of their customer base is which will determine where you focus your geographical boundaries.

11. What is your ultimate goal for your business?

Adding the word 'ultimate' into the question puts them in a long-term mindset and allows you to look at a long-term SEO plan with them.

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

You will know if they are coming to you for SEO just because it is on their to-do list and it is another thing checked off or if they understand the true 'value' of SEO.

13. Do you know any other influential people within your industry?

Adding the word 'other' creates a burst of positivity inside your prospect as all they heard was, 'they just called me an influential person within my industry'. From an SEO point of view, it allows you to potentially get their influential friends to link to their website.

14. Are there any seasonal periods of each year we should be aware of?

Great things SEO wise can be done to target seasonable periods. It also gives you opportunities to create great spikes in traffic to their website and educate your client why those spokes happened.

15. How involved do you want to be with the SEO campaign?

Some clients don't want anything to do with the SEO and as long as their phone is ringing, they know it is working. Others may want to constantly be updated on the progress and some people will manually check their rankings three times a day and call you on a regular basis. This question will allow you to set expectations and allow you to determine how much management time per month you are going to have to devote to that client.

16. Are there any specific keywords you would like to get ranked for?

Although I believe that the focus on any SEO campaign is to increase impact (leads and sales) and never to focus on just one of a few keywords, this specific question will allow you to understand if they are already in the right mindset when it comes to SEO.

17. Why do you believe your business needs to rank for those specific keywords?

Getting them to justify the 'why' may open up opportunities your research may not uncover.

18. Who do you see as your top three direct competitors?

This sometimes throws a curve ball. Remember! Your client is the expert at what they do, and they hopefully understand their industry a lot better than you do. They will know who is getting the business instead of them. This allows you to focus your research on those individual businesses and determine what they are doing well.

19. Would your existing customers be happy to leave you a Google review if you ask them?

This question is not really about driving a ton of Google reviews (although, that would be helpful), it is about understanding the relationship between that business and their own customers.

20. Are you happy to work with us to make this happen?

This connects you and them. It takes them away from a 'you are the supplier' mindset into your agency being an extension of their team. Better and honest conversations can be had this way.

Food for thought!

That's enough pre-sales SEO questions. Now go and test drive them during your next sales call. I’d love to hear how you get on and I would be happy to add your comments on this article.

All that is left to say is, if you have found my pre-sales SEO questions of value to your agency or freelance business, please can you do me a tiny favour and give it a share so others can benefit from it as well. I see it like this, there is more than plenty of business to go around our industry, the more agencies who are giving the right perception, the better our industry reputation will be.


About the author

Mark A Preston

Mark A Preston: SEO trainer & speaker with over 2 decades (since 2001) experience in the SEO industry. Host of 'The Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast'. Author of 'The Business Side of SEO' and 'The SEO Freelancer Survival Handbook', SEO Business Books.


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