Creating the perfect SEO questionnaire for your clients
So, you want to make an SEO questionnaire? Great idea! One of the best ways to start a new SEO contract is with detailed information.
But let’s get serious here for a second. To research this post, I’ve come across dozens of SEO questionnaires floating around on the web. SO many of them are huge or ask for way too much information. The goal of an SEO questionnaire is to help you get started with your work. Remember, you’ll be communicating with your SEO client on an ongoing basis
Benefits of an SEO questionnaire
Before we dive into the benefits of an SEO questionnaire lets talk a little bit about the process itself. Why exactly are you doing this? For me personally, we created an SEO questionnaire for a few different reasons:
- reduce back and forth email
- cut down on project management
- show the client we are organized
- create a central data point
The most obvious benefit of creating an SEO questionnaire is how much it will help you help your client. Sure, you can blindly begin an SEO contract with little to no information but that is just amateur hour.
In short, an SEO questionnaire will equip an SEO with enough information to properly do their job.
Choosing a format for your SEO questionnaire is an extremely important question. The most popular choices are:
- PDF with fillable fields
- Word Document
- Email template
- HTML Form
Again, let’s think about the actual process. 4 of these options will take multiple steps, 1 of these options will only take 1 step.
Sending a PDF or Word Document to your client will add many more steps to your process. Not only do they have to print it out but then they have to scan it back in and email it back. Even if they do fill it out in Word or a fillable field, they still have to attach and email it back to you.
An HTML form is, in my opinion the best choice. Your client simply navigates to a given URL, fills out the form and hits send. No fuss, no muss.
Ask yourself: what do you really need to get started?
Personally, I need very little to do a whole lot of work. For instance, if we obtain the following information, we are pretty much equipped to do our jobs and get some basic tasks in motion:
- access credentials (hosting / FTP and/or CMS access)
- access to analytics platform
- access to Google Webmaster Tools
Equipped with this information, you are pretty much set as an SEO to conduct initial reports, do a great deal of on-page SEO and get the clients website operational.
There are many schools of thought regarding an SEO questionnaire. Many SEO consultants beleive you need to gather every last bit of information about your client before moving forward. Other SEO’s (such as myself) would rather you just get the basic information so you can get started doing your job.
Don’t forget, you can always do a follow up questionnaire or emails in the future.
Completion: before or after the sale?
This is a tricky question and something we’ve gone back and forth on for a very long time.
My personal recommendation for this question: as soon as humanely possible.
To me, it really does not matter when the client fills out the form, as long as it happens. A little sales hint: if you can get them to fill out the questionnaire before the sale you are much more likely to bring in the deal. Why? Well, if the sales psychology principle commitment and consistency is true, the buyer will feel a need to complete the sale once they’ve began the process. More on that in another post.
#UX Don’t ask what you already know
This is a very basic principle of user experience. Users get very annoyed when you ask something that you’ve already asked in the past, or something that is readily available on their website.
For instance, don’t ask them to tell you “about their company.” Not only should this already have been discussed on the very first SEO sales call, but you can pretty much get all that information from the company about us page.
Sure, you do want to ask for some basic information so you know who the form is coming from but try to reduce the amount of work your client has to do. Take this snippet from an SEO questionnaire. This questionnaire is currently the #1 ranked document for SEO questionnaire on Google. The first 5 questions are completely redundant and can be taken directly from your clients website.
Remember that some customers can be fragile. As a consultant, every wrong move you make might be tallied up by your client and can be used against you at a later date. Remember your goal is to help your customer. One easy way to do this is by not asking for information that you already have.
This is the same principle as in eCommerce of not asking for the city and state when you already have the zip code. It is always the details that are responsible for the formation of great processes in any business.
Multiple questionnaires for multiple business types
If you are a true SEO consultant or agency and not a fly by night or cookie cutter agency then you know that there are multiple types of businesses out there. For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume you are like us and mainly target small to medium sized businesses and typically don’t go after enterprise level or franchise operations. My general advice is to create 3 types of SEO questionnaires:
- a general SEO questionnaire that fits most small businesses
- one that focuses on a physical location (for Google Maps)
- a specific questionnaire for eCommerce websites
For a long time we had 1 SEO questionnaire that we just modified for different purposes each time we made a sale. As the years went on and we started to define our process more, we realized that having multiple questionnaires could really help improve our overall process.
Security and personal information
Before we go, we have to mention security for a minute. Remember you are probably going to be asking your client to send personal information and login access. With that comes responsibility. Always remember to use SSL when using web forms as well as a secure email connection. What fun would it be if you signed a new SEO client and their website got hacked the following week?
Since you are a savvy SEO already, then you already know how to use Google search operators to easily find tons of SEO questionnaires out there:
filetype:PDF “SEO questionnaire”
filetype:DOCX “SEO questionnaire”
You can try a number of other variations.
Way back in the day, the SEO questionnaire that I used was really simple:
I didn’t put much thought into it and it worked well for many years. As time went on we started developing our own questionnaires in-house. Here is one example of an SEO questionnaire (download) we used for quite a few years.
As we grew even more we started migrating to an online form for our questionnaires. We have several variations that we generally no-index and no-follow for both SEO, website development, and social media. I made one of these available to see as a live example. Again, we don’t like to overwhelm our new clients with a ton of questions on the first day so our initial questionnaire is generally pretty simple.
I realize that many people may have landed here to download and use our SEO questionnaire for their own use. While I am Ok with you using some of our examples, I do urge you to modify the questions to suit your own needs. Not all agencies / consultants were created equal and what works for us may not work for you.