Cheat Sheet: SEO Client Qualification Questions Template

When working to qualify potential SEO or web design clients it’s important to ask the right questions. This discovery phase helps ensure you can provide the most value to the client, as well as making sure they are able to support and execute your digital strategies – thus getting the most value from you.

Below is a cheat sheet of questions we use to make sure both our client and our agency are getting the most value from each other.

Technical SEO Questions

  • Will we have access to past SEO analysis and campaign insights?
  • Is there an opportunity to make technical or design changes to the site if our research leads to these recommendations?
  • Do you have in-house developers?
  • What is your deployment schedule / cycle?

Content Strategy Questions

  • Are there high-value keyword targets?
  • Where are the keyword targets derived from?
  • Which high-value keywords have the highest profit and conversion rate?
  • Is there an appetite to create in-depth valuable content based on customer-type?
  • Do you have a editorial calendar in place?
  • Do you have in-house designers and copywriters to create high-value content assets?
  • Do you currently have a content governance policy?

Link Building and Digital PR Questions

  • Were any links built to the site previously?
  • Do you currently have a digital PR team?
  • To your knowledge has their been any link building activities that would inhibit or hurt rankings (such as buying links or comment and forum spam)?

Social Media Questions

  • Has there been a social media strategy executed?
  • Will the SEO team have access to the social media communities in order to integrate and utilize its reach and influencers?

Measurement Strategy Questions

  • What are your primary SEO KPIs or positive indicators (Examples: keyword diversity trend, non-branded keyword traffic trend, referral traffic trend, conversion rate)?
  • How do you determine your SEO success metrics and targets?
  • What positive indicators have you measured? What negative indicators have your measured?
  • Have you ever received a warning notice in Google Webmaster Tools?
  • Have your search rankings ever dropped drastically? If so, when and for how long?
  • Will we have access to Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics?

Brand Questions

  • Are there personas or customer-types defined for each channel?
  • What other marketing strategies (both offline and online) do you employ?
  • Are you looking to drive branded recognition, non-branded recognition or both?
  • If there was a previous SEO agency, what strategy or capabilities would they like to see from our team that you felt your previous agency did not deliver?

4 SEO Questions We Get Asked About Our SEO Framework

There are many questions we get asked about our user-focused SEO methodology and framework, so we thought we would outline a few of the more prominent questions we have received over the last year.

Q: Search Engine algorithms are constantly changing. How do you develop and optimize owned assets to keep pace with these changes?

From an SEO standpoint we don’t believe in chasing the ongoing algorithm changes, but instead creating high-value content assets and optimizing current brand assets based on the search psychology of a website’s primary and secondary persona set. This value is based on four primary areas; keyword traffic value, value to target persona, conversion rate value, and brand value.

To keep pace with these changes and ensure progress, SEO is embedded in all aspects of our process, from the websites planning to the final QA.

Q: Where does SEO fit in to your overall business strategy and within your overall service capabilities?

SEO is embedded in all aspects of our process, from the websites planning state to the final QA.

  • It provides an additional layer of strategy based on data that is used by each of our teams when building integrated marketing strategies for our clients.
  • It helps inform design and structural components, provide insights for content strategy and user journeys, and focuses the teams on the Googleblot persona to ensure organic traffic growth, increased engagement, and ultimately conversions.
  • Outside of the integration points it is a holistic business strategy; inclusive of publishing, brand building, marketing, traffic acquisition, and conversion rate optimization.

Q: What SEO strategies are often overlooked that can aid in lifting SERP rankings?

There are two areas we feel brands have the most opportunity to excel and lift SERP rankings for high-value keywords.

The first, building a strong structural foundation and SEO friendly CMS. This foundation is key to

  • Help users understand the content sets.
  • Help users understand the content hierarchy.
  • Help search engines focus their crawl and understand the website
  • Help search engines apply ranking metrics to the high-value pages.
  • Minimizing concerns that would cause a website to be filtered or penalized.

The second, creating high-value content assets derived from search and user insights.

By not participating in the webs publishing model mindset, brands have a much harder time:

  • Taking control of their informational content sets
  • Controlling how they are perceived online
  • Addressing their users informational concerns
  • Targeting keywords outside of brand terms
  • Taking search share away from 3rd party sites
  • Increasing reach and share of voice in the search results


Q: How often would you ideally provide SEO recommendations to a client for an existing site? Why?

Because we believe SEO is a business strategy inclusive of publishing, brand building, marketing, traffic acquisition, and conversion rate optimization, recommendations would be on a monthly basis to help accomplish brand goals.

These monthly recommendations would be based on data sets, SEO scorecards, and correlation studies on how the search engines are reacting to content sets, updates, and previous strategies.

SEO works best under an agile methodology that accounts for fluidity and consistent optimization updates. So ensuring that there is a process in place to accommodate this change frequency is vital for SEO to progress and providing ongoing value.

Ecommerce SEO Tips: User-Focused SEO Strategies For Deleted Products

The flow of products in and out of Ecommerce websites can be a challenge when trying to retain SEO value, build brand, and satisfy the users intent. The management of this consistent change can sometimes fall by the wayside – causing a loss in value for SEO and an increased frustration for users. This frustration can cause your brand advocates to hit the back button and move on to one of your competitors.

There are tactics and strategies to keep both the user happy, and align this fluid change in product set with high-value user-focused SEO to retain search value.

Below are 5 options (in no specific order) for handling deleted products on your Ecommerce website.

1. Redirect to the Deleted Product’s Category Page

Type of redirect to use:

  • A 301 redirect

Strategy:

  1. Whenever a user clicks on an external link – either from the search results, bookmark, social website, or from a link on another website, dynamically identify the category the product resides in – this should be the category that is one level up from the product page, or if there is less than 3 products in the defined category, keep climbing the taxonomy until there is at least 3 products in a category.
  2. Once this category is defined, 301 redirect the old product page to this category.

Pros:

  • Pushes ranking value into the category page.
  • Allows the ranking value to be split between remaining products in that category
  • Gives users the ability to find other relevant products that could fit their needs
  • Lowers the risk of users going back to the search results page and visiting a competing website
  • Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.

Cons:

  • Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the category page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.

2. Redirect to a Search Results Product Set

Type of redirect:

  • A 301 redirect coupled with a noindex/follow meta-tag on the search results page.

Strategy:

  1. Whenever a user clicks on an external link – either from the search results, bookmark, social website, or from a link on another website, spin a search based on the type of product or product title (minus stop words).
  2. Return the search results page to the user that includes similar products

Pros:

  • Keeps users engaged with the website.
  • Using the noidex/follow meta-tag allows ranking metrics to flow through the internal links on the search results set, but keeps the search results page out of the Google index.
  • Allows for discovery of similar products
  • Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.

Cons:

  • Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.
  • Leaves the product selection up to the user. Thus, the website owner can’t control the outcome of the user journey or directly match/recommend a single product that best matches their intent.

3. Manually Redirect to a Similar Product

Type of redirect:

  • A 301 redirect

Strategy:

  1. Manually create a 301 mapping by selecting a similar product or page from the remaining product set so whenever a user clicks on an external link – either from the search results, bookmark, social website, or from a link on another website they are taken to the new page.
  2. If there are large sets of redirects that need to take place, an excel sheet can be used to manage these sets, and then pulled in and identified by the database to automatically include these new redirects.
  3. Create an environment to allow for the deleted item to be redirected to this newly identified page.

Pros:

  • Ability to easily match relevancy based on user need.
  • Ability to redirect to a similar product that high conversion rate – or even a new product that has a high relevancy to the deleted product.
  • Keeps users engaged within the website.
  • Allows for direct flow of ranking and social metrics from one product to another.
  • Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.

Cons:

  • Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.
  • This is done manually and can be time consuming for large ecommerce websites.

4. Redirect Based on Relevancy Value

Type of redirect:

  • 301 redirect

Strategy:
Title relevancy is high enough redirect directly to related product.

  1. Whenever a user clicks on an external link – either from the search results, bookmark, social website, or from a link on another website, and it is detected that a 404 error will occur, dynamically spin a search on the back end utilizing title of the product.
  2. If there is a product that matches at a high enough relevancy (this will be defined based on product set) send the user directly to that product.
  3. If the relevancy of products is not high enough, send the user to a search results page with a group of related products.
  4. If a search results page will need to be presented, follow rules outlined in option 2.
  5. If a product page will be shown, follow rules outlined in option 3.

Pros:

  • This is a combination of strategy 2 and 3, and allows the backend to dynamically determine which option to use – thus serving the best option to the user based on value and relevancy.
  • Keeps users engaged within the website.
  • Keeps ranking and social metrics flowing throughout the website.
  • Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.

Cons:

  • Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.

5. Custom 404 Page

Type of redirect:

  • 301 or none needed depending on how 404 serving is handled.

Strategy:

  1. Whenever a user clicks on an external link – either from the search results, bookmark, social website, or from a link on another website, redirect the user to a custom 404 page
  2. This page should: Inform the user the product is no longer available; Provide related product selections; Provide a search box for the user to search the website for other products.

Pros:

  • Directly informs the user that the product is no longer available
  • Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.

Cons:

  • Loss of ranking or social value that the deleted item had built.
  • Higher risk the user will hit the back button and go to a competitor of yours who still has the product.

SEO And The Amazon Paradox

It was there all along and we unknowingly walked past. Apple’s reinvention of music and the phone created distraction. “Shock of the new” toys romanced us. In fairness, they are cool, empowering things, but the real revolution was happening quietly 850 miles north from Apple’s headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino. Continue Reading