The Best Darn Local SEO Client Questionnaire

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If you’re a business owner who needs more local visibility, you want to make sure the person helping you has all he/she needs to deliver the goods.

Or, if you’re a local-SEO pro, you want to make sure you have all you need to deliver the goods.

The questionnaire I send to potential clients helps do both of those things.  It tells me what I need to know in order to be able to help, and to be able to say up-front how I can help.  Oh, and it helps me avoid mistakes.

I’ve refined my questionnaire over several years.  My experiences – smooth and rough – have taught me what info I need before I can or should do any work.

In 2010 I didn’t have a questionnaire (tsk, tsk…bad idea, Phil).  In 2011, it was maybe 10 questions.  Last year it was 14-19.  This year…well, I’ll let you count ‘em if you want to.

Below are all the questions (I can think of) that the person working on your local SEO – even if that person is you – will need the answers to before any work is done:

(You can also download the questionnaire on Google Drive or as a PDF.)

 

1.  Best email address and phone number at which to reach you:

 

2.  Official / legal name of your business:

 

3.  Other DBAs you may have used in the past or are using now:

 

4.  Business name you currently use or plan to use for your Google+ Local page (AKA Google Places page):

 

5.  Full physical street address of your location.  Please include suite #, if applicable.  (Note: Using P.O. boxes, UPS boxes, or “virtual offices” for any of your locations is NOT allowed in Google.  Please let me know if your address is any one of these.)

 

6.  Is that the only location of your business?  If not, please list the addresses of your other locations – as well as any old addresses.  Please also indicate which locations, if any, are not physical addresses where you actually meet customers.

 

7.  Do you share this street address with any other businesses, or do you use this address for other Google pages?

 

In either case, please specify the suite # of the Google page you’d like me to work on.

 

8.  If I mailed a letter to this exact address, would you be able to receive it easily?

 

9.  Where do you do business with your customers: at your address or at theirs?

 

10.  Roughly how long has your business been located at that address?  (2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks?)

 

11.  Office phone number (should use a local area code):

 

12.  Is this number for a standard landline – or is it a cell number, or does it forward, or do you track calls on it?

 

13.  Do you use this phone number for any other locations or other businesses you own?

 

14.  Do you use call-tracking numbers in any of your online marketing efforts?  If so, please specify the number(s).

 

15.  Other phone numbers you may have used in the past for your business:

 

16.  Have you ever advertised with the online Yellow Pages, or with a similar service?

 

17.  Your website URL:

 

18.  Is this the only website you use for this business?

 

19.  Do you have any other website URLs that “forward” or “redirect” to the above website URL(s)?

 

20.  Do you currently have the ability to make changes to your website whenever you’d like?

 

21.  Who bought your website hosting and domain name?

 

22.  Has your website ever been penalized by Google?  (If you’ve had sudden, dramatic drops in traffic, you probably were penalized.)

 

23.  Are you currently considering revamping your site or building a new one in the foreseeable future?

 

24.  Has your Google page ever been “suspended” or otherwise penalized, to your knowledge?

 

25.  Do you currently have access to your Google+ Local page?  (In other words, could you make edits to your page right now?)

 

26.  What are 1-10 local search terms for which you’d most like to get visible in Google?  (These are only to give me an idea of your goals; I’ll let you know which terms I think you can get visible for.)

 

27.  If you had to pick ONE most-important service or local search term to get visible for, what would it be?

 

28.  What is the specific city / geographical area you’d like to be visible in, ideally?

 

29.  How do you currently attract most of your customers / clients / patients?  (E.g. word-of-mouth, AdWords ads, etc.)

 

30.  Does your site have any page-one “organic” rankings on Google, as far as you know?  If so, please specify a few of them.

 

31.  Have you ever listed your business on third-party directory sites (e.g. Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.)?  If so, who currently has the login info for those sites?

 

32.  If I said you that you should ask some of your customers / clients / patients to write reviews for you, how willing would you be to ask them?  (Let’s use a scale of 1-10: 1 meaning you refuse to ask, 10 meaning you’re totally motivated.)

 

33.  If I suggested that you write a few pages of information about your services, would you or someone in your company be willing to write those pages (with my guidance)?

 

34.  Have you ever had a link-building campaign for your website?

 

35.  Have you worked with any local-SEO companies in the past?  If so, what was your experience?

 

36.  What keeps you up at night?  What’s been your biggest marketing challenge?

 

37.  How urgently do you feel you need more local visibility?

(Let’s use a scale from 1-10: 1 being desperate, 10 being fairly comfortable.)

 

38.  What made you want to contact me today?

 

If the questions seem like a lot of work to answer – even though they’re not, and should take maybe 15 minutes to fill out – think of each one as hours, dollars, and heartache you’re saving.

Any questions on the questions?  Any you’d add to the list?  Leave a comment!

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Comments

  1. That is one wicked awesome list of questions..Norm rules!

  2. Fantastic list, Phil! I foolishly don’t have a list/questionnaire prepared, but I have an idea of questions to ask clients – not this many though! Good work!

    One for you to add potentially: “do you have any plans to change your business address in the near future?” I learnt this the hard way – at an agency where I used to work, we had a client who hired us for Google Places optimisation, so we created the listing and sought citations, and then, a few months later, they told us they were moving business address and that they’d known all along (i.e. it wasn’t a rash decision, but something that’d been months in the planning). Had we known, we might’ve suggested holding off the work until they’d relocated and then we could’ve created the listing and citations from that point onwards, with the new address details.

  3. Great questionnaire Phil. You included some great questions..hopefully business owners take the time to fill it out entirely! We have a generic questionnaire on our Mod Girl website that seems to work well but it’s not tailored towards local businesses specifically…your list is great for local!

    Thanks for sharing. I saved it to Google docs :)

  4. hi thanks for the list.
    but i do not understand the purpose of some questions.
    Could you explain why you ask the questions 16, 19, 21, 22, 24 and 30?

    • Some quick explanations:

      #16: I ask about Yellow Pages ads because usually if you sign up for one, they’ll assign tracking numbers to your ads. Those numbers can hurt the consistency of your business info across the web, and can kill your rankings.

      #19: Long story. I mostly just want to know about the relationships between various domains a client might have.

      #21: If someone else – like an unethical SEO or a web-design company – bought your domain and hosting, you can be locked out of your own site and not make changes to it if you want/need to.

      #22: I want to know if my potential client has ever waded into a cesspool of cheap links, thus incurring the wrath of Google.

      #24: I want to know the track record of the Google listing I’m dealing with. I want to know if it’s a possibility that the rankings we start off with are bad because the business owner unintentionally broke Google’s rules.

      #30: Much of optimizing for Google+ Local (AKA Google Places) rankings involves tuning up the site. I don’t want to go changing the site around without knowing how well the site itself already ranks (i.e. its organic rankings).

  5. This is great Phil, thanks so much for posting this handy list!

  6. Great list!
    I was also wondering about an issue I’ve experienced a couple of times that creates a conflict. When you set up a places account, it also creates a Google+ page for the client. We’ve had situations where clients already set up other Google+ pages that they either didn’t remember, or told us about afterward.

    Have you found a way to merge the two + pages? In some cases we don’t want to lose the value that’s been built in the old page, but don’t want there to be multiple + pages.

    Best,

    Joe

    • That’s a good question, Joe, but one that’s a little involved to answer. You can usually get any reviews transferred, which is the most important thing. But beyond that, one of the pages has got to get the axe.

      • Phil,
        Thank you for the response.

        I guess there’s not much we can do about it. Usually they are just vestigial pages someone set up some time ago without really putting much thought into it. But its still frustrating to deal with after the fact.

        • Yeah, it’s frustrating, all right. Many times the pages are created automatically, with info that Google pulls in from third-party sources (like InfoGroup or LocalEze).

  7. Hi. Great list Phil. All very useful info for successful local seo. In my experience, however, clients will answer 5, maybe 6 of these. What’s your success rate? Where do you go when you just can’t get the info… much less a follow up? Do clients even know what a redirect is? Or a Windows Live ID?

    • The first questionnaire is not optional. So my success rate is 100% – for people I end up working with. If they skip a couple less-important questions or questions to which I already know the answers, fine. But if they’re not willing to take 15 minutes for the sake of making sure the guy they want to help can help, then I won’t work with them.

      • Thanks Phil. Out of curiosity, what percent of all that you send complete 100% (or close to)? Not to be contrary, but turning down business is a luxury. The fact is that most businesses don’t, can’t or won’t provide the info. But they do need help. They will pay for it. It just means more legwork for us. Even with minimum details most of us can outperform the reach locals. Perhaps there is another post here for you about how to get the info you can’t get easily?

        • True enough, Jason. But my clients need to take a few minutes – and I do mean a few – to help me help them.

          If they skip a question that I think isn’t important in their case, fine. No biggie.

          But if it’s a question that experience has told me matters quite a bit, it needs to be answered or everyone will end up frustrated (at best).

          Turning down business isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity if you can’t help someone. You and they need to determine sooner rather than later if that’s the case.

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