How to Hire an SEO Client

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No, you didn’t read that wrong.

This post is going to describe how to go about hiring the perfect SEO Client.

There are some common misconceptions about how SEO consultants work and where their value lies. This article will show how the SEO is thinking about you, the client.

Perhaps it will lead to a better understanding of what SEOs can do to increase your business online and what you need to understand before hiring an SEO for yourself.

But first, a nice graphic to explain the value proposition we are talking about:

organic vs paid search


This graph kind of tells the story but it’s probably a bit convoluted for the uninitiated. Just think about it like this:

SEO is expensive but imagine how expensive not getting new customers can be.

You need to realize that SEO is a process which takes at minimum six months to achieve any meaningful results.

Most clients have specific ideas in mind about how long it should take. There are some SEOs who will promise instant results. They are either lying or practicing risky blackhat techniques, buyer beware!

Consider the following tips and ask yourself, is the SEO you are speaking to now thinking with these ideas in mind when they perform triage on your online business?

Helpful Tips for Hiring an SEO Client

  1. Don’t give more than necessary for free. This weeds out the tire kickers and allows you to devote more time to those who are serious about growing their business online.
  2. In the initial consultation provide clear examples demonstrating where their top 2 competitors are kicking their asses.
  3. At the outset, it’s ok to Charge for valuable services. Even if they are not at your full capabilities they are important to establish trust and value to a prospective client. Don’t let them walk over you with their promises of further business down the line. A roadmap for their business is worth as much as any link you build or any 404 you fix.

Important interview questions to Hiring an SEO Client

1.What is your budget for this project?

Often times clients have no idea what they are willing to spend. Require at least this much reflection before proceeding with them. If they want to start by negotiating rather than discussing their needs, it might be a warning sign that they are not ready yet to work with an SEO consultant.

2. When are you ready to start this project?

This will create a sense of purpose for both you and the prospective client. When is this going to happen and how long will it take? Only good things can come from asking this.

3. Are you the one who decides about these types of things at your company?

Obviously, if you are speaking to the owner, it’s the wrong question to ask. Maybe, “Is there anyone else involved in deciding how to hire an SEO consultant?” You’ll get a sense if they are fully committed to hiring someone or looking to pass the buck in order to give a polite, “No” to your offer.

4. What is the lifetime value of a new customer?

Some clients might find this a too direct question and will be taken aback but a serious client who understands your value will see it as an opportunity to imagine how much more they can make if they had more customers on their website. Watch their behavior for the answer here, this is a key to determining who is an ideal long-term partner.

5. Why do they buy from you and not your competitors?

Perhaps a bit antagonistic but clients will need to understand the value proposition in their own business if you are going to be able to leverage their strengths and lessen the exposure of their weaknesses in searcher intent.

Other questions to bring to the table when interviewing your prospective client include:

  • What do they buy next?
  • What is the value difference between an organic search lead and an email marketing lead?
  • Who is growing faster than you?

The obvious follow up to any of these questions is “why?”¬†

With this mindset going into any meeting with a new client will demonstrate your professionalism and probably grant them unexpected value by exploring the most difficult questions in their business. They might not hire you but they will leave the meeting all the richer for it.

Don’t underestimate your value and make sure you are seeking the best SEO client for YOUR business. The highest paying isn’t always the best opportunity for your SEO business to grow.


2 thoughts on “How to Hire an SEO Client”

  1. Well done. Your article definitely addresses concerns a lot of new consultants face. I tend to believe that its better to qualify potential partners upfront than to have them disqualify themselves after you’ve started working together.

    • Completely agree. I wrote this a bit tongue in cheek but it’s important that clients are vetted properly. Any decent SEO will make an effort to communicate what can and can’t be achieved with the budget both sides have agreed to in advance. Having said that, it’s important to realize that results should be optimized. If something isn’t working, it needs to be refined until the desired results are seen.


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