3-Stage Checklist for Onboarding New SEO Clients
June 17, 2020 | By:

3-Stage Checklist for Onboarding New SEO Clients

As more businesses shift their focus on going digital and adjusting to the “new normal,” SEO has never been more relevant than it is today. Businesses are vying for a spot on the first page of search engine result pages (SERPs), and a solid SEO strategy is key.

Digital marketing agencies and freelance SEO professionals alike can expect a surge in new SEO clients—and it’s important to establish an onboarding process to ensure a successful business partnership.

Here’s a simple 3-stage checklist that you can use as a guide when onboarding new SEO clients:

1. Preliminary Stage
Gather preliminary information

Before everything else, it’s important to get to know your client first. Gather preliminary information such as the following:

  • Unique value proposition—what makes the business distinguishable from the competition
  • Overall short- and long-term business goals
  • SEO marketing budget
  • Target audience 
  • Target geography (i.e., business locations)
  • Competitors
  • Existing marketing objectives, plans, and tools
  • Current SEO goals (i.e., what they wish to achieve from this new partnership)
  • Client’s point of contact
Assign internal project roles

The next step is to assign and outline roles/responsibilities within your organization. This depends on the size of your agency, but feel free to skip this part if you are a sole freelance SEO professional. You may need to assign:

  • Project/account manager – The point of contact when communicating between you and your SEO client.
  • SEO strategist – The one to lead the project.
  • Creative specialists – This may involve graphic designers, video editors, and/or copywriters. You can skip this part if you’re not offering full-service digital marketing.
Set up kickoff meeting

Set a kickoff meeting/call to officially welcome the new client and to introduce team members involved in the project. It also helps in getting your client and your team to be on the same page. 

Discuss also what the next steps are to give clear expectations to the client:

  • Assessment stage deliverables and goals 
  • Planning stage deliverables and goals 
  • Implementation and evaluation stage expectations
2. Assessment Stage
Acquire assessment deliverables

During the assessment stage, it’s important to assess the current SEO health of a client’s website/s in order to gauge what needs to be done moving forward. 

At the very least, ask your client for access to the following:

  • List of domain/s owned
  • Access to content management system/s used
  • Access to Google Search Console
  • Access to Google Analytics
  • Access to Bing Webmaster Tools
Execute an SEO audit

A complete SEO audit can give you more detailed insights on what can be improved on a client’s website.

  • Run a site crawl Screaming Frog is an excellent premium tool you can use to check for technical SEO errors.
  • Check for canonical tags URLs – Check whether all versions of the website (http, https, www, and non-www) point to only one version when searched. You can use Google Search Console to check and assign canonical tags.
  • Check for indexation errors – You can use Google Search Console for this. Pay close attention noindex and 404 errors (i.e., broken links) as well.
  • Check current SEO ranking status Ranktracker is a good tool to check how well a website is ranking for specific keywords.
  • Check usability and mobile-friendliness – A number of Google tools can be used for this: Google PageSpeed Insights, Search Console, and Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Check key on-page SEO elements – At the very least, check the meta title, meta description, heading tags, robots.txt, sitemap, internal links, and duplicate content.
  • Check structured data – If available, check for any errors using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Execute competitor analysis

It’s also essential to see how and what other similar businesses are doing. To analyze your client’s competitors:

  • Identify top competitors – Know who the top 3 to 5 competitors are via your client’s list or in organic SERPs
  • Check competitors’ overall SEO health and target keywords – Some useful tools you can use are SpyFu and Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix.
3. Planning Stage

Critical to the planning stage is to take note of key issues identified during the audit:

  • Identify issues to fix during the SEO audit
  • Identify opportunities during the assessment stage—note strengths and weaknesses

Afterwards, it’s time to delve into the planning stage:

  • Define goals and outline the strategy
  • Set schedules for communication/meetings, target milestones, and turnaround times
Wrapping It Up

Once the planning stage is done, implementation and continuous evaluation follow. 

The onboarding checklist outlined here may not be comprehensive, but it provides a good starting point for you to follow in order to establish a good working foundation with your new SEO client.

Need help with SEO?

SEO marketing is an ongoing process that requires careful strategy and technical know-how. If you need to dedicate your time to focus on core business functions, or if you need a hand with any of your SEO needs, we’re here to help.

Give us a call at 888-420-5115, or send us an email at [email protected].

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