Why is it so important anyway?
The SEO kick off meeting or conference call is often the very first occasion when you or your team members have the chance to meet the client on a more personal, less formal way.
It is very important to organise the meeting but it’s even more important to be prepared for it. After all, you want to make a good first impression, don’t you? Think how people tend to make up their mind about another person in first 2 minutes of the conversation. Then imagine how the client feels about this meeting. Clients are usually very excited to get started and are willing to give you all you need.
Step 1: Know your audience
Before you even start compiling questions, you have to know what your audience is. Are you talking to internal SEO Manager, webmaster, developer, CEO, marketing director?
The key here is to have all the questions as if you were talking to the SEO Manager only, but ask only those that are interesting to the current audience. If you’re in a room with many people from the client side, keep the meeting brief. Don’t bore them with “We need analytics and webmaster tools access” as you’ll lose their attention straight away.
Have some general info and questions in regards to main points of contact, timelines, etc. and make sure that everyone knows you’ll be circulating more detailed questions to relevant people afterwards.
Step 2: What to ask and discuss?
Discuss the SEO delivery process
On-page, off-page and all that. I’m sure you’ve done that many times so let’s press on.
Here you can ask for things like old SEO and PPC strategy documents, reports, keywords. This is also a good opportunity to hear client’s attitude towards previous SEO company – learn from that. This is also where you can ask for analytics and other access details you’ll need. Just remember that not everyone in the room might be interested in this. Ask yourself: “Do I need all these people to get that answer?”. I’d also recommend asking the client if there are any particular keywords or products they want to focus on more than others. That will help when you get to your KWA and first quick wins recommendations.
Unless you already know this, it’s useful to ask the client who will be your main point of contact for different queries, e.g. day to day queries, strategy and channel integration, reporting, recommendations, technical issues, off-page SEO, social and bloggers, online PR, PPC and so on. I’m sure you get those emails where you’re asked to copy this and don’t copy that person in an email. This is a waste of your and clients time so get rid of it by asking the right question at the beginning.
Content and copywriting
This is actually part of the previous section but since online PR and content generally is a crucial ingredient of any successful on-page and off-page SEO campaign, and so it deserves better. There are really two main questions to ask here. Firstly, you need to know whether copywriting is done internally or externally. Once you know that, it might be useful to know how long is the turnaround time for getting the optimised content approved.
Ok, this is a no-brainer. The SEO kick off meeting is the best time to ask who their competitors are. Make sure you explain that you know who their Google competitors are but would be interesting to know who their “real” life and off-line competitors are too. This will help tremendously throughout your campaign – from the initial keyword research to building landing pages and link building further down the line.
CMS and SEO
Before you start any SEO recommendations, make sure you understand capabilities of client website’s Content Management System (CMS). You won’t look too clever if it turns out that the work you’ve done can’t be actually implemented.
If relevant, ask what was done in the past in regards to the link building. Are there any potential issues (spamming, etc.) and opportunities (no keyword focus in the past).
Ask the client how often they would like to get the report and, at the same time, suggest what you think is best. Then reconfirm who should be getting those. You can also ask how granular the report should be, but be careful with this as you can get a lot more admin work for your team by doing so.
Finally, check when all the review meetings should take place and suggest the most efficient way of doing that.
Step 3: Present the timeline and put deadlines in place
Make sure everyone understands what they need to do and when they need to do this by. Tell the client when they can expect the first batch of quick wins SEO recommendations, when is the next catch up call or meeting. Use this section as an way to build the connection with the client and make sure they know you’ll be on the case every day and night. Make them feel important and then deliver on your promises.
Step 4: Next Steps
Finally, ensure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do after leaving the meeting. Follow it up with the summary, actions and more detailed questions if needed.