You've done your homework and hired a new SEO provider to help you gain more targeted visitors to your website. Congratulations! But don't get too excited yet, as the real work is just beginning. Before your consultant ever does any work, they're going to need to get up to speed about your business and your website.
Here are some of the things you should be prepared to provide them with and why.
1. Access to your website analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT) account.
It's critical that your SEO consultant receives access to your web analytics, because they are the key to measuring your current level of SEO success as well your future SEO success. And your GWMT account can point out any serious issues happening with your website that they need to be aware of before embarking on their project.
2. The purpose of your website and your target market.
Your SEO consultant needs to know who the people are that are buying your products or services because the SEO work they'll be doing hinges upon this information. Things like researching keywords, content writing, and social media marketing will all vary slightly depending on whom your target audience is, so be sure to provide as much information about them as you can.
3. Who your competitors are.
You'll need to provide those companies that compete with you in the search results for your targeted keyword phrases, as well as those who compete with you offline. Your SEO consultant will want to look at the competitor websites to see how they're set up and whether they seem to have done much in the way of SEO or not, as well as some additional competitor analysis to learn which keywords bring them the most traffic.
4. Additional websites and/or domains that you have.
Your SEO consultant needs to know if there are any duplicate content issues that could be hindering your progress. They also need to know if you're using a multiple-domain strategy for SEO so they can determine whether they should consolidate the domains, or continue with multiple websites.
5. Information on any previous SEO work that you've had done.
Whether you've never done any SEO or you've been doing it for years, it's important for your SEO consultant to know either way. While you may not be proud of it, it's even more important for them to know if you or someone you've hired has done any potentially "shady" SEO in the past. There may be some quick fixes your new SEO can do to mitigate any of the bad stuff, but they have to know it exists in the first place.
6. Your unique selling proposition (USP).
You'll need to clearly articulate why your customers or clients come to you as opposed to all the other companies that offer the same or similar products and services. If you don't have a clear grasp of this, it's going to be very difficult for your SEO consultant to write the appropriate web page copy, among other things. In today's competitive marketplace and search results (especially since Google's Panda Update), it's critical to be able to differentiate your products and services from the rest. Even companies who have an excellent grasp of this don't always make it clear to the users of their website, which is something that your SEO consultant should help fix.
7. The various conversion points on your website.
While "making sales" is the most obvious conversion for most websites, your site is likely to also have other, smaller conversion points. Be sure to let your SEO Consultant know about conversions such as signing up for a newsletter, following you on social media, filling out your lead form, or calling you by phone. They'll need to set all of your conversion points up in your web analytics program to ensure proper tracking is taking place.
8. Your social media accounts (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google+).
SEO works in conjunction with social media these days. If you're not using it at all, your SEO consultant will determine whether or not you should be. If you are using it, they'll want to review what you're doing with it and make a plan for how to use it better.
While every SEO consulting company is different, most should ask you all of the above. It's likely you'll also be asked additional items depending on what your consultant specializes in, and the specific needs of your business and website. The important thing is for you to be totally honest with them, and provide them with as much information as possible, in order to have a truly successful SEO project.
As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.