12 questions to ask SEO platform vendors during the demo

When its demo time here are four things for stakeholders to keep in mind and a dozen questions to help you when talking to vendors.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) platforms are perhaps the most powerful strategy to drive traffic to your website. Once you have determined that enterprise SEO software makes sense for your business, spend time researching individual vendors and their capabilities.

Make sure that all potential internal users are on the demo call and pay attention to the following: 

  • How easy is the platform to use? 
  • Does the vendor seem to understand our business and our marketing needs? 
  • Are they showing us our “must-have” features? 
  • Is the reporting actionable? 

Other questions to ask: 

How do you calculate search volumes? Knowing how the system treats information types will impact how you ascribe value to certain keyword terms, make decisions about keyword and content choices and affect the ROI of your search marketing efforts. Find out from where raw data is extracted (i.e., analytics, log files, a proprietary tracking pixel). •

Can this system track millions of searches, visits, site pages, etc.? Knowing whether the platform is a true enterprise solution or a simple tool that may not scale for your business needs is crucial. Limits on the numbers of keyword rankings, pages or traffic tracked could impact your use of the system or significantly increase the cost.

Do you support international search? There are many nuances within international SEO that can mislead even the best SEOs. Find out if the numerator in the calculation of the platform’s average clicks per search or average search volume is normalized for global or local (in that market) search and whether search ranks are calculated from within the country or remotely. Does their tool make hreflang coding recommendations? Will it manage the page relationship and directional recommendations? The misapplication of international data could impact the ROI of your search marketing efforts. 

How do you track and report on SERP features? You will want to know if and where your site was listed on the results page. For example, did your listing appear in web results, in Top Stories, in a carousel or the video results? That location and reporting feedback helps to quantify strategic and tactical efforts, which is especially important given that these SERP features can drive substantial or more-targeted traffic. 


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Does your tool help customers understand what competitors do and derive actionable insights from that? What are the most important features the tool has for providing competitive research? Competitive intelligence is a standard feature for virtually all enterprise SEO platforms – but the scope and cost differ between vendors. Find out what level of data is provided about your competitors and vertical industry and make sure it fits your requirements. 

How robust and flexible are your reporting options? Different users have different reporting needs. Find out if reports can be customized and automatically delivered to different users and types of users, and whether data can be exported in CSV format. 

Where are the actionable reports? Enterprise tools have dashboards and generous amounts of data but it’s important to understand how (and which) reports can immediately benefit your business. A good sales team will understand your company’s objectives and KPIs and will have reports ready or be able to run them in real-time. This is data that can be handed over to the appropriate teams and promptly acted upon. 

What other meta-information does your system collect that may be made available via API? Being able to trace search traffic data from the front of the funnel all the way to sales data in a CRM or business intelligence (BI) system will help you to more accurately calculate ROI. 

Is there a workflow built in that allows us to coordinate the work of our marketing, content, web development and social media teams across the organization? SEO cannot operate in a silo. A true enterprise platform should provide built-in workflow management that includes task assignment, management and monitoring of completion rates across groups. 

What does the onboarding process entail and how long will it take? What are the training options (i.e., is it online only or will you send people to our location to train us on-site)? Be sure to find out what onboarding and support is included in pricing and what is an add-on. 

What kind of ongoing support and client engagement will your account team provide? How will you gauge our use or non-use of the platform’s features? One of the most common reasons a company transitions out of an enterprise platform is because they don’t use it enough. How do they propose you avoid tool fatigue and checkout for your organization? A vendor should be prepared to address this issue and specifically how the tool creatively engages users and gets them back into the environment. 

What new features are you considering? What are the long-term roadmap and launch dates? The SEO landscape is constantly changing with new features to further leverage digital assets rapidly coming out of Google and Bing. This is especially important as AI chat interfaces emerge as a key channel for customer engagement. Find out how quickly the vendor responds to the implementation of new SERP features and begins tracking them. It’s important to understand the level of innovation and the ability to add and track emerging technologies. Knowing a vendor’s new feature release date schedule and its ability to stick to committed timelines is also important. This helps establish long-term trust and an expectation with the vendor that it will always be on the cutting edge of SEO.

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SEO platforms: A snapshot

What is SEO? Search engine optimization encompasses a wide range of marketing activities, including content marketing, user experience strategy, technical analysis, and more, all with the goal of increasing the traffic websites receive from search engines.

What do the tools do? SEO platforms help marketers draw more insights from their work. They offer capabilities such as rank-checking, advanced keyword research, competitive intelligence, and backlink analysis. What’s more, enterprise-level platforms take these functions to new heights with extensive auditing and analysis of page performance, making it easier to find key areas needing improvement.

Why we care. SEO has remained one of the key foundations of digital marketing for years. Search drives roughly 50% of website traffic on average, according to a study on SimilarWeb data by Growth Badger. And while marketers have developed strategies to keep up, SEO’s growing complexity has made this a more complicated marketing discipline that companies cannot afford to ignore.

Dig deeper: What do SEO platforms do and how do they help marketers get found on search engines?


About the author

Pamela Parker
Staff
Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media's Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She's a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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