What Do SEO Companies Look For In Prospective Clients

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I turn away 9 out of 10 leads that we receive. 


Because we’re not a good fit. 

Prospective clients sometimes take offense to receiving a rejection from us before an introductory call. So, I decided to write this blog post to explain what SEO companies look for in prospective clients. 

And more importantly, what wouldn’t make your business a great fit for SEO services. 

Here’s the short version of the criteria an SEO company looks for in a prospective client:

  • Company Stage of Growth
  • Needs (SEO?)
  • Positive ROI
  • Industry Eye Test
  • Domain Rating

Bonus Criteria:

  • Do we believe in the company?
  • Can we have fun doing the work?
  • Will we do a better job than anyone else?

Company Stage of Growth

We’re not a great partner for businesses that are in the launch or startup phase. 

Instead, we are better suited to assist companies as they enter their ramp-up, growth, and maturity phases. 

The reason? Markitors specializes in SEO. SEO is a long-term investment. Startups change course too often. Every pivot in strategy makes an SEO initiative less effective.

For example, at one point we worked with a startup who decided they would specialize in non profit staffing. 

So, we focused our SEO efforts on helping the startup rank for all keywords related to non profit staffing. 

After a few months, the startup decided they would specialize in technology staffing services. Leads from nonprofit organizations began to trickle in from our prior efforts, and our startup client was getting upset. 

“This isn’t what we want! We want leads in technology, not nonprofit!” 

Three months later the startup pivoted again to focus on executive search. The cycle repeated itself, which was frustrating for both of our teams. 

SEO takes 4-12 months to see an impact. In order to be a good fit for Markitors, a company needs to be in a ramp-up stage of growth where they are crystal clear on their vision. 

This clarity clears the runway for an SEO initiative to succeed. 

So, startup companies just aren’t a great fit for an SEO company like ours. 


Markitors started as a digital marketing company, and we still rank really well online for keywords around our Email, PPC, and Social Media management services

These rankings occasionally connect us with companies who are looking for a service that is outside of our scope.

“We’re looking for someone to manage our email campaigns.” 

“We need an agency to oversee our paid advertising initiatives.” 

“We’re looking to run an influencer campaign and need a firm to connect us with influencers.” 

These are comments we hear from prospective clients daily. And unfortunately, we decided to stop offering these services in order to focus on what we do best: SEO.

Positive ROI

Success in our business is winning together with our clients. 

Our clients need to produce a positive return on investment for us to enjoy our relationship. Our company needs to have a positive ROI as well. 

With return on investment in mind, sometimes it is not advantageous for a company to invest in an SEO initiative. 

Before initiating an introductory call we will estimate search engine traffic and SEO ROI for a prospective client. This process includes keyword research, competitor analysis, and the calculation of expected revenue generated through SEO.

If the math doesn’t add up, we’ll pass. 

There are a few reasons why the math doesn’t add up. 

  • Keywords are too competitive (meaning our client will never rank)
  • Search volume isn’t high enough (meaning there won’t be enough traffic to generate positive revenue)
  • Cost Per Click is low (meaning that an investment in PPC may produce a better ROI than SEO)

All of these reasons give us incredible insight as to whether an SEO initiative will be favorable for both of our companies. We don’t want winning to be one-sided, because then everyone loses. 

Industry Eye Test

There are some industries we just won’t work in. 

Either the industry has too much regulation, too much competition (sometimes driven by hype), or goes against our core values

So, companies offering weight loss pills, adult entertainment, CBD, or anything that needs regulatory approval usually isn’t a great fit for us. 

Every inbound lead gets put through an eye test with us. We will visit the website. Using Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink theory, we will see how we feel about the site, the company, and the products. 

If the site doesn’t pass the eye test, we most likely won’t be able to get our team excited to work on the project. Without excitement, the work won’t be exceptional. And we often need exceptional work to succeed in a highly competitive environment. 

Domain Rating

I mentioned that SEO takes time (4-12 months according to Google). 

Companies with high domain ratings help expedite that timeline. 

Domain Rating (DR) shows the relative “backlink popularity” of the target website on a 100-point logarithmic scale. The higher the domain rating, the stronger the website. 

We calculate DR using a couple SEO tools, including Ahrefs and Majestic. Any website with a domain rating lower than “10” means that SEO will likely take too long to rank well in search rankings.

So, rather than “plead for patience” with our client, we likely will not enter into the engagement in the first place because the journey won’t produce results quickly enough. 

We Believe 

All the criteria aside, we have to believe in a client’s business. 

We are investing our time, energy, and effort. If we wouldn’t invest our own money into the client business, then we probably shouldn’t invest our time either. 

Have a Good Time Doing It

Our mission statement is “Connect small businesses with customers…and have a good time doing it.” 

If we don’t anticipate having a good time working with a client, then we wouldn’t stay true to our mission statement. 

Can we do a better job than anyone else?

Gut check time. Given all of the client criteria, do we believe in ourselves? 

If we can’t confidently look our team members in the eye and believe we’re the best fit, then there’s no way we would look a client in the eye and ask them to give us their money for our service. 

What next?

If you’re reading this, you probably received a link to this post in a “Sorry, we’re not the best fit for you” type of email. 

Just know that it’s not personal. We truly want to be the best for our clients. If all of these elements don’t align, then we believe there is a better fit out there for your business. 

Still disagree with our judgement? Have an issue with any of the criteria. Please, contact us and let’s continue the conversation. 

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