How many SEO clients can you successfully work with each month?
In this article, we’ll go all-in on effective methods designed to reach and find SEO clients.
We’ll be sharing five researched-backed customer acquisition strategies to increase your sales and grow revenue by expanding your customer base.
If you think that the internet is already saturated with digital marketers and SEO agencies and that it is quite difficult to acquire new SEO clients, here is the good news.
There are more than 300 Million active websites on the internet and this number is increasing daily, according to Internet Live Stats. New companies are entering the online space all the time, needing to use a digital form of marketing.
So you have a lot of opportunities to find the right SEO clients.
That being said, here are 5 ways to find SEO clients:
SEO & Content Marketing for Leads
One of the best ways to get SEO clients is through SEO and content marketing. As an SEO professional, you already know the value of a search-optimized website with engaging and optimized content. If you’re sure your SEO practices generate results, then prove it with your business website to attract SEO clients.
People believe that the SEO industry is too competitive to even try to rank their agency’s website—and they eliminate that option from the start.
It is well known that marketing agencies do the worst marketing for their own business.
However, it is important to take one huge benefit of content marketing and inbound leads into account—clients are coming to you.
You want to be perceived as an authority in your field and earn respect from clients, and you will achieve that best through your own content that ranks well on search engine results pages.
That is very important because you want cooperative clients that want you and your exact process. It is hard to implement an SEO campaign on a project if a client is in your inbox every other day, checking in on the ranking progress and asking why there’s no traction on their end.
But picture this—if someone comes to your website, reads useful advice on SEO on your blog and realizes that your content educated them on things they didn’t know before—you have a perfect way of demonstrating your SEO knowledge.
That person will not only convert to a lead but if they become a client, you will have a great cooperation with them.
Content marketing is powerful because it allows service businesses and knowledge workers to demonstrate their expertise.
Software companies have free trials, car shops have a showroom, real estate agents will show you the house you are interested in, and service businesses have content.
Therefore, you should write helpful, educational content about what you do.
After that, you need to make sure that content ranks on search engines so you can continually get passive traffic. That’s not as easy to achieve, because the competition in the SEO niche is fierce.
But there is one hack that many don’t use although it’s very powerful— pick one niche and position yourself as an expert in that area.
The Power of Focus & Specialization
Sticking to just one niche might ignite your fear of missing out (FOMO), and you might think that specialization will eliminate too many of other potential clients.
Fear not, because specializing in a certain niche will help you go deeper, learn everything inside out and nail your content as well as your whole sales process.
Even if you specialize just for marketing’s sake, you will be better in all aspects of your sales funnel. Ranking your educational content works great if you have a niche because you will create content targeted to that niche.
Niche specialization will benefit you in the following ways
- You will have more authority
- It will send signals to your prospects that you are serious
- It will show that you understand the industry landscape
- If you worked with other clients in that niche, it will create the circle of trust
An added benefit of choosing one niche to specialize in is less competition. Additionally, you will be able to cover many of the topics and keywords from top of the funnel that will bring you target traffic early in the buying cycle.
Think about this: ranking for the term “seo agency” is super hard.
Your competitors are the most established agencies that have been working on their business and marketing for a decade or more. They just have too much of a head start.
Conversely, ranking for a keyword “ecommerce seo agency” is much easier.
If you further narrow your focus, it gets even easier.
For example, the keyword “wp ecommerce SEO” has a solid search volume and it’s even easier to rank for.
Write one long-form article on WordPress eCommerce SEO, build 5-10 backlinks to that post and expect a lot of good things to happen.
First, you will rank on Google’s top 10 results, which will bring you relevant traffic. Second, you will educate your visitors, and the reader will consider you as an authority. Through your content, you have pre-sold them your offering. Now you just need to subtly embed a call to action and voilà!
Of course, the story doesn’t end with one winning article.
Now that you have chosen your niche, you need to figure out the problems your potential customers have. Try to find marketing and sales topics that you could cover on your blog that are relevant and adapted to your target industry.
Let’s assume you opted for eCommerce.
Think about the problems that eCommerce sites have and write useful posts about that. That way you’ll show your target audience you understand them and their pain points.
Isn’t that what we all want—to be understood?
To succeed with this strategy, one thing is essential— your content really needs to be great.
Aim to write a long-form piece that is at least 3,000 words long, and put a lot of effort in its creation. Put some work into writing, editing, and improving. Enrich it with a lot of screenshots and real-life examples because that will increase your content’s value.
Not only does the content require excellence in order to achieve desired rankings, but it needs to be top-notch if you want to get any backlinks to it.
More importantly, it needs to be great so it convinces the reader that you are the subject matter expert so that they turn into leads, and eventually, paying clients.
Actionable content sends the message that you understand the matter.
When it comes to publishing frequency, rather publish less often but make your content of higher quality. You can invest weeks or even months into one pillar content piece because that way you will be able to reach the level of quality that persuades better than a hundred superficial articles.
So, it’s better to create fewer articles that are top quality. Your conversions will skyrocket and your leads will be much better.
Some content has the ability to rank well even without any SEO efforts. But if you want to work strategically and promote a certain page to the top-performing pages, you need to promote it.
Guest blogging is a powerful way to promote your content. Writing blog posts for others allows you to gain exposure in your industry, establish your brand or business, and generate more qualified leads to your business.
It can bring backlinks to your website and/or target blog pages you wish to rank, it will help you build relationships with other business owners, and you get the chance to showcase your expertise in front of new audiences.
In a research by SEMrush, guest blogging can boost your ROI by as much as 24%.
Interestingly, Leo Widrich from Buffer picked guest posting as a marketing channel which propelled the Buffer app into hypergrowth.
Aside from guest posting, blog commenting can also be an effective lead generator if done right.
This strategy will not always bring you do-followed backlinks, but it takes less time than guest blogging, and it still lets you flaunt your knowledge.
The benefits of blog commenting are:
- you can skip blogger outreach and pitching topics
- you don’t have to write articles and follow style guides
- there is less “entry barrier” with this strategy
- you can do more of it in a shorter period of time
- sharing your experience and expertise via comments also makes you more visible
For instance, one content writer generated roughly 2,200 visits to his website by just placing comments on other people’s blogs and linking back to his blog post.
However, to benefit from this strategy, you need to find relevant and authoritative blogs to leave your comments on.
Your comments should be long enough to be valuable, and the content you are pointing out to must be of high quality and engaging enough to attract lots of traffic.
You cannot seem spammy or self-promotional. However, you can point to your own content for “more information” naturally, if you already share enough useful tips with your comment.
Cold Email Outreach
Just like email marketing involves sending emails to leads to nurture them, cold email outreach involves sending personalized emails to prospects that you’ve had no prior relationship or connection with.
Cold emails can be scary and difficult, but you can form valuable relationships with cold emails.
And relationship building is what gets you clients. If you manage to build trust and establish a warm relationship with your prospect, they will become your lead, or at least your referee.
No matter how busy the recipient is, with the right subject line, it’s not hard to convince a busy executive to click and open your email, based on a cold email experiment conducted by Shane Snow.
Cold email outreach is similar to cold calling but is less obtrusive. Here are steps to take to achieve successful cold email campaigns.
Identify your prospective SEO clients
First, you need a list of prospective clients you want to target and build an email list on it.
Depending on your specialization, you’d want to select the best role to reach out to. Targeting owners or marketing managers (CMOs) of top companies with large revenue may be difficult but if you segment your list of clients it will be easier to pinpoint your target contacts.
Segment your prospects based on some of the following criteria:
- business size (number of offices, number of employees,
- annual revenue
You can prospect for potential SEO clients manually, or you can buy premade lists from a platform that has already done the segmenting for you.
Platforms to search for companies that fit your buyer profile include LinkedIn Search Navigator, Crunchbase, Leadiro, D7 Lead Finder, etc.
Now that you have identified your prospective client, you need to organize a list containing your prospects’ names and email addresses.
Build Your List of Prospects
You will again need the help of some cold email software to organize and streamline your list of prospects.
Usually, they all work the same—you first build your list using a spreadsheet, then you import it as a CSV file to the software.
Here’s an excerpt of how that spreadsheet could look like.
In the example above, the leads were taken from Capterra. You’ll notice you need separate columns for each prospect with specifics like:
- first name
- last name
- position, etc.
Basically, you need to adapt the fields to your outreach software. Most of them have options for one or more custom fields, so you will be able to further segment your list.
Once ready, save this list as a CSV file and upload it to your cold email software.
Set Up Your Campaign
The moment your contact list has been imported into the cold email software, you know it’s time to start setting up your campaign.
First, you’ll define the sequence of emails that you want to send.
Based on experience, a popular email campaign structure should look like this:
- Initial outreach
- First follow-up email (3 days later)
- Second follow-up email (5 days later)
- Breakup email (7 days later)
Therefore, an ideal outreach campaign should include at most four emails sent over a 15-day time span.
Craft The Right Message
After setting up your cold email outreach campaign, the next step is crafting the right message. Start your message with a great subject line, followed by a compelling message (Intro, Brief pitch, Call to action).
You don’t have to use fancy email templates and designs, a simple but useful email will work better and you are sure it will show well on all devices.
With these steps, you’re good to go with your cold email outreach campaign.
However, there are a few things you should do to differentiate your cold emails from spam.
Always include your business address and website address
You can either use your physical address or PO Box, but make sure you include your address. It is also ideal to include your website address and make it clickable.
Adding your business address proves you are a real authentic business, establishes trust, and your website provides quick access to the SEO leads who want to have a quick look at your online presence.
Avoid misleading subject lines
Click baits and misleading subject lines are a bad idea. They do more harm than good by tarnishing your business image. If you seem spammy, you could get your email account blocked.
Imagine using the subject line “Your Receipt” when you’re pitching your products or services. This is misleading and would harm your trust. Hence, your email subject line must be real.
Don’t misrepresent who you are
Just because you want to win the heart of your prospects and convince them to buy from you doesn’t mean you should misrepresent yourself. Let your “From” and “Reply-To” field identify who you are.
There is always a possibility that you’ll email a wrong person or a business that’s already loyal to another SEO agency.
If they don’t want any future emails and request for an opt-out, make sure that you honor the opt-outs – don’t send them any more emails. You don’t even need to respond to their request, just make sure you pause your sequence so they don’t receive any more follow-up emails.
Also, be proactive by providing an option to opt-out: Using the “unsubscribe” link might not be the best way to do it.
Instead of using the “unsubscribe” link, simply ask them, “Kindly let me know if you’re not the right person to contact for this.” This is a better way to keep things personal.
Before doing any outreach, make sure you follow local legal regulations and that you follow CAN-SPAM act, GDPR and other privacy regulations
Finally, know what others send on your behalf. If you need to hire another agency to handle your email outreach, note that you’re still legally responsible for all emails sent – since they are sent on your behalf.
So, make sure you work closely with anyone sending the emails on your behalf and ensure that they understand all the rules listed above and they send the sequence and templates as instructed.
More so, you need to be able to measure and test your email outreach campaign. Once you’re armed with the right CRM with email tracking, you can track the percentage of messages the recipient engaged with and opened, the links that were clicked, and which emails were replied.
Another way SEO professionals can find SEO clients is through utilizing job boards and freelancing websites.
Upwork is one of the best and most popular freelancing websites to do that.
However, there are many other alternatives with similar opportunities.
- Credo (specializes in SEO and digital marketing).
Freelancing platforms provide an avenue for marketers to find new SEO clients. Using freelancing platforms takes away the confusion associated with “where to start?”
In minutes, you can register to create a profile on Upwork. Remember to define your ideal customer profile (ICP). Also, be clear about the jobs you want to apply to and those you don’t want to apply to.
And once your account is set up, you can create an amazing portfolio to display your work, showcase your skills by taking online tests, and bid for available jobs.
The first step is to market yourself and promote your services.
Build an impressive portfolio that showcases your skills and achievements (this may include your content on your website or other websites).
You can always include your portfolio page in your messages to potential SEO clients.
However, you’ve got to specialize in a particular field or industry.
You can do SEO for lawyers, SEO for WordPress, SEO for eCommerce—choose the niche where your methods bring most results.
If you don’t have any reviews or testimonials yet, or a portfolio to showcase, take up a couple of jobs at lower rates where you are confident you can achieve results without spending too much of your resources.
This may be your starting point, where you can show your great skills and readiness to work, build a name for yourself in a target niche, and start developing a strong portfolio and get a few testimonials.
Testimonials build trust—which is the path to finding high-paying clients.
Digital networking can have a huge impact on your quest for new SEO clients. If you can take on new clients, that means your work capacities aren’t full and you can invest the extra time you have to network and close new deals.
Networking offers a great opportunity for SEO providers to get to know other individuals or companies who may require SEO services or recommend you to SEO clients they know.
Facebook groups, Slack channels, LinkedIn, Freelancers Union, etc. are some of the best and notable networking platforms.
Contributing Actively On Social Media Channels and Forums
You will not be the first person to find SEO clients by posting content actively on social media channels and forums, especially the Q&A forums.
Aires Loutsaris, a UK SEO provider, got over 90% of his clients through participation in Google Product Forums and Yahoo! Answers.
Here are a few platforms to consider
- Google Product Forums
- Yahoo! Answers
These sites contain plenty of articles, which provide useful answers, information, and knowledge to the users. You can take advantage of these platforms to tell how your SEO tactics can solve common SEO problems.
The Warrior Forum is another great place, as it is the largest and one of the best forums to consider networking on. The forum is full of advice from SEO experts and SEO clients looking for help and tips.
Simply type “SEO” into their search engine, browse through the search results, choose relevant and interesting discussions where your potential SEO clients hang out and place your contribution.
Sometimes, the answers and comments on these platforms may be vague, general, and awful.
All you have to do is provide a valuable, insightful point of view to set yourself apart.
The Facebook group “Marketing Solved ” is a useful resource for SEO providers that are hunting for SEO clients, especially when they don’t have a firm grasp of complex marketing concepts and technologies.
On the Marketing Solved group platform, you’d have access to advice and instructions provided by renowned SEO providers. You can become an active contributor and demonstrate your skills, knowledge, and authority on the subject.
These platforms make it easy for you to connect with other SEO service providers and get real-time information on the type of job they do.
It becomes easier to establish rapport with larger and busier freelance SEO and marketing professionals, who might need your help later. And you would be able to connect with business managers who need SEO services for their business websites.
This is also where specialization is critical.
If you find other SEO experts who are specialized at certain types of clients, you can exchange the leads and not compete between yourselves for the same clients.
Your best bet for networking are communities about SEO, marketing and your niche. For example, if you specialize in eCommerce, join Facebook groups about eCommerce topics and join the conversation.
While Facebook is a general social platform, LinkedIn is specially designed for business professionals. Nevertheless, you can join dedicated groups on both platforms to network with fellow professionals and prospective SEO clients.
You can even create your own group on Facebook or LinkedIn, which you can remarket to potential SEO clients you have interacted with in the past. This will also help you to gain some organic subscribers through Facebook or LinkedIn search.
Just ensure that you name your group something easy and relevant, so people can find it when they are searching for SEO providers on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Whatever platform you opt to, actively participate in the thread or start a useful discussion to get the conversation going. You’ll create opportunities that will land you new clients.
And soon, you would be identified as an authority in the group and people will be drawn to you.
Then, you can mention your skills and services in a non-promotional or non-spammy way and pull prospects further down your sales funnel.
In most communities, moderate self-promotion is allowed if you are providing a ton of value, so make sure your comments are valuable to readers.
Leverage Referrals and Affiliate Program
People love reading referral recommendations—they help them form the opinion on a service or a product. And about 84% of them start their buying process exactly with that.
Sometimes one happy client that you have a good relationship with is all it takes.
Ask that client if they could write a short testimonial about your service or recommend you to someone that might need your service.
Though this process often occurs organically, you can incentivize it by offering referral fees, freebies, or discounts to any existing clients who refer you to a new person or business.
For example, you can inform existing clients that you’re willing to offer them a certain referral discount (maybe 5% or 10%) for any full-priced clients they refer to you. Or, if you can, offer a free month of SEO.
This will entice them even more to keep sending referrals your way.
If your clients are B2B, they might recommend you to their associates, suppliers, etc. If you’re targeting local SEO clients, make sure you have a solid local SEO reseller by your side.
There’s no need to set up complicated affiliate programs with ongoing commissions to attract new SEO clients.
It could be as simple as offering your satisfied clients a discount for mentioning your SEO services to other businesses that might be in need of SEO—either way, you’re winning.
Now you’ve got some great ideas to get you started.
Finding new SEO clients may seem daunting but it’s doable. The truth is that you have to select one strategy not to spread yourself too thin and go all-in.
Whatever you choose, the secret to winning new SEO clients is by demonstrating your value and expertise and actively promoting yourself.
Remember not to focus only on people you feel need SEO services.
Think beyond that circle.
Extend your reach to less marketing-savvy groups, and help them understand the value of adopting SEO for their business.
By doing this, you’ll help them to understand the importance of SEO, see the value and skill in you, and more importantly, end up hiring you.