Knowing where to search for prospective clients and understanding how to pitch your SEO services, you'll be presented with opportunities to expand your client base and become a real big fish in your market
In 2019, it may seem the internet is already flooded with countless SEO agencies, and new quality clients are almost impossible to get. But the truth is, every day, a huge amount of new stores, brands and products move their operations online. In the US, e-commerce accounts for only 9% of sales. This means there are loads of new website and business owners entering the online space and waiting to be found by you.
Knowing where to search for these prospective clients and understanding how to pitch your SEO services, you'll be presented with opportunities to expand your client base and become a real big fish in your market.
Identifying a target audience is the core element of any promotional campaign. So it’s only logical to start hunting for new SEO clients with a firm understanding of who they are. Failing to identify your target audience means you’re at risk of going after wrong people, ultimately wasting time and effort, and missing out on some really good prospects. To make sure you're reaching out to the right people, you need to decide on the type of brands you want to pitch your SEO services to.
When it comes to big brands, they will most probably have a separate person who’s responsible for all SEO activities. As a rule, this person is a Digital Marketing Director, SEO Manager, Head of SEO, Marketing Director, Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, etc.
Speaking of SMEs (small to medium enterprises), the right person to reach out to will have a title like Founder, Co-Founder, CEO, Owner, Co-owner, Managing Director, etc. Identifying these individuals will ensure your pitch is being delivered to the correct decision maker.
After you’ve made up your mind about who you’re willing to target, let’s see how they can find your agency and what you can do to make them find you.
Obviously, the easiest way for customers to find whatever they are searching for is by searching online and SEO agencies are no exception. This means that one of the big things your customers will judge your website credibility on is where it is positioned in SERPs.
In fact, on Google, 20.5% of organic clicks go to the first search result, 13.32% go to the second, and 13.14% go to the third. Therefore, the best way to build your brand’s reputation to attract potential customers is to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. To do this, you need to rank in the top positions for the widest range of relevant search queries. Easier said than done, right?
It's worth remembering that SEO consulting is a very competitive niche, so ranking on number one position for "SEO agency New York" sort of queries can be tough. In this light, the best thing you can possibly do is think about how you can modify your content to make it stand out from the crowd.
You can conduct your own research or test the popularity of content created around trending topics, like the latest Google update, for instance. It can also be a good idea to create incredibly detailed articles and charts, as Backlinko does, in order to show people visiting your site that you know what you're talking about and have great advice to offer.
In 2019, guest blogging is still far from being dead and is a great way to funnel potential clients to your site and services. Additionally, by means of guest blogging, you can earn links and boost your visibility, as well as enhance your brand’s reputation.
I personally love this strategy and often write for Search Engine Journal , Search Engine Land, and a bunch of other resources. The fun fact is, although it’s clearly stated in my profile that we don’t offer any SEO services, I constantly get asked if I can help with SEO. Imagine how profitable it’ll be for those who do offer SEO services. So go ahead and find some SEO and business-related blogs to submit your content to.
Besides contributing to some SEO-oriented blogs, search for places your target audience gets information from and write there as well. For example, if you’re targeting e-commerce clients, you might have a better shot with your guest contributions on platforms like BigCommerce, Shopify, and GoDaddy.
SEO conferences and exhibitions
Knowing that the SEO industry mostly operates virtually, clients are still much easier to sign if they've seen you in person. Participating in SEO and business-related conferences and speaking at these events is a brilliant opportunity to promote your services to a relevant audience. Of course, it requires lots of preparation and investment, but this is how you can kill two birds with one stone - earn leads while also building your brand’s reputation and authority.
Yet another way your potential customers can find your business is through paid advertising. As I already mentioned, it can be pretty tough for a small SEO agency to occupy top positions in SERPs due to the industry’s high competitiveness. Therefore, an alternative way for you to gain traffic, visibility and clients is by running paid ads, especially at the early stage of promoting your services.
It's worth remembering that paid advertising gives good immediate results but when you stop using it, you'll probably experience a significant traffic drop in traffic, as well as a sales decline. This is why I wouldn’t recommend relying solely on paid ads. Instead, make them your plan B or even C, and work towards growing your organic rankings. The time and effort you put in it will pay off and have a long-term effect on your online presence.
As a matter of fact, people in need of SEO assistance tend to struggle with the same issues and questions and are likely to turn to some external websites to ask for SEO help. So here are some places for you to consider when searching for leads.
Needless to say, the best places to get potential clients from are SEO and business-related websites. Think of something like LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, forums like SEO Chat and UKBusinessForums, comments to YouTube videos, etc.
It quite often happens that website and business owners resort to these resources when facing some SEO issues, asking for advice or sharing their personal SEO experience. So the services you provide may come in quite handy as an answer to their questions - just make sure your comment provides value or contains a link to a relevant article on your blog, for instance.
To save you tons of time and effort searching for pages with such comments, you may utilize these Google search commands:
- 'site:example.com your keyword'
- 'site:example.com "your keyword"'
To make sure you only reply to the most recent comments, it’s a good idea to make Google show you search results for the past month. You just need to hit 'Tools' and select 'Past month' or 'Any time' to see the results for the date range of your choice.
Yet another way to find SEO leads is through platforms where they ask questions and share experiences.
With 300 million people using Quora, it’s one of the best platforms for promoting your SEO services, as well as building authority. The chances are extremely high that people you want to market are already there either asking some SEO-related questions or searching for the best SEO agencies in their locations.
To enter these SEO conversations, you can either run 'site:quora.com your keyword' searches or type in your topic into the search box.
After that, you can start giving SEO advice to those who need it while pitching your SEO services. If you write helpful and extensive answers, chances are high that they get high rankings and continue attracting new customers.
However, you need to remember that Quora has become really good at detecting spammers and a lot stricter about what posts get published - it won’t publish your answer if it contains too many links to your website. So, don’t be too promotional and focus on providing a comprehensive and helpful answer.
SEO Signals Lab.com
Participating in SEO-oriented Facebook communities is a great way to build brand authority and showcase your expertise. SEO Signals Lab.com is one of the most trustworthy SEO communities, which unites SEO practitioners who share their experience and help each other out.
The best strategy to stick to is to become an active participant and provide unique and immediate value to the community. I would advise against pitching your services there straight away - try to be useful and credible instead. Remember, the best form of promotion is an indirect one. This is how you can raise your authority within the community and chances are high that in the long-term, some of its members will DM you, asking for help or collaboration.
Over 100 million unique monthly visits make Reddit another gold mine when it comes to quality leads, although it’s a bit hectic compared to Quora. Basically, the algorithm behind it is similar to Quora’s - just type in the topic of your interest and join the discussion.
Unlike Quora, Reddit allows publishing posts - you can submit either text or link posts. The second option is perfect for those who want to improve traffic to a website. However, I would definitely suggest going for text posts because it’ll boost your credibility and show that you’re not just here not to just earn a link. So after you submit an article on "How to perform a website audit" sort of topic, for instance, you’ll most probably get asked some questions in the comments. Look through them to see who you can help and offer your services in the meantime.
Now that you know where to search for leads, it’s high time you learned how to turn them into paying customers. One of the best ways to do that is to exceed their expectations by giving them more than they ask for. I guess you will agree that there’s no better customer bait than a freebie.
Offer a free SEO report
As an SEO agency, you may think of giving out an SEO report. This is one of the most actionable strategies for starting an interaction with your potential customers.
Try to make your report of use to them by addressing their pain points and giving some basic optimization advice. Your report should provide a comprehensive overview of the widest range of technical and on-page factors. After your potential customers receive a report with their website issues, they may well reach out to you asking to help fix them.
Another type of report that you can use is a keyword rankings report. Inform potential customers of their rankings, search engine visibility, domain strength, or even competition rankings - and it won’t take them long to start asking how you can improve their rankings. Tools like Rank Tracker can help you curate this data.
Send an SEO proposal
Now that you've got people interested in your services by addressing their pain points with the help of SEO reports, it’s high time to pitch your SEO proposal. It’s a crucial step in turning potential customers into paying ones because it’s the last thing you can use to win some extra points in their eyes and make them prefer your agency over your competitors’.
Sending a detailed SEO proposal that details exactly what services you can offer and why they'll be beneficial can help seal the deal.
It's important not to be put off by the competitive market occupied by SEO agencies. Remember that there’s a lot of fish in the sea and new businesses in need of SEO assistance keep appearing every day. All you need to do to turn them into paying customers is identify who you want to target first. Based on this knowledge, you should find the right places to find them, pitch them with a free SEO report and then top it with your SEO proposal.