As an SEO, you probably have a huge range of experience with the technical side of the industry, but many of us lack the basic understanding of salesmanship and startup marketing. Taking on clients is a huge step for any business, but most SEO professionals simply are not aware of all of the avenues that exist that can help them to expand their client base, keep clients that they currently have, and network with others in the industry.
Word of warning: you will have to get your hands dirty. That means leaving your cozy cubicle or home office and getting out there and talking to people face to face. Sure, finding clients online seems to be the most desirable and efficient path for growing your business, but if you want long term sustainable success, you should look to network with individuals locally.
Tip 1 – Build a Resume That’s Marketable
If you are to the point of taking on clients, you likely already have some experience within the SEO industry and a number of different accomplishments that you can present to clients. But, no matter how much data you are able to give them, you have to be able to show them that you know what you are doing outside of your pre-defined list of accomplishments. The easiest way to build trust with would-be clients is to show that you have done work with a well known brand. Even if the job was as simple as some outsourced linkbuilding or graphic design, showing that you have done work for a well known company can instantly build trust and is probably the most important aspect of any resume.
Before you even considering taking on clients, having a resume that backs up your claims and builds trust is the most important first step. This should include large companies that you have done work for, your successes with your own sites, any testimonials that you can provide, and a list of general accomplishments that you use to market yourself and your services.
Tip 2 – Establish a Presence on Freelancer Websites
Although many SEOs write off freelancer websites as something for individual service providers or outsource workers, there is actually a lot of full scale SEO work that is contracted out through the variety of freelance websites including oDesk, Freelancer, ELance and the variety of other freelancer websites that are out there. In the beginning, it will almost be impossible for you to land high dollar work without having some sort of presence on these sites.
In the beginning, you should be willing to start by;
-Taking Work For Less Pay Than You Normally Would
-Working Small, Service Provider Style Jobs (think linkbuilding, one-off on page optimization, etc.)
-Connecting With As Many People As Possible
Once you have built up a solid resume on these websites, you will find that they can provide you with stability, and an ongoing steady stream of work. Maybe that guy that hired you to do linkbuilding will come back a few months later for full blown search engine optimization? Freelance jobs websites allow you to make connections, and build a steady client base that can support your business throughout the startup phase.
Tip 3 – Connect With Local Businesses Through Organizations
One often overlooked method for finding clients is meeting local businesses through organizations and meetups in your area. A few of the different types of organizations that can allow you to get in touch with businesses and eventually pitch your services to them include;
- Your Local Chamber of Commerce
- Meetup.com Meetups For Webmasters and Local Businesses
- Local Business Meetups
- Webmaster and Tech Groups
Try stopping by your local library and looking at the flyers that they have posted. That can be an excellent way for you to find some meetings or seminars that could potentially be filled with would-be clients, just waiting to meet an SEO professional that can help them to grow their business.
Tip 4 – Dispel Scam Rumors That Surround The SEO Industry
Any business owner that has a physical location and is listed in the phonebook has likely had 100 different Indian SEO companies cold call them about their services and – let’s face it, American businesses that have constantly had a service pitched to them by sketchy foreign companies
typically write the service off as some sort of scam. Of course, further investigation into SEO will tell them otherwise, but many business owners are just simply not going to take that step.
As you begin to pitch your services in person, you will start to hear more about the previous experiences that business owners have had with
Then, explain to them the basics of SEO, the price you are going to charge, and why it is a fair price to them. Sometimes, especially with business owners that have been harassed by SEO companies, the first half of your pitch will be spent convincing them that the service is a legitimate one.drive-by pitchers, cold callers, and generally shady people trying to sell Internet dreams to small businesses. Explain to them exactly why this happens. Let them know that there is generally little startup costs for SEO businesses, and that because business owners aren’t aware of what SEO requires, they are able to sell these services for extremely high prices, making it worth their time to cold call all day long for one misinformed client.
Tip 5 – Be The Expert
Do you ever read the blogs of well known, successful SEOs, and wonder how much business their blog or social media accounts drive their way? A lot. Establishing yourself as an expert in your industry creates trust with the companies that are potentially looking to hire you. Social media and blogging provide excellent ways for you to establish yourself as just that, and really put your knowledge on display. Now, just being the expert isn’t enough, you have to put it on display.
-Blog – Write well-thought out, informative posts aimed at both other SEO experts as well as potential clients. They aren’t going to pick up how to do it successfully on their own, and blog posts detailing some of your strategies can be an excellent way to create trust with potential customers.
-Social Media - Establish yourself as an expert through social media by providing high quality information and interacting with the other big names in your industry. Answer questions posed by well known bloggers. Pose your own questions to encourage discussion. Share your blog posts. Give small tips that can help you to gain notoriety and establish yourself as a true expert in the SEO field.
Tip 6 – Seminars and Webinars
Perhaps the best way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry is by transferring your knowledge to others. Seminars and webinars provide you with the ability to put your knowledge on display, and also help people to learn your trade. Although SEO tends to have this “secrets of the trade” outlook that keeps them from sharing information with one another, it will always benefit your business in the long term to give back and help others learn. At the very least, it makes people feel indebted to you for the knowledge that you’ve provided them and can make them more likely to recommend your services.
There are two different ways to go about creating your seminar or webinar. You either target potential clients (people that know little to nothing about SEO) or you target other SEOs. Targeting other SEOs allows you to build acceptance within your industry and establish yourself as an expert. Targeting potential clients allows you to inform them about the basics of SEO, while slyly pitching your services to them. It also serves as an excellent way to dispel myths, rumors, and misconceptions that many business owners have about the SEO industry in the process.
Tip 7 – Offer Reseller Services For Complimentary Services
If you have any experience in the affiliate marketing sector, then you know how beneficial it can be for a company to outsource the marketing of their products. Let other companies resell your services when they offer a product that compliments yours. Excellent candidates to resell your SEO services would include;
-Web and Graphic Design Companies
-Offline Marketing Companies
-Web Development Companies
By partnering with other businesses, they can improve their services by offering something new at a markup, and you can have clients thrown your way. Of course, you will have to do the same for them to make the partnership work, but being able to offer web design on top of your SEO services also provides value to you as well.
|Ryan is a search marketing specialist with more than 5 years of experience within the industry, and co-owner of GorillaMarketers. He loves the NFL, strategy gaming, and economics.