(Updated for 2023!)
Finding SEO clients in any consulting business is not always easy.
Having 10+ years of experience running an SEO agency, we set out on a mission to find out how to get SEO clients consistently. These are the tried-and-tested methods we’ve used in over a decade in the industry to continuously secure new leads and scale our business.
We’ve compiled this VERY ACTIONABLE list of both inbound and outbound ideas you and your agency can implement today to generate more SEO leads and, ultimately, get more SEO clients.
We can almost guarantee that there are many that you haven’t tried before, or even thought about!
Fancy a quick visual summary? Check out our helpful video on how to find SEO clients here:
Killer Inbound Methods To Generate SEO Leads
Inbound marketing methods refer to tactics that have your potential clients come to you, rather than you chasing them down.
Inbound marketing is an excellent opportunity to position yourself as an expert within your niche to entice potential SEO clients.
Establishing yourself as a helpful authority can help with SEO lead generation as visitors come to your site, content, or event to educate themselves and then see you as a respected and knowledgeable source they can then look to work with.
#1 Offer Free Social Business Page Creation
This is something we’ve seen other agencies do to great effect and works particularly well with local clients. Setting up all of the basics like claiming the brand name, creating a cover photo, implementing a profile picture, and setting up opening hours. It’s pretty straightforward for us savvy marketers to set these up and they can be up and live within 30 minutes. Once a potential SEO client sees how awesome you are, it’s just a case of you introducing them to the plethora of other services you offer.
#2 Offer Free SEO Audits To Your SEO Leads
Give potential targeted clients real valuable actionable data and as well as highlighting areas for improvement tell them what they are doing right, they’ll love you for it. Giving them a call and really going out your way will also help infuse trust and confidence. 80-90% of companies won’t follow up begging you for an SEO contract, but that odd one or two that do, will really be worth your time. In past agency experience, we found a 3 step process of sending, following up with a call/email and then trying to arrange a meeting works best.
#3 Offer to Create Free Content
Perhaps after a free or paid audit, you could offer to create free content for potential clients and explain the benefits of blogging and how content creation can have a positive impact on their SEO efforts and brand.
Building links, brand awareness, establishing the business as a thought leader in their industry, social interaction, the list goes on. Sell these benefits and then let them know you can handle all of that for them.
#4 Build a High-Quality Business Directory
Just like Yell, but maybe smaller. Give businesses the opportunity to list themselves for free then follow up with advice on how to market their business more effectively locally. You can make directories as big as you like or as targeted as you like, maybe just for your local area. With very little marketing behind it, they often magically attract business listings. A good tip would be to include ‘Free Business Directory’ in your title tag and target around these keywords for organic visibility.
#5 Build Educational Resources For Business Owners
Just like how a directory can draw in potential leads, a marketing resource for business owners could really give you the edge over other marketing agencies – a place where they can learn to do simple things like creating a Facebook page, submitting to their website to Google, or changing their title tags will gain a lot of interest from your target market.
#6 Create Free Tools That Are Useful For Potential Clients
Similar to what we did with our FATRANK keyword checking tool, Infographic Embed Code Generator, and Blog Post Title Generator. Find out what tools may be useful for your target market and create one for free. When people sign up to use your tools you can collect contact details and email addresses for your mailing list, creating even more hot leads for you to follow up on. Lastly, remember to verify the email addresses to ensure your newsletters reach the intended recipients effectively.
#7 Offer Generous Free Trials To Get SEO Clients On Board
Let clients try your service on low-competing or local keywords. Show the clients results in the short term and then negotiate a longer-term contract once you have proved yourself. Be bold! If you don’t want to go the whole hog you can set up demo accounts for them to get familiar with your offerings without feeling pressured into signing up right away.
#8 Offer Guarantees and Be Outrageous
As well as generous free trials you can also offer eye-catching guarantees. As we all know there are no guarantees in SEO, so this can be a tricky one. Even when aiming for something outrageous guaranteeing a specific ranking might be a little too out there. Instead, you could go for a broader guarantee such as “a 20% increase in traffic”. If you’re still unsure about that instead look at making robust guarantees with your deliverables. Set firm due dates, clear deliverables, and back it up with a 100% money-back guarantee for their first order, just like we do.
#9 Introduce a Tell-a-Friend Referral Scheme
Who do business owners know? Other business owners. Encourage them to talk about you and your services. Don’t just offer money off or free services, give something away that will excite them, an iPad, a free weekend away, or a free meal at a fancy restaurant. Referrals go a long way; the more selling you can get your clients to do, the more time you can spend on keeping clients happy and getting results.
#10 Start an Affiliate Program
As an extension of our previous suggestion of referring a friend, why not set up a full-on affiliate program? Pay commission on client referrals. This will encourage other websites and bloggers to refer your SEO services to their reader base or customers. If you know a lot of people in business who have a crossover market for SEO, this will definitely be what you need to put in place to give a little reward to referrers.
#11 Be One of the First for Breaking SEO News
New Google update? New Google SEO tool? Has a Google representative said something vaguely useful again? Be the first to write about it and comment on it. This could get picked up on by savvy business owners who may take a liking to you. Creating great timely content will help position you as an authority in your space and reassure potential leads that you know what you’re talking about!
#12 Write a Weekly Blog
As well as covering breaking news, take the time to write a weekly blog. Don’t just blog about boring or generic SEO stuff. Come up with a concept for your blog (Like 5 Nugget Friday) and be consistent with it. For example, some companies write once a week and release that on a particular day. Don’t forget to push the content across your various marketing avenues. Spend only 30% of your time creating the blog and 70% or more promoting it. The more you promote it the more traffic you’ll get and the quicker it will organically grow.
You might even land a few links! While nothing in life is truly free (you have to account for your time spent making the posts) this can be an easy way to generate free SEO leads and help your own rankings at the same time.
#13 Create Valuable Marketing Videos
Follow the lead from Moz Whiteboard Friday and give away some of your secrets and generate some interest. Videos really help to engage with your potential audience, especially in a market where some businesses might not truly understand the concept of SEO. Repurpose the weekly blog posts you create from #12 using a Blog To Video service to really get your multi-channel marketing going. Just remember to feed the video traffic back to your website to help generate your SEO sales leads.
#14 Write a Free Downloadable eBook
Don’t be afraid of giving great things away to potential SEO clients for free. Most of your target audience probably won’t actually implement any advice, you’ll find they need someone to do it for them, and this will put you in a good position for being approached. Make sure you use this to collect contact details so that you can get in touch with invested engagers. You can plug this online, via Adwords, via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even your local seminars and Facebook Groups you’ve just set up.
#15 Write a Book and Get It Published
Building on from our eBook suggestion, why not take it a step further and produce an actual book? This one is certainly a long-term investment, but an investment nonetheless. Getting a book published is easier than ever nowadays with self-publishing options available with very little investment. Write a book with your team, about SEO or marketing and get it on Amazon and similar bookstores. This immediately thrusts you into the realms of SEO authority and business owners will want to work with you. Brag about your book on your Agency website.
#16 Display Clientele Logos on Your Website
Ask your clients if you can put their logos on your website. This will work wonders for your ‘social proof’ and they can be really eye-catching, especially if you manage to secure some work for larger well-known brands!
#17 Gather Up Testimonials (Video if Possible)
Building on from displaying client logos on your site, testimonials (especially video ones) are absolutely awesome! It’s a well-known fact that videos are more engaging than written content. This applies to testimonials, too. However, if videos aren’t possible to gather, written ones, signed by the Owner, CEO, or an authoritative person in that company will go a long way to giving your company some ‘Social Proof’, and you can always include them as part of another video by having a voice artist read them out over the clip. Testimonials could be the decider when a potential client is viewing your website or marketing content.
#18 Publish Results Based Case Studies
With the permission of your clients, publish case studies on successful SEO campaigns, and reveal everything from start to finish. While gaining respect from fellow SEO professionals, you will also generate a lot of interest from potential clients in similar situations and niches. This material will make it easier for your sales teams and executives to attract new clients.
#19 Get Accredited (Google Partners)
Accreditations go a long way. There are few that are ‘credible’ in the SEO world, but Google Partners is an ideal one, and there are a few more around that you may want to consider doing to get a few little badges of professionalism on your site. Look out for business accreditations too as these will induce trust from other business owners.
#20 Become a LinkedIn Leader
If you’re wondering how to get SEO clients on LinkedIn, here’s exactly how. LinkedIn is absolutely huge for online business networking and you should encourage your entire workforce to set up profiles and use it as a platform to spread marketing advice and share your company blogs. To gain traction your team should like and comment on each other’s posts. Engage with one another as much as possible to build that social traction. Eventually, your posts will get traction on their own. Being a thought leader will attract the right kind of SEO clients.
#21 Offer a ‘White Label’ Service
A lot of web designers and even other SEO companies might be interested in white labelling your services if they’re scalable and yield results just in the same way FATJOE is a White Label SEO Reseller to SEO Agencies. This is beneficial to you because A) You won’t have to deal with the customer directly or sell directly to them and B) They won’t have to do the work, train staff, or keep up to date with the latest best practices.
#22 Offer More Than Just SEO
Sometimes your potential clients won’t know they’re looking for SEO. Old school bosses may refer to a more holistic marketing service. There are a few things you can do. Either talk about other services you could offer such as social page creation, pay per click advertising or you could repackage your services and simplify the terms you use to ‘Internet Advertising’ or ‘Web Marketing’. This might capture those ‘old school’ bosses that just don’t get SEO yet.
Genius Outbound Methods To Win SEO Clients
The opposite of inbound marketing, outbound marketing is where you actively seek out potential clients yourself. It’s a chance to be proactive and dynamic with both traditional marketing and innovative methods.
As well as typical advertising this can also incorporate your manual outreach. These outbound methods will help get you in front of potential SEO clients and turn hot leads into paying customers.
#23 Hold Local Free Marketing Training Events
You can do this at your local cafe, bar, or even at your office! Alternatively, these can be held virtually via Zoom or Google Hangouts. Give out free marketing advice, actionable marketing tips, and company-branded literature. Companies will look at you as an authority on marketing and will get in touch when they need help. Some may even ask you to manage their marketing and SEO right there on the spot, this happens more than you might think.
#24. Make Friends in Your Local Area
On a personal level, get to know other people in your local area and in online business communities. Help them with marketing and web issues where possible and you’ll quickly find that the more you help, the more they’ll talk about you to their executive friends. It’s something you see in forums all the time. Encourage your staff to represent your brand in this way. In fact, allocate them each an important business forum to help out and see how competitive they get.
#25 Make Friends with other SEO Companies
Continuing with the theme of friendliness, make your ‘competitors’ your friends, not enemies. Take this example from Xbox; just look at the number of retweets and likes that this ‘friendly’ post received:
It’s amazing how much each SEO company varies and how some will only take on certain types of clients. Some may only service certain areas, while others only want to service low-level “package SEO” clients. By having an alliance with various SEO agencies across the country, you can refer each other for your ‘specialist’ kind of work. While it may not happen often, there are many other benefits to having friends from other SEO Agencies such as being able to share ideas, knowledge, and secrets to success.
#26 Start a ‘Local Marketing’ Alliance
Get your local ‘offline marketer’ (the leaflet guy), your local web designer, and your graphic designer. Get a signs and graphics guy. Add yourself, and you have an ‘alliance’. Within this alliance, you can refer customers to each other, host marketing meet-ups (virtual & in-person), share ideas in a mastermind group, or even start a super-site with a collective investment, where together you can serve every marketing need in your local target market.
#27 Create A Business Marketing Facebook Group
Create the go-to social place for business owners and marketers to ask questions and learn. Share ideas, create content and shamelessly include links to your SEO agency as the creators of the page, but don’t overdo it.
#28 Participate in Business Forums & Social Media Groups
Truth is, this is where a lot of business owners hang out and seek answers to their business questions. You will be surprised by the amount of marketing advice required in such forums and groups.
#29 Attend Trade Shows (Not Just SEO) To Generate SEO Leads
Don’t just attend the SEO Events where there are umpteen other SEO Agencies. Think outside the box a little, most ‘business conferences’ about startups, accounting, HR etc are all places where you can mingle and network with your target audience. Even having a trade show stand at these events will put you at the forefront of business looking for ways to improve their company.
#30 Sponsor Marketing And Business Events
This can be pretty expensive for small agencies but well worth it in the long term. You are getting your brand under the noses of thousands of hungry business buyers. Go to conferences where your target audience will be. Our previous suggestion was to attend a wide range of conferences, not just SEO ones, but when it comes to sponsoring (and the dollars you have to shell out to do so) we recommend specifically targeting SEO conferences.
You know that anyone attending an SEO conference will specifically be in the market for SEO services, making them the best SEO leads. Sponsoring the conference can put you a cut above in your SEO lead generation as you stand out from the crowd of competitors.
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#31 Become a Public Speaker
Speaking at SEO conferences, marketing ones, and business seminars will get you noticed, give you authority, and get people talking. In a world where gatherings are few and far between, many conferences are heading online so the opportunity still exists! You’ll have to apply to speak, and there may be a fee, but the return in clients, (should you have an interesting presentation), will be infinitely valuable.
#32 Write Guest Posts on Business Websites
Don’t just publish topics on SEO blogs, try Guest Posting on other business blogs about general business marketing advice. Guest posting is a great way to become an authority in your niche but becoming an authority in a general business niche is much more likely to yield your client interest.
#33 Hookup With Local Web Designers
The thing is, web designers are obviously great at web design but not always great at SEO. Web designers get asked all the time about SEO. Wouldn’t it be great if you hooked up with some local web designers so that you could service their clients’ SEO needs once their site had been built?
#34 Send Out Cakes, Donuts, Or Branded Sweets
FATJOE did this in our early days and new SEO clients love them, who doesn’t? Now we send out branded swag packs filled with all kinds of FATJOE merchandise and tasty treats!
#35 Send Postcards With Useful Information
For example, send a postcard picture of your team or brand to a potential client and tell them where they rank for their most relevant keyword. If they are interested in ranking higher, you may get back a handful of enquiries. Branded postcards are cheap to make these days so you don’t have to spend a fortune to get noticed.
#36 Be An Opportunist (Identify Website Issues)
Why not browse through the web and genuinely help businesses out? Found any duplicate content? Missing title tags? Let the site owner know as a friendly member of the Internet community. Again, this method may not always have a direct effect on getting clients, but being nice has magical effects on word of mouth and karma if you believe in that stuff!
#37 Do Free SEO Work For Charities
Taking on a local or national charity as a new SEO client and offering free SEO and social work on their site is not only a lovely and noble thing to do, but it will also project a certain amount of ‘good vibes’ to potential clients. Remember to ask for a link or badge on their website and write case studies about your work with them.
#38 Publicly SEO Audit a Large Brand’s Website
The principle here is to show off your SEO Auditing Skills publicly by analyzing all the SEO problems and issues in a large brand’s website. You can audit all of this information including providing solutions in a public blog post. This will show potential customers what you are made of and hey, it may even land you the company that you audited in the first place. You can do this as a monthly or weekly series and in time its popularity may grow online.
#39 Get News & Press Coverage (Locally or Nationally)
If you are doing great things for local businesses, some charity SEO work, or even just something awesome in general, you can call the papers and try and get a story. Generally, local papers will run a local story if it’s interesting enough and even if it isn’t, make it sound interesting! Once you get a feature, use those news company logos and mentions on your website and in your literature and this might make you stand out! If you’re looking for some tips on how to prepare your Press Release take a look at our blog post on How to Write a Winning Press Release.
#40 Run Online Competitions with Prizes
Running competitions socially (on Facebook, Twitter, and your own blog) will generate some interest in your brand. You can ask technical SEO questions on Social Networks and the correct answers get entered into a prize draw. All this will help build your brand, be recognized as an authority, and generate interest in the subject of SEO.
#41 Offer A One-Off No-Commitment SEO Service
Sometimes you need a loss leader. An easy-to-understand, one-off price product. You could offer a ‘local booster’ by creating a Google Business Profile and submitting their details to a handful of directories for a fee. Whatever it may be it can serve as a loss leader to your SEO contract plans.
#42 Good Old Fashioned Cold Emails
Email potential companies who would be a good fit as one of your clients. This post from Lemlist puts an interesting spin on cold emailing that could increase reply rates massively!
#43 Use SEO Lead Generation Tools
We’ve already covered the value of creating SEO tools as a lead-gen magnet, but why not also use them to get SEO leads and find SEO clients?
As well as general lead-gen tools you can use specific SEO lead generation tools to unearth hot prospects that you can then pitch your services to. Even with a low % success rate the automation enabled by lead generation tools can help you maximize your potential clients in an efficient and scalable way.
Remember, once you’ve generated your potential leads you’ll have to win them over with a killer SEO proposal to really sell them on the value you’ll be able to offer them and get more clients!
Have some more ideas on how to generate leads for SEO services? We’d love you to email them to us and you might just even get a mention!
How To Sell SEO Once You Get SEO Leads?
Selling SEO is just the same as selling any service. Our favorite way is to educate potential SEO clients and teach them as if they were going to do it themselves. Paradoxically, revealing all your cards and being transparent attracts great clients who will just prefer you to do all this hard work.
How To Get Local SEO Clients And Leads?
Local SEO clients are no different from national SEO clients. You may need a slightly different proposition that focuses more on local listings, but the premise is the same.
How To Get Your First SEO Client?
Getting your first SEO client can prove tricky if you have no previous case studies. We’d recommend working with someone you know, maybe a family member or a friend, and doing the work for free. Get a good testimonial and case study and use this to get your next clients with the methods above.
How To Get SEO Clients Without Cold Calling?
You can get SEO clients without cold calling by attracting clients with your marketing. Consider writing blog posts, doing seminars, and networking. Cold calling is pretty soul-destroying and we believe very much in ‘attracting’ clients rather than hard selling them. You don’t need to sell SEO over the phone.
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