Picture this: You’ve ditched the daily grind.
No longer must you punch in and punch out or make chit-chat in the break room.
And why shouldn’t you?
There’s a lot to look forward to while running your own SEO business: new clients, new challenges and, above all, new achievements.
In terms of what you can achieve, the sky is the limit. There’s no limit.
All the gains and profits are for you and you alone.
And if you’ve gone fully digital, then you can even travel the country—or the world—and work wherever you want.
To get started, the first step is to attract paying customers to your services.
If you follow these tried-and-tested tips from fellow “solo-preneurs,” this should be no problem at all.
Even if you’re working within an agency or enterprise to boost your client base, these tips will still make a difference—just bookmark this post or remember our tips for when you finally realize the dream of breaking free and going independent.
We know you want to.
How to Get Paying SEO Clients Online with 12 Slick Tips
1. Hit the Forums.
This is a sweet and simple tip to build your reputation, get your brand name out there and research what SEO clients need and want.
Participate in online forums. These can be used as places to establish yourself as an expert in the field.
The forums of yesteryear still exist, and despite their outdated formats they present some great opportunities too. Go ahead and visit older go-to places like Yahoo! Answers.
Of course, the real activity is bumping in the more recent forums. Facebook Questions and Quora are busy, modern online forums where you can answer people’s queries and establish yourself as an SEO expert.
By using these forums, you’ll be able to draw your potential clients’ attention towards your capabilities and your company. You don’t even need to directly pitch or sell your services here. Just focus on answering questions to the best of your ability, and people asking questions will say, “hey, this guy knows his stuff, I wonder if he can do our SEO.” Add a backlink to your SEO services site in your bio.
Boom. New clients in the bag.
Plus, all of this work on forums is great for research. What are your potential clients searching for? What are their burning questions? Answer these thoroughly in blog posts on your own SEO services website, and when potential customers type these questions into search engines, your website will pop right up.
2. Offer Potential Clients a Freebie.
The goal is to get paying customers. Why offer freebies? What’s in it for you?
Here’s a perspective you maybe haven’t considered: These free SEO tools can drive traffic straight to your website. Maybe a potential customer in need of SEO help will discover that you’ve got a valuable freebie—like the Monitor Backlinks Free Backlink Checker—embedded on your site and keep coming back to use it.
That same customer might one day think, “man, I really wish I had help with this link building work.” Then, bam! They’re on your site where you’re selling your SEO link building services.
Eight ball, corner pocket.
To demonstrate exactly how this plays out, see the strong example of an SEO consultant offering free SEO tools to clients shown by none other than Neil Patel. Here’s how he offers SEO Analyzer to his potential clients.
Melissa Popp, an SEO expert, is Operations Manager at Altitude SEO. In this post, she advises starting an interaction with clients by offering them something for nothing. Since there’s an interaction involved, it’s not really a no-strings-attached freebie. You’re still getting something of value—namely, strong leads—out of it.
Not only will your target audience become familiar with your brand and URL, you can collect data (by prompting them to enter their email addresses and other info in order to use the tool). Then, score!—they’re on your mailing list. You can set up a newsletter to inform them of your services, especially those which tie into the free tool they’ve chosen to use.
3. Start with Free SEO Reports.
Since we’re on the topic of freebies, the best SEO freebie is a report.
A freebie SEO report can be utilized to initiate an interaction with your clients, target their pain points and show them what you’re made of.
First and foremost, an SEO report shows the potential client their site’s strengths and weaknesses. It shows them where they can improve—but not necessarily how they can improve. That’s where you come in, of course.
For this reason, free SEO and backlinking tools and reports are helpful in getting the clients more interested in your services. Upon seeing their problems, the natural next step is for them to try to fix them. Since they’re already on your website, it only makes sense to reach out to you and ask what you can do.
4. Meeting Expectations Is Obsolete. It’s Time to Overdeliver.
This sounds not so pleasant, I know. It sounds like work just got harder.
But I’m not exaggerating this at all. There’s always someone out there who can achieve the same basic goals and deliver the same basic SEO services at a lower rate. Competition is tough online. To get and keep SEO clients online, you need to overdeliver at every turn.
Better reports. More data. Deeper analysis. Stronger solutions. Faster turnover. Impeccable presentation. Incomparable professionalism.
With this level of service, you will attract SEO clients online and be able to name your price.
To get yourself amped up to overdeliver, take the example of John E. Lincoln, the Co-Founder & CEO of Ignite Visibility. This company was named the top internet marketing company in California and has a talented SEO team working for it.
In this post, Lincoln shares his company’s philosophy of overdelivering to clients. Doing that for each and every account has grown the size of the business and also got them more referrals, with half their monthly visitors being return visitors (in other words, loyal clients).
5. Find Your Niche.
You don’t want to box yourself in, I know—you just set yourself free with this online SEO work thing!
You might be thinking that focusing on one niche can limit the number of opportunities for you. You might have fewer clients, then.
However, the truth is that clients want to hire a consultant who has the most relevant expertise possible.
Some examples of niche markets where SEO consultants can prove themselves include: pet care, dentistry, construction, florists, car shipping.
It makes perfect sense when you really think about it, too. Potential clients are out searching for the best person for the SEO job—or maybe they’re just generally hoping to attract more clients to their dental practice without even knowing that SEO exists. When they come across your site, showcasing the real-world results you’ve gotten for other dental practices online, they’ll be sold extremely fast compared to if they’d only seen a generic SEO services page.
So, pursue a niche, work with clients and build a credible portfolio. Being focused on specific areas will establish you as an expert. And of course, within any industry, your clients have their own professional network. One dental practice that’s happy with your SEO results might recommend you to three other friends working at dental practices across the country.
6. Keep Your Enemies Closer.
If you’re treating your competition as the enemy, you’re going to have a bad time.
According to Brain Scudamore in his Forbes piece on this topic, collaboration with competitors makes a difference. Everyone can leave a winner. Spending your precious energy fighting against them is no good.
If you look closely enough, you’ll see that any online SEO service worth its salt focuses on a certain niche. Even if they’re more generalist SEO services with no major niche or focus, they tend to focus on some unique element that makes them stand out.
Look at their unique strengths (and weaknesses) and form strategic alliances with other competing companies. Then you can refer clients to each other for your particular strengths or niches. This also paves the way for sharing of ideas, knowledge and strategies, and those referrals can help your bottom line.
You never know when you’ll need a favor, tip or recommendation from someone else in the industry, either, so it always helps to be on good terms with your “competition.”
In this digital age, no company secret can be hoarded. If you have open communication with other competing online SEO companies, you can teach them some things and learn some new tricks from them too.
Always remember this: It’s a win-win situation!
7. Delay Gratification.
Reach out to potential clients, but don’t try to sell them something immediately.
It’s best to avoid pitching a sale in the first exchange. Instead, listen to their issues and provide recommendations and solutions. Show them you’re capable of sorting out their SEO issues, and they’ll probably decide to ask you about your service all on their own—without you needing to push a sale.
From following up with them to leading them to your educational content, show them first you’re here to help them instead of persuading them to buy your service.
8. Be an Educator.
SEO is complex, and you know it. But your potential clients might not. Heck, there might be people out there who would see incredible benefits from your services but they don’t even know what SEO is yet.
So, put on your educator hat.
If you educate your potential clients about different SEO metrics, you’ll be helping them see what they need and what results they can get. For clients who are somewhat aware of SEO and are ready to pay for services anyway, educational materials can help them set realistic expectations.
Keep educating your existing clients as well, and inform them about what other SEO services they might like to have.
This will be beneficial for both of you. You’ll have a more productive work process and will also be able to retain clients more easily.
There are various ways to educate your clients about the SEO metrics. For instance, if they’ve been subscribed to your mailing list, you can send them a weekly newsletter. If you want them to know about the basics of SEO and how an SEO agency can help them increase their website traffic, you can offer them a free e-book that has it all.
9. Never Forget Existing Clients, Keep Upselling.
Acquiring clients is harder than retaining them. It requires more effort and energy to find and pursue new clients than retaining the ones you have and upselling them.
Here’s what you should do to upsell to your existing clients: Provide your SEO services per usual.
Focus on creating and delivering clear, strong and branded reports that lay out improved SEO metrics and other direct results of your work.
When your clients see the fruits of your labor, this will increase the chances that they’ll want more of your work. They might even want to pay for more of your services. Let them know where they could still improve and strategies that you haven’t tried on their site yet—because they haven’t yet ordered those services from you.
With every report, be sure to slip in additional services that might be of interest and additional results they could see from those.
Make sure your SEO services contracts are “Auto-Renewable” so your existing clients are automatically in for the next year.
It’s good to deliver great SEO results but care must also be taken that your outstanding work doesn’t get taken for granted.
When you deliver amazing work, the clients are happy. But after that, the “outstanding” work becomes the norm for them and doesn’t seem something extraordinary.
For example, you might not always be able to deliver a 500% increase in organic traffic within a few weeks—maybe one sharp SEO move the customer had overlooked got you that result this year, but it’s not something you can consistently promise year after year.
After some time, when the contract comes up for renewal, the clients think that the exceptional work is what they deserve because that’s what you’re getting paid for.
Create a contract which states that the contract will automatically get renewed if you deliver certain, reasonable goals. Calculate goals that you can easily achieve without too much sweat, as long as you’re completing your agreed-upon services.
Since they need your SEO consultancy, they’ll happily agree at the onset of your professional relationship.
They can always contact you ahead of time to cancel the contract for the next year, so it’s not too much of a commitment either way.
11. Word of Mouth Is a Classic Marketing Strategy for a Reason.
People trust referrals, so get a referral program in place!
Offer clients discounts if they refer you to their contacts. If you haven’t worked with a client recently but are on good terms with them, ask them if they could refer your services to others.
Asking friends, family, former classmates or colleagues to refer you is also a good idea.
You might even want to set up an affiliate program, whereby webmasters can earn commissions for referring converting traffic to your website.
12. Don’t Forget to Add a Contact Form to Your Site.
This is the make-or-break-a-deal thing! An email on your Contact Us page isn’t enough.
Attention spans are growing shorter by the day.
An email address sitting on a webpage requires some copy-and-pasting, moving to an email, creating a new draft—that 20 seconds of work creates a hurdle for would-be clients to jump, and some just won’t bother. Others might misspell your email address.
A contact form allows your clients to contact you without any delay and hassle. You can take it an extra step and add informative boxes for clients to check off. For example, lead with a question like “What SEO services do you need?” or “What results do you want from your digital marketing campaigns?” and then create a set of potential answers with checkboxes they can tick off before sending their completed form.
Final Thoughts on Getting SEO Clients Online
As an SEO startup owner, you might feel overwhelmed as to how to approach clients, how to enter into the niche markets, how to educate newbies about the SEO jargon, how to upsell to them and how to build that long-term business relationship.
But as you implement each of the tips mentioned above, you’ll find that it can all be a breeze to get through.
If you’ve taken a nice, focused approach, it becomes easier to get SEO clients online—even if you’re a first-timer.