You may work for a big SEO agency or be an SEO freelancer, but you need SEO clients in any case. What’s more, you need to get these clients without additional expenses on advertising. In this guide, check out some proven and free ways to find clients who need professional SEO assistance.
It’s very common for SEO professionals to focus on their clients’ websites and neglect the state of their own SEO. So let’s start with a pretty obvious yet often forgotten part — your website. As your website is the easiest and the cheapest way to lure organic traffic, I suggest focusing on choosing the right website content strategy first.
Make sure you gain maximum traffic from SEO-related keywords with the right search intent — cover every stage of your marketing funnel.
Keep in mind that people may not always express their needs explicitly, so the keywords you need will not always include the exact term SEO (top of the funnel queries). Your client prospects may be looking for more specific solutions, which have to do with particular aspects of SEO, such as link building services, google penalty removal, why my rankings dropped, etc.
Besides, you can think of recent industry events such as Google updates and use related keywords on your website, too.
Put enough effort into creating the content for the bottom of the digital marketing funnel. These are the answers to the questions of those people who have not decided on whether to do SEO on their own or turn to a professional (i.e. you). BoFu content examples: Why Us pages, FAQs, comparisons of your services to competitors, pages with alternatives to the mainstream solution, clients’ reviews, etc.
Note: I will not dive into keyword research details, as different industries and regions have different search trends. You can always turn to Rank Tracker and find the right keywords for your region, niche, language, search engine, etc.
Anyway, whatever keywords you choose, your goal is to create useful content that will impress potential clients and make them trust you. Write helpful blog posts for SEO beginners, and post your case studies with facts and numbers. Also, think of placing application forms for users to book a call in the most suitable places on your pages.
Do not expect leads to become paying SEO clients in a second. Kindly navigate them during their independent SEO voyage and give some of your expertise for free. Likely, your audience will soon turn to you for paid assistance.
Pro Tip. Generate leads right from your website. For example, you can add a pop-up that will offer visitors a free SEO audit by leaving the email and a website to audit. You can use Crazy Egg’s Scrollmap report to spot the best places for pop-ups and CTAs on your pages.
Do not silently wait until your clients notice you — go and look for them instead. This is especially important if you are a small business that is not yet famous enough neither with people nor Google. A benefit of this method is that you will be looking for warm leads, i.e. those who have clearly stated their SEO issues and are looking for direct solutions. Check the places where your potential clients describe their problems and reach out to them, offering your professional SEO help. These places are as follows:
If you think that the time of forums is over, I’m here to surprise you. These forums are still full of people who are looking for SEO-related services or expert advice.
Register on forums and follow threads of discussion. Be ready that many people there do not look directly for paid SEO services, so do not expect them to bring you money right after you answer. Show your expertise, participate in discussions, and drop a hint that it’s you who can actually help users with the problem they state and even more.
Quora also lets you meet many people asking for help with their SEO. The algorithm for you is pretty much like that with forums — answer clearly and provide your potential clients with the solution they came for.
What’s more, the answers you write on Quora may rank in Google and get to Google SERPs. Make sure you form your thoughts clearly to make your answer appreciated by both users and Google.
These platforms let freelancers find clients, as well as let clients browse through a variety of sellers and choose what suits them best. Take this opportunity even if you’re not an SEO freelancer but have an agency.
When it comes to Fiverr, you need to create a seller profile (a gig) and publish it. Voila! Clients will write to you themselves — sellers cannot write first.
As for Upwork, this platform lets you search for jobs (i.e. for clients) on your side, so you are free to offer your help without waiting too long.
These platforms are not forums, so people explicitly state their needs as they look directly for paid services. Sellers need to be clear, too — describe what you offer briefly but explicitly. Also, keep in mind pricing — both Fiverr and Upwork charge seller fees. It’s about 20% of each deal on Fiverr; as for Upwork, fees depend on how much you earn in general. So you may want to reconsider your pricing.
Social media are full of people asking for help in SEO-related matters, so you can participate in the comments and share your expertise.
Moments to consider here:
Help people with SEO problems they address and provide some extra help and research. This way you will show your expertise and build trust with a potential client. Say, a user wants to rank for a certain keyword and asks how to do it. Of course, you can take the mentioned keyword and promise to bring the website to the top, but I suggest taking an extra minute on brief keyword research. It may turn out that the keyword mentioned by a user is unpopular and won’t bring much traffic at all. If you come back to the user with the results of your research and suggest trying some other, more popular keyword ideas, you will have a higher chance of converting that lead into a paying client.
It’s a good idea to add a link to some relevant article of yours in your answer to provide evidence of your SEO expertise.
It’s a common practice to reach out to a cold client base and offer your SEO services. Where do you find those prospects? Try Google for starters. Search for any potentially attractive (i.e. high-profit margin) prospective industry and look closer at the results on the second and third SERPs. These companies are your potential clients, as they are likely to wish to invest in growing their organic traffic.
A few moments to consider before you start your outreach:
Think of what you will write about to your prospects. You can use our SEO proposal template for help.
Mind the tone of your messages — if you write to Big Brands, the language needs to be quite formal. If you reach SMEs, the communication process is usually easier and quicker.
Study the market — ask if people need your services and describe what you can do to help them.
Your potential client is unaware of the issues you discover with your SEO audit. Moreover, these issues might be the reason why the website cannot reach the first SERP. Offer your assistance in dealing with the discovered problems. Chances are that the prospect will convert, as this personalized approach is more appealing than plain “hi I can do SEO for you”.
Design agencies offer website design. Digital marketing specialists help grow the audience through content. But neither of them can offer high-quality SEO services, as it’s just not their niche. Still, design, marketing, and SEO all work together for one’s profits.
This is where you can enter the game by partnering with these agencies. Once they get a request for SEO services, they will recommend you, so you’ll get a warm client. At the same time, you can recommend your design or marketing partners if people come to you and ask for this kind of service.
When looking for partnership opportunities, start with local agencies, as they are more willing to collaborate.
In addition to answering the questions in SEO communities that already exist, you can grow your own one.
First, social media presence is a must these days, as your potential clients will certainly like to check if you are on, say, Twitter, and what you post there.
Second, make your content useful and appealing to your audience. Write checklists, express your opinion on the latest Google updates, post memes, and explain difficult and boring things easily and engagingly.
A good idea is to create a YouTube channel, as videos are one of the most engaging forms of content. What’s more, YouTube is the second largest search engine, so if you do some optimization of your videos, you can get them ranked well and attract more clients.
Above all, make sure anything you write across the internet is really helpful and delivers the requested value. As for Facebook and LinkedIn comments and posts, people will like and upvote them if they find the information helpful. This activity will pull your content up in the news feed and comments threads. Thus your visibility grows, and more potential clients will notice (and probably contact) you.
Take both offline and online opportunities. Taking an active part in SEO and marketing conferences will help you grow your contact base and become famous in a local community of SEO professionals.
What’s more, your name will be often mentioned in various SEO roundups, which means backlinks. As backlinks are an important ranking factor, this will also help you in terms of organic reach.
After conferences, take some time to answer the questions of the audience. Chances are that people will like to work with you after they see you speaking and demonstrating your SEO proficiency.
The truth is that most SEO companies and services look similar and offer similar services. So if you just sit and do nothing to make a client notice you, you’re likely to end up having no clients at all. Be active, clearly state your expertise, reach out, and speak instead. This is what brings popularity and a lot of loyal paying clients.
By the way, SEOs, how did you find your first clients? Share your experience in the comments.