Stressed about how you're going to get more SEO clients? Struggling to market your SEO services?
You’re not alone.
Over the last four years I've found that most SEO agencies are hampered by two critical issues:
1. poor marketing and sales
2. poor client retention
Both are critical to the success of any business.
But, today we're going to be focusing on the first issue. Specifically, I'm going to reveal 5 dead simple marketing tactics you can implement today to build your personal brand, get your services in front of your target audience, and close your first $1,000 SEO client.
These are the exact tactics I've used to build my agency from zero to five figures in new SEO leads each month.
Here is a snapshot of the conversion rates by month from January to August (we launched the company site in January this year).
So far there have been 221 closed link building contracts adding up to $165,750 in revenue:
And growth is showing a healthy trend with 55 new SEO leads captured in August alone, amounting to $41,250 in revenue:
Solid growth, no doubt.
But, here's the real kicker:
Every one of these leads came from non-paid marketing strategies.
No Facebook ads.
No Pay-per-click advertising.
Just five simple tactics anyone can use in any industry to quickly drum up new business.
Disclaimer: These tactics are by no means ground breaking. In fact, they are simple, and you've probably thought of them already. But, at the end of the day very few people actually take the time to implement them...
Venchito has compiled several exclusive bonus resources at the end of this post to help scale your SEO processes and accelerate the growth of your business.
Take it away Venchito...
#1: Always start with a crystal clear value prop
Let's start with your #1 asset...
The value proposition.
The harsh reality:
SEO companies are a dime a dozen these days. There are thousands of companies competing for a piece of the market. Almost every one of them looks the same, sounds the same, and, well, pretty much is the same.
This is an issue in almost any industry.
You need to find a way to break through the noise.
One way to differentiate yourself from other SEO companies is to find one strength that can become your competitive advantage with your services.
For example, Annie Cushing offers full SEO services, but maintains a strategic focus on analytics configuration and data analysis:
This focus is highlighting on her services page:
While Annie does offer a full range of SEO services, her unique value proposition is firmly rooted in her analytics audits and consulting. Instead of ending with the data discussion, Annie starts with it.
Lets look at a couple other examples...
Marie Haynes is another SEO consultant that differentiates herself by building her unique value proposition around her penalty removal expertise:
Now, those are examples of using a specific service offering to create a unique value proposition. But, there are many other ways.
Some businesses may take a more "vertical" approach and positions themselves as the experts in specific industries.
Chris Dreyer offers SEO services specifically for lawyers:
The point here is to help people understand why you are not just another SEO company.
At Sharprocket, we've decided to position ourselves as a premium link building company, with a strategic focus on building white label partnerships with other SEO agencies:
This makes it much easier to penetrate a huge market.
Ok, so we know the first step to getting more SEO leads is to identify your positioning and unique value proposition.
To make it easier for you, I have included three steps you can follow to quickly identify your core unique value proposition.
STEP 1: Identify the top skill you and your team possesses. What do you do best? What are you most passionate about?
Try to find the point where your skills and passion overlap. That is where you want to start building.
STEP 2: Write down all possible services that can sit in the middle of the diagram.
In my case, I have a lot of knowledge about link building, have acquired skills from my previous remote SEO agency jobs, and am extremely passionate about the subject.
STEP 3: Choose only 1-3 services to offer to your existing network, and market on your website.
Once you have the ground work completed, it's time to start prospecting for potential SEO clients...
#2: Generate new SEO clients within Quora discussions
Quora is visited by millions of people every month:
And, a portion of those people, big or small, are searching for your help.
I mean, the title tag says it all:
You just need to find the people asking the questions you can answer, and participate in the discussion.
Here’s how you can do it...
STEP 1: First, create a profile on Quora:
Make sure you provide all the necessary information about you and your company. Link externally to your website or personal blog as well as your social profiles like Twitter and Linkedin.
Upload a professional-looking photo as it makes your profile look more credible for potential clients.
I know, it’s a no-brainer. But, most SEOs still don’t do it.
STEP 2: Find community questions or topics (as categories) in Quora.
Do a Quora search and you’ll find dozens of threads you can participate in. Since I offer link building and off-page SEO services, I look for question boards specifically related to those topics:
Those are all discussions I could participate in, add value and possibly generate a new SEO lead.
Pro tip: Find active community users and see which discussions they have participated in.
In the search marketing industry, people like Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent, are answering questions almost every day.
Check out his profile and see his latest answers. You’ll notice that answers can be filtered into two categories:
1. All answers
2. Last 30 days recent views
The "30-day views" category is an absolute goldmine. These discussions are constantly receiving organic views, which means the potential for consistent exposure to contributed content over time.
Here are some examples of threads I found using this technique:
STEP 3: Compile a list of Quora threads you’ll find worth investing your time in. Add columns for range of views, rank in search (see if they rank in search by simply doing Google searches), answered (yes/no) and your target pages (which pages/content you’d like to promote in threads):
STEP 4: Provide the best possible answer. Make it straightforward.
Don’t forget to add relevant links to your content/site to capture referral traffic.
If you follow this simple process, and do it consistently, Quora will become one of your top lead generation channels:
It only takes 5 minutes a day to answer one question and these efforts can unimaginably give you valuable returns in the long run.
#3: Master the art of conversion-focused content distribution
Guest blogging is not dead.
But, it is a fine edged sword.
Here's the thing:
If done properly, guest posting is one of the most effective ways to build quality links, boost brand recognition and drive targeted traffic to your site.
Take Gregory Ciotti for example. He used the guest blogging strategy to collect over 36,733 email subscribers:
GrooveHQ used the strategic content distribution to reach over one million readers:
While Bryan Harris (VideoFruit) used a single guest post on OkDork to generate 1,782 referral visits, and collect 215 new email subscribers:
Robbie has also used guest posting to land quality links, drive targeted traffic and build his email list:
By landing guest post links on sites such as Digital Marketer and SumoMe (sites crawling with his target audience), he was able to generate 1,352 referral visits and capture 143 new email subscribers.
That's a 10.6% conversion rate!
Pretty cool, right?
Let's take a look at the process you can use today to find quality guest post targets that will actually drive traffic and generate leads for your business.
Step #1: Start with your audience
This first step will make or break the success of your entire guest post campaign.
Guest posting is a very time intensive process. So, you want to make sure you are writing content for sites that are actually read by people who fit the mold of your ideal customer, or buyer persona.
Now, I'm not going to cover the process of building buyer personas. The topic has been covered in great detail many times already.
But, if you haven't built personas yet and are looking for a simple process to get started, check out this helpful resource from the folks over at Digital Marketer:
Russ Henneberry will walk you through the entire process step-by-step. Don't skip out on it!
Ok, once you have a customer avatar created move onto step #2...
Step #2: Find and qualify guest post targets
The last thing you want to do is spend 20 hours writing an epic piece of content, only to publish it on a site that has low authority and little traffic.
You want to go after the sites that can send you a nice stream of qualified referral traffic. Neil Patel has used this strategy to drive consistent traffic from a number of large publications:
A simple place to start is to enter some search operators into Google:
Your Keyword “guest post”
Your Keyword “write for us”
Your Keyword “guest article”
Your Keyword “submit article”
Your Keyword inurl: “guest post”
Right away we have a long list of potential guest post targets.
Another simple way to find quality guest post targets is to reverse engineer the guest post footprints of your competitors.
Here's how to do it:
Find other SEOs or digital marketers who have contributed pieces to high-traffic blogs and publications.
A good example of this is Ryan Stewart, the founder of Miami digital marketing agency Webris. Ryan has built a reputable brand and company off the back of a targeted guest post strategy.
I mean, the guy is everywhere!
Those two simple tactics should give you a full spreadsheet of targets to qualify for a potential guest post placement.
Here are two other tactics you can use to scale your prospecting for guest post targets:
1. Reverse image search
Copy the image address of an author picture associated with another expert's guest post and run a reverse image search to find other sites where that picture was used:
2. Reverse engineer link profiles
Locate the domain of the expert and paste it into Ahrefs:
Navigate to the backlink profile and look at the referring domains.
In this example, I can see that Ryan has landed guest posts on large industry publications such as Moz, Ahrefs, Search Engine Journal, UnBounce, and Content Marketing Institute.
Not only are those great links, but each sites gets a TON of traffic.
In fact, Ryan's guest post on Ahrefs landed him 2 new clients:
Repeat this process for 5-10 other industry experts.
You should now have a mountain of guest post prospects.
The next step?
It's very likely that the experts you reverse engineered did their due diligence when selecting where to publish their guest post content.
But, you want to be absolutely sure you are getting the biggest return on energy (ROE).
Start by looking at two specific metrics:
1. Ahrefs Domain Rank - shows how strong the backlink profile of a given website is on a scale of 1-100. Backlinks from high authority sites carry more weight.
2. SEMRush organic traffic - the number of users expected to visit the website in the next month based on current keyword rankings.
To get the biggest ROE you want to make sure the site will pass authority and traffic.
Pro tip: Install Open in SEMRush chrome extension tool to speed up link qualification process (just click and it will automatically be redirected).
This handy little chrome extension will drastically speed up the qualification process.
Step 3: Pitch with relationship building in mind
I received guest post pitches all the time. A lot of them look like this:
I mean, "Dear Admin"?
I'm sorry, but if you can't be bothered to even look up my name, I can't be bothered posting your content.
Don’t. Make. This. Mistake.
Instead, get a little creative with your outreach.
Read and comment on their latest content. Or, highlight an optimization that can be instantly made to their website.
Here is a sample of email I’ve sent to GotchSEO blog.
The next time you pitch for a guest post, don’t just send your an template – make it CUSTOMIZED and PERSONAL.
Step 3: Pitch a winning topic
In order for your guest post campaign to resonate with readers you need to write about topics they are interested in.
After researching the site and completing the customer avatar exercised outlined in step #1 you should have a solid idea of a topical focus.
Don't stop there. Always look at the data before making a final topic pitch.
Specifically, you're looking for two things:
1. Identify popular topical themes
2. Identify content gaps within those themes
Here are a couple simple ways to do this:
Look at social engagement
Enter your domain into the Ahrefs Content Explorer and see which topics on the site have a proven track record of generating a lot of social engagement:
Top linked pages
Go to the "Top Linked Pages" report in Ahrefs and find out which topics attract the most backlinks:
You want to be targeting sites with high authority, as well as an engaged audience that will help amplify your content.
Finally, you can look at the "Top Pages by Organic Keywords" report to find topics that have not yet been covered, which increase your chances of acceptance.
If you have several closely related guest post targets you can also use Ahref's new "Content Gaps" report to quickly uncover topics that are missing from specific sites.
I can see that Backlinko is ranking for a number of keywords Robbie has yet to target:
As a result, I could propose writing a guest post about "15 advanced SEO tips to master in 2017", targeting the search term "youtube SEO".
Another tactic you can use to reap long term benefits from your guest post strategy is Parasite SEO.
Don't worry, I'm not getting "black hat" on you here.
This can be a very powerful strategy, especially for newer sites that don't have the authority yet to go after highly competitive keywords.
Here's how it works:
You write a quality guest post for a high authority website targeting a high competition keyword with a lot of search volume. You then link back to your site in the first paragraph of the article.
Ok, what's the big deal?
You're piggy backing on the other site's authority to rank for keywords that would have otherwise been unobtainable (hence the "parasite" term).
If the page ranks, and you have a prominent contextual link, it will drive targeted referral traffic to your site for a long time.
Matthew Barby used this exact strategy to propel Buildfire from zero to 1,000,000 pageviews in 12 months:
And other consultants like Steve Webb from Web Gnomes have used the strategy to rank for insanely competitive terms like "SEO" by leveraging the authority of big brands like Moz:
I mean, the post was written in 2012 and still ranks #1!
I'm guessing this has been a pretty healthy meal ticket for Steve over the years :)
If you're just starting out it can be very hard to rank for high competition keywords.
But, don't let that stop you.
Be strategic about your guest post targets. Go after authoritative websites, and use their power to rank for big keywords that will drive ongoing traffic and leads to your site.
It's authority by association!
Step 4: Add links to your service page or to a lead magnet
Your main goal in distributing content for other blogs is to generate leads for your business.
The best way to do this?
Send traffic to a custom landing page designed to convert incoming traffic.
You have two options here: externally link to your service page(s) or externally link to your lead magnet.
The first one (externally link to your service page) is pretty straightforward and most guest bloggers are doing it.
This is effective if your guest content is a case study, given that those who’ve been fascinated with your piece might already be interested to know your services.
Here is an example of a landing page Robbie links to from a guest post where he highlights a search marketing case study:
But what if there are people who aren’t ready to purchase your service, or at least contact you to request a proposal?
Go for option 2 - link to your lead magnet.
The lead magnet can be any form of content that gets your visitors to move from the discovery phase through to the next step – consideration.
For example, if you are marketing your services to small business owners, create a guide about 10-Point Local SEO Guide for Business Owners. Or, you can be ultra specific to your target audience and create a resource like The complete A-Z SEO Audit for Legal Websites.
Note: Make sure that your lead magnet is highly relevant to your guest content.
For instance, I’ve written a guest post for Ninja Outreach, which mainly targets startups and business owners.
I came up with an article titled “How to Find Thousands of Link Opportunities”.
Thinking that startup owners don’t have much time to promote their businesses online through external content distribution, I compiled hundreds of blog link opportunities and turned it into a monster lead magnet titled 666 Blog Link Opportunities database.
This bonus resource can only be accessed if readers provide their email address.
Also, I added a pre and post-announcement of the lead magnet at the beginning and end of the post to describe how my bonus resource would benefit its target readers:
Bryan Harris used a similar approach in his expanded guest post on Jon Acuff's blog that netted him 323 new email subscribers in the first 3 days after publish:
You can see that he builds anticipation at the beginning of the post by creating an expectation "gap":
The readers are told he has 10 actionable strategies, but then Bryan flips it saying he is only revealing his favorite 3 in the post.
The reader is left thinking - "WTF, I want them all now!"
At this point the expectation is set and all Bryan then needs to say is that if they read to the bottom of the post they will be able to access the remaining 7 bonus strategies.
Wheeew! Big relief, right? :)
And, this is what it looks like at the end of the post:
Just like that, Bryan is turning guest post readers into leads for his email course "Get 10K Subscribers".
I’ve used this exact process to land clients with $10,000 link building budgets.
Another example is a guest post from GotchSEO on broken link building that drove 67 new email subscribers to my blog:
Not bad for a post that only took me 2 hours to write.
The process was the same.
I added a set of bonuses at the end of the post, linking to the landing page I created specifically for those referred GotchSEO blog readers:
#4: Harness the power of data-driven blog commenting (and scale)
Before all the spam trolls starts surfacing...
Listen to what the police have to say:
I leave topically relevant comments on topically relevant sites, all the time.
Google Spam Master
If used the way they were intended, blogs commenting is a great way to promote content, diversify your link profile, and generate new SEO clients.
Here's how to do it the right way:
Step 1: Find quality blogs (with authority and traffic)
Similar to the guest post qualifying process outlined above, in order to build a successful blog commenting campaign, you need to comment on sites that:
(a) have an engaged audience (lots of comments on articles)
(b) get a lot of traffic
Step 2: Leave comments that add value (and grab attention)
This is a biggie!
Before you leave a single blog comment make sure what you are submitting adds value for the reader, and captures the attention of the site's owner:
Also - make sure the links you are including in the response are relevant to the topic of the post. Stay away from product links, promotion and service pages. No one wants to be sold to in the blog comments. You'll just waste a lot of time, and your comment will never see the light of day.
STEP 3: Check your referral traffic data in you Google Analytics to which blog comment targets are driving the most leads for your business:
Scale this approach by setting an alert to notify you any time a proven target publishes a new piece of content. This will help you land comments early, gain greater exposure, and drive more leads:
#5: Launch a referral campaign (and generate WOMM)
This is probably the most effective marketing strategy every SEO consultant and/or entrepreneur should prioritize in their sales and marketing process.
The concept is pretty self-explanatory...
Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is basically getting your network and clients to refer friends and colleagues to your services.
A few things you can implement immediately to increase your client referrals:
- Offer a referral commission – a 15% commission flat free rate for every lead they can refer to your business. Our company offers additional free backlinks (one-time) on top of the guaranteed links for every closed referral.
- Provide a small free service other SEO agencies are not providing– free proposal, free initial SEO audit or free coaching session to their internal SEO team (if it is a marketing department).
- Do great work – nothing more, nothing less.
There you have it.
If you will implement any of the strategies above, you can generate new leads every month for your SEO business.
One good example of word-of-mouth marketing in action is our existing client who referred our services to one of his colleagues who owns a legal firm in Australia:
Do you want more SEO leads?
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- PDF version of this guide – How to Get Five Figure SEO Leads every month.
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