How to obtain, sustain and maintain SEO clients


Most businesses in a competitive marketplace view analysis of competitors as one of the most important aspects of remaining in business. Successful businesses are aware and attempt to out compete rivals by exploiting advantages, such as lower prices, higher quality or better services. Without information about a competitor and the marketplace, firms cannot know how best to compete against them.

This competitive concern is of rapidly increasing importance in the online marketing world. As search engines continue to improve search technologies based on actual relevance and generally accepted SEO practices, business will need assistance in getting their online presence to be more competitively viable, and obviously more visible.

SEO professionals can use a business’ necessary interest in competitors as an “in” to OBTAIN more clients. As business owners ourselves, we currently receive hundreds of emails and phone calls annually from various consultants offering their “services and expertise” to assist us in “building our businesses.” It is pretty easy to tell these folks to take a hike, since rarely do any of them hook us with something we believe we need, or can’t do better on our own. However, SEO professionals have an advantage when pitching business people with a similar mindset. The concept of SEO is still not widely understood among the business community, although most understand the importance of being in first position on a search engine results page, and they are more than willing to pay for this number 1 position, they do not know how to make optimization a reality. The only unfortunate challenge to overcome, is these same business professionals are also now wary of “techie” promises and programming “voodoo,” which is usually not explained or understood, and does not deliver the promised results within a reasonable amount of time. The stories of these types of technological swindles are commonplace, and frequently repeated in business circles.

The key for SEOs, when attempting to obtain new clients, is the ability to communicate concisely where the client is positioned in the online marketplace, explain what SEO processes need to be done, why SEO will help, provide reports on the progress, and eventually deliver the results expected.

Here is what we suggest should be done to hook new business savvy clients to your SEO services…

First, SEO professionals need to contact potential clients and simply offer them a free “online competitive analysis report” (available at, which will show the target company a snapshot of how they stack up against their online competitors. Every business person, truly concerned with their firm’s success, will find this offer hard to decline.

Second, after running the report and compiling the information. I would suggest sending the potential clients these reports, with an explanation as to what the data means (either via text or over the phone), and then a brief synopsis of what you could do to help them in the online environment in a proposal format.

Third, once a fair price is negotiated and the client is OBTAINED, it is important to give this client frequent updates to your progress, via formal reports (available at, at pre-determined intervals in order to MAINTAIN the good relationship and momentum. If businesses are paying for a service, they have a right to expect a reporting of the process, and SEOs are obligated to provide these updates when requested. Over time clients will become more familiar with the format and information contained on the reports, and just a quick email with the reports attached, without explanation, will provide them all they need to feel “in the loop.” Personally, I do not like receiving updates too frequently, as it can become rather annoying. I prefer to receive reports only when there is unusually good/bad news, or just a monthly synopsis of what has been accomplished the previous 4 weeks. Each client will have different expectations, so asking the client how often they want to hear from you is preferable, then stick to their schedule to build good will.

We also suggest providing clients an expected time for completion of the initial optimization, after you have had some time to analyze their existing site. This gives clients a timeline to gauge the SEO progress, which can reduce suspicion of technological foul play.

As a client’s site becomes more optimized and the site begins to perform better, we suggest documenting these changes in a report (done automatically in to build and SUSTAIN a long-term relationship. When clients see the results of your efforts, they will be more inclined to provide you with the recognition, referrals and long-term agreement you desire and deserve. Additionally, always keep an eye on a client’s competitors and what they are doing online. If your client’s competitors are sharp, they too will begin to figure out what needs to be done and start the optimization process. This competitive change could escalate the importance of your service in your client’s eyes, and your staying on top of it demonstrates you care about the client’s competitive position. Most clients will begin to feel relief with the knowledge you are actively watching and protecting their online interests.

This being said, there will unfortunately be some SEOs who will recognize an obvious financial opportunity to contact an existing client’s competitors, and attempt to entice them to pay for SEO services. Most likely suggesting these new clients must optimize to keep pace with the original clients progress. This is a serious conflict of interest, it is unethical, poor judgement, and potentially illegal depending on the agreement signed with each client, please avoid this practice. I can’t think of anything more pathetic (and useless) than an SEO offering their prison cellmate free SEO services in exchange for gang protection, or some smokes. Seriously, SEO has already earned a somewhat tarnished image through various tawdry link exchange swindles, and other questionable ineffective SEO practices, and now only time, with honest SEO effort and ethical behavior, can eventually overcome this negative perception.

Honesty in business might be a bit boring to some, but I would suggest it is still the best chance at long-term success. As an example, if you find a potential client has very few online competitors, or if they don’t need much SEO help within their industry to rank them highly, tell this to the client, explain the current situation to them, and why they are doing well. But also let them know it is a perfect time to start the optimization process, so they will enjoy a future competitive advantage over others which will eventually come online. I believe the benefits from a new small client will prove to be far more profitable, over time, than charging a small firm for more SEO service than is really required at the given time.

Of our companies, Michael and I currently have two which provide proprietary technology to 4 Fortune 500 companies, and many other small business. We have found being brutally honest with all clients, even if it is not flattering to our own system or our performance, has proven to be the best strategy in building long-lasting and profitable relationships. Sugar coating situations or attempts at misinformation to protect an image do not instill confidence, and usually backfire, ruining a potentially great vendor/client relationship.

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In short, just remember business people love to see progress, and what is actually being done for the money they have spent and plan to spend. Progress reports done well can communicate this progress effectively and efficiently. These reports can calm clients, providing them with data they crave, allowing you the time required to perform SEO processes properly, which eventually delivers the predicted outcome to the target site. Great progress reporting will assist you OBTAIN, MAINTAIN and SUSTAIN new clients, which is the very reason reports are an important aspect of

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