Starting your own SEO business is an exciting new adventure. This is the first of a series of tips, steps, lessons, and tutorials on how to start your own SEO business. One of the many aspects of starting out as an SEO is finding clients. We’ve put together a list of five steps to start getting new clients, both for the near-term and long-term.
1) Get a website or a blog – If you don’t have one already, the fastest and easiest way to start is with a blog. With a blog, not only can you blog, but you can also add pages, such as a “services” page, “contact” page, etc. Buy a domain and get a web host, and host your own WordPress blog. This way all of your blog posts contribute to the content and indexing of your own domain that you can take with you even if you change web hosts. Make sure clients can easily email and call you, show that you are a real person. Don’t plaster your picture all over your site, because it’s not about you. Don’t forget to blog on your new blog. Blogging helps you learn as you think of what to blog about. Sometimes you can just start with an idea you might have from reading another blog post and continue the discussion. Lee Odden suggests starting by blogging about your niche specialty and even submitting to some of the SEO news sites.
2) Keyword List and Content – Create a keyword list (AKA keyword glossary) for reference when you blog, but also build content based on your keyword list. Write an article or web page for each keyword to start. Each of these should be useful, helpful, and interesting, and each creates an entrance page for potential customers to find you through the search engines and through pay per click advertising (use these as landing pages for specific terms). Add an image to your blog posts and pages to make it visually appealing. The more content you have, the more “doors” you have to your website based on different keywords and phrases. You’d be surprised at what terms people use and end up at your site. For example, we now rank in the top 10 of Google for “santa’s favorite cookie” because of a post about using Google to find Santa’s favorite cookie.
3) Local businesses – One of your best bets is going to be local businesses. If you need to get some quick clients you are going to need to find them yourself. Some will have a website, others will not at all. There are lots of approaches to contacting these businesses. I suggest you find a dozen or so businesses that you would like to approach. Set aside an entire day, about 30-45 minutes for each business. Look for their website, and check for a few simple SEO things, such as optimized title and header tags, content needs, backlinks, etc. and write up a few points for each business. Then start a keyword list for each business (SoloSEO has an easy keyword site scan feature) of keywords 2-4 words in length that you would think that most people would use if they were looking for their service. Be sure to include the name of their business and their domain name. Run a keyword ranking report and see how they fare in the rankings, and print out this report. Spend the next day visiting these businesses (dress nice, professional) and talking to owners and managers (be sure to bring business cards). Tell them you specialize in search marketing and whatever your niche is, and have a few tips to help their business. Listen first and see what their needs are and what they are doing about them, if anything. Give them your SEO suggestions for their site and the ranking report, and do it in a no obligation way. Briefly tell them what your services could do to help them out, and ask if they are interested in discussing it further. Be sure to do your homework on local search, and know what things they could do to jump into local search.
If the business does not have a website, suggest how a website could help them. Even if you don’t design websites, you can work with a business or individual that does and offer it as a service along with your SEO services.
4) Pro bono work – Find business associations or charities that wouldn’t ever really consider hiring an SEO, and do pro bono work for them. This gives you an opportunity to explain search marketing and optimization to them, then they in turn are in a position where they would recommend you to others. This also helps create a track record, so after you’ve done some work and helped increase rankings, traffic, and conversions, you can tell others what you did for them and use them as a reference. SoloSEO has a feature that will track site statistics over time (backlinks, pagerank, Alexa Rank) and you can save keyword ranking reports for comparing them over time.
5) Start networking – Plan now on attending SES New York and PubCon. These conferences are well attended by people just like you, some who have been doing it for years, some just as long as you, and others who are gearing up to start. Some SEOs will have so many clients they will be looking for someone reliable to pass on the overflow to. Go to as many sessions as you can and talk to speakers afterwards with real questions (not just hey, just wanted to meet you).
These steps you can start on today to get yourself ahead in the growing field of SEO. Of course there is much more work involved than this, but these steps are certain to get you to the next level in getting new SEO clients.
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