Running an SEO agency is hard enough day-to-day without worrying about where your next client is going to come from, and that’s even if you have any signed up yet.
It can be very daunting.
I know from experience that SEO leads are hard to find.
But I also know from experience working at an SEO agency that finding SEO leads can be a breeze. I only worked there for a short time but drove plenty of business with very little effort, as I also had client accounts to manage at the same time. My small efforts worked.
I’ve written about many great lead generation tools, but read on for the best seo lead generation techniques to try with your agency. Most are free, or very affordable.
All of them are tried, tested and incredibly effective. Trust me.
1. Cold Emailing Businesses
Leads and prospects are the lifeline of any SEO or marketing agency.
And still one of the oldest and best ways to get them is to send out cold emails.
Yes, it does still work. In fact, according to Mailchimp, the average open rate for any cold emails sent sits in the region of 20%. With an average click-through rate of 2.4%.
But before you can send any cold emails, you need to find b2b lead lists.
Or lots of business email addresses. But how do you do that?
I created Lead Peep as the solution for this exact problem. It finds lists of businesses by keyword and location with business names, email addresses, phone numbers, postal address and other contact data included in lead lists. Designed with cold emailing in mind.
Here’s how lead lists look in your Lead Peep dashboard:
These lists can then be exported in Excel or a CSV file.
Most email marketing products that allow the use of cold emailing will support the importing of these leads straight from the exported file from Lead Peep. Mailshake is pretty good.
You then put together a short but effective email. Or use a cold email template.
Introduce yourself or your business and send it to all of the emails in your list. Once a business replies, they become a prospect. Now you must nurture them.
Follow-up with a phone call and try to get a meeting scheduled ASAP.
Hello lots of new SEO clients. Wohoo!
Tips for cold emailing to find new SEO leads:
- Personalise subject lines
- A/B test subject lines and email content
- Follow-up at least 4 times before removing leads from your lists
2. Local SEO – “City Name SEO”
This may sound like an obvious method to some people, but trust me it’s not.
Local business owners are searching for “SEO City Name” and “City Name SEO” more often than you’d think. Just crack open SEMrush and have a look. It’s a no-brainer.
Whilst working at a local marketing agency in Liverpool, I ranked my own website for our local keywords including “SEO Liverpool”, “Liverpool SEO” and many other variations. This was entirely in my spare time, too. And the leads slowly started coming in. One-by-one.
Just like that, more revenue for the business. Just one hour a night of effort.
It worked so well that I got 3 pay rises in my first year of employment.
And you can do exactly the same thing. Just do your research and select an area local to you with a decent amount of search volume. Target it with all of your effort.
In my old stomping ground of Liverpool it’s pretty clear to see that “SEO Liverpool” offers the highest search volume and, ultimately, the best opportunity for local SEO agencies.
In fact, I just had a look in SEMrush and it’s pretty impressive.
“SEO Liverpool” is showing an estimated monthly search volume of 1,000 in the UK with an estimated CPC of $12.52 which shows tremendous opportunity. It was in the region of 700 back when I worked at that marketing agency, so the opportunity has grown.
You’re probably thinking it’s too competitive, though, right?
It’s not. Let’s just take a look at Pete Duffy who is currently in position one.
In Ahrefs I can see that he has a total of 254 referring domains with a domain rating of 26, and a Moz domain authority of 22. Both of these are very low. It’s not a very strong domain.
So now’s your time to shine. That’s an opportunity I’d jump all over right away.
You might be thinking that this is a unique occurrence. Quite a large city (for the UK anyway) with lots of search volume and relatively low competition? I can tell you from past experience, however, that it’s not. The majority of towns and cities in the UK are this easy to crack.
I’d hazard a guess that it’s the same in most other countries, too, as SEO has become a bandwagon that everyone has jumped on with little-to-no experience.
But what about the local map pack, Marty?
Well, to show up in your local map pack you’ll want plenty of NAP citations.
You can go through a list of business directories to get these, and if you’re a startup you can try our list of startup directories. There are over 30 high DA directories in the list.
As you can see from the screenshot above, reviews are an important factor in local map pack results, too, so you’ll want to ask your current clients to take a moment to review you. It’s no coincidence that result one has more reviews than the others. Bare that in mind.
Tips for ranking for local SEO keywords:
- Use targeted titles and headers on the homepage vs. an internal page
- Don’t get too many backlinks that include the city name as it’s unnatural
- Ensure all NAP citations are formatted exactly the same way
3. Free SEO Audits
Another awesome way to get more SEO leads is to provide free SEO audits.
With this method you can really maximise the effectiveness of your current organic or paid traffic. I’d recommend giving MySiteAuditor a try for this. It automates everything.
Your visitors enter their website URL, a keyword and their contact deals.
Just like that. A lead.
A potential new SEO client.
MySiteAuditor can automatically send an SEO audit / report to each of your leads, and you can then consider these people as prospects interested in your SEO services.
It’s not free, but it is relatively affordable starting from $39 per month.
But with SEO services starting in the region of a few hundred to thousands of dollars a month this seems like a very small expense for something potentially so valuable. You only need one of them to convert each month to make that expense disappear into the abyss.
You can personalise every SEO audit report with your logo and contact information.
And send them to your leads via email. Or a sexy PDF. My favourite.
Tips for collecting leads by offering free audits:
- Display the audit widget above the fold on your main landing page and blog sidebars
- Get in touch with leads as quickly as you can to keep them warm
- Book a meeting as soon as you possibly can
4. Content Marketing on Your Blog
Still one of the greatest attributes of any website is a blog. Like ours.
Great content on a blog can pull in massive amounts of traffic and, if targeted at the right industry, lots of new sales and leads for your business. Think Moz. They do it right.
It all starts with a content calendar. We use PublishPress for WordPress.
It’s a completely free WordPress Plugin. I personally love using it.
You can schedule content for the next week, month, or however long you like. And you can enter post titles and ideas with one click directly on the calendar page.
The best way to get content ideas for your calendar is to fire up SEMrush or a similar keyword research tool and start by viewing the keywords that your top 5 competitors are ranking for. Potential SEO clients are going to be looking for ways to grow their business online.
Here’s the type of content you should be publishing:
- Actionable guides and tutorials, like how to set up a LinkedIn business page
- Answer common questions, like how much does SEO cost?
- Write about industry news and updates, like Google algorithm rollouts
- Publish industry reports with opinions from experts
“Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” – Avinash Kaushik
Don’t always focus on broad keywords as these are highly competitive.
Long-tail keywords often offer easy ranking opportunities. Quick wins we call them.
The traffic may not be as high as broader terms, but if you publish this sort of content on a regular basis it will soon add up to a decent amount of potential new SEO leads.
But exactly how much content should you be publishing on your blog?
When I worked at an SEO agency I would always recommend to our SEO clients that we publish at least three pieces of fresh, new content on their blog per week. I’d recommend the same for marketing agencies looking to pick up new SEO leads, too.
There’s no right or wrong answer really.
See what works best for you, your team and your agency.
Tips for getting the most from your content:
- Use short, concise and catchy titles that promote click-throughs
- Use your target keyword(s) in the title, permalink (url) and content
- Share all new content on your social media channels
- Include expert opinions, link to them and ask them to share
- Cross-link all of your content wherever possible
5. Free Tools & Resources
In the SEO space, free tools and resources work great, right Moz?
Here at Lead Peep we’ve had our own free marketing tools section since day one.
Our first tool was a disavow file generator, something I brought over from Rankable, my old SEO agency. And because it’s simple, useful and solves a problem it ranks in position one on Google and has earned free backlinks from sites like Ahrefs, Hostinger and Moz.
Screaming Frog and Fat Joe are two other companies who spring to mind when I think of businesses who have really benefited greatly from providing free tools.
Create free tools that can help your readers to:
- Make a task simpler, faster or more effective, like our disavow generator
- Find and overcome problems, like Screaming Frog
- See how good you are at SEO with a tool like Fat Joe’s FATRANK
Great free tools will for sure pull in new potential SEO leads for you.
They’ll also earn you free backlinks just like ours did. And if you look at the link profiles for the examples above you will find they have many inbound links for their tools alone.
6. Partnerships & Referral Fees
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know, right?
And that’s why partnerships can work so well. If you offer only SEO, why not refer clients looking for web design to another digital agency? Ask for the same in return.
Referral payments are a great idea for current clients, too.
If they’re happy with their service and results, they’ll naturally want to brag about it to their business friends, so why not give them another reason to tell people about you? A small incentive such as a one-time or recurring commission payment is a great idea.
“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napolean Hill
HubSpot‘s partner program is a great example of how successful partnerships can be. Slightly different from partnering with an SEO agency, of course, but still relevant.
Developing and nurturing partnerships provides huge value for both parties.
A traditional affiliate program might work, too. It’s worth a shot.
Great partnership ideas for SEO agencies:
- Lead generation agencies
- Content writing freelancers and agencies
- SaaS products who offer digital services like ranking trackers
- Web hosting providers who offer business hosting
- Web design and development agencies
- Local professionals like accountants, recruiters and legal people
7. Business Communities & Groups
You must establish yourself as an expert in within the SEO community.
On Quora there are new questions being asked every single day. Questions about SEO. Questions about running businesses. Questions about search engines. And the experts who answer them are gaining a lot of visibility, as are their related businesses.
I’m sure you see where I’m going here.
Get yourself an account on Quora and fill out your profile. Be sure to include a bio about what you’re an expert in, how you help people and a link to your agency website.
Here’s how my Quora profile is looking right now:
My account isn’t very active right now, as you can see.
But it’s definitely part of our extended marketing strategy for Lead Peep.
Try to log on a few times a week and answer SEO-related questions thoroughly. Research them if you have to. If you provide great value, business owners will take the time to look at your agency website from your profile and see how you can help them.
The same goes for LinkedIn.
Only on LinkedIn we want to be connecting with business owners and again sharing our knowledge and answering questions. You do this within LinkedIn Groups.
Tips for getting SEO leads via business communities:
- Answer questions organically without any self-promotion
- Research questions if you don’t think you can add enough value
- Add all professional info to profiles as well as key contact information
- Allocate time each week to networking and sharing knowledge
8. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is still one of the best, most effective and wide-reaching ways to gain visibility as an expert in your field as well as earning backlinks for your SEO agency.
And I don’t mean those $5 guest posts you buy on Fiverr.
I mean real guest posts. Professional ones. Needle-moving ones.
The type of guest posts that you spend many hours writing, for publication on major outlets such as Forbes, HuffPost, Moz, Ahrefs, Search Engine Land and other industry blogs.
And no it’s not impossible to get them.
And no you don’t need to pay for them. Never. Ever.
But what you do need to do is spend a good amount of time researching and writing one that adds real, undeniable value. Not just for the editor reviewing your guest post at these major outlets, but for the readers who will potentially see your post if it’s published.
Every site will have their own requirements for contributors.
Make sure you read them and don’t waste your time, or theirs, if you don’t meet them. Time-wasting with this sort of marketing activity can be a soul-destroyer.
Tips for being successful at guest blogging:
- Write to genuinely help people, not to promote yourself
- Make sure every post is at least 1,000 words long
- Where possible, include expert quotes for further amplification
- Use plenty of brand anchors when linking back to your website.
So there we go. No more wondering “how to get my first SEO client.”
Best of luck with your new SEO Agency!
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Founder of Lead Peep and frequent knowledge-sharer on the Lead Peep blog where I write about marketing, sales and lead generation.
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