This is more of an open question to everyone – does anyone know of a more up-to-date version of the Jim Boykin table Neil linked to in the 2nd paragraph beneath “Be Results Driven” for click rate for top 10 search results? I’d love to use this strategy but I imagine these figures are much different nowadays.
I know this goes without saying… the best clients you will ever get as an agency is from previous customers, friends, or even family members. When someone refers to you, chances of you closing that deal are really high.
Dan Kennedy talks a bit about a preponderance of proof when you’re presenting yourself to your potential client. To build some credibility for yourself initially, evidence of sites you’ve ranked and results you’ve obtained will help a great deal when you’re selling SEO. You want to be able to show these to prospects, so they know you’re not, for lack of a better term, full of shit.
I always admit upfront to clients, that personally, I do not perform white hat strategies because Google told me so? Rather because white hat SEO includes the foundational marketing principles that sustainably builds and develops businesses.
Awesome article, perhaps the best one I have seen on this topic. I am final year businesss student in the UK and the article basically outlines what I aim to accomplish over the next five years or so. I was wondering what is the best way to get in touch with you if I want to ask you a bit more detailed question? Thanks again for taking the time to publish this.
Editing all of those directories can be time consuming, especially when you’re trying to run a business! Check out Vistaprint’s Local Listings service, which makes it very easy to submit your NAP data to directory data aggregators. It will also highlight where incorrect NAP data exists and correct it for you, all in one click!
Modern content management systems do a pretty good job in this area, and if you are using WordPress you are really lucky as there are some great SEO plugins that make tuning the technical side of things easy.
Thanks for the great info Neil! You really put the smaller clients into perspective and I like how you seem to focus on the Pumpkin strategy and building bigger clients. I think that’s one area that I can use a lot of improvement in. Needless to say I’ll be updating my companies strategies and plan of attack based off of some of these recommendations.
Thanks for the great post! I also read your recent one with the site review sample for your website. Do you have any sample proposals that indicate all of the ideas you talked about? It’s hard for me to visualize this for some reason and I think it would be super helpful. Thanks for your time!
Finding clients’ is just one phase of the game, educating clients is a different ball game entirely. There is a high probability that most of your clients will be small business owners that have neither heard of the word “SEO”, know how it works.
JFK’s quote, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” seems apropos here. The “violence” is the efforts of blackhat SEOs and advertisers to take back their share of what was lost through whatever methods they can use to circumvent Google’s guidelines.
The best place to hide a website is Page 2 of a google search result! Unless a company website finds itself on the first page of a search engine result, chances are very slim for it to get much viewers and customers.
Have confidence that you are an expert and your potential clients need your services. If you speak with conviction and know more about how to grow their business than they do, you are ahead of the game.
What we found was that quite often the contract in question would be given to someone who has done a really fluffy, shiny, glossy, visually lovely proposal in comparison to ours. More often than not the proposals said very little and we would have to read between the lines to work out what the agency said they would do for the customer.
I think there is plenty to takeaway here: speaking both as a professional SEO and as a nonfiction writer. But I also feel there is a unique and direct message to plenty of potential entrepreneurs reading this. I really feel that there is a clear point in your narrative that really stands out – one that I am going to call your “one-in-a-million” moment. I’m referring, of course, to this:
When it comes to search engine optimization for a new website, some businesses can be intimidated due to the amount of information out there. And often, if they don’t have the help of an experienced in-house SEO or consultant, they will do nothing.
Wonderful post Gary. I started a small web design company a few years ago and only recently started offering SEO services also. There are many small businesses that simply have no idea where to begin let alone have the time to learn about it. Inspirational post thanks.
Well, a good place to check out would be the good people over at RankPay. They provide a very easy to use sign up process that provides you with everything you could possibly need, and more, for your prospective client’s websites to prosper in the search engine.
Solid advice you’re serving here, based on my own experience. I’d like to add a couple of thoughts. First, I think it’s important to reiterate the need to stay current. You simply cannot fall asleep at the wheel and continue to sustain a career. Second, as a generalist, I think you need to maintain a broad knowledge of the best tools and resources available for the job. SEO’s are excellent about sharing that information too, it’s just you can spend a lot of time wading in the mud before you look up and see that clear sky above you.
Submit your website to applicable industry directories or, alternatively, buy advertising. For example, anyone in the wedding business could get listings with a link back to their website on The Knot, The Wedding Channel, and other similar sites. Bypass low-quality directories that have nothing to do with your industry or ones that link to shady websites in the adult, pharmaceutical, or online casino industries.
The most basic thing to do is to make sure that you know all you need before starting up the business. It may seem like an easy thing, but a true expert takes years of practice and reading on this topic. The most important things are: to identify and analyze the relevant keywords, to write qualitative content with the keywords, to use Google Analytics, to write good meta tags and descriptions and many more.
I have been constantly improving that audit throughout the last 4 years of doing full-time SEO consulting. You should find it super helpful and can tweak it however you like. I would charge $500 for a micro audit (8 pages) and $900 for a full audit (15 pages). This is a simple pricing structure and will be affordable for any serious client.
Brilliantly written, thoroughly liked reading the post. Especially the points you have mentioned about things to keep in mind when doing a face to face meeting with prospective clients are encouraging.
Starting your own agency takes a lot of grit. If you believe everything you read online you can set yourself up for failure. Setting up your own business isn’t a sprint but a very long marathon. I leaned it doesn’t happen over night but keep setting your goals and moving forward and never compare yourself to others in the industry.
There may be a lack of any specific qualifications so there is seemingly a low barrier to entry – you can’t do a PHD in search engine optimisation and even if you could it would be horribly out of date by the time you had finished it.
A common mistake with many SEO newbies is to focus solely on the technical aspects of SEO- keyword research and rank tracking, link building, and link profiling – with no real consideration of the quality of the content on your site and the natural flow, or how visitors take their journey through your site.
Perhaps the best piece of advice is to dive in. A lot about running your own business isn’t knowable until you do it. so if one of your new years resolutions was to quit the day job and strike out on your own, then go for it!
Split your goals into short term, medium term and long term. Where do you see yourself in five years time? How about this time next year? In the case of search marketing, who knows if it will be around in five years time, and if so, in what form?
Anything you can do at this point to instil fear and urgency in the client should be used, they must feel like if they don’t grab this opportunity now, they are going to be missing out and losing ground to their competitors (Which in reality is true).
“If you decide to work with us then you are the only [insert industry] we will be working with in [insert city/country/continent].” – Explain that while you have been in contact with other businesses in their niche/area/industry, if they subscribe to your SEO services, it will come with a guarantee that they will be the only organisation you work with in that niche/industry in that city/country/continent. Obviously amend this based on what sort of company you are pitching to, a local accountant for example will be slightly different to a multi-national company operating in numerous countries.
Once you have your WordPress site built and live, you really need to have a professional looking design on it. One option would be to have one custom designed, which will cost hundreds of dollars/pounds.