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Maybe you run your own SEO business. Maybe you work at a marketing agency. Or maybe you are a web developer, or SEO freelancer wanting to target more SEO clients.
Either way, you may be wondering:
- “Where can I find potential clients so I can pitch to them?”
- “How can I find high-quality leads?”
If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here, I’ll be debunking some common (yet persistent) beliefs about where SEO leads can come from, along with some killer tips on how you can find good leads — the kind of leads that can turn into real, paying customers for your business.
Note: This is just a fun guide to get your juices flowing. Don’t take anything I say too seriously.
Where Do SEO Companies Find Leads?
I’ve learned that SEO leads may not always come from your website. Surprised?
Indeed, one of the strangest realizations I’ve had is that many SEO companies don’t get a lot of leads from their website. It’s strange because you’d think an SEO company would get tons of leads from their website since — hello — they rank websites for a living! But that’s not always the case.
Over the years, I’ve networked with many SEO companies and consultants. What I’ve uncovered is that the vast majority of them don’t spend nearly as much time optimizing their own website as they should.
Don’t believe me?
Just Google some SEO companies in your area and you’ll quickly spot some glaring issues begging to be fixed. Things like broken contact forms, no SSL certificate, silly looking sliders, etc. Just do some digging around and you’ll see for yourself.
I’ve even been guilty of it myself. For example, my own call-to-action button wasn’t showing up on my site, but I didn’t fix it for months because I was too busy with SEO work for my clients.
Where I Actually Get My SEO Leads
Want to know where I get my best leads from?
As it turns out, I get most — if not all — of my leads from word-of-mouth referrals and networking. It’s ironic, because I run a digital business, and yet my digital business gets most of its authentic leads from the real 3D world. Who would have thunk it?
Do I still get leads from my website? Yes I do. But I tend to find that most of them are just price shopping and aren’t interested in the real costs associated with successful SEO campaigns.
When someone is referred to me, they come to me with some initial trust already built-in thanks to the fact that they trust the person that referred them to me.
As of writing this, I’ve only received one lead from my website that turned into a paying customer. And that was only because another complimentary business in town sent them to my website. So while many SEO businesses get great leads from their website, I wanted to open your eyes to plenty of other ways of finding great leads that you can convert into paying customers.
Even better, these methods don’t require you to:
- Sit around waiting for your website to generate leads.
- Shell out hundreds of dollars for marketing leads.
- Run a ton of ads and wait for the phone to ring.
- Cold call anyone. Since everyone just loves cold calling, don’t they? Not.
That said, it definitely doesn’t hurt to do any of those things — and in fact, many SEOs do. Heck, some of these methods can even work well at times. The point I’m trying to make here is that you can get great leads without having to rely just one or two strategies like running ads or hoping clients run across your website (especially if you’ve got broken call-to-action buttons).
Like Moths to a Flame
Consider that most people who want to use your services don’t have an in-depth understanding of SEO. They may know a few things, but they don’t know the whole picture. And if they were to really dig into the nuts and bolts of trying to do their own SEO, they’d quickly throw up their hands and walk away!
And herein lies the value of making yourself visible as the SEO expert to your potential clients.
The fact is, most people don’t know what they don’t know. They may think they have a perfectly fine SEO strategy, but in fact, they may not. They need you to educate them about what they don’t know.
That’s why I started my own SEO meetup group, for three important reasons:
- To teach people how to do their own small SEO fixes. During each meetup, I chose specific SEO topics to discuss. I then walked the group through how to fix these SEO issues on a big screen and provided resources to them.
- To find potential clients who may need more than just an overview of SEO fixes. By making myself visible, I educated people on what they didn’t know, and found potential clients that may have needed my help.
- To create referral machines. I may be the only SEO expert they’ve ever spent time with. So even if no one in the meetup group ended up asking me for help, it’s very possible they will refer other potential clients to me. It’s a win-win strategy. At the very least, you are making new friends!
Let me give you a real-life example.
One day, I walked my meetup group through how to do a full-fledged manual website audit. We went over crawling, indexing, redirects, broken links — you name it. But here’s the thing. I knew that performing a website audit would be pretty overwhelming to anyone who’s not an SEO expert. After all, that’s what SEOs get paid to do, right?
So, by putting myself in front of the group and doing the audit I was able to:
- Position myself as the SEO expert.
- Help people understand just how difficult SEO really is (at which point, they might want help).
Overall, the group had tons of questions about the presentation and really enjoyed seeing how the pros do it. And after the meetup, one of the members from the group approached me to discuss their website. It was a large, messy website, and after seeing all of the things that could potentially go wrong, asked me to work for them!
Watching Their Back
I’ve also got another great technique for finding companies that clearly need SEO assistance. I’ve never seen anyone write about it before and its killer for finding potential leads by way of building trust with them.
Disclaimer: This is a cold outreach type of strategy and it’s not for everyone.
Basically, I’ve found a way to quickly locate websites with technical SEO issues. It’s not about finding pages titles that are too long. Rather, I know how to find the stickier SEO issues that a business would be much more concerned about. I’m not ready to share all of my techniques but I’ll share this one.
On Google you can use search operators to find staging sites that have been indexed. Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
You can politely reach out to the owner of the site and alert them to the problem. Make sure to include a screenshot. Most times, they may already have someone on staff who handles these types of issues. If so, they’ll just say “thanks” and forward it to their own team.
But what’s great about this strategy is that you’ll be in the back of their mind if or when their team drops the ball again. And because you’ve positioned yourself as trustworthy, they’ll be more receptive if you pitch your services to them later.
Looking for more guidance on running a successful SEO business? Check out “Bring Home the Bacon“.