Trying to start your own SEO agency or consultancy? Read on.
In article, I’m going to show you how I grew my SEO agency from a one man show to three in-house employees (and an army of virtual assistants) in just a couple years time.
Back in 2011, I was a senior in college and on my way to becoming a lawyer. Like many other entrepreneurs, this was the path that my family wanted me to take (aka, the safe route).
I quickly realized this wasn’t the life I wanted.
I started researching how to make money online. After an extensive search, I found “blogging” was the best route to go.
I played college baseball – it was an area I felt I had a ton of value to provide. So, I started a blog dedicated to the art of pitching. After a few months I realized I didn’t know how to drive traffic to the site. In an effort to build that blog, I stumbled across SEO.
I became obsessed. I learned, I tested, I made mistakes, but once I saw success, my life was changed. I went on to create several successful niche websites and realized I could start offering this as a service to business.
Flash forward 3 years and here I am, running a successful boutique agency that continues to grow. I know what you’re thinking: how did I get my first client?!
Before I tell you, I need you to promise me 1 thing.
Do not, I repeat do NOT, take on clients until you know exactly what you’re doing!
Ranking 1 website on the first page does NOT qualify you to manage a client’s SEO campaign. You need to have years invested in multiple algorithm updates, ranking sites in various verticals and have clear proof of REAL LIFE results.
Labeling yourself as an SEO “expert” doesn’t make you one.
If you’re confident in your ability to rank websites and drive traffic, it will not only make selling easier, but it will also make your future clients love you. When clients love you, they become your marketing team because of referrals and other social proof they provide you (testimonials/case studies).
I’m sure you don’t hear this strategy often, but I landing my first and second client on Craigslist. No, Craiglists probably won’t get you high end clients, but if you’re just trying to get your feet wet then you should start here.
Here’s what you need to do:
Go to your city >> “Gigs” and search for “SEO” – if you don’t find anything, go to a different city. Search all the large metropolitan cities.
Finding the “Gigs” is the easiest part.
Responding is where you have to be strategic. I got very high response rates because I focused on create clickbait headlines.
The headline is the most important element of anything marketing-related, so it needs to be your focus.
This headline: “Don’t Contract an Amatuer.” was a top performer.
Once you figure out how to get higher click through rates, then you need to develop a strong response. Above all else, you need to have some proof that you know what you’re doing. Show previous results, case studies, and testimonials.
With Craigslist, you need to sell the client early or you won’t get a response.
If you’re considering launching an SEO service, I highly recommend that the first thing you do is create a blog. A blog is the single best way to drive links and social shares naturally, establish yourself or your agency as an authority, and can be your biggest lead generation source.
Not only does blogging build your credibility in the SEO industry, but it will also show prospective clients that you actually know what you’re talking about.
To this date, my SEO blog is the single biggest lead gen source for my business.
Since you are likely at the bottom of the totem pole, you need to bust your ass to build your credibility. The single best way to do this is by participating on relevant communities like Quora, Reddit, Moz, SEO forums, and even popular blogs.
To get the most out of these platforms, you need to be developing content on your blog. This way you can drop a link into the discussion when it’s relevant. Don’t do this often and make sure you have given value to the community before dropping your link.
I will give you an example for Reddit.
Create an account and go subscribe to all the relevant Subreddits such as:
Go into the Subreddit and click “New” and look for questions that have no comments:
Respond the thread as quickly as possible with as much value as you can.
I’ll show you how this works in practice.
Last month, I had the perfect opportunity to drop a link on Reddit and it ended up being a great idea.
I stumbled upon this question in the “Entrepreneur” Subreddit:
Here was my response (I was the first):
This was one simple link sent me 99 qualified visitors and two new subscribers last month:
One technique for flying under the radar is to promote one of your tier one links.
For example, if there was a thread about “anchor text”, I would suggest this article from Ahrefs. This is effective because Ahrefs is a trusted name in the SEO industry, and most importantly, the suggested article is linking to my site (and Ryan’s).
You won’t get as much referral traffic from this technique, but it’s a good way to promote website without looking overly self-promotional.
Other than my blog, geo-targeted landing pages drive the most leads for my agency.
When I first started out, I created targeted pages for smaller cities like Santa Monica and Glendale. I ranked them for “city + SEO”.
I eventually started targeting larger metropolitan areas once I dominated the smaller locations. Aside from the leads you will get by ranking, you will can also use your ranking success to build your credibility. As I have already emphasized, prospective clients want to know that you ACTUALLY know what you’re doing.
There are tons of scammy SEO “experts” that don’t actually know how to get results. Don’t be that guy.
You probably won’t be able to land too many guest posts if you’re fresh in the industry, but it’s still worth a try. Guest posts build your credibility, drive relevant traffic to your website, and will give you the relevant links you need for your website to dominate.
Use this search query generator (link: http://www.targetlocal.co.uk/tools/link-prospecting-query-builder/) to find guest posts opportunites.
After you find the opportunities, you will need to qualify them. I use Majestic’s Topical Trust Flow to qualify all my link prospects.
The process is simple:
1. MajesticSEO.com >> “Tools” >> “Link Map Tools” >> “Bulk Backlinks”
2. If you have less than 150 prospective URLs, then you can simply paste your URLs in like so:
Or, if you have more than 150 prospects then you will need to upload a .csv file:
3. Download your results because now it is time to filter through and qualify the list.
4. Delete every column except for the four you see below. After you have done that, insert a filter.
5. Filter your results by “TopicalTrustFlow_Topic_0” in “Ascending” order. Delete all rows that are not relevant to your site.
My example below was for a health website, so the only sites I left were related to health in one way or another:
6. Next, filter “RefDomains” in “Ascending” order and delete any row that has less than 10 referring domains.
7. Lastly, filter your list by “TrustFlow” and delete all rows that have less than 10 Trust Flow.
You now have the most relevant link prospect list possible. In addition to this link qualifying strategy, you should also use Ryan’s link qualifying strategy that leverages SEM Rush traffic data.
Once you have a strong list of qualified prospects, you need to A) find their contact information, B) come up with guest post ideas (relevant to their website, and C) pitch the ideas to the prospect.
Read Ryan’s “All-in-One Workflow for Massive Amounts of Guest Posting” to see how you can expedite this process.
There are more advanced strategies you can employee to get clients, but showing you those would do nothing more than confuse you. Take action on these strategies I showed you and you will get your first client. The only thing holding you back from getting your first client (or more clients than you currently have) is your lack of visibility. Take action, work your ass off, and get your name out there.
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