Now that you’re responsible for everything that will happen in your career, you will have to include essential non-SEO tasks in your to-do list and that is finding ways to get clients.
Landing SEO clients requires a different set of skills that you may not have at the moment.
For it, you have two options:
- You can either partner early on with an excellent salesman,
- or you can learn to pick up on the nuances of feeling out prospects and the things it’ll take to convert them into customers as fast as you can.
However, the beauty of SEO is that it’s a results-oriented practice.
As long as you can produce the work prospects want from you based on the previous works you’ve done, you have a good chance of nailing them as clients.
Local SEO clients are even easier.
You can have them sign non-payment contracts until you hit a certain threshold and due to the extremely low competition, you’ll often be able to get results within a matter of weeks and without spending more than $100.
You’ll still need to find clients though, so here’s a few methods that you can utilize to start letting the leads flow in.
5 Best Ways To Get Clients in 2023
Tapping into your network is the lowest hanging fruit.
Ask your friends around if they or someone they know are looking for SEO, marketing or website help. You can also try and reach out to your former colleagues for opportunities.
Don’t spam your network when asking for referrals, as you could alienate them instead of sending potential clients your way.
Likewise, your approach is everything, friendships will get burned if people feel used.
2. Job Boards
Send your pitches to them the moment you see their job posting. Being one of the first to send your proposal increases your chances of getting the job.
Using Upwork, you can filter the results based on your areas of expertise in SEO. Just type “niche seo,” and replace “niche” with your industry,
The results should provide you with a variety of SEO jobs related to your field of interest.
If you want to see jobs available for your industry that matches your skills, you can set up the job categories on your profile.
If set up correctly, you should see the best jobs from your feed.
To do this, log into your account and click on your avatar, then select Settings from the drop-down menu.
On the left sidebar, choose User Settings > Profile Settings. On this page, scroll down until you see the Categories section.
From the screenshot above, I have chosen Sales & Marketing as my specialty. In particular, I selected SEM and SEO.
From here, Upwork with show you job opportunities about these categories so you can automatically see the jobs available to you,
If you want to add, remove, or make changes in the categories you’ve chosen, click on the pencil icon to open a menu box where you can select the categories you want to add here.
On the pop-up window, you may want to consider adding other categories aside from SEO, so Upwork will show you potential jobs that you can apply for.
Next, if you click on the Find Work link on the menu, you will see jobs related to your chosen categories.
If you’re interested in any of the job openings in your feed, click on it to read the details before sending over your proposal.
If you feel you’re the right candidate for the job, click on the “Submit a Proposal” button on the top-right of the window.
In the proposal, you must indicate your asking rate for the project, your qualifications, and why they should hire you for the job.
IMPORTANT: As you can see on the screenshot above, there is an Upwork Service Fee for all the projects you will work on.
The service fee depends on how much you’ve earned from Upwork. Since you’re a newbie, the platform will take 20% off your first $500.
After which, it will take 10% from your earnings from $501 to $10,000. Once you’ve exceeded the $10,000 mark, you will be charged 5% moving forward.
It is the price you pay for using Upwork for hunting jobs.
Because it connects you with clients looking for SEO freelancers like you and processes your payment seamlessly, Upwork will take a portion of your earnings every time you secure a project from the platform.
If you wish to push through with your application, scroll down to see the section to upload your cover letter and share your sample works.
The key here is you need to make an immediate impression with the prospect to win the project.
Considering that hundreds of applicants vying for the job position, you must be creative and come up with a proposal that will impress the client enough to hire you.
On Upwork, you have 150 Connects or credits you can use to apply for specific jobs in a month. Most of them require more than 1 Connect, so keep track of the Connects you’ll spend for each proposal.
All other freelance marketplaces follow the same process as Upwork. They also have service fees, but it varies in price.
For example, People Per Hour charges a 20% service fee for your first £250, 7.5% between £251 to £5,000, and 5% onwards.
From here, you should think and hard about whether to pursue opportunities in sites like Upwork.
Once you start accepting work from these platforms, a chunk of your salary will go to them.
But if you start getting clients from other channels, you receive all of your earnings.
The tradeoff with this process is that you have to find and vet prospects yourself, which could be problematic.
Nonetheless, consider all these factors before you start looking for freelance jobs.
3. Search Engines
Since you’re into SEO, you want to get your clients on Google by ranking your landing pages for your target keywords.
The fact that you’re ranking for the keywords your prospective clients are searching for is an excellent way to make a case for getting hired by them.
You need to determine which keywords to create landing pages for to rank on top of search engines.
Head on to Ahrefs to enter your industry on Keyword Explorer again.
Earlier, you extract question keywords for your chosen niche.
You can use this to create content on your blog, although you can also use the same ones to create content for your clients.
In your case, you want to show people that you’re knowledgeable about their industry.
For instance, you must provide a sufficient answer to the question “how often should pest control be done,” among other questions.
Your answers show prospective clients that you know the best industry practices and are qualified to help them with their business.
Aside from researching for keywords for blog content, searching for keywords you must optimize for your landing pages is more important.
Your landing pages are where you can expect to convert your website visitors into clients.
If they like what you’re offering, they can fill out your contact form on the page.
From your blog posts, you can use your landing pages as your CTA. Link to your most relevant landing pages at the bottom of the post, so readers know what to do if they’re interested in your services.
How to find keyword for your landing page
To find the keywords for your landing page, go to the overview of your search term on Keyword Explorer and scroll down the Keyword ideas.
Then click on Show View all terms match.
From here, filter the results to include the word “SEO.”
You want to do this because most of the keywords you’ll initially find here are for pest control businesses.
Since you want to help them grow their online presence through SEO, you want to optimize your site for terms relevant to you as an SEO freelancer.
From the results above, the filter narrowed the list to ten keywords. Among the ten, only two have a search volume and KD.
From here, you can assign a keyword you want to optimize for your homepage and another page on your site.
The keywords you’ll be able to find here will depend on your niche. Here are the results for “personal injury lawyer” after filtering the results to include the term “seo:”
If the results don’t show you enough keywords for your website, you can broaden your search. In this case, below are the results if you just searched for “lawyer:”
Not all of the results here are related to the practice you want to service for, i.e., divorce lawyer, etc.
However, these should at least give you ideas on approaching landing page creation for your website.
Once you’ve secured the keywords, it’s time to build the landing pages for your site.
Using WordPress, you can use many page builder plugins to create the pages even without any design experience.
One of the most popular ones is Elementor. You will have to subscribe to one of its paid plans to use its premium features.
However, the free version is good enough to help you create well-designed pages that are bound to convert visitors into clients.
You need to drag and drop the elements you want to add to the page and edit the content.
Also, you need to set up your site to show the page’s content without the sidebar and other unnecessary elements.
At the same time, WordPress’ block editor is good enough to help you design pages on your site.
It has a learning curve and is not as intuitive as Elementor, but it’s just as good once you get the hang of it.
All you’ll need from here is to download free Gutenberg block plugins so you can edit your pages with the elements you’ll need for your landing page.
Regardless, the point is to create pages that communicate your message effectively using tools you’re comfortable with.
These are just options and suggestions you can follow to create your pages.
4. Social Media
Aside from job boards, social media is another channel where SEO job opportunities abound.
However, with billions of posts published across millions of social profiles in a day, finding which among them are legitimate freelance opportunities is hard to identify.
You may have to manually browse through each of the posts, which could be a colossal waste of your time, especially if you end up not finding anything at all.
You can even make use of my Vercel Facebook traffic guide to get client to your website.
That said, to help you automate the process of finding freelance opportunities on social media, you can also consider using a social listening tool like Awario.
It scours social media and the web in real-time for mentions of terms and words of your choice.
How to use Awario for freelance opportunities
To start using Awario, you need to enter the keywords that you want the tool to search for online.
For example, if you’re a link builder, consider finding social media posts that contain the following words and phrases:
- Looking for link building
- Link builder for hire
- Link builder wanted
- Need link builder
By searching for these keywords in posts online, there’s a good chance these are sent by headhunters and site owners looking for help with building links.
Depending on the tool you’ll be using, you can also refine the sources of your search.
As mentioned, you can expand your search on blogs and the entire web.
After saving and launching the campaign, wait for a few minutes as the tool will scrape the web for posts containing your keywords of choice.
After a few hours, the tool should have a few results for you to review:
Not all results are real job opportunities, and some irrelevant posts will fall through the cracks. However, as long as most posts are job opportunities, expect more posts similar to this to appear.
But if the search doesn’t return SEO job openings relevant to your niche and specialty, consider refining the search by being broader.
The beauty of social listening tools is that they run in the background and scrape the web for posts that match your search criteria.
Consider checking in on the results once a day and apply to the most relevant jobs you can find.
5. Cold Email Outreach
Email outreach is another way to generate leads and clients for your freelance business.
You will have to send emails to prospective clients asking them to hire you for your SEO services through this process.
The description makes this tactic sound spammy, but it’s not as long as you know how to target the right prospects and draft compelling emails.
The goal of cold email outreach is to warm up our prospects first before you can turn them into SEO clients.
And you can do this by pointing out areas of improvement on their sites where your services can be of big help.
As mentioned, the key to a successful outreach campaign is to identify your target prospects.
In this case, you want to focus on local businesses that lack in the SEO department or have been hit by Google’s latest algorithm.
How to find client for cold email outreach
To find who these potential clients are, use Ahrefs and enter the top keywords in your niche that your clients are ranking for.
Using “personal injury lawyer” as an example, we enter this term into the tool’s Keyword Explorer and view all keywords with matching terms.
Most of the keywords that appeared here are location-based keywords.
For this example, click on “philadelphia personal injury.”
On the next page, scroll down until you see the SERP overview section.
From here, click on the Show more button to unveil other domains ranking for the keyword.
Initially, you’ll see the top 10 pages ranking on the first page of SERPs for your chosen keyword.
However, you don’t want to pitch to those businesses because their ranking on the first page means a dedicated SEO service provider helping them with their rankings.
Therefore, what you want to see are pages starting from the 11th position downwards. These are sites that appear on the second page of SERPs.
Since they’re not high up on the totem pole, they’re much more willing to hear offers from people such as yourself to help them get up to the first page.
The lower they are on SERPs for the keyword, the stronger the case you can make for offering your freelance services.
From here, deliberate which among the results you should look into first.
There are metrics available on the right such as DR/UR, backlinks, keywords, and others that show the SEO performance of each.
Ideally, you want to find sites that have low metrics across the boards.
It shows that either the site doesn’t have an SEO strategy in place or needs help with its current one.
For this example, let’s look at the 28th ranking page for the keyword.
Click on the arrow pointing down beside the URL to open the drop-down menu and click on Overview.
From the Overview page, you will see essential factors to consider whether you should reach out to this site with your services or not.
Look at the linking domains and organic traffic has over a period.
As a freelancer, you want to see the graphs on a downward trend. That means the site’s SEO is not up to par for some reason.
Regardless, this is an opportunity for you to dig deeper into the site to identify issues that the naked eye can’t see.
They will help you identify on- and off-page issues the site may have and provide you with more comprehensive insights that other tools don’t offer.
A tool like JetOctopus shows you a summary of the site’s SEO issues and opportunities you can take advantage of.
From here, you can get a general sense of what the site needs to improve its rankings and how your services come into play in making these improvements possible.
Do the same process on other sites that rank on the second page of SERPs or lower using Ahrefs.
Outreach is a quantity game — the more prospects you reach out to with your campaign, the more chances you’ll land at least one of them.
How to find the right email address for outreach
Once you have the information at hand, the next step is to find the email address of the site owners who will receive your emails.
You could send your outreach campaign through the contact forms on their respective sites
– but getting their email addresses is much better because you can save more time automating this process with their emails on hand.
Also, you want key business decision-makers to receive the email to cut the middleman out and get a reply sooner than later.
Among the tools to help you find the email addresses, Hunter is one of the best out there.
Hunter.io is a paid tool with free limited monthly searches and verifications to help you get started with it.
However, to use Hunter, you must sign up using an email address with your domain in it, i.e., email@example.com. It won’t allow you to sign up using free email accounts like Gmail.
At this point, you should already have your email address using your domain.
Upon signing up, enter the domain URL of the business you want to reach out to.
The tool will help you unearth the different emails of people working for the company.
The great thing about this tool is that you can verify the person’s identity by clicking on the links where the tool found the email address.
Using the links, identify the person responsible for marketing the website or running its SEO campaign.
That person will most likely respond to your email because s/he knows what you will be talking about.
Do this on all the sites you’ll reach out to. You may need a paid account of Hunter to unearth hundreds of emails at once.
How to send cold email outreach
From here, you need to send your emails to prospects. Usually, this is where outreach tools come in handy to help you automate the prospecting process.
However, since you’re going solo as a freelancer and don’t have agencies’ resources, starting with manually sending your emails should be good enough.
The goal is to reach out to your prospects that present the issues of their sites and how you can help them.
Also, you will have to send follow-ups to your prospects to make sure they received your initial email and get a response hopefully.
Going back to the previous example, the site is ranking at the 28th position for the keyword “philadelphia personal injury lawyer.”
Hypothetically speaking, the site has poor on-page SEO due to a lack of interlinking pages and content silos.
Also, the latest batch of backlinks may have negatively affected its rankings.
With this information, you can send an email similar to this:
[Your name] here. I help personal injury lawyers grow their site’s traffic, and I just noticed that your homepage isn’t ranking on the first page for “philadelphia personal injury laywer.” It’s sitting on the 28th spot.
Based on a quick look at your site, I also saw red flags like poor interlinking and a lack of content silos, both of which are probably affecting your SEO performance.
Do you want me to discuss my findings with you?
[Your full name]
The above is just an example of how your outreach email should reach. Feel free to edit the one above and make a much better version of it.
However, below are the elements you can find in the email above:
- Specific – It’s not your cookie-cutter cold email. It talks about something particular that’s important to the person receiving it, such as identifying the keyword ranking of the page.
- Personal – Aside from using the name, the email reads as if you’re talking to a real person, which is the kind of email people want to reach.
- Short and straight to the point – The outreach email doesn’t beat around the bush by going straight to why they’re receiving it from you.
- Ends with a question – Asking a question to end your email gives the recipient a reason to respond and take action.
- Signature – The purpose of the signature is to provide additional information to your prospects about your services.
In this case, since it’s evident in the email that you’re offering your SEO services, the signature contains a link to your site where they can learn more about you.
This way, you don’t have to spend time introducing who you are in the email when they can do it themselves.
Follow Up Email Outreach
After sending the email, give the prospects some time to reply to it.
You don’t want to send your follow-up email a day after you sent the first one, as you could just annoy them and cause them to ignore all your emails.
While there is no timetable for the right time to send the follow-up email, you could wait approximately a week before sending it.
However, it’s best to test how long you have to send the email to generate the highest response rates.
Here’s how I would draft the follow-up email:
I am just checking in to see if you received my initial email about your site’s ranking for the keyword “philadelphia personal injury lawyer” and how I feel I can help.
Also, after taking another look at your site, I think there’s something you need to know about your backlinks that may currently be affecting your site’s SEO performance.
I’d be happy to discuss these with you if you are interested. What say you?
[Your full name]
Again, the follow-up email observes the same principles that the initial email follows. This time, however, I mentioned new findings in the second paragraph regarding backlinks.
The goal of doing this is to add more value to prospects.
There are various reasons why prospects weren’t able to reply to the first email. A possible explanation is because they’re not interested in your initial offer.
Concerning content silos and internal linking, they may think they can do that themselves.
With this follow-up email, you add a new layer of value to provide your prospects. It’s not just about the on-page aspect of their website, but also their off-page as well.
You will have different findings across all the sites you will audit and analyze, so ensure that the emails you send will reflect those issues.
Also, your services should be able to resolve the issues you will find on their respective sites.
For example, if their website doesn’t have a strong link profile, you should offer link building services as a freelancer.
Now, if you don’t build links for clients, it’s best not to mention it in your outreach emails.
Focus on the issues that you feel confident in fixing with your services.
The point of these emails is to help you land them as clients, and they can’t be your clients if you’re mentioning issues on their site that you can’t fix.
Now I want to hear from you. If you find this article helpful or have some question, please leave a comment below. Feel free to share this post with your connections, you might be helping a friend.