Selling SEO Like Clockwork

Review and Understand the Basics

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Marketing strategies have never been easy to design or implement, and the increasing sophistication of today's marketing professionals makes it even more difficult to grow a business in a competitive market. However, there are strategies that can make the odds of success more likely.

No one can guarantee a business will generate a profit, but the odds are certainly improved if you take steps that have proven to be successful in the past. Of course, your results will depend on the knowledge, experience, and foresight you bring to the table.

Before jumping into any business, it's always important to plan the venture carefully. That generally means consulting an attorney, your accountant, and other industry-specific experts to review those plans and suggest ways to enhance the chances of success.

It's always a good idea to focus on financial plans well before undertaking a new project since the actual costs of moving forward with a business are generally higher than most people anticipate.

Once those issues are dealt with, it's time to explore the ideas included here to get a better idea of how to sell SEO services now and well into the future.

Because marketing SEO services is intensely competitive and always evolving, it's crucial to learn from the experiences of others and be open minded when it comes to experimenting with the industry's newest ideas.

No one becomes an expert overnight, and anyone first starting out in any business is bound to encounter problems that appear to be virtually insurmountable at first glance. That's normal. The trick is to diagnose the problem, determine which steps haven't or are unlikely to achieve the desired results, and evaluate possible strategies to move forward.

When search engine optimization isn't going easily, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Quantifying the direct results of a #1-ranked keyword for a client is virtually impossible. While one business owner may notice a dramatic increase in activity based on the keyword, another client's results may not be overly exciting. There are simply too many factors that can, and will, impact the client's net results.
  2. No one can guarantee an exact timeline to achieve results. If you're ever tempted to promise a client will reach their goals within a specific timeframe, don't. It's a virtual certainty the client will be gone when the promised results don't materialize. Clients all want instant results, but that's rarely possible.
  3. Structuring a deal with the client is complicated. And, achieving results is important, which means it's always necessary to be flexible, test different strategies, and revise them as needed. That's not always easy unless the client is prepared for the possibility of changes from the very beginning of the process.
  4. Pricing SEO services is more like calculus than basic math. Business owners like easy cost estimates they can digest easily, but that's not always possible when dealing with complex undertakings like SEO. How a cost estimate is framed makes a big difference in how the customer perceives what they're getting for their money.
  5. Pay attention to the minutia. Clients are easily influenced by even the smallest details. That's why any type of service provider must pay close attention to every aspect of their relationships with clients. From the way a phone call or email is responded answered to the font used in a proposal, every detail must be dealt with appropriately.
  6. Finally, scaling your operations during growth is vital. It's relatively easy to deal with the needs of a handful of clients, but what happens when your business grows and 20 or more clients are vying for your attention? The time to plan for growth is now rather than waiting for problems to develop later.

Hopefully, we've piqued your interest a little and you're ready to learn more about providing the type and quality of search engine optimization current or future clients will demand. Whether you're an established SEO professional or just starting out, there is always more to learn, so keep reading to learn more about SEO best practices you can put to use now.

Developing the Correct SEO Selling Mindset

One important element of any SEO business is selling. However, the very idea of sales isn't something many people feel comfortable discussing. That's why we want to take the time here to talk about a couple of sales basics most other guides don't touch on.

Anyone who's ever been involved in sales understands how important attitude is. If you're not confident in yourself and your ability to deliver on your promises, selling a client on the benefits of your SEO service will be all but impossible. Let's talk more about the mindset you'll need to really succeed.

The #1 mistake when marketing SEO is appearing to be needy. It's all too easy, especially when you're just starting out, to virtually beg business owners for a chance to demonstrate just how much their businesses can grow with your help.

Clients will, as a rule, spot that type of pitch quickly and rarely respond positively. Prospective clients want to work with an SEO expert who's both confident and capable, and the needy approach won't deliver that message. In fact, the needy approach communicates the opposite (and unwanted) message.

So, how do people communicate neediness when selling SEO? There are a few giveaways that show neediness.

  • Dropping everything when the potential client calls is not the best idea. If the client calls and wants to meet, it's important to be flexible, but it's never a good idea to appear desperate. In other words, if you tell the potential client you're free anytime, you're appearing too anxious. It's certainly okay to be available, but never appear to be available at any time.

    That also applies to emails or texts. Of course, it's important to respond quickly to messages, but it's not a good idea to appear as though you're simply waiting for a message or phone call.
  • Negotiating prices too quickly is another issue. If, at the first sign of an objection from the potential client you drop your rates 50%, the client will immediately assume you're desperate for business. At the same time, discounting prices cuts drastically into the profit margins of any job, and it's difficult to raise prices sufficiently in the future.
  • Relentlessly following up undermines your credibility. Every good salesperson knows that following up with prospects is incredibly important, and it's certainly appropriate to contact a prospect after a few days and ask whether they've made a decision.

    However, contacting a prospect every day (or even more than once per day) is not appropriate. It doesn't just say "needy," it blares it from the rooftops. Even though the presence of Skype, texting, and e-mails makes it easy, don't be too pushy.

Now that we've gone over a couple of major mistakes salespeople make, it's time to move forward and review ways you can put together SEO proposals that will sell.

The Marketing Model That Works When Selling SEO

Once you've developed the right attitude and have a meeting set to make a presentation, what's next? One caveat here is to go into the meeting without preconceptions, as doing so could lead to making costly mistakes later. Instead, be ready to listen to the potential client and garner a real understanding of his or her needs.

Most importantly, don't go into a meeting with a prospective client and start selling rankings. While just about everyone understands that rankings matter, there is one thing that matters more—profits. Clients want to grow their online businesses, and you're there to show them how that can be accomplished. Focus on growing, not ranking.

Next, take the time to learn about the client's business and who their typical client is. Find out what every customer is worth and explore the strategies they're using to attract customers. In addition, discuss the processes used to track customers and sales.

Look at what the client's business is already ranking for. Run their backlinks through Ahrefs, Moz, and Majestic. Spotting spammy links and telling the client about them will get you a few bonus points and serve to build your credibility.

Now, consider what keywords the client should be using, and don't simply ask what they want to rank for. When the time comes, be ready with your own opinion, and don't be shy about providing it. You're the professional, and your opinion has value.

Always remember that you can never get too much information about a client, so take the time to study every aspect of their business. It's not necessarily easy, especially at first, to know which information will really be important later, so it's better to have more data than you need than too little.

There is one key bit of information you need to bring to the table: how much the pay-per-click advertising costs for each keyword the client wants to rank for. This is gold, as it helps SEO make sense in the client's mind. Remember, they're more than likely already comfortable with cost/benefit analysis and understand expense figures as they relate to overall sales. Expressed properly, this can really demonstrate your value to the business owner.

Let's look at an example. Let's say you get a rehab clinic 100 additional clicks per week by targeting specific keywords and getting the clinic's ranking improved. If the clinic was using PPC, their cost for those clicks would be over $10,000 a week at the current rates. Not many rehab clinic owners would be in a position to spend $10,000 a week, but it might not be too tough to sell a $10,000 per month package.

Pricing the Smart Way

Now is the point to start a pricing discussion. If you've explored the local market, it may have become obvious the rehab clinic client will need something approaching $20,000 per month to break through the noise in their region. If that's what they need to spend and you quote $10,000 and don't get results, not only will you lose the client, but the odds of making a profit are slim. You'll be forced to spend the entire budget building traffic while trying to retain the client.

To arrive at the right price, estimate how many links will have to be built and the amount of content that will need to be created to get the needed results. Now, estimate those costs and add at least 100%. That puts everything on the table, makes pricing easier, and provides a little wiggle room if more content or links need to be created. Of course, it also gives your company a profit.

Pro tip: If the niche is highly competitive and makes sense on the PPC model of pricing, consider adding another 10% to 20% to provide an additional cushion.

Don't negotiate on price. If you've done your homework, did a good job of setting the price in PPC terms, and come in under that cost by 50% to 75%, you have a good shot at winning the contract.

As a side note, if the prospective client tries to nickel and dime you on the bid, they may not be a client you want to deal with anyway. That type of client is more likely to create more headaches than they are worth later. In addition, they may not have an adequate budget to hire you. Petty objections are generally red flags you shouldn't ignore.

Now, there are a couple more critical areas to address.

Details, Details, Details

Even though selling is, to some degree, an art, there are details that must be dealt with when preparing for and delivering presentations. Paying a bit more attention to details will, without a doubt, generate more sales.

One good way to look at the process is if paying more attention to the details makes your selling efforts even one percent more effective and you talk to 100 businesses per month, you'll land one more client.

For example, one generally ignored detail is buying a website from a cheap domain provider for your name. That's particularly important for freelance consultants not tied to a larger organization. Clients and potential clients often remember individuals' names even when they forget company names.

If you own a company, create an eye-catching website and make it attractive. It doesn't have to be an expensive site as long as it's unique and is strong enough to generate a positive response from viewers.

We don't recommend trying to rank for “your local area + SEO,” as the only people likely to be impressed will be other SEO companies. There are easier ways to garner the attention you need. As a rule, try to rank for your brand name + SEO and your potential clients will be just as impressed. Plus, you'll save a lot of money by not trying to rank for tough searches.


One obstacle to success is often the actual proposal. SEO companies all too often invest a significant amount of time and money generating leads, having meetings, and making phone calls or sending messages but fail to deliver a quality proposal.

Sending a proposal that's in an email format or a notepad document isn't a sign of professionalism. Clients want to deal with experts, so it's always incredibly important to generate a proposal that's complete and looks like you care about the client's business.

One of the best options we've encountered for generating quality proposals and other communications is We recommend going to the site and setting up an account today. The company has free templates available, but their paid plans offer tremendous advantages.

Using this type of software makes generating a complete, quality proposal a simple matter of cutting and pasting the appropriate information. The client will be impressed, and your proposal will let the recipient know you're serious about meeting their SEO needs.

Another major advantage of this software is the analytics aspect that's included. You can easily see how many proposals are out at any given time and how many have been approved. That makes it simple to come up with a conversion rate you can use to determine where and how changes need to be made in your marketing strategies.

The software also makes it easy for clients to pay when they approve your proposal. PayPal and other payment methods make it simple for clients to pay with only a few clicks. Since simplicity drives conversion rates up, this is a must-have feature.

Contract Term Lengths

Some SEO companies want to tie clients to long-term contracts from the onset of their relationships. That's not always easy and may not be the best option for you or the client. As a rule, we don't recommend an initial contract term of more than three months. Call it your “kickstart phase” if you want. We'll have more on this later.

After showing the client the amazing results you get after the first three-month phase, discuss the following three- to six-month proposal along with an included bonus structure. Expect to negotiate the bonus structure, but don't be afraid to ask for a generous reward for increasing the client's profits.

Again, try to use the Better Proposals templates so all facets of the agreement are clearly spelled out and understood. Having everything agreed to clearly documented keeps both you and the client safe.

Remember, when two or more people are involved, at least one of them will not remember all the details agreed to unless everything is in writing. They may also misinterpret even a clearly stated detail. Regardless of the problem, it's easier to resolve issues when everything is defined in a written and signed agreement.

At this point, you've got the client you've been dreaming about, and all the details are worked out and agreed to. It's time to get to work and deliver the results the client needs.

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