12 Ways to Earn More SEO Clients


What Are SEO Leads?

An SEO lead is a business or individual interested in the SEO services you provide. 

SEO leads that turn into clients can drive your agency’s growth. They help you build your portfolio, refine your skills, and generate profit. 

But it’s important to pitch more than you can handle. Why? Because not all leads will convert. And it can take a few months to discuss the details of your services and sign contracts. 

Clients will come and go. Some projects will last for months, while others will last for years. You’ll want to regularly promote your services to keep a steady stream of leads flowing year-round. 

Categories of SEO Leads

It’s helpful to organize SEO leads into three primary categories based on their level of interest:

  • Cold leads: Leads that have not expressed interest in your SEO services but resemble your target customer. Cold leads are the most common and hardest to convert.
  • Warm leads: Leads who are aware of your SEO services and are potentially familiar with your brand name. They may have subscribed to your email list or followed a social media account. Warm leads are easier to convert than cold leads.
  • Hot leads: Leads who are actively considering purchasing SEO services from you. They may have submitted a form on your website or booked a meeting with a member of your sales team. Hot leads have the best chance of converting and should be prioritized.

How to Generate SEO Leads

There are many ways to acquire SEO leads. You’ll want a holistic lead generation strategy that includes several of those methods. This means using a combination of inbound and outbound marketing tactics.

To keep it simple, inbound marketing is all about getting leads to come to you. Outbound marketing involves reaching out to potential customers first.

Using a combination of both can help you increase your lead generation overall.

In other words: 

More cold, warm, and hot leads for your sales team to nurture. All of which have the potential to become customers.

Learn how to get SEO leads below, organized by inbound and outbound tactics. 

Inbound Marketing Tactics

Inbound marketing is any strategy that pulls your audience in through different marketing tactics across a variety of channels.

Some benefits of inbound marketing include:

  • Cost-effective: Inbound strategies are often more affordable than outbound ones, which may require paying for leads or cold-calling
  • Long-term: Inbound strategies like organic SEO can generate website traffic for years
  • Customer-focused: Inbound strategies focus on providing true value to your target audience. This helps your SEO business earn industry authority and customer loyalty.

If you want to learn how to find SEO leads, try the following inbound tactics: 

1. Optimize Your Website for Conversions

Look at your website as a lead generation tool. It needs to do the work of driving your website visitors toward a conversion action.

This can happen when they book a meeting, submit a form, or subscribe to a newsletter.

For example, check out this SEO agency’s homepage:

Digital Resource agency’s homepage

They have provided three ways for the visitor to take an action (and all are above the fold, which is the visible part of a webpage before a visitor scrolls):

  1. Click on the phone number to make a call
  2. Complete the information and submit a form
  3. Chat with a sales team representative

Without properly setting up contact forms, phone numbers, or chatbots, there is no point in driving traffic to your website. Why? Because the user won’t know how to reach your company.

Incorporating communication elements on your site can help improve your conversion rate optimization (CRO), or the process of maximizing the number of converting visitors.

No matter where your visitors come from (whether a paid ad, search result, or direct traffic), your website needs to do the work of lead capture.

Your website should also include other pages to help generate leads:

  • Service pages: These are landing pages that explain the details of your services. You should ideally have one for each service you offer (e.g., on-page SEO, local SEO, etc.). These pages should also be optimized to rank in organic search.
  • About me page: A page that provides an overview of your SEO services, mission or values, team members, and contact information
  • Case studies: Examples of past or current clients who have seen positive results from working with you. Case studies should include SEO data and performance metrics that show tangible results.
  • Testimonials: Quotes from past or current clients that describe their experience of working with your agency

These types of landing pages increase your SEO agency’s credibility and can do the work of turning website visitors into viable leads.

Further reading: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): The Beginner’s Guide

2. Use SEO to Rank for SEO Keywords

As an SEO company, you already know the value of organic traffic. Practice what you preach and use SEO to rank for the keywords your target audience uses.

To find keyword opportunities, use the Keyword Magic Tool. 

Navigate to the Keyword Magic Tool and enter a keyword that relates to your SEO services. Select the location where your target audience is located. Then click “Search.”

"local seo agency" entered into the Keyword Magic Tool search bar

You’ll see a list of keywords closely related to your seed keyword. You’ll also see key data like Volume, Keyword Difficulty (how competitive the keyword is), and cost per click (CPC).

A list of keywords related to "local seo agency" found in Keyword Magic Tool

Keywords with strong search volume, reasonable keyword difficulty, and higher CPC are generally good to target in organic search.

When you find a keyword that meets these requirements, click the box next to the keyword. Then click “+ Add to keyword list.”

Add selected keywords to a list in Keyword Magic Tool

Click an existing keyword list. Or click “Create new empty list” and type in a name.

"Local SEO" list selected under "All lists" page

Here are some possible ways to organize your keyword lists:

  • General SEO: High-level terms that relate to SEO services, like “seo services,” “seo agency,” or “professional seo company”
  • Location-specific: Keywords that include your geographic location. For example, “seo services dallas,” “seo agency london,” or “seo agencies near me.”
  • Service-specific: Search terms that refer to the specific services you offer, like “link building,” “technical SEO,” or “local seo services”
  • Industry-specific: Keywords related to your potential client’s industry, like “seo for startups,” “dentist seo,” or “ecommerce seo agency”
  • Common questions: Popular questions that users ask about SEO services, like “how to choose an seo agency,” “how much are seo services,” or “how to outsource seo”

Ensure the keywords actually relate to what your SEO business offers. Then, create specific landing pages on your website that are optimized for those keywords. 

Each landing page should:

  • Meet the search intent of its target keyword
  • Outline what your SEO business offers
  • Offer a way for the organic visitor to get in touch with you

If your agency has a newer website, focus more on long-tail, industry-specific keywords with lower keyword difficulty. These keywords will generally be the easiest to rank for. And they can help you start driving organic traffic faster. 

3. Drive Traffic with PPC

PPC (pay-per-click) can help you get traffic to your website faster than SEO. In other words, immediate opportunities to convert traffic into SEO leads.

PPC ads on Google's SERP for the "technical seo services" query

Although there is some debate, PPC search marketing can be considered an inbound tactic because it involves providing users with content they’re actively searching for. 

It’s a great way to generate hot leads looking to make a purchase decision soon.

Use the PPC Keyword Tool to create keyword lists for your Google Ads campaigns. You can generate those lists manually from spreadsheets or Semrush keyword reports.

A list of keywords for the ad campaign in the PPC Keyword Tool

Some best practices for using PPC to generate leads include the following:

  • Pay attention to cost per click: Unlike organic results, you’re paying per click, so make sure the keywords you target are the right fit for your budget. Keywords related to hot leads can be costlier, so you may want to focus on more affordable alternatives. 
  • Set an appropriate budget: Once your budget runs out, so do your opportunities to generate SEO leads. Not all of your clicks will convert, so set a budget that gives you enough conversion opportunities.
  • Write optimized ad copy: Make sure your ad copy is optimized for your target audience and entices them to click
  • Know your cost-per-lead (CPL): Measure the performance of your PPC campaigns by calculating how much it costs to generate a lead. You can use this formula: (Total budget spend / total number of leads). 

Social media is a great place to display your SEO expertise and turn warm leads into hot ones.

Your social media followers are probably already aware of your brand. However, they may have yet to express interest in purchasing your SEO services.

How can you grab their attention and get them interested in what you have to offer? 

Share case studies, articles, or other resources that showcase your authority and reputation.

These warm leads may see your content, be impressed by your expertise, and decide to reach out.

Getting leads from social media can take time. It requires you to consistently post and share valuable, helpful content. It’s important to be patient and keep posting.

5. Be a Podcast Guest (or Start Your Own)

Being a podcast guest can help you access cold leads who are interested in SEO but don’t know who you are or what you offer yet.

There are many SEO podcasts out there, including “Niche Pursuits” and “Authority Hacker.” Why not apply to be a guest to showcase your expertise and thought leadership? 

"The Authority Hacker Podcast" page

Many producers are looking for guests who can speak authoritatively on SEO topics. Alternatively, you could record your own podcast episodes on relevant SEO topics. 

If you need ideas for episode topics, look at what other podcasts are creating. 

Or reference the work you did in your SEO keyword research and create episodes around the keywords your target audience is searching for. 

You can also use podcasts on your website as rich media. Plus, you can share them on social media and email marketing.

Like many content marketing assets, podcast episodes and interviews can generate SEO leads for you through multiple inbound marketing channels.

6. Attend Events and Conferences

Events and conferences provide real-world and virtual opportunities to connect with potential clients. This means interacting face-to-face with SEO leads in a more meaningful way.

Depending on the event, you can participate in:

  • Speaking opportunities
  • Meetups
  • Sponsorships
  • Email lists
  • Booths and exhibitions

You’ll likely meet other agency owners or employees at these events. Some may be willing to share their strategies for lead generation with you. Don’t hesitate to ask them for advice.

These in-person interactions can also help you establish connections and relationships with potential clients or partners. 

Connections can turn into future leads and referrals. So, it can be worthwhile to network whenever possible. 

7. Create a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a free resource or item given away to potential clients in exchange for contact emails.

Like free SEO tips from SEO site Backlinko.

"Get Exclusive SEO Tips" lead magnet on Backlinko's site

Lead magnets can take many forms: ebooks, templates, white papers, and free services. But they must bring value to your target audience while showcasing your services, products, or expertise. 

These resources can turn cold leads into warm ones. 

When promoting your lead magnet on your website, include the following.

  • An enticing headline that explains what the resource is and its value
  • A call to action
  • A clear text box or form to submit an email address

Create new lead magnets regularly. This way, website visitors will always have new and enticing reasons to offer up their contact details. 

Here are other tips for collecting email addresses:

  • Create a permanent form on your website. Visitors can subscribe to emails or an industry newsletter via the form.
  • Try gated content. Require visitors to submit an email to continue reading a blog post or download an ebook.
  • Use exit popups. When a user tries to leave your website, create a pop-up that promotes your lead magnet.

8. Perform Email Outreach

Once you’ve gathered email addresses through lead magnets, you can turn warm SEO leads into hot ones by regularly sending out marketing emails.

These emails can offer promotions, deals, industry insights, or links to helpful content on your website.

Like this email that links to a blog post about Google Business Profiles:

An email that links to a blog post about Google Business Profiles

The goal of marketing emails is to push warm leads into your sales funnel. So, emails should include CTAs and links back to your website.

But your inbound marketing emails should still prioritize bringing value to your subscribers. Also, avoid sending too many emails or being too sales-focused. 

Your email subscribers opted in to your communications. But they will quickly unsubscribe if your emails no longer provide value. 

Outbound Marketing Tactics

Outbound marketing tactics involve pushing out a message to a specific audience who doesn’t know who you are and has not expressed interest in your services.

The biggest advantage of outbound tactics is that you don’t have to sit around and wait for leads to come to you. 

Learn how to get SEO leads using the following outbound tactics: 

9. Try Interest Targeting and Lookalike Audiences with Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads allow you to generate SEO leads in two primary ways: interest targeting and lookalike audiences.

Interest-targeting will promote your ads to users who have selected specific interests in their profile settings. It can be a great strategy for reaching cold leads.

When setting up your targeting, pay attention to relevant categories under the “Business and Industry” drop-down that may signal someone who is interested in SEO services.

Setting up "Detailed Targeting" in Facebook Ads

For example, interests like “Advertising,” “Business,” “Entrepreneurship,” “Marketing,” “Digital Marketing,” and “Small Business” are more likely to fit the customer profile of an SEO agency.

Second, you can build lookalike audiences based on your existing customer base or your email subscriber list.

Lookalike audiences are Facebook users who share similar characteristics with your existing customers, fans of your page, or previous website visitors. 

They can be a great way to reach new cold leads who are unaware of your brand. And make sure your ads are shown to users who fit your customer profile.

10. Perform Cold Email Outreach with Lead Finder

Cold email outreach is the process of emailing people who fit your customer profile but are not yet familiar with your SEO business. 

Yes, it can be intrusive. But far less so if you provide the recipient with valuable information or content. 

Lead Finder can help you identify targets for cold email outreach. And, even better, it will suggest specific ways to provide value to prospects. 

Lead Finder demo

Go to “Agency Solutions” > “Lead Generation” > “Lead Finder.”

Specify the fields for “Technology,” “Target Country,” and “Industry.” Next, click “Find leads.”

"MailChimp, WordPress" entered under "Technology for the "US" and "Software Development" industry in the Lead Finder tool

The tool will suggest a list of leads with an accompanying lead score. Higher lead scores indicate better opportunities for your SEO business.

A list of leads with their scores found in Lead Finder tool

To review a lead opportunity more closely, click “View details.”

"View Details" button highlighted next to a lead found in Lead Finder

You’ll see a list of ways you might be able to provide the lead with value.

A screen showing 4 opportunities found for a selected lead in Lead Finder

Leverage these details in your cold emails as a reason they might want to start a relationship with you. 

For example:

Hey (Recipient),

I noticed that (website) has started losing organic traffic. Google recently updated its algorithm to prioritize websites with a great page experience, and according to their PSI tool, your website has a low score and may benefit from optimization. My agency specializes in technical SEO, and we can help you get those scores up!

You can also gather prospects for cold outreach manually. Search for companies in your regional area that could potentially benefit from SEO and offer your services. 

To find contact emails, look at their social media profiles or the Contact/About pages of their websites.

Further reading: 11 Cold Email Templates Sure to Attract Hot Leads

11. Use LinkedIn Outreach

LinkedIn provides both paid and organic opportunities to reach cold leads. 

Some ways to use LinkedIn for outbound SEO lead generation include:

  • Connection requests: Making connections can lead to future relationships or communication, as you will now see each others’ LinkedIn posts
  • Direct messages: Sending a cold message expressing why you want to connect with a LinkedIn user can lead to a future business partnership
  • Paid ads: LinkedIn allows you to target by job title and industry, helping you connect with decision-makers in marketing and sales departments

Further reading: Linkedin SEO: Optimize Your Profile for Improved Visibility

12. Try YouTube Marketing

YouTube ads can help you connect with target audiences who might be looking for SEO services. 

Take this ad from Semrush, for example.

A screenshot from Semrush's YouTube ad

The ad features a compelling video of how a customer uses a Semrush tool, helping to generate more leads. 

People often use YouTube to learn something new or get answers to their questions. So, if people are there to learn how to perform technical SEO or optimize a website, they may come across your ad and reach out for a quote. 

YouTube has detailed audience targeting to help you get your video ads in front of the right audiences. But, like all paid advertising, it can get expensive. 

Set a budget and keep an eye on ad spend to ensure this tactic stays within your means. 

How to Qualify SEO Leads

Qualifying SEO leads is the process of evaluating how likely a lead is to purchase your SEO services. It tells you which leads present the best revenue opportunities for your business.

Lead qualification is key. Because after you earn an SEO lead, you still have to close the deal. And you don’t want to waste time or effort on leads unready or unwilling to make a purchase.

There are many different frameworks for qualifying leads. But this is a great place to start: 

  • Budget: How much are they looking to spend on SEO?
  • Need: Can your SEO services meet the needs or challenges the lead is facing?
  • Decision-makers: Who will make the final decision about whether to purchase SEO services from you?
  • Timing: How quickly are they looking to make a purchase?

You can use submission forms on your website to do the qualification work for you. 

Like this submission form that asks specifically about budget:

"How much do you want to spend" question highlighted in the submission form on a website

Don’t require too many fields or overcomplicate things. You don’t want to lose a lead before you even know they’re interested.

You can also qualify leads using an established email sequence or a discovery call. After qualification, you’ll be able to put together a proposal or pricing guide. 

Then, educate them on your services and expertise to get them to sign on the dotted line. Refer back to the inbound marketing tactics we described earlier to help showcase thought leadership and skill. 

Organize SEO Leads with Semrush

Following the above marketing tactics can help you generate more SEO leads. As they come in, keep them organized in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform or with Semrush CRM, a free solution for online marketing agencies.

Diversifying lead generation can help you grow your SEO business. Use tools like our Agency Growth Kit to find, pitch, manage, and retain leads like a pro. 



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