How To Get SEO Clients? 20 Experts Chime In

How to Get More SEO Clients


Acquiring SEO clients for an agency involves a multifaceted approach centered on demonstrating expertise, building a strong online presence, and establishing a network of connections. Learn how to find SEO clients for your agency, including 9 actionable strategies from agency experts to help your agency get more SEO clients.

Picture this–your digital marketing agency begins to scale, and you’re finally ready to onboard more SEO clients–woohoo! But even if you’ve got everything in place, where exactly do you find the next clients? After all, new SEO clients won’t appear from thin air unless you put in the work. 

And you are not alone. When asked, a common response from marketing agencies about what they struggle with when scaling their agency typically goes something along the lines of: 

“The biggest challenge we are facing as an agency is attracting qualified leads for the types of clients.”

It isn’t about sending cold emails or blindly advertising your SEO services. Like everything else, it requires some careful planning and strategizing. From investing in digital strategies to leveraging more traditional forms of marketing, you’ve got quite a few options at your fingertips. 

To get you started, we’ve surveyed 20 SEO experts who give practical advice on how to get SEO leads and convince them to sign on with your agency.

9 Strategies To Get More SEO Clients

Here are a few strategies to follow to add more SEO clients to your agency’s roster. These strategies were developed by experts to help you understand how to get SEO clients... and keep them!

1. Find and Help Your Ideal Customer Profile

The SEO and digital marketing business is complicated. Whether that is direct help in SEO forums (like Q&A, blog posts, blog comments) or something else entirely–if you have an organizational mentality to help people, you will pick up clients from this. Add strategy to this and ensure the folks you help are your ideal customers, so they either want to work with you or inspire others with similar problems to work with you in the future.

–Marcus Miller, Head of SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing at Bowler Hat 

The foundation of any marketing strategy is research, and SEO is no different. To get more clients, create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and figure out precisely who your agency should target during outreach efforts. 

Make sure that you spend some time identifying the keywords that your ideal clients are actually searching for online! If you don't have an accurate idea of what keywords your ideal clients are searching, then you may spend your time optimizing your content with the wrong keywords.

–Jessica Tappana, Founder of Simplified SEO Consulting

To get started,  consider the following questions (which you can include in a client onboarding questionnaire): 

  • What are their pain points?

  • What type of SEO services will they benefit from?

  • What type of content would resonate with this audience and help resolve their issues?

  • Where would they look for more information (e.g., social media, online forums)?

Have a consistent brand presence and address your ICP’s concerns exactly when they need more insights. 

Download our free ideal client profile template

Use this template to build your ideal client profile

  • Understand Their Customer Journey

In addition to defining an ICP, think about where they’re at in the customer journey. That way, you’ll be more equipped to approach them in a relevant way and increase the chances of client onboarding later on. 

We identify what we refer to as triggers in a company life cycle that make them more likely to need our services. One example is a company that has received funding or an investment round. These companies are more likely to want to invest in digital advertising or SEO. We then accumulate a list of companies that fit this profile and conduct outreach. There are also geographic implications because we prefer to do business in person.

–Ajay Pattani, CEO of Perfect Search 

For example, one prospective client may be in the discovery phase of exploring SEO services. At this point, they’re weighing options, learning more about SEO, and deciding whether it’s worth the investment. To gather more information, they’ve booked a discovery call with your agency. 

In this scenario, it’s about figuring out their expectations and understanding their needs on a more granular level (instead of hard-selling right away). Therefore, your approach should be different than pitching to a prospective client who’s ready to sign on the dotted line. 

Building a process around preparation, making use of a questionnaire or assessment that the client completes ahead of the discovery session, and building the act of 'discovery' into the sales journey all contribute to reducing how much time is required to prepare sufficiently. 

–James Londesborough, Owner & Managing Director of Ignite Marketing  

  • Evaluate Your ICP’s Current Marketing Efforts

To understand your ICP better, look at their existing marketing strategies, and explore any opportunities to upsell your agency’s SEO services

My team has successfully signed up clients with some offline tactics. The most successful offline medium for us has been the Yellow Pages. YP is a great lead qualifier because it costs thousands of dollars for a full-page ad (depending on the location). If a company can spend that amount of money on a print ad, they probably have funds to improve their online presence and SEO, which in most instances has better ROI.

–Jasmeet Sawhney, CEO of Yiblab 

Marketing Consultant Timothy Backes shares a similar sentiment. “One way to target and sign SEO clients is to target people who are already paying for digital marketing services. You already know the website has a digital marketing budget, and you know they are not doing as well as they would like in terms of organic rankings. Use a tool such as a Rank Tracker or an SEO proposal to showcase that they need your SEO services."

AgencyAnalytics SEO Lead Generation Template

Share useful SEO insights with prospective clients and show what you’re capable of. Use this SEO proposal template on AgencyAnalytics–it’s free for 14 days.

2. Specialize in a Niche

To get SEO clients knocking on your door, don’t cast a wide net–focus on serving a niche (e.g., focusing on SEO for lawyers). This will ensure that your agency is well-known for specific skill sets, and you may even dominate the SEO space for a particular target audience. 

Find a weird niche to target. You'll eliminate the competition and increase your perceived authority to any within that niche who encounters you. You'll also open the door to things like industry forums and trade shows, where your target demographics will conveniently gather together.

–Jayson Demers, Founder of

And as your agency provides top-notch SEO services for a niche industry, who knows–you may get referred to your clients’ peers and become a preferred SEO provider.

Bryan Phelps, CEO of Big Leap, shares, “One creative way we've found new clients for our agency is by working with product manufacturers to become the preferred SEO vendor for their dealers. Obviously, we have to be doing great work for the manufacturers, or they won't recommend us, but once we have their endorsement, it's an easy sale to many of their dealers who need digital marketing services.”

To better understand your chosen niche, do a bit of research and delver deeper into their challenges and pain points. This will help your agency to guide the conversation and focus on their needs.

When it comes to understanding the needs and pain points of our preferred industries, it's important to focus on current clients in that niche. Use surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observation to gain valuable insights. We also use forums, meeting groups ,and associations they are members of. With this information, we can build a better understanding of our target niche and better serve its needs.

–William Smith, Founder, Local Search Technologies LLC 

3. Offer a Useful SEO Incentive

Who doesn’t like freebies? To convince prospects to sign on with your agency, offer an incentive that provides valuable insights and entices your target audience to act (i.e., sign up for your agency’s SEO services). 

When we were just starting out, I was looking for a good development firm for one of my clients. Most of these guys were not ranking on page 1 of Google, so when I reached out to them to get quotes, I offered to do a FREE SEO audit of their website and provide them with recommendations on how to improve their search visibility. Of course, all said "yes" and were very grateful for the free help.

–Arsen Rabinovich, Founder of TopHatRank 

For example, running free website audits will show potential SEO clients any pressing issues with their websites, which they may not even be aware of.

Marketing Agency SEO Dashboard Example

Land more clients by running free SEO audits and sharing useful insights. Cut down on manual combining the best SEO audit tools with AgencyAnalytics–try the client reporting platform preferred by {{customer-count||+ marketing agencies, it’s free for 14 days.

We perform an SEO audit on every one of our prospects and incorporate the results into each one of our pitch decks. We weren’t looking for this feature in a reporting tool, but it made a huge impact on our ability to win business.

–Adam Allen, CEO of LeaseMyMarketing

By adopting this helpful approach, you’ll establish authority and increase the likelihood of getting referrals in the future (which is another win). 

As Arsen Rabinovich, Founder of TopHatRank, goes on to explain, “I knew that by offering some free help, establishing myself as an expert, and making an imprint with the higher-ups would yield some good referrals in the future. Which it did! To this day, we get clients from most of these local designers/developers, some of them have grown to become big branding agencies and are referring high-end clients to us.” 

4.  Use Offline Marketing Activities

While there’s no denying the impact of digital marketing, don’t underestimate the power of offline initiatives (especially when trying to get new SEO leads). Here are a few tactics to consider.

  • Do In-person Outreach 

While it may seem old school, consider doing in-person outreach and making your agency known within the community. Even if you don’t end up with SEO leads immediately, an in-person interaction will make a memorable first impression. 

Go to a local neighborhood and knock on doors. Most business owners who don't have an online marketing strategy are used to doing business in person, in a brick-and-mortar store. They aren't going to find you if you're only marketing to people who are already online. Make yourself available to these people by meeting them face-to-face and letting them know how much opportunity there is in creating and marketing a website.

–Jayson Demers, Founder of

Turn More Leads Into Customers With a Professional SEO Proposal Template

Start Your Free 14-day Trial

It may seem intuitive to focus on SEO trade shows, but it’s likely that warm SEO leads will visit other types of events (e.g., networking meetups for bloggers). Expand your outreach efforts by also including ICP-related events on your agency’s calendar. 

One thing that's worked well for me (in getting local client leads in particular) is to visit non-SEO events in closely related industries, such as web design meetups, blogger meetups, startup meetups, social media meetups, and so on. Often I'll be the only SEO there, and I'm happy to chat with people and give them a bit of advice if they have any questions or anything like that.

–Steve Morgan, SEO Consultant at Morgan Online Marketing 

Keep in mind, though–it isn’t necessarily about hard-selling SEO services right away. Remember to share your insights and make valuable contacts along the way.

The goal is not to sell. A lot of these events are quite casual and not necessarily full-on networking events, so hard-selling is usually not welcome at all. I end up being the 'go-to SEO' in each of these circles–not just for questions but also if anyone they know (or if they themselves) need SEO help for their business.

–Steve Morgan, SEO Consultant at Morgan Online Marketing 

Networking is especially important when you’re getting your agency off the ground or taking things to the next level.

As Dan Delmain, Founder of :Delmain, reflects, "When I first started out, if you lived in the Portland area, you'd probably see me at every business networking event known to humankind. I was passing out my business cards and saying, 'Hey, let's connect on LinkedIn.' I was doing all the things, and I wouldn't say no to anybody. I was a 'yes person' for probably the first three years."

5. Get Word of Mouth Referrals

There’s a goldmine in your existing network–reach out to your previous SEO clients and see if there are any referral opportunities. 

We get referrals from current and past customers and other industry professionals (designers, developers, PR agencies, and branding firms). These referrals have always been a big part of our customer acquisition model, and the best part is that you don't have to be a very well-known SEO agency to generate them. You do, however, need to be awesome at what you do!

–Arsen Rabinovich, Founder of TopHatRank 

Even if you’re in the early stages of the digital agency life cycle, a referral (or two) will still go a long way. Focus on providing value, creating helpful content, and sharing data-driven insights. Good things take time, and putting in consistent work will reap benefits. 

According to Cody Miles, Founder of BrandCave,  SEO agencies grow by referral. “Like any SEO strategy, it took about 6-8 months before we began seeing any real return—but it paid off. After the initial work, it became a snowball effect. Those initially hard-earned clients recommended us to their peers, and those peers recommended us to their peers, and so on.”

And through word-of-mouth referrals, you may not even have to advertise aggressively or pound the pavement for SEO leads. Knocking clients will come to your door, so remember to invest in those one-on-one business relationships.

As a marketing agency, we’ve very rarely marketed ourselves. Rather it has been referrals from our clients to others that have allowed us to develop and maintain client relationships. We’ve never treated clients like they are just a number, instead, we meet in person, talk on the phone, email, and Zoom. The key to developing strong client relationships is communication.

–Kevin Watts, President of Raincross

  • Include Case Studies on Your Website

What better way to demonstrate expertise and the long-term benefits of SEO campaigns run by your agency than sharing previous success stories? Include case studies or endorsements from previous clients as part of your content marketing strategy. 

Write case studies on successful projects for major websites. I've written about several case studies where my work with a client has directly resulted in an increase in organic traffic and revenue. My case studies have been featured on Content Marketing Institute, Moz, and Marketing Sherpa. I've generated more than $25,000 from sharing case studies that have been used as a reference when meeting new clients.

–Steven Macdonald, Partner at Kingspoint 

Here’s an example of a case study website feature:

Squeeze Marketing - AgencyAnalytics Case Study

Read about how Squeeze Marketing bases their client retention on their ability to report with AgencyAnalytics.

And getting case studies doesn’t have to be a complicated exercise! It’s as easy as adding, “Will you be interested in a case study?” on your agency’s client feedback questionnaire.  

It’s easy enough to add this feedback loop into your existing processes so that current clients become part of your future prospecting. We always send out post-project feedback forms, which include the opportunity for clients to say what they think of our service. We include client comments in our online case studies.

–Richard Jaggs, Director of Resolution Design

Put in the extra work to get case studies and reap the benefits of having customer endorsement. Not only does this set your agency apart from the competition, but it also builds brand trust in the process. 

6. Share Your SEO Expertise

When it comes to getting new SEO clients, your agency must know how to walk the walk. To establish expertise, create compelling inbound marketing content that emphasizes your extensive knowledge. 

Content gets you in front of folks in so many ways. This is an extension of helping people but being visible on industry sites provides credibility and awareness. Blog posts demonstrate expertise. Case studies show how you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Use content to reach users, generate leads and persuade prospects you can do the job.

–Marcus Miller, Head of SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing at Bowler Hat

  • Provide Value Before Hard-selling

It’s important to provide value to potential clients before they’ve signed on the dotted line. The more you invest in your inbound strategy, the more SEO leads will come to your agency organically. Repurpose content where possible, share information freely, and adopt a “help first, sell later” approach. 

We also share knowledge freely very often with blogs, courses, resources, podcast appearances, guest lecturing, public speaking, etc. That way, people can see a glimpse of the real expertise we have. That's the biggest contributor to proving this difference. Wow your clients and they talk. We've grown through 100% inbound leads because of this.

–Lane Anderson, Founder & CEO of London Road Marketing

  • Use Content To Differentiate Your Agency

Your prospective clients have heard everything under the sun. Marketing your agency as “We’re the best in the industry!” just isn’t convincing enough, and you need a differentiator from all the competition out there. That’s also where referrals and customer reviews come in. 

“Trust me, ‘we're different’ doesn't really work. They've heard it before,” explains Lane Anderson, Founder & CEO of London Road Marketing. 

“The biggest challenge is differentiating from more affordable but poor quality services being offered by so many freelancers or small firms who don't have a very high skill set. To address this, we just share our successes as much as we can– not only in terms of growth and expansion, which is a good indication of quality but also in telling the stories of client retention.”

Top-notch content is your agency’s best friend when it comes to attracting SEO leads. Set your agency apart from the pack by building authority and trust over time. 

Reaching new clients to showcase our work and expertise in a way that differentiates us from the thousands of digital marketing firms out there. Clients are so inundated with calls and emails from our industry, so it's hard for our clients to know who they can trust. We are working hard on building authority through video testimonials, case studies, content, and guest appearances on podcasts.

–Lane Rizzardini, Co-Owner, Marion Relationship Marketing

7. Make Use of Local SEO (If Applicable)

Does your agency have a physical location? If so, develop a local SEO strategy. Be sure to: 

If you operate in a city, then try to ensure you are well visible for the biggest terms in that location. We work out of Birmingham, the UK's second-largest city, so we are visible around 'SEO Birmingham', 'SEO Company Birmingham', etc. Many folks Google these kinds of terms and use that to qualify a potential company.

–Marcus Miller, Head of SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing at Bowler Hat 

Get the Free Google Business Profile Checklist

Keep these useful tips, insights, and ideas handy whenever you need them.

It isn’t just about Google searches and keywords here and there, though. Think of local SEO as bridging the gap between your business and prospective clients. It gives you an opportunity to introduce your brand, draw SEO leads in, and get business in the process.

Local SEO humanizes and brings local businesses closer to their target audience in an increasingly globalized, digitalized, and competitive business context. This reality is especially significant in cities with diverse cultural and linguistic realities.

–Anthony Guilhem, President of Momentumm Digital

8. Partner With Another Agency

While it may seem counterintuitive, an agency partnership is a promising route to get more SEO clients. 

Wondering how it works? Choose a partner with similar goals but isn’t necessarily competing with your agency. For example, your SEO agency may benefit from a partnership with a web development agency that services the same niche. 

Strategic business partnerships are the way to go if you can find a win-win situation. One example is partnering with design and development agencies to offer "white label SEO" for their clients. This essentially gives the other firm an instant "SEO department." In many cases, you can have an open white-label services partnership where the client is aware that SEO has been outsourced to your business.

–Everett Sizemore, Director of Marketing at Inflow 

9. Add a Waiting List

As you increase outreach efforts, you may get an influx of SEO clients. When this happens, you don’t necessarily need to turn away business. There’s a better solution–create a waiting list. 

In addition to showing that your SEO services are in demand, this approach doubles as a backup plan in case of agency churn

When you're busy, add a waiting list. On the Kingspoint website, we have removed a sign-up form and instead ask new clients to join a waiting list. When we have time to work on new projects, we look for clients that look like they're a good fit and connect. Telling potential leads that you're busy with current clients gives them a sign that you're doing good work.

–Steven Macdonald, Partner at Kingspoint 

Next Step? Retaining Clients With a Proven System 

Remember–even though these tips are help you understand how to get SEO clients, getting new SEO clients is harder than retaining existing ones. After you’ve put in the work to secure new business, your agency needs a scalable way to deliver results each month. 

More clients mean more data to keep track of. But it doesn’t mean it should take you more of your time. Switch to AgencyAnalytics to stay on top of all your clients’ metrics from one intuitive platform and create client reports in minutes. 

AgencyAnalytics SEO Dashboard

Create customizable SEO dashboards and schedule white-labeled reports that show the value your agency is bringing to your clients’ businesses.

Try the client reporting tool that helps over 6,500 agencies scale and easily take on new clients. Start your free 14-day trial today!

Faryal Khan

Written by

Faryal Khan

Faryal Khan is an experienced marketer and brand photographer with a passion for content creation. She creates value for brands through storytelling and captivating visuals.

Read more posts by Faryal Khan ›

Get Started for Free

Try AgencyAnalytics risk-free for 14 days. No credit card required.
AgencyAnalytics Dashboard Preview