As SEO consultants and small agencies, most of us could admit to taking any lead that comes our way at some point in our careers. We just wanted to grow and keep cashflow healthy, get some good results for our clients, and everyone is happy. Or are we? Well to some degree, yes, but what if you could work with more companies who you actually have an active interest in and could contribute more than they thought was possible?
This post and upcoming webinar aims to help SEOs see the bigger picture of what we are all doing. It is about making your work something you are proud of and energized to do, with a greater motivator than money alone. With this new-found energy, results will follow. It is about handpicking companies you know you can get great results for and leveraging how much enthusiasm you have for the brand or industry as a whole.
The information presented here will also appeal to company owners and key decision makers in companies who may have become jaded by the volume of poor cold calls and emails regarding SEO services. Hopefully you will be able to see the level of detail a well prepared proposal will go into and the value of such a document and initial (no obligation) meeting.
Why Should You Align With Companies You Believe In?
For a moment, imagine a penny stock day trader who makes the majority of his money by ‘shorting,’ or reaping the benefits of a company’s declining share value. He has no particular interest for this company, apart from the share performance. His job is to be aware of companies who he thinks are going to decline, and make money in a matter of minutes or hours, using his honed skills and some calculated risk taking.
It all sounds pretty cool (and makes us think of "The Wolf of Wall Street" or penny stock pro Timothy Sykes), but this is the opposite of actively seeking out a company you a) know you can get great results for and b) have an actual interest and or passion for. I have nothing against penny stock traders, and I actually admire the level of skill some of these guys have, but we are not penny stock traders! We want to put our skills into play, work with great clients that appreciate us and have a good time doing it.
The beauty of working with clients you really want to work with is that you can become well known in niches and not be ‘just another SEO guy.’ In the longterm, if you harness your expertise in a particular industry and market yourself smartly, you could turn your initial outbound marketing work into an inbound marketing haven.
How to Take a Risk and Create a Proposal for a Dream Client
You may have a brand in your head who you wish you could do SEO for, or you may just have a keen interest in an industry, like perfume, for example. Once you have defined the industry you really care about, it is time to look into the brands that could potentially benefit from your expertise. I would go about this in one of two ways:
Find Top Retailers and Analyze in SEMrush
If we take the example of the perfume industry, I would start by looking into the men’s perfume section on Harrods and get some ideas of brands who are likely making a lot of business through this channel. At this stage you can pick a brand and simply push their site into SEMrush’s search tool to see a list of keywords (sometimes enormous) they are rankings for in various countries, along with search volumes for those keywords. If the company are on page 2-6 for many of the high search volume keywords, you need to qualify if perfume brands ever get a look in on page one real estate for given keyword, or if it is purely retailers. If brands are weaved into the results then this shows it is actually possible for your first prospect to achieve this
Start with the Right Keyword
Search in Google for a keyword that you imagine would be highly relevant and powerful for a perfume brand, yet also realistic. Perhaps ‘mens perfume’ is far too unrealistic and the SERPS are populated with the likes of Harrods or perfume.com and it is not realistic to get a piece of the action because Google has decided the retailers are more deserving.
So you think more long tail and try ‘luxury mens perfume’ or ‘oud for men’ - this is a type of fragrance that has mass appeal in the middle East and is gaining in popularity in the states and UK.
Below is the SERPs for ‘parfum.’ We can see a mixture of retailers and brands on the first two pages.
So you find various brands achieving page one rankings, mixed in with the retailers and head to page 2. Now you have a list of prospects who would benefit from just being bumped up onto page one. At this point you can get various keyword (bucket) ideas from navigating the perfume brand’s site and seeing how the products are categorised. You may end up with a large list of primary and secondary keywords that you can look up in SEMrush, including the following for Google UK:
Find Best SEO Opportunities for Your Dream Client
Keep in mind that your target brand is happy to be making money from the likes of Harrods, reaping the benefit from all this exposure and sales. But what about the profit difference on these sales compared to direct sales. If your target brand clearly is operating with an e-commerce website, then they have the intent to make sales directly through their own site because they make 50% more profit per sale when a customer buys from their company website. We won’t go into the impact this has on repeat custom through data capture/email marketing, but you can bet the direct sale is valuable.
Take for example, millerharris.com, branded as ‘perfumer London,’ yet achieving little organic visibility in the UK and less than average rankings in the US.
By running their website through the SEMrush site audit tool, we can quickly get an overview of the underlying issues present. This data can help structure your proposal into priority issues, which if rectified and combined with a metadata overhaul (keyword targeting) across the site could result in an increased organic visibility.
Just at a glance we can see nearly 5000 duplicate title tag issues and 5000 duplicate content issues - this would make any site have a hard time at achieving good organic visibility.
On a closer inspection, we can see the homepage is not attempting to rank for any top of the funnel keywords and instead has opted for the brand name (of which many other pages have the same title tag of ‘Miller Harris’).
Digging a little deeper, there are obvious issues with duplicate content caused through a product being featured in multiple areas of the site, with no use of canonical tags.
As you work through the SEMrush data from the site audit tool, you can go into greater detail and offer solutions for these problems and the potential reward for addressing these issues across the entire site.
Provide Value Without Charging
This sounds like a very poor business decision at first, but this is part of the risk involved in this process. Yes, it is not as easy as just waiting for business to fall into your inbox, but you can bet nobody else is presenting such a detailed proposal for free.
Separate Yourself From the Competition
Now comes the interesting and risky part. How can you make sure you do not come across like every guy who is pitching every single company on the web SEO – including this guy who is pitching SEO to an SEO?
There are many ways to try and get your hard work noticed by the company, but here are some ideas.
Simply search the brand name in LinkedIn and try and find some key people who may have worked with the brand in the past, or currently work with/in the company.
For example you may find the web developer and connect with him or her to begin with. Try and bring something to the table that is not a pitch. Why not ask the developer if he is looking for any dev projects and let him know you would like to see some of his work.
When you next get an opportunity to refer a dev lead, you make sure he is the first person you recommend. Once you have started a conversation and built a little bit of a relationship you can bring up that you have been looking into the SEO for his client and would happily send him some pointers to help his client.
You could also attend a conference you know the company are going to and attempt to make a real world connection. Bring along your business cards and a printed version of your proposal.
Thirdly, you could call the head office and politely ask if you can send them a print out of your proposal.
The most important thing to realize is that you are going to bring value. You are not just taking. Keeping this in mind will give you the momentum to get your hard work noticed.
Join the Webinar
Are you interested in learning more about working with clients you really love? Join my SEMrush webinar on Wed., Feb. 18.
Tom Clark is the director of Convert Digital, a small SEO and PPC agency based in Brighton, UK. He is a firm believer in working with companies you know you can get results for, as well as having an active interest in.