Q and A: What are some ideas for SEO lead generation?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve recently struck out on my own as a search engine optimization freelancer and I’m finding it really difficult to get new leads.

I can’t afford to pay per click the amounts that the big players are paying on Google AdWords and I’m not confident enough with Bing Ads to try that. I did experiment with some Facebook advertising, but the response wasn’t great so I don’t think it’s really where my market is.

I know you recommended in the past to try some freelancing sites, but I was on Elance for a month and was out-bid by a lot of SEO crews based in South East Asia, who seem to low-ball everybody and win most of the projects. I know my work is higher quality than what they are offering, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the client.

Any creative ideas for how I can generate new leads and find genuine SEO clients who are willing to pay fairly for quality?



Hi Anthony

I feel your pain, I truly do. Having my own SEO consultancy, I am fully aware just how challenging it can be to secure a steady flow of new business and compete with rivals after the same clients.

Here are my tips for gaining new SEO leads:

1) Install MySiteAuditor on Your Main Sales PageMy Site Auditor is a custom-built lead generation tool for SEO professionals and freelancers. You simply install the code somewhere prominent on your site and it allows visitors to generate a one minute SEO audit for a URL of their choice, for a particular keyword or phrase. Visitors need to enter their email address in order to generate the audit, creating automatic leads to follow up.

You can see it in action over at Site Audit NZ. There is a 10 day free trial and two low cost monthly subscription plans, depending on whether you want to embed the tool, white-label the audits and have leads emailed to you.  We use it and it’s a great way to increase SEO sales and leads by simply embedding a useful tool on your site.

2) Utilize Keyword Alert and Social Monitoring Tools – Services like Google Alerts and the fairly new Talkwalker Alerts allow you to track mentions of your target keywords or search phrases across the web without lifting a finger. You simply choose the search terms you want to be alerted about and then the service will email you whenever it finds a new mention of those terms in Google search results (for Google Alerts) or in news sites, blogs and discussion boards across the entire web (for Talkwalker). Klout, Social Mention and HootSuite all offer a similar service to track real time mentions on social sites. Raven Tools used to offer the same, but have sadly discontinued it.

What this means is that you can pin-point potential leads by what they are searching for / talking about. So, for example, we are always looking for new students to join Search Engine College and a great way to find potentials is to see who is discussing topics like “I want to learn SEO” or “Teach myself SEO”.  We can then (tactfully) approach those persons directly on the sites where the discussion was found to see if our courses might be a good fit for them.

You can do the same thing by creating alerts for phrases like “Need help with SEO” or “SEO my site”. Just make sure you follow up fast though, because discussions can become stale quickly, especially on social networks. Also be super careful that you take a helpful approach rather than dive in with a sales pitch, or you’re likely to frighten off any genuine potentials.

3) Give Bing Ads a Whirl – You can teach yourself how to use it fairly quickly and the CPC is much, much cheaper than Google AdWords in my experience. If you want to contact me directly, I can even send you a USD100 voucher for ad credit (as I’m a Bing Partner).

4) Give Stuff Away – Got an ebook or a white-paper lying around? Turn it into a free give-away on your site, in exchange for a visitor’s email address. Companies like HubSpot do this type of incentive-based lead generation exceptionally well. With a little forethought, any client case study or interesting SEO research can be turned into a downloadable incentive to part with an email address. Just make sure you have their permission to contact these visitors with your marketing messages later on.

These tactics may not work for you, but they consistently work for me, so I’m confident you will get some good results.

Best of luck :-)


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Emoji Added to Title Tags for SEO Purposes

emoji-expediaSo remember last week when Google added full color emoji characters to their search results?

Yeah, well travel portal Expedia has taken the new functionality a step further by adding emoji characters to their title tags in an apparent attempt to gain attention in the search results. Pretty clever, no?

For some reason, the emoji aren’t displaying in the Google.com results showing from NZ, so it may be that only some data-centers have the feature supported right now, but you can see an example in the image above and others via the previous link.

It would be fascinating to know if the move has increased click-through and by what percentage. I would imagine it would be having some positive effect, similar to the impact author photos had in search results for articles and blog posts using the now defunct Google Authorship tag (yeah, thanks for pulling that one Google).

The question now is: how long before I get asked by a client to add emoji to their title tags and how much can I justify charging for adding smilies to HTML code? And more importantly, how long before Google pull the pin on support for emoji in title tags after millions of SEOs start copying Expedia?

Only time will tell.

POSTSCRIPT: In a Google Webmaster Hangout today, John Mueller confirmed that it is likely Google will pull support for emoji in search results in the next few months. Thanks to Jennifer Slegg for the heads up.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: It’s been confirmed that Google has already dropped emoji from search results pages. That’s all she wrote, folks.



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Intro to Search Engine Optimisation: Auckland Workshop

google-keyFor the past several years, I’ve been running digital marketing training workshops in conjunction with the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) here in New Zealand.

Our first round of workshops for 2015 kick off this month, with the first topic for the year being Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation.

These full-day training workshops will show you step-by-step how to optimise your or your clients’ web sites to get noticed by Google and other engines. It will be a fun day, with some group activities, random audience questions for chocolate and (if time permits), live analysis of the web sites of willing attendees.

Whether you’re an IT manager, marketer, programmer, website coordinator or business owner, getting well placed for your key terms on search engines is hugely valuable and important.

At the end of the course attendees will be able to:

  • Understand how Google and other search engines rank pages.
  • Understand what makes a web page search engine compatible.
  • Understand what type of content search engines love.
  • Research and select appropriate keywords to target.
  • Successfully integrate search keywords within web site copy.
  • Create effective and optimised web pages.
  • Learn why social media can improve their search rankings.
  • Monitor their search positions and report meaningful data to stake holders.

Below are the details and booking links for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch events, so please share with anyone you know who might benefit from attending:

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Auckland
Date: 20 April 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: CBD Office
Executive Boardroom
Level 4, 17 Albert Street
Auckland City

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Wellington
Date: 21 July 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: NZICA
Meeting Room 4
Level 7, Tower Building
50 Customhouse Quay

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Christchurch
Date: 26 October 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Airport Gateway Motor Lodge
45 Roydvale Ave

Thanks for your support.


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Common Questions Asked at SEO Job Interviews

hiring-staff2Based on conversations I’ve had recently, many of my students and blog readers are either seeking a new job in the SEO field or looking to switch existing SEO gigs this year.

Inevitably, the subject of potential interview questions will arise. How exactly should you prepare for a SEO interview? What type of questions can you expect to be asked? Will they be highly technical? Scenario-based? Or will they be all about your past experience? In a nutshell, how will you know the type of SEO knowledge benchmark a new employer is expecting you to meet?

Well, wonder no more, because online training provider EDU Pristine has collated a series of the 13 most common SEO interview questions (and answers!) to help you brush up before you walk into that nerve-wracking interview panel.

The questions are pretty solid, apart from Q9 — most SEO pundits agree that the Google Sandbox has failed to be a thing since the advent of Everflux indexing — and Q10 which is ambiguous, depending on your personal interpretation of the term Search Engine Marketing.

So study up and go get that new SEO gig.

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2015 Digital Marketing Workshops Announced

IITP-logoAs most of you know, I run a series of face-to-face training workshops in conjunction with the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) across various locations in New Zealand.

The current topics include:

  • Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (full day)
  • Social Media Marketing for Business (full day)
  • Using Google Analytics to Increase Website Traffic and Conversions (half day)

The IITP have recently published their 2015 Workshop Schedule, so if you are based in New Zealand and want to book a place at one of these events, now’s your chance. I’ve got 14 workshops scheduled so far, but more are in the pipeline, so it’s going to be a busy year!

I’m aware that a number of you missed out on a workshop last year due to logistical reasons. Keep in mind that if your location or preferred date isn’t listed, you can contact the IITP directly via the “Available other times On Demand or In House” link listed under each workshop and request an event to suit you.

If you would prefer a tailored training session and/or have a large group of staff wanting to take the same course, the IITP can also arrange in-house workshops to suit your particular requirements.  These training sessions allow staff to focus on specific internal web site issues without revealing intellectual property or commercially-sensitive information to other attendees.

We are also testing demand for running a Gaining More Conversions from Google AdWords style workshop. If this is something of interest to you, please let me know in the comments so we can add it to this year’s line-up.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at one or more of these workshops in 2015.

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