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Search engine optimization is a very technical and time-consuming practice for online businesses. They need someone with the know-how to get their sites to rank at the top of search engines for their target keywords. By getting their sites to appear on the first page of search results consistently, businesses can expect to receive hundreds, or even thousands, of visitors representing potential customers or subscribers.

Since SEO is one of the most in-demand digital marketing skills, your responsibility is to deliver on the promise of high rankings and increased traffic to your clients.

As a startup if you want to keep your business afloat you need to acquire and retain more clients. Search engine optimization is a competitive industry filled with premium and budget-friendly services. You won’t be able to mark the prices of your services too low because your earnings may not cover the work you put into your clients. Pricing your services too high could cause your potential leads to run to your nearest cheaper competitor.

However, the real marker of a reliable SEO is trust. You need to show your target audience that your services are worth their price. By selling the effectiveness of your agency to people, you will have a greater chance of turning them into your clients.

By the end of this post, you’ll know more than enough on how to help SEO providers gain market’s trust.

Let’s start!

1. Define what SEO service you are

There are different SEO service providers available: specialists and agencies.
The former is a freelancer who helps different clients with necessary technical, on-page and off-page optimization needs for their small sites. The latter offers comprehensive SEO services to help small businesses get more inquiries for their products and services.

If you are composed of a handful of people who specialize in one to two SEO tasks and provide clients with a holistic view of your campaign, then it might best to consider yourself as a freelancer or specialist.

If you are working in a big team with lots of people, cover all aspects of SEO and have structured processes to govern your operations, you are an agency.

By presenting your startup as either a freelance or agency, you can play to your strengths and target specific clients looking for particular SEO services. Learn how both can help influence business owners choose for their SEO needs in this detailed post by Michael King at Moz.

2. Do not promise to rank your clients at the top of search engines

Throughout the years, Google has been looked up to as the search engine. It has improved its algorithms starting with the Farmer Update in 2011 to reward high-quality sites with higher rankings and weed out the bad ones.

However, while SEO experts implement the best practices and sustainable strategies based on Google search quality guidelines (the latest was released last year), there is no documented proof on how the Google algorithm works. All the data that the SEO community can rely on are the algorithm changes that take place intermittently.

Because nobody knows how Google's algorithm works, no one can promise a client the top spot for a keyword search. Only people who have no idea how SEO works will guarantee the first position on search results.

To be clear, it is not impossible to rank at the very top of Google, Bing, and Yahoo! for a target keyword. But by promising clients this position on search engines, you are stupidly disregarding unknown factors that influence the ranking of site pages for their keyword.

As a result, you are risking your reputation and business to a promise you cannot fully guarantee to deliver. And once you do not deliver on your promise, you not only devalue your brand as an SEO service provider but also show that you should not be running a startup.

3. Establish case studies with previous or current clients

Brian Dean developed an SEO strategy that combines the best qualities of keyword research, content creation and blogger outreach to create link-bait content with optimized chances of ranking for its target.

The Skyscraper Technique has become one of the most efficient growth hacking techniques that specialists implement in their campaigns for clients.

To promote the efficiency of this technique to drive site traffic, Brian has published case studies featuring his clients showcasing the Skyscraper Technique.

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Providing a case study for your SEO services can benefit your startup in many ways:

  • Show that your tactics and strategies work - Showing people how you develop and implement an effective SEO campaign helps bridge the gap between your clients and your services. You not only tell people that your services are worth purchasing, you can show it. While you might be revealing your cards to your competitors, it is much more important to think of how a case study can help build a case for your startup SEO, which should help you attract more customers in the long run.

  • Create linkbait content - If you provide an actionable and comprehensive case study, there is a good chance your readers will link to it and share it on social media. Once news spreads out about your post, you can attract more readers, if not more clients.

  • Show how you can help clients in their respective industries - The blueprint for business success is not the same to all. A lot of it has to do with the industry that the business is in. Your case study should help you target businesses from specific niches that you have had success in the past. For example, if you have proven to be useful to businesses in a particular niche, then publish case studies featuring clients on said niche.

Be transparent with potential customers by showing them your methodologies that have helped your previous clients gain SEO success. You can create content similar to Brian Dean's case studies but you need to ask permission from your clients that you will do a case study about them.

4. Show tools that you use

As a fledgling SEO business, you should be using different tools to help streamline your workload. These tools will be advantageous once you generate a steady stream of clients, allowing you to finish more tasks for them.

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  • Crazy Egg - Using a heat mapping tool like Crazy Egg gives the SEO the ability to see a site through the user's eyes. Crazy Egg tracks where visitors click on a site and records valuable information about the user. Their Confetti report allows you to filter clicks by audience segments such as browser, country, device, referrals, etc. This information allows you to optimize a page's content to direct users to it's most valuable content.

  • Google Search Console - Google Search Console is the new name for Google's Webmaster Tools. This service helps you monitor a site's traffic, performance in Google search results and the effects changes on the site have its search results.

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Tools are forms of investment to help your SEO business simplify large tasks to provide clients with positive results for their campaigns. More importantly, you develop trust between you and your clients because of your knowledge and authority on the subject.

5. Feature Professional Certificates

Displaying a certification badge as social proof means you are serious about your business, SEO certifications like the WooRank Experts designation can benefit SEO startups in multiple ways:

  • Professional certifications endorse participants as knowledgeable on the subject of SEO and capable of implementing strategies that increase clients' organic traffic.

  • Curated expert lists give their certified experts profile pages that contain link the SEO's web page and sometimes their LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Facebook pages. These are valuable backlinks from high traffic sites relevant to your SEO product or service.

  • Since SEO certifications are often listed on high traffic sites, they tend to rank highly on SERPs. This means that your name and contact information could show up front and center for potential clients searching for an SEO expert.

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For a list of SEO certifications aside from WooRank, look no further than this post at SEO for Beginners.

6. Offer Free Trial

A free trial will help to give potential customers a good idea of their keyword rankings and on/off-page optimization performance. If you provide leads with good detail about their site's SEO, there's a good chance that they will subscribe to your services.

As an example, WooRank offers a 14 day-free trial offer to help subscribers learn how to use to the tool before making an informed decision on whether or not to shell out cash for its services.

Take a cue from Woorank so you can launch a trial program for potential clients who still need convincing. Below are a couple of tips on what you need to consider with your trial program.

  • Treat them like a paid customer. The purpose of the free trial is to showcase your SEO services at its finest. Therefore, be as helpful as possible to people who signed up to your trial program. Launch an email drip campaign to educate potential clients on how to use your services. Be available for a chat and reply to their emails as quickly as possible.

  • Follow up on their subscription. Just before their trial subscription is about to end, send a personal email thanking them for signing up for your trial program. Ask them about their experience with your services and find out the possible reasons that is keeping them from locking in with your services.

  • Use rejection to improve your services. It is not the end of the world if they did not sign up for your SEO service. Send them an email requesting feedback or ask them to answer a survey to help you gain insights on why they did not sign up. Use their positive reviews or constructive criticism to make your services better so you can secure and acquire more clients in the future.

The purpose of the trial program is to generate leads for your business and provide them with a positive experience of using your tools, services and resources. Doing this successfully can build a rapport with your potential clients and give you the chance to improve your services based on their feedback.

7. Deliver Excellent Customer Service

Be responsive to your clients so you can get a faster response from them. According to Harris Interactive in this compilation of customer service statistics at HelpScout, you must respond within the first two minutes of your audiences' query on the phone or live chat to give them a positive experience. Making them happy in every step of dealing with your business contributes to acquiring and retaining customers.

For startups who have yet to acquire lots of queries through e-mail, you can use Streak to manage all your contacts. You can score your leads, create notes on each and follow up on each of them so you can organize your list of leads that you need to turn into clients.

If you’re getting lots of queries about your services, it is best to consider hiring a CRM platform like Zendesk or Zopim to help you manage incoming inquiries via phone or live chat. Using a CRM tool helps you delegate customer service to reliable providers so you can focus on more pressing matters.

Also, it’s good to have a physical office so you can meet potential customers face to face. If you are working from a home office, you want to avoid meeting your clients at your place as it presents different kinds of trouble for you. Instead, you should consider using a virtual office like W1 Office (in the UK) or Davinci Virtual (in the US). Aside from having a physical office space that you can use when meeting or doing presentations with clients, you also have mail forwarding and telephone answering features so you can respond to queries from clients in any shape or form.

Wrapping it all up

Starting up as an SEO freelancer or agency is not an easy task considering the many hurdles you have to overcome. You need to focus on getting more clients for your business so you can build more funds and capital to grow your business.

Using the tips above will help you build trust with your target audience, which in turn should bring in more leads and, ideally, paying customers. By being transparent with your prospects and going the extra mile to provide them with excellent customer service, you make a strong case for being the SEO service provider that will help businesses achieve their goals.