Hello, Nick Ponte here.

We’re doing something a bit different on the blog today. Usually, I write about how small businesses can survive and thrive, especially as our economy has become increasingly powered by the digital marketplace.

This has led to great discussions about how businesses can leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to get more traffic on their website and ultimately more revenue and profit.

But what if you get so good at SEO that you can start offering it as a skill to others?

I’ve received quite a few inquiries from customers and colleagues about getting started in the world of business-to-business (B2B) SEO.

What is B2B SEO? Glad you asked.

Some businesses serve consumers or customers. These are often called B2C services and products. However, other businesses (like mine) exist mostly to help other businesses succeed. These are B2B services. 

I got my start in the B2B space by building websites for my friends and colleagues and then helping them rank higher in Google searches. Over time, I parlayed that into what I do now, helping businesses near me succeed on the web and teaching others to do what I do for their local businesses.

Throughout my time in this space, I’ve met hundreds—if not thousands—of people who want to do what I do… and they all have one problem in common.

Also Read: 7 SEO Tools Real Experts Use Weekly

The Biggest Problem Facing New SEOs

Throughout personal conversations and official surveys sent to my audience, I know all about the biggest struggle facing new Search Engine Optimizers:

Getting that first client (or two, or three).

Though some SEOs struggle with the technical side, and others struggle with administrating their new business, almost every one of them struggles with getting their first batch of clients. This is the #1 problem indicated on each survey I send out to folks who are new to the online business world.

Therefore, every conversation about getting started in B2B SEO (or online business in general) should include a discussion about getting clients. This is the big hump that everyone has to get over. Sadly, I see too many people turn away from a potential career in SEO because they either don’t know how to land a client, or they’re afraid to even ask.

I remember feeling that way when I first started. 

I knew I wanted to get out of my previous job, and hopefully, do something in the world of technology. I happened to have a friend who wanted a website, so I offered to build it for him. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but it became a fantastic opportunity to learn. I started keeping track of what worked and what didn’t, and from there entered the magical world of SEO.

Oftentimes the best place to look for your first client is your social sphere. Perform a discount service for them, and then see who else they know. 

If that doesn’t work out, you can always perform your services on yourself, and film the results. I actually did this. But more on that in a minute…

Also Read: Quality SEO Link Building

How to Start Your B2B SEO Career

I’ll explain more about how I got my first SEO client, but there are a couple of preliminary steps:

  • Get the Right Knowledge

Though the world of SEO consistently changes, you can find up-to-date information about the basics everywhere. For example, here’s a guide I wrote for keyword research and selection. Here are some of the main concepts you need to understand before you can help someone out with their SEO:

  • Do you know what keywords are and how they function? 
  • Are you familiar with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager?
  • Do you understand how crawling, indexing, and ranking work?
  • What about the role content marketing plays in all this?
  • Or user experience and site speed?

If any of that sounds like a foreign language to you, it’s time to do your homework. Look stuff up. Peruse guides. Buy a course, or pay someone for their time to teach you.

  • Get the Right Tools

Just like a general contractor has a utility belt full of tools for certain situations, so do we.

I linked to it earlier, but here it is again: 7 SEO Tools that real experts like me use weekly. Take some time to get your set of tools arranged. You might find others that I don’t use, too. Get the assortment that helps you the most.

  • Become Your Own Case Study, and Then Reach Out Non-Stop

B2B web services have a unique benefit I hinted at earlier: you can perform your services on yourself and benefit in multiple ways. For one, more people will visit your website that explains and sells your SEO services. For two, it helps you build your portfolio, even when you have no clients.

Whenever you reach out to a potential client, they’ll often wonder who else you’ve helped. They want to know that you know what you’re doing and that you can deliver for them.

My big break in SEO came when I recorded myself doing SEO work on my own website. Through this video, people could see that I knew what I was doing. They could tangibly see the results of what I did.  

Once you have the right knowledge and tools, do something similar. Record yourself working on your own website or that of someone close to you. Here’s a free tool if you don’t know how to make the recording.

Once you have that in place, make a list of 30 or so small businesses in your area. Google Maps will help you find them. Take a look around on their website if they have one. Evaluate what they’re doing well and what areas need work.

Send each of them an email explaining what you do. Give them a compliment about their website or business, and then offer a few of the critiques you’ve found. Add a link to the recording you made and a link to your website.

I guarantee you at least one of them will agree to your services. Do a stellar job with their website, and ask if they know anyone else who could benefit from your services. Rinse, and repeat.

I know I’m making it sound easy, but we both know it’s not. It takes work to learn, to gather tools, and to make your recording. It takes courage to reach out to potential clients. However, as someone on the other side of where you sit now, believe me when I say it’s worth it. You’ve got this!

If you want to learn more about what I do or want help building your SEO empire, just reach out to me!

Further Reading: The Top 5 Misconceptions About SEO For Your Business


Photos Courtesy of Brooke Cagle, DocuSign, and Cesar Carlevarino Aragon.

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