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How to find SEO clients with a cold email tactic

Table of content

As an SEO agency founder or a business development manager experiencing a recession and losing customers, you may find yourself searching for quick ways to get clients. So you can keep at the same pace and even grow.

You also may be lucky to start an SEO agency or expand to new markets and want to attract clients faster.

In both cases, cold emailing is a top choice. The tactic allows you to convince companies to work with you without having an established brand. Besides, you are able to reach businesses that may have yet to consider SEO services. 

Cold calling for SEO services tactic has a similar approach, though it needs more resources and skills + not as widely accepted by prospects.

Crafting an effective SEO sales pitch that gets noticed and generates a positive response can be challenging. We will suggest some opportunities how to break through the noise in the prospect’s inbox.

On top of cold outreach tactics, we will also toss in some unusual lead-generation tactics from SEO agency business owners.

Find niche SEO leads with verified emails of decision makers

Here is the regularly updated B2B database. You can sort SEO prospects by technology, department, founded year, company and contact keywords, industry, seniority, domain, job title, etc.

Try for your niche

How will your SEO agency benefit from cold outreach?

Based on the conversation with Ekaterina Razumova, Head of SEO at Sait.

SEO client outreach can deliver relatively speedy results. That’s why it is a viable option for new agencies and those entering new markets.

Once you are a more established company, you can leverage the tactic as a complementary channel. It might have lower conversion rates compared with other methods, such as content marketing. At the same time, with quality and targeted outreach, you can land year contracts, and the tactic will pay off

How do I get an SEO client with email outreach

Step 1. Revise your ideal customer characteristics


  • what types of customers will make you profitable: e.g., company size, revenue, series funding, location, business type, and industry.
  • at what point companies are more likely to convert to an SEO client: e.g., launching a new website, expanding to new markets, or not having internal SEO expertise yet.
  • what companies will succeed with your help, and what business types will benefit from SEO.
  • who are the decision-makers — founder, marketer, SEO manager, or project manager (in agencies). By the way, SEO specialists sometimes don’t manage marketing budgets, so they don’t make decisions about buying SEO services. They can provide you valuable insights about company SEO struggles and needs, though.

To create or update your Ideal customer profile, go through our blog series. Here is the first part. You will find links to the 2d and 3d pieces in the introduction.

Step 2. Define your specialization(s)

Focus on a niche or a type of SEO services. You will be able to compete with general agencies because you have deeper knowledge and thus can provide better SEO for clients with specific inquiries.

How to find specialization:

  1. Outline the SEO services where you and your team have the most expertise and experience.
  2. Make a list of your team members' industry expertise. Say you used to work for an e-commerce company.
  3. What companies do you want to work with?
  4. Examine the market for SEO service gaps. Determine which industries and subindustries have very little competition or none at all.
  5. Collect all the data and develop your unique specialization. 

SEO service template:

  • Rankings.io does SEO for law firms.
  • Haro SEO builds links via Haro for real estate and e-commerce brands.
  • Stack Against offers SEO-optimized comparison pages.
  • Sam Underwood helps e-commerce businesses with technical SEO.
  • PatientGrowth optimizes doctors’ and clinics’ websites.
  • Local SEO guide
You can save the ICP characteristics in the lead gen tool and search for SEO leads faster

In GetProspect B2B database you can save the ICP template, so the search is prepared for your unique needs

Try it

Step 3. Grow a list of the best SEO leads

Below are some ways to go about it. Take the prospect’s characteristics from the previous sections and search for the real people that match.

1. Collect websites that aren’t ranking well at their main keywords → import the list to GetProspect → get the emails.

2. Locate recently updated websites from a chosen niche or location via Google Search Console and Ahrefs. So you will be able to offer timely SEO help. Sinoun Chea, CEO at ShiftWeb, shared that the approach can lead to getting SEO clients even if a prospect isn’t actively looking for SEO services. 

Import the websites to get emails, as in the first point.

3. Leverage targeted filters of the B2B database. Here you can safely research + get verified emails right away. Filter by the industry, job roles, founding year (e.g., to find recently launched websites), company size, location (e.g., if you provide SEO services for local businesses), etc.

Step 4. Craft a cold pitch: how to sell SEO services

  1. Avoid cliches and overused approaches. You can get to know them by searching «SEO» in your inbox and spam folder.

  2. «Try not to mention SEO at all. Tie your services together with other marketing services, preferably something domain-related. SEO should never be used in isolation, and its best results come from being integrated into other marketing campaigns». — Michael Maximoff, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Belkins.

  3. It's okay to add technical details to get more SEO clients. Even reaching a business owner who barely knows what SEO is. You will look more professional. At the same time, add a recap in simple words to deliver your ideas.

  4. Back up your expertise, e.g., you have 10 years doing SEO for their niche, or your brand cloud includes famous companies.

  5. Experiment with FOMO to generate SEO leads. But be creative! Here is an example from Kevin Dam, CEO at Aemorph: «We created a whole database of on-page generic recommendations and sent them out to clinics and doctors. In the email pitch, we mentioned that we're sending this advice to all the clinics in their area, so they could follow it and get almost immediate results and improvements, or their competitor would (just depends on who replies first)».

  6. Don’t pull all the convincing points you have in one message. You will need them when the prospect doesn’t respond to you :)

  7. Add a call to action and make the next steps clear.

Notion: In a very narrow niche, such as offering SEO to clinics in a particular area, you can automate your email campaign and send it to dozens or hundreds of prospects. 

Otherwise, better outreach manually and customize your offer to each recipient. How? We will explain below.

How to customize your proposal

Besides researching a website performance, go to a company and personal socials. You may discover particular SEO struggles they mention, find out any commonalities you have, and any other individual and company facts to start the conversation. 

In case you can’t find anything like this, don’t customize the SEO email template just for the sake of customization. Focus on their website instead. You can personalize your email in the following ways:

  • Uncover what experience they have with SEO. How? Network with their team members. So you can tap into the pain.

  • Give them a small tip on how they can improve their website. 

  • Explain how they can improve their technical SEO, what the outcomes are if they don’t, and what the results are if they do. In-house marketers often don’t have deep knowledge of technicals.

  • Describe how you have helped a similar business (e.g., from the industry, the same size company) with numbers and graphs, before and after results.

  • Demonstrate how they can surpass their competitors in your SEO sales pitch. For example, suggest potential link-building opportunities their rivals aren’t using yet.

  • «Do a small favor for free. Go beyond SEO audits with tools. Offer a brief manual SEO audit». — Ekaterina Razumova, Head of SEO at Sait.

  • Offer a monthly free trial in exchange for a testimonial and case study. Especially beneficial if you are starting a new agency.

SEO cold email template

Subject line: Win rate vs {prospect’s competitor}?

Hey {prospect name},

How’s your comparison pages vs {prospect’s competitor} performing?

If you’re regularly competing vs {prospect’s competitor} and feel you could be better at showing your ideal buyers why they should choose {prospect company name} instead, it might be worth a chat.

I ask because {your client} was struggling to beat competitors in their (very crowded) niche. They have a  more robust product, but potential buyers couldn’t see what set them apart.

{your client} generated {$29,000 ROI and +1,200} new paying customers for them in under a year (full case study here) after hiring us to write their comparison pages.

Would you be opposed if I shared some actionable inputs based on what we’ve learned from writing over hundreds of comparison pages for other SaaS?

Have a wonderful day :)

Step 5. Catch the best SEO leads’ attention

Put special effort into your subject line and opener. SEO is an incredibly competitive industry with a little shattered reputation. I assume some people may automatically delete any emails mentioning «SEO» or «link building».

So we will share some heavy-lifting tactics to use in your subject line and first paragraph. 

  • Surprising points about SEO related to prospects’ daily work. To generate SEO leads, the facts are, sure, should directly relate to your services. It could be your [Job to be Done], a counter-argument, a new perspective, unusual results, etc.

Example: How {company from their niche} generated 200 leads

  • Value for the prospect. Hook your recipients with valuable insights they cannot easily find on their own. You may feature case studies, humor, new data, practical instructions tailored to their specific needs, and more.

Example: always keep up with algorithms updates - how

  • Mention their SEO pain. You want to make the potential SEO client think, «Wow! It isn’t just me». If a potential customer has opened your email with the subject, it indicates that the issue highlighted in your message struck a chord with them, regardless of whether they responded. So you can tailor your follow-up communications accordingly.

Example: Increase Organic Traffic by 565%

  • Refer to the person they know. For instance, mention someone from their team you already talked to.

Example: Data discussed with {a prospect’s team member}

You can find more tactics in the article: Tips for writing catchy email subject lines

Step 6. Follow up SEO sales leads: remind and convince

Be ready to ping your prospects around 3-4 times. The first follow-up may be «bumping» to clarify if the person read the message. In case you are still ignored, create new messages that will provide value and increase your credibility.

Get inspired with these 11 follow-up examples.

Set auto-follow-ups in your outbound sequence to get replies

Personalize at scale, a/b test, track campaign performance, create templates, find quality contacts and send to them in the same tool

Set up follow-ups

How to find SEO clients: other options

Method 1. Partner up to get local SEO clients

Starting out or entering a new market, you can partner with more established marketing agencies. The option will help you get the first projects. You can search specifically for marketing or web design agencies that don’t have SEO expertise among their offerings. Or offer to take projects that aren’t of primary interest to the agency.

Method 2. Apply for jobs to get free SEO leads

Harry Boxhall, SEO Consultant, advises to try applying for start-ups’ SEO jobs. In case the employer likes you as a candidate, they will be more likely to hire you as an agency. Often, especially if you are an experienced SEO leader, it will be cheaper for them to leverage external help. On top, they will get the broader expertise of an SEO team rather than one person. 

Method 3. Set up social listening on Reddit

Since Reddit is an anonymous platform, where people ask questions and express their concerns more freely. That’s why you will find many people with problems of growing traffic or simply finding clients.

You can daily check for keywords manually and read relevant subreddits.

In case you want to use Reddit as a complementary source of SEO leads, you can set up Zapier automation. Connect Reddit and Slack, Gmail via Zapier. Paste your keyword in «Search query». Choose to search all over Reddit or in particular subreddits. When you get notified — go on Reddit and offer help. Here is an example of how to find SEO clients from Nick Zviadadzу, Founder at MintSEO. 

«Every once in a while, you see a post on /r/seo about "my SEO agency is not delivering results, what can I do?"

I usually respond with something like "drop your website, and I'll tell you EXACTLY why you're not ranking."

Then, I drop a free, 8-10 bullet point report on things they could do better. This usually leads to the original poster asking for a call or consultation, and at the same time, it also results in other SEO leads checking out my profile and DMing me for a consultation call.

So far, I've gotten around 25+ leads out of this in the past few months, as well as 4 clients». 

Method 4. Demonstrate expertise: how to get SEO clients on LinkedIn

  1. Give your profile as much detail as possible.
  2. Treat it as your landing page selling you.
  3. Grow connections.
  4. Share your expertise in regular posts.
  5. Engage with others’ content.
  6. Iterate.
  7. Keep up for around 2-3 months. 
  8. Reap the rewards.

Experiment with other platforms: 

(consider where your target audience is)

  • TikTok. Search for digital marketing profiles.
  • YouTube. The platform is increasingly becoming competitive too, but you can start a very specialized channel.


  • Cold emailing is a viable option for new agencies and those entering a new market to get their first SEO client.
  • Pick a narrow niche and create a targeted list of potential clients.
  • Crafting a cold pitch and selling SEO services, avoid cliches and overused approaches, personalize the proposal to each recipient or segment, add technical details, back up your expertise.
  • Be ready to follow up with your prospect around 3-4 times.
  • Other options to get SEO clients without cold calling: partner with other agencies, apply for start-up jobs, use social listening, and demonstrate your expertise beyond a blog.

About author

Elena Osipova

I'm an SEO Specialist with 7 years of experience. I am skilled in keyword research experience, outreach, technical optimization, and SERP Analysis. I know how to get leads from organic traffic and I'm happy to share these tips.