Selling SEO – A Rookies Guide to Success

Business man clinching his fist while talking on the phone

I have been a sales person in the technology and internet space for almost 20 years.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s software volume licensing, corporate network infrastructure, content delivery services, or internetmarketing services; there is a process to all of them.  My goal is share some of the content I discovered while specifically researching the SEO sales process.  This is the first of a series produced by SpyFu on Selling SEO and is focused on general sales and entry level SEO sales content.

Here are three articles on general sales practices:

Sales Without Selling, by Adam J. Humphreys

A brief article on the G.U.E.S.S.T. sales process.  Processes are good for making sure you cover all the bases.

3 Things to Remember When Selling SEO Services, by Ray “Catfish” Comstock

Ray offers three straight forward pieces of advice. Keeping them in mind will help you win new SEO business.

Selling SEO, by Jeff Sliger

This article focuses on the intangibles of the presentation. Jeff discusses how people buy from people they like and how to establish rapport with your potential client.  He shares a nice piece about discovering the value of SEO with the client and closes with how to create a sense of urgency.



Selling SEO can be rough.  Many business owners, directors, etc. (people who control the budget) think SEO is a smoke and mirrors game Google is playing and all the recent hype around Panda and Penguin don’t ease this opinion.  If Google can reshuffle the deck anytime, how can a business invest in SEO services? They know organic results bring in traffic, but have a really hard time attaching value to it and without value there will never be a budget.

A “Market for Lemons”, a Noble Prize, and Snake Oil SEOby

This is a great article/blog post from John Andrews where he describes what happens when buyers in a particular market suffer from a lack of information and how they end up with a complete distrust of the sales people and the buying process. It’s an important perspective to understand.



How can you sell something as volatile and intangible as SEO ranking can be?  Every stockbroker or funds trader probably launched their hand in the air like a grade school kid that desperately wants to prove how smart they are. The answer is you have to focus on the one thing that everyone really wants – value.  Value isn’t synonymous with cheap or low cost; value is the perception that more is received from a transaction than was put in.  It’s feeling that you got your money’s worth. Selling SEO is selling value and selling yourself.  To be successful, you must learn what the prospective client values and show them how you will deliver it.

How to Sell SEO: The Less Obvious Case, by Jim Magary

This article has an infographic (below) from SEOmoz showing the importance that establishing value plays in the sales cycle.  Roughly 65% of an SEO’s time is spent convincing the client that SEO is worthy of any investment and then actually acquiring the budget needed.  The article also features three selling points to help you with what Jim calls “the indirect pitch.”How SEOS spend their time pie chart



The amount of the SEO’s time taken up trying to establish value and justify budget is huge. The potential clients overall distrust of the SEO process is another hurdle. What can be done to overcome these challenges?  Start with setting realistic expectations.  The potential client is probably used to the ‘used car saleperson’ discussed above in the “A Market for Lemons..” article and they will most likely recognize your honest approach immediately.  Next, have a realistic conversation about ROI. Whether your potential client is an ecommerce site or focused on lead generation, the next two articles will help make it clear how to present ROI. Lastly, discuss analytics and tools that can be used to measure performance; be sure to offer some independent, third party products to validate your claims.

Proving the Value of SEO [Slide Deck], by Claye Stokes

An excellent slide deck that explains how to calculate return on investment (ROI) and cost per lead (CPL).  The end of the presentation focuses on how to segment website traffic into useful groups and use Google Analytics to show your success.

Justifying the Value of SEO, by Mark Jackson

The main points are setting realistic goals, focusing on increasing website traffic instead of specific keyword SERP rankings, and how to have a realistic ROI discussion.   Mark also points out a couple of third party tools that can help with the value of SEO.



No sales guide would be complete without a section on overcoming objections.  Here is a list of nine SEO specific objections which are pretty common.  You should be ready to deal with version of these:

SEO Sales Process: Overcoming Common SEO Objections, by Peter D

This article includes nine common SEO sales objections with suggestions on how to counter them.  This list will get you thinking about ways you can turns these common objections into favorable parts of your presentation.



If you are new to selling SEO services, I hope this article has provided you with some helpful insights.  If you are a seasoned SEO professional, I hope it served as refresher or made you think about your sales process in a new way.  If you feel we’ve overlooked something, please share it in the comments below.