1. Work in a niche.
2. Be the best in your niche.
But seriously, try to focus on one industry and pursue clients. Tell them why you know their business better and get them results. The rest is easy.
For example, if you are in the plumbing industry, say “you don’t need just any seo expert – you need a plumbing expert who does seo”. Of course you need the know the product/service inside out. Where SEO is going, it’s all about good content, relevant keywords, and a great web experience. A bunch of backlinks and other manipulations won’t get you as far as they used to.
Referrals. I have a website just because the web guy without a website is just a web guy and not a “company” but 99.9% of my work and business opportunities come from happy clients referring their colleagues/friends/family.
Our Paid Search guy has been with the company for years, and sort of does his own thing, so honestly most of my new clients come from referrals of people we are already doing paid search for. We’ve shown we provide value, and then point out that SEO is an option as well.
Then I normally meet with them a few times- first with a basic overview of our costs, then with a deeper dive of where they stand currently (with areas they can fix). The key is to set proper expectations- I always make the comparison of “paid search is like getting money through the stock market, and SEO is like putting money into a mutual fund, the growth happens, but it’s not overnight, it’s slow but steady”