Yep, you read the title right. No, it’s not a typo. In this post I’m going to talk about a novel idea I had for a client of mine that may be applicable to yours: doing SEO for your clients’ clients (indirectly, sort of). That said, I imagine that it may only be applicable to a very small and narrow niche of client types, so apologies in advance if it’s not something that you can utilise – although if it is, this could be worthwhile to you…
With that in mind, I’ll cut to the chase… I do a bit of work for Welsh ICE, a co-working space and startup hub/community based just outside Cardiff. It’s also where I’m based as a freelancer. As part of the work, I’ve been keeping an eye out for HARO* requests (something that I’ve previously written about here) about entrepreneurship in general, co-working spaces, etc. I get the HARO updates daily and noticed that there is a steady stream of requests aimed at entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.
Then the lightbulb went off – what if I were to pass on relevant HARO requests to ICE’s members/residents as well?
* For the record, just in case you don’t click that link above but you don’t know already know much about HARO (Help A Reporter Out), it’s a free service that hooks up writers/journalists looking for comments on articles. So if someone needs a bunch of entrepreneurs to tell them about their experiences for their next article, willing entrepreneurs can express their interest and get involved.
How we went about it
ICE uses the system of another ICE-based startup – Noddlepod – as a sort of intranet and project management system for members. I realised that I could upload HARO requests to Noddlepod, and if an ICE member wanted to contribute to one, they could leave a comment and I’d send it over to the requester on their behalf.
I created an FAQ-style intro post explaining what HARO is, how it works, how members can get involved and expressing the fact that I’d only be passing on broad requests, i.e. those related to entrepreneurship and small business… Passing on requests specific to members (e.g. a music-related request to a music business, a finance-related request to a finance business, etc.) would be far too time-consuming, fiddly and messy.
If you have a client where doing SEO/marketing for their clients in addition to them (as a by-product) is a possibility, then there’s benefits to both sides: for both you and the client…
For the client (in this case – ICE), it strengthens their offering. ICE provides office space or a desk in one of their co-working spaces, phone support (i.e. a telephone answering service), business support and advice, funding opportunities and so much more. They can also tell new or prospective members: “we can also help you to market yourself a little bit.” It’s another feature to add as part of the whole package. I’m not just helping them to find new clients/members, I’m adding value to their service as a whole.
For the SEO agency/freelancer (in this case – me), it’s a nice way to say hello to a whole bunch of other prospective SEO clients. I’ve been at ICE a while and so I pretty much know all the other businesses/startups already, but if I were to achieve a HARO success for them (i.e. they contribute, I pass it on and they get a mention on a big tech/startup blog) then they may be interested in hiring me for some SEO work more directly.
We’ve been trialling the HARO/ICE thing for a couple of months now. It’s not had as much take-up from members as I’d hoped, but I think a lot of that is down to a) not understanding HARO and the benefits, and b) being too busy with other important startup-y tasks. Regarding the former, I’m confident that with a couple of successes, more and more members will be on-board. I’ve also restructured the way that I present the summaries, making it easier for members to spot the ones that are relevant to them and that they’d like to answer. So far we’ve had relevant requests from some big-name sites, including the New York Times, Forbes.com and Mashable (which are dream press mentions for some companies), so there’s definitely value in members getting involved.
I’m curious to know how many SEOs that this would apply to, in terms of doing something like this for their clients. If you do SEO work for a co-working space/startup hub/virtual office (like me) then there’s an opportunity. What about if you do SEO for business advisors? Business coaches? Networking organisations? If you have a client who ticks that box, there might be an opportunity for you to do SEO for their clients, too.
[Spinning top image credit – Pierre-Alexandre Garneau (bonus points if you got the reference!)]