Digital Insights

Why Buying SEO Leads is a Bad Idea


Published: August 7, 2014

Buying SEO leads from a third-party provider is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Assuming that your company is offering white-hat SEO solutions truly tailored to an individual prospect’s unique situation, you may find that paying for leads that are ground out in assembly line fashion can be a frustrating and expensive proposition.

Many SEO practitioners believe that the very nature of their service defies a cookie-cutter approach to prospecting; the scope of service being pitched is dependent on many factors unique to each prospect’s situation including

  • The ranking difficulties of a given industry and geographic location.
  • The nature of the client’s competition.
  • The amount of work required to repair neglected or poorly executed SEO elements such as thin content, lack of a mobile-optimized website, and reliance on keyword-stuffed anchor text.

Custom-fit SEO Services Requires a Specific Type of Pre-qualified Prospect

  • Many SEOs focus their efforts on local search because it’s usually a faster and easier path to obtaining results for a client.
  • Other agencies may target organic search prospects because they generally have larger budgets to work with.
  • You may prefer to concentrate on a specific vertical, such as lawyers, dentists, or a building trade such as plumbing or HVAC; this strategy enables you to develop real authority as the go-to specialist for that niche.

In short, the more specific you are about the type of client you want to work with, the less likely you are to be happy with the type of prospects the lead generation mills are going to send you.

Other Problems with Buying SEO Leads

  • Lack of exclusivity. The majority of lead sellers are going to sell the same leads to a number of SEO agencies. This means that you’re going to have to pay just for the opportunity of presenting your offer alongside that of your competition; all too often this approach drives prices down to the point where the winning bidder may not be able to earn a fair profit.
  • Lack of control over the method of qualifying prospects. If the lead provider uses Craigslist to troll for prospects with a “$99.00 per Month SEO Package” type of headline, your offer may be dead in the water before you even present it.
  • Possible image problems that may hinder your future growth. Many professionals shy away from traditional lead generating methods because of the public’s perception that if they were really good at what they do, clients would be beating down their door. Granted, you have to start somewhere but you need to somehow differentiate yourself from the SEO offers being pushed by telemarketing boiler rooms.

Find Better Ways to Market Your SEO Services

  • Put your rankings where your mouth is. If you’re really as good at SEO as you think you are, prove it. Pick a niche, create a basic website, and get your pages ranked for several low to medium competition keywords. Call or email prospective clients in that niche and close someone. Rinse and repeat.
  • Offer every satisfied client a month of free service for every referral they send your way that signs up for your SEO services.
  • Get involved in your local community. Find a non-profit organization that could use your help, and get them ranked. Spotlight your efforts with a press release that includes a glowing testimonial of how your work has helped the non-profit reach their goals.