It’s not easy to start an SEO business. If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this post and jotting down notes, right?
If there’s anything you have to understand about the SEO industry, it’s that nothing stays the same. Algorithms change. People’s search behaviors change. Even websites change to accommodate the search behavior of their target users. If doing a 180-degree turn to keep up with all the updates isn’t your thing, you need to steel yourself to make your startup SEO successful.
To be successful, you need to have at least the basic understanding of how SEO works. Know the ropes of how to make websites rank or how to manage the expectations of every client you close.
Sounds challenging? It can be, but this doesn’t mean there’s no workaround it. Any startup SEO owner has gone through the challenges of building their business from the ground up.
How do you go from small to big? Startup to powerhouse?
Where Everything Should Start - Your Brand
Every SEO business needs to have a solid presence and a clear distinction from any other agency out there. But, what’s the formula to building your agency’s brand? Focus on two things: your niche and your differentiator.
1. Choosing the right niche
Some SEO businesses fall trap to the “I’ll work with any client who comes to my way” approach, and it’s understandable given how they’re still testing the waters. However, it’s better and more efficient to have a specific vertical in mind.
Go for a vertical that’s workable, meaning the potential clients have customer lifetime value, singular high ticket value, or extended networking opportunities. Do your research to get an idea of who your prospects are in multiple verticals, then weigh the pros and cons of each vertical.
From there, you can create buyer personas that will allow you to develop a strategy that aligns with your brand, which brings us to the next point - your differentiator.
2. Identifying your differentiator
What type of SEO provider are you? Are you the cost-effective provider or one that leverages methodology? Identifying your differentiator is all about how you position your agency. It can be any of the three:
- Your capability to service clients - This focuses on the methodology you follow and implement for your clients.
- The cost-effectiveness of your service - Go for the price-centric approach if you’re positioning your agency based on the market’s ability to spend.
- Your technological edge - Leverage the tools and dashboard that you’re using to showcase that you have the technological capability to manage your client’s campaigns.
Food for thought: Don’t position yourself as having all three qualities. The point of differentiation is to choose a quality that you can strongly advocate to your clients. Remember that it’s better to be a master of one than being a jack of all trades.
You Have a Brand, Now What? You Market It
You’d think that SEO agencies have foolproof marketing initiatives, given how they’re working in the digital marketing industry. But, not all agencies – especially the ones who just started out their SEO business – have a marketing strategy in place. This is what causes them to fail from the very start.
Your marketing initiatives not only help in strengthening your presence but also in getting new leads for your agency. There are two ways to go about this: inbound and outbound marketing.
1. The Passive Approach to Marketing
Inbound marketing involves passive lead generation efforts. This can be SEO, social media, content marketing, and PPC. The idea behind this is you draw potential clients to your agency by putting relevant content on your website or social properties.
That piece of high quality, relevant content becomes your lead magnet – something that will serve as your foot in the door and prompt your target audience to leave their email or sign up.
A few best practices for your inbound marketing initiatives:
- When doing SEO for your agency, go into Search Console and see the queries that are appearing. Use these queries/keywords as a starting point when building content for your SEO agency’s website.
- For social, join groups that are frequented by your target clients.
- Don’t just gun for organic traffic—go for paid search traffic. Use geo-targeted keywords for your PPC ads, but be sure to limit this to a specific area at the start.
- Always update your content. Create your content marketing playbook to have reserves of content that serve the needs of your prospect clients.
2. The Active Way of Marketing Your SEO Agency
While inbound marketing is all about attracting prospects to go to your website, outbound marketing is you initiating contact and reaching out to your next clients. It’s how you find leads for today.
There’s a process you have to follow when you’re searching for leads actively – qualify, find a common ground, and reach out. However, your outbound marketing efforts will be more efficient if you have a list of prospects, which can come from niche-related groups, forums, or industry listings.
Don’t Stagnate – Scale
The most important characteristic of a powerhouse SEO agency is its ability to scale - not just in sales, but also in operations. So, how do you get to that coveted powerhouse status?
I want to leave you with simple pointers that have been a mantra for some agencies:
1. Don’t take on all the work.
Think of it this way: the more clients you close, the more work you have to do. How do you handle everything? You don’t—you let somebody else do the work for you.
If you’re not giving 100% of your time to your clients and try to do everything your own, you’re giving them a disservice. Which brings me to the next point…
2. Hire people without adding them to your payroll.
How will they work for you if they’re not your employees? This is why white label SEO rocks! By hiring a white label SEO provider, you’re freeing yourself from the obligation of getting and training new employees.
Your provider acts as your team and takes care of the bulk of the deliverables, while you can give maximum effort in finding new clients and scaling.
3. Have the right system in place.
One of the most important things that I always tell my team is to work with direction, meaning everything they work on should have a purpose or an impact to the bottom line.
Document how to do a certain task, and check later on how to improve the process. Set priorities at the start of the day; be sure to mark the ones with the most impact as the highest in your to-do list.
By following a system, it becomes easier to replicate processes, teach new hires, and keep operations running smoothly.
4. Learn as you go.
Running an SEO business doesn’t mean shying away from opportunities to learn. Knowledge is your ticket to stay in the business. You have to know what you’re doing because expertise translates to value. If you can share that value to clients and they can relate that to how it will benefit their service, it will be easy to get their buy-in.
Every great SEO consulting company has humble beginnings. If you put in the right amount of effort to building your brand, getting new clients, and providing deliverables, your SEO business can go from startup to powerhouse before you know it.
Itamar Gero is the founder and CEO of SEOReseller.com, a white label SEO company and digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies—and their local business clientele—all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).