You wouldn’t want to start an SEO business unprepared and end up with dissatisfied clients.
This checklist addresses exactly this and gives you a good head start with your entrepreneurial journey as an SEO consultant – or it could take your technical SEO Skills to the next level as you scale your own company.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital marketing professional or full of SEO knowledge, this guide will help any beginner become an industry heavyweight, and will help any season SEO companies take their knowledge to the next level.
Towards the end of this article I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions on how to start an SEO business…
Everything You Need To Start An SEO Business
As the saying goes, “The beginning is always the hardest.”
The sooner you learn how to start a SEO business, the easier the following steps will be for you.
The first step is to define the criteria for launching an SEO agency. If you get these right, you’re well on your way to having a successful SEO business.
Are You Ready To Run Your Own Agency?
The truth is no one is ever 100% prepared to launch and manage an SEO business. Aside from the ever-shifting SEO landscape, there’s a lot to consider with operations.
It’s all a learning experience.
Before you begin creating your SEO business strategy, establish a list of the following:
Prepare To Quit Your Job.
First off, let me say this right up front – establishing an agency is not a reason to stop working. If anything, you will need to put in additional time and effort to get your SEO company off the ground.
But when should you give up your job and devote your entire attention to your SEO company? The ideal time would be:
- When your cash flow equals what you’re currently earning at your day job
- When you’ve got enough regular customers to keep your business running
- When people ask you about your SEO rather than you begging them to employ you
If you believe you meet the above requirements, it could be time to fire your boss.
Possess Business Acumen.
An SEO company is like all other businesses. If you have no business experience, you will most likely struggle to keep your agency afloat.
Most business owners waste thousands of dollars simply because they do not have a basic understanding of what is best for their company.
There are several online resources and excellent books that can teach you how to establish and run a profitable SEO business.
So be sure to do your research.
Learn The Basics Of Digital Marketing.
There is an abundance of resources available regarding SEO and digital marketing, so you will have no reason to scrimp on the learning part.
We also recommend that you visit Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, Moz, and Google’s Webmasters Help Community for the most up-to-date knowledge on all things digital.
Legal Matters To Handle
Launching an SEO business has legal ramifications, just like any other business.
There are rules and regulations that will influence your decisions, and if you know this from the start, it could save you from a lot of troubles in the future.
Determine Your Business Structure.
You must first determine what your business structure is before even considering a name for your agency.
Do you wish to run your business as an LLC or as a single proprietorship?
You need to decide which structure is the best for tax filing.
Create Your SEO Contracts.
Clients may be intimidated by contracts, but you can’t run any business without one. It’s the single most important document that legally binds your company with your clients.
An SEO contract, on the other hand, extends beyond the legal rules. Consider it an agreement of the scope of work and expectations from both sides.
It allows you into the nitty-gritty details of how your clients’ campaigns will be managed – from roles and processes to asset ownership and agreement duration.
Set Up Your Payment Methods.
The majority of agencies depend on the most convenient method of payment – PayPal. Other payment options, on the other hand, are worth considering if you’d like to make the most out of every dollar that you spend for your business.
- Automated Clearing House (ACH) Transfers
- Credit Card Payment
- Digital Wallets
Consider what best fits your clients when settling on a payment option. Maintain a seamless experience by ensuring that all transactions are safe and secure and safe.
Prepare Your Invoice Templates.
An invoice allows you to handle and track accounts in an organized manner, ensuring that your agency is paid on time. Each invoice must be assigned a corresponding number, as with any invoices, for easy tracking.
A typical SEO invoice comprises itemized prices with detailed descriptions for each service provided by your company. It also needs to include the due date and payment options.
Your Agency’s Brand Matters
One of the things you must establish is your brand — not only at the outset, but also as your business grows.
Developing your brand is all about identifying what makes you stand out from your competitors. It’s what basically sets you apart.
Choose Your SEO Business Name And Logo
Your brand’s identifiable aspects are your name and logo. Both are integrated into all of your assets, including your business cards, website, online advertisements, lead magnets, and other online resources.
Consider the following:
- Value Proposition: What are your major differentiators in terms of value proposition?
- Audience: Who is your target audience?
- Personality: What feeling do you want your viewers to feel? What do you want them to think about your brand?
Identify Your Target Buyer Personas.
The ideal clients you want to engage and convert for your agency are represented by your target buyer personas. Creating buyer personas helps you better understand your clients, their businesses, pain areas, objectives, and the digital marketing solutions they require.
The process of identifying buyer personas is divided into two parts:
Demographics are concerned with their physical features, such as gender, age, employment status, and location, while Psychographics is all about their behavior that affect their purchasing decisions, such as motives, objectives, and brand affinities.
Buyer personas act as a guide for how you want your SEO marketing business positioned.
Choose Your Niche.
Many new agencies fall short in this area.
Consider the following factors when selecting a niche:
- Choose an industry that you are acquainted with. The more familiar you are with business jargon, the simpler it will be to connect with prospects.
- Begin with your social networks. Use the power of referrals/ recommendations to your advantage.
- Conduct market research. This makes prospecting and qualifying leads easier down the line.
Decide On Your Service Offerings.
Are you just concerned about SEO?
Would you like to branch out into PPC, Web Design or Social Media? Are you planning to serve local companies and provide local SEO?
Having SEO as your primary product offering generates regular monthly revenue for your company because SEO does not end after the first month.
Clients must continue to optimize until they notice a favorable ranking change. When compared to site design, which is frequently packaged into one-time goods, SEO as a service gives you more freedom to upsell clients.
After you’ve gained your first SEO clients and convinced them to stick with you, it’s crucial to branch out into additional digital marketing services. But for the time being as a start-up, you must stick to one option.
Build Your Business Website.
A website could either attract new customers or lose them to competitors. Even if your website isn’t as visually appealing as the more prominent digital marketing agencies, it doesn’t matter. The more important thing is whether you have one or not.
For now, you’ll need:
- Domain and hosting
Note: One of the most important things that’s important to a business website is ranking for search query.
Work On Your SEO Methodology.
While on-page optimization, link building, and content marketing are typical techniques for websites to rank, each SEO service approaches their customers differently.
All of these are largely dependent on their SEO method, which you must establish for your agency.
Let’s take a look at how you may lay the groundwork for your business strategy and develop your SEO competence.
Develop Your Core SEO Methodology.
Your SEO methodology is the by-product of your strategies and expertise that, in the end, would benefit businesses and their target clients.
In-House Or Outsource?
Getting started as an SEO consultant and subsequently moving into a full-service digital marketing business requires you to really know what you’re doing. This does not imply that you must perfect everything alone.
There are two approaches to developing expertise: create an in-house team of experts or alternatively, outsource the job to experts.
Learn About Project Management
Project management in SEO is often divided into two parts: planning and fulfillment.
Research, assessment, and strategy are all part of the planning process. This creates the foundation for your SEO initiatives, giving you a clear idea of what to accomplish and when to execute it.
Competitive analysis, keyword research, website auditing, and content quality review are all common activities during the planning phase. Following preparation comes implementation, which is what fulfillment requires.
Fulfillment, on the other hand, extends beyond simply providing what you committed to deliver to clients. It’s about putting in place a consistent, scalable procedure to accomplish the job.
Do you want to approach the SEO project in an effective way, or are you the Kanban type of person?
If you have a clear sequence, fulfillment can take place effortlessly, increasing the number of satisfied clients and of course, more money for your business.
As you gain knowledge and experience on project management, it’s a smart idea to become acquainted with the following SEO project management tools:
Use SEO Tools
The majority of the SEO and marketing products for small business owners are intended to perform extra work such as competition analysis, keyword research, and link building prospecting.
You’ll encounter a mix of free and paid programs online; we suggest you start with the free ones to get a sense of how the tool functions
Check out these tools:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Data Studio
Marketing Your SEO Agency
Marketing SEO services and your agency is all about presenting yourself as the go-to source for companies wanting to boost their online presence. This simply means putting your words into action.
Consider this: would businesses trust you if you’re not even on Google?
I seriously doubt it.
A well-established web presence reveals a lot about how well your organization performs SEO.
Your newly designed website could take several weeks to rank, but this should not limit you to SEO only. This is what we will cover in this section.
This article presents the best techniques for promoting your SEO agency and increasing your digital presence in order to generate more SEO leads.
The foundation for your agency’s web presence is laid through inbound marketing. It’s like passively attracting attention to your brand. This includes a variety of tactics for attracting leads to your business, such as SEO, social media, content marketing, and paid advertisements.
The most cost-effective approach to increase your internet visibility is SEO, but only if done correctly. The goal is to optimize your website in the same way that you do your clients.
Perform a quick SEO assessment on your website to check what needs to be improved.
- Are the pages catering to your buyer personas’ interests at each point of the buyer’s journey?
- Is the webpage loading quick enough?
- Is the web navigation friendly to users?
Treat your website as if it needs its own SEO upkeep in order to rank higher in search results.
Link building techniques can complement your on-page optimization efforts. Building links may give you referral traffic to enhance authority while your agency’s website gradually gains organic traffic via on-page SEO.
Create and claim your GMB listing to increase your visibility in local search results. You could also obtain extra online real estate by advertising your SEO company on Yelp and other key business listings.
However, ensure that your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are accurate and correct throughout all of these listing sites.
Having reviews on prominent review sites as well as on your own website is another way to improve your SEO performance. Be aggressive in requesting your clients to evaluate your SEO business, but do it in a non-obtrusive manner.
Each review should be written by someone with whom you share a professional connection to confirm your agency’s credibility, integrity, and work ethic.
If you haven’t put up a social media page yet, now is the time to make one. Companies invest six hours each week on social media, particularly Facebook as it is the most popular site and where billions of users are across the globe.
However, using social media for inbound marketing takes more than just posting on Facebook. You must do the following:
- Personalize your message based on your platform and audience.
- Join social media groups to learn more about what your target audience is into. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit Groups are excellent locations to learn about changes and subjects of interest of your target audience.
- Be human. Avoid acting like a robot and post only to get people to respond. Instagram and Twitter are excellent channels for displaying the human aspect of your company.
Content is king and will always remain that way. However, it is not enough to just write a blog article and hope that your prospects stumble onto it.
A successful content marketing strategy revolves around delivering the appropriate material to the appropriate audience at the appropriate time.
Your site content should be optimized based on the customer personas’ intent. Assess the inquiries that your website receives in Google Search Console.
Choose terms with high search volume and build topics for your content around these. Remember that your content should always be evolving.
Update and optimize to align the content with the interests of your audience.
Paid advertising is great for reaching a highly focused audience. They may enhance your SEO efforts by putting your business in front of those who are most interested in working with an SEO business.
There are two approaches you can take:
- Google Ads: Text, picture, and video advertising that show on Google Display Network or Search Marketing Platforms are examples of this.
- Remarketing Ads: Remarketing advertisements, which are ideal for visitors who have previously visited your website, help reaffirm to your audience your value proposition.
Outbound practices are techniques that you utilize in finding prospects rather than having prospects find you.
It is your responsibility to establish contact with them and make sure that they remember your brand until they are open to use your full services.
A successful outbound campaign uses various techniques, including inbound approaches.
Attend Trade Shows And Conferences
Participating in industry events can increase your chances of being discovered by businesses that are in need of SEO services.
This may be an old-school trick, but it does open for you opportunities to network with potential clients.
Send Cold Emails
This relates to your inbound marketing efforts and trade show participation. You may add a prospect to your email list when they give their contact information (through a contact form on your website or a lead magnet you gave during a trade fair).
While there is no set formula for sending a cold email to a potential customer, the following recommended practices will trigger a positive response from potential clients:
- Do not use a generic email address – use a company domain.
- Refine your email list by segmenting it based on the message of your email.
- Customize your email message and provide an engaging subject line.
- Set up follow-up emails to obtain a response—up to two follow-up emails are usually recommended.
Sell SEO Services
Though you may be an experienced SEO expert, your ability to sell your services could spell the difference between a successful business and one that’s just getting by. It all comes down to establishing your sales process.
You need to master how to market SEO to businesses and give a repeatable methodology and techniques that result in increased income for your agency.
Establish Your SEO Pricing Structure.
One of the questions prospects will have for you is going to be about your pricing structure. There’s a lot of answers to this and if you’re unfamiliar about the real value of SEO, it might confuse you.
One of the very important things you need to accomplish in starting an SEO company is your pricing structure. In this way, justifying the cost of your services to your clients will be easier.
SEO businesses utilize any of these pricing structures:
- Hourly: This price structure is frequently used by agencies for basic SEO services such as website audits and keyword research.
- Fixed: This might be perfect for projects that require a mix of SEO services, ranging from on-page optimization services to SEO consultation. Those that branch out to other services adopt a fixed pricing structure.
- Retainer: Established SEO agencies usually place their customers on a monthly retainer price plan that meets their digital marketing requirements and budget.
Find Your Clients.
Referrals, prospects you interacted with at industry events, those in your personal and professional circle, and people on your social networks are probably your first clients.
Here are some tips to make finding clients easier for you (or vice versa):
- Download the SEO Audit Widget. Every time a potential client fills out the audit widget form from your website, they receive a free SEO audit. In exchange, you receive their email.
- Ask for referrals. A positive word about your SEO agency might persuade prospects to use your services.
- Cold call with conviction. Draft a script and begin contacting companies listed in your local telephone directory.
Qualify Your Leads.
When you qualify your leads, focusing on the right prospects would be much easier for you. It’s based on four criteria: Budget, Authority, Need, and Time(BANT).
These criteria include whether or not your prospects can pay for your expertise, has a clear need for your services, has decision-making authority, and is prepared to purchase from you.
Develop A Set Of Probing Questions.
Probing questions help you to assess the requirements of your prospects and whether or not they are a good fit for your agency. Here are a few questions to ask your SEO clients:
- Have you previously worked with a SEO agency?
- How happy are you with your present SEO company?
- What are your primary difficulties?
- How did you handle these issues?
- Do you plan to spend money on marketing?
- How do you determine SEO success?
Know When To Say No.
This is crucial to any business, not just for an SEO company.
The truth is you can’t accept every client and their demands. You’ve got to learn to say no.
Establish high standards from the start and commit to them.
Clients that are not a good fit for your agency should be turned down.
Pitch To Your SEO Prospects.
A solid pitch is the result of the following:
- A winning SEO proposal that sells itself
- A good relationship with your potential client
Do Your Prep Before Pitching.
Consider this as your homework, or what we refer to as Step 0.
Because of your preparation, you will be able to build a pitch that revolves around your prospect rather than your SEO company.
- What do they do?
- What industry are they involved in?
- What are their most common issues and challenges?
- What are the solutions they require?
During preparation, you will learn all you need to know about the prospect. Hence, you will be able to assist them in finding the best solution and present your agency as the perfect fit for it.
Create A Proposal That Sells Itself.
Your business proposal is the print copy of your company’s value proposition. It contains information of the following:
- Your customer
- SEO approach
- Suggested SEO solution
- Timetable and deliverables
It is essential to create your company’s SEO proposal template so that you can easily fill in the information, saving you a lot of time from having to create from scratch an SEO proposal.
If you have a good relationship with your prospects, chances are you can influence their buying decision to your advantage.
This not only demonstrates your effort in creating good rapport, but it also promotes trust between you and your prospects.
Close Your SEO Prospects
After pitching to your prospects, your next step now is to close.
Ensure your concluding sentence is strong since it will determine whether a customer accepts or rejects you. Developing and mastering sales closing methods will help you decide what to say at the end of your pitch:
- Sell your services’ benefits.
- Close by arranging your next discussion with them aka assumptive close.
- Finish with a question that gives them a restricted number of options aka assertive close.
Retain Your Clients.
When you close a prospect, it doesn’t imply you’re done attempting to get their business. To keep them with your SEO agency, you must continually give value to them.
Maintain Business Continuity And Operations.
One of the difficulties that most SEO startup businesses face is a lack of operational cadence. Their bottom line suffers as a result of the lack of predictable procedures. This does not have to be your fate.
By adhering to the guidelines described below, your newly created SEO agency will be able to preserve business continuity and operate efficiently.
Align Sales With Fulfillment.
While it may be tempting to b on as many clients as possible, it is critical to consider your operating capacity. Note that you’re still a startup, which implies that your manpower and resources can only do so much. This is when your sales and operations need to align.
These steps should be included in your SEO business plan:
- Check to see if your sales goals are in sync with your operations.
- Establish a baseline and performance metrics for intersecting sectors.
- Identify any gaps in order to create a more integrated approach.
- Create a procedure with specific timeframes and deliverables.
Having your sales and fulfillment in sync can help you maintain consistency in your performance.
Avoid The Talent Trap
The majority of new SEO businesses have only two or five people on their team.
Due to a lack of manpower to do the task, it is common for work to fall onto the duties of a chosen few in the team.
This is what you call a talent trap.
You must accept that every member of your team has limitations. And this is true not only to SEO agencies but to all types of businesses. What do you do if the talent in charge of your marketing becomes ill or leaves unexpectedly?
Who will take over?
This may also lead to burn-outs. Someone who is burn-out can never be productive.
Create a succession plan rather than depending on a single rock star. This should involve criteria for experience, products, and client expectations.
Your company should be process-oriented to avoid the talent trap.
Creating such processes allows you to avoid being overly reliant on talent by providing you with clear steps that you can do on autopilot.
Consider the Pareto principle: focus on performing 20% of the work that results in 80% of the results. This makes prioritizing workloads and whirlwinds much simpler. “Whirlwhinds” are tasks, i.e., admin work, that require a lot of effort but have minimal impact.
Create processes and offer documentation for them, such as:
- Checklists for recurring tasks
- Operations manual
- Sales manual
- Customer service manual
Prepare To Scale.
All startup SEO agencies, at the end of the day, aspire to achieve a high income level.
This begs the question, “How can you scale your SEO company?”
There is just one simple solution: don’t become the hero.
This means assigning responsibilities to members of your team. Most agency proprietors (particularly new ones) want to jump in and do the job themselves.
As noble as it may appear, it is outright ineffective and counter-productive. If you want to scale your business, you must work ON it rather than IN it.
Outsource The Work.
In case you or anyone on your team is unable to do the task, outsourcing it is the solution. We touched on outsourcing briefly in the last section, but now we’ll go more into how it might influence your operations.
Outsourcing your SEO allows you to devote more time to the growth of your company rather than the details of day-to-day operations. Furthermore, it allows you to tap into a broader pool of people to complete deliverables while developing your expertise.
SEO may be outsourced to freelancers. This may be the best solution for small SEO tasks or projects that need only a few hours to complete.
Outsource to an SEO company if you want a long-term collaboration to deliver bulk SEO services. This offers you a bigger staff to handle your projects.
Check out for case studies offered by the outsourcing professional that demonstrates their capacity to consistently produce successful outcomes.
Starting an SEO business will put your talents and determination to the test.
A lot of aspiring SEO business owners quit halfway through—don’t be one of them.
If you complete everything on this checklist, you’ve already accomplished a lot. However, if you want further assistance in establishing your SEO firm, you can seek for professional help.
While starting an SEO company may appear to be difficult, the end result can be well worth the effort.
All of the lessons learned as a result of the evolving digital world, and the businesses you may assist along the road, make it beyond rewarding.
What Is Our #1 Way To Make Money Online In 2023?
Our team has spent months researching, reviewing, and vetting dozens of business models and thousands of programs.
While there may be no “perfect business”, the research IS conclusive:
Sure, messing around with search engines is great – but what if you could incorporate that into something bigger?
Whether you’ve never made a dollar online, or you’ve been in this space for a while but never really “made it,” Digital Leasing is for you.
1) It’s Flexible: got an hour a day? You can do this.
Ready to drop everything else and dive in full time? You can do this.
Yes, the more time you put in, the faster you see results. But even with a little time each day, you can move the needle in a Digital Leasing business.
And because this system is so flexible, you don’t have to constantly be working to make more money. It’s called PASSIVE INCOME because if you stop working, the money doesn’t.
Imagine taking 3 months off to just tour around Europe, rent a cabin in the woods to write a book, hike the Appalachian Trail, or live on the beach and surf all day.
This is only possible if you have an income stream that’s not tied to your time.
2) You Own & Control EVERYTHING: With an tradition SEO, you don’t really own anything. You’re a hired gun for clients, and entirely at their mercy.
Sure, you own your agency, but if your business grinds to a halt once you stop working, all you really have is a self-created job.
With Digital Leasing (a passive income stream), you own all the assets, which means you have all the power and all the control.
3) Little To No Startup Costs: It’s possible to get into Digital Leasing with zero dollars upfront.
Because, using the strategies outlined in this program, you can get a client to pay you BEFORE spending a penny out of your own pocket…even before you do any work.
Even without getting paid in advance, you can have your first Digital Rental Property up, running, and generating profits for less than $100.
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Remember: each Digital Rental Property is worth $500 to $2,000 a month in semi-passive income (over 95% profit).
Every time you decide to create another one and increase your income, it gets easier.
Because you have more knowledge, more experience, more results, and more momentum.
If you wanted to double your income with a traditional SEO you’d have to double your clients OR double the monthly payment of your existing customers.
I guaranteed that’s a lot harder than a few clicks and a few minutes of your life.
5) Make Money Helping Real People: This part is what makes it all worth it. With Digital Leasing, you’re actually helping people by solving your clients’ biggest problem:
Small, local businesses need more customers, and with Digital Leasing, you are unleashing a flood of happy, paying customers for these businesses.
You make money by helping them make money.
Not a big, faceless corporation either…a small business owner who’s using that money to put food on the table for their family, start a college fund for their kids, or take care of a sick parent.
Once you see how Digital Leasing makes a real impact in the lives of real people, you’ll sleep like a baby with a big smile on your face.
Now, the choice is yours. You could continue browsing, looking at opportunities like traditional SEO which could one day make you money.
You could continue researching, never making a decision.
OR, you could take a look inside, consider what you really want, and join a program that makes your dreams a reality.
At the same time, joining a community of over 2,000 successful students that are living life on their own terms thanks to Digital Leasing.
A consistent, reliable, semi-passive stream of income that doesn’t depend on you or your time to keep producing profits.
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If this sounds more like what you want out of life (or if you just want some nice side income), click here to learn more about Digital Leasing.