It usually begins with the desire to get out of the rat race and be your own boss.
Whatever drove you to the decision to start an SEO business, it boils down to this:
Are you prepared to give it your all?
You wouldn’t want to start a successful 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 if you’re already one, it helps you scale your business.
This is to provide you with step-by-step instructions for launching, operating, and expanding your SEO business.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital marketing professional or an SEO consultant, this guide will help any beginner become an industry heavyweight.
Alright, so SEO Business doesn’t exactly fit into a nice category.
At the end of the day, an SEO consultant is a… unique way to think about making money.
It’s certainly possible to make money with off-the-wall businesses like this, but unless you’re interested in taking years out of your life to experiment with an unproven business model, I would look elsewhere.
My #1 personal recommendation if we’re talking about starting a fully-online business has got to be the Lead Generation & Ad Agency business models.
There are a handful of programs that teach you the ropes, but my #1 choice that combines both of those business models into one is the Digital Landlords program
But, if you’re hard-pressed to jump head-first into an off-the-wall business model, let’s continue on to my full breakdown of SEO Business.
1. Everything You Need To Start An SEO Business
As the saying goes, “The beginning is always the hardest.”
It will be simpler for you in the future if you understand how to establish a search engine optimization business as soon as possible. Determine the requirements for setting up an SEO agency at the beginning. A profitable SEO company may be yours if you do these things correctly.
Are You Ready To Run Your Own Agency?
It’s a fact that no one is ever completely ready to start and run an SEO company. There’s a lot to think about in addition to the ever-changing world of SEO.
It’s all a learning experience.
Before you begin creating your SEO strategy, establish a list of the following:
Prepare To Quit Your Job.
I’ll say that starting an agency does not mean you should quit working. Once you get your SEO company off the ground, expect to spend more time and effort than usual.
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 much like any other business. Your agency will most likely fail if you lack business expertise.
Most business owners waste thousands of dollars simply because they don’t 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.
In terms of SEO and digital marketing, there are plenty of materials accessible, so there’s no need to skimp on education.
I 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
The legal repercussions of starting an SEO company are much like those of any other business.
If you’re aware of the laws and regulations that may impact your actions, you can save a lot of headaches in the future.
Determine Your Business Structure.
To develop a name for your agency, you must first figure out what kind of company you are.
Do you want to be a sole owner or a limited liability company?
You need to decide which structure is the best for tax filing.
Create Your SEO Contracts.
Contracts may frighten clients, yet they are essential for every organization. Your agreement is vital as the only piece of paper that ties your business to its customers.
An SEO contract, on the other hand, goes beyond the legal parameters of the relationship. Consider it an agreement between the two parties on the scope of the task and their expectations.
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.
PayPal is the preferred mode of payment for the vast majority of agencies. However, if you want to get the most bang for your buck in your business’s marketing budget, you should look into different forms of payment.
- 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 for easy tracking, as with any invoices.
A typical SEO invoice comprises itemized prices with detailed descriptions for each service your company provides. 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 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 regarding the 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.
Your target buyer personas represent the ideal clients you want to engage and convert for your agency. 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 is concerned with their physical features, such as gender, age, employment status, and location, while Psychographics is all about their behavior that affects 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 when building a business website is ranking for searches.
2. 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 its 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, but this doesn’t 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.
On the other hand, Fulfillment extends beyond simply providing what you committed to delivering to clients. It’s about putting in place a consistent, scalable procedure to accomplish the job.
Do you want to approach the SEO project effectively, or are you the Kanban type?
If you have a clear sequence, fulfillment can occur effortlessly, increasing the number of satisfied clients and more money for your business.
As you gain knowledge and experience in 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; I 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
3. Market Your SEO Agency
Marketing SEO services and your agency is about presenting yourself as the go-to source for companies that want to boost their online presence. This simply means putting your words into action.
Would businesses trust you if you’re not even on Google?
I seriously doubt it.
A well-established web presence reveals 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 I will cover in this section.
This article presents the best techniques for promoting your SEO industry and increasing your digital presence to generate more SEO leads.
The foundation for your agency’s web presence is laid through inbound practices. 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.
SEO is the most cost-effective approach to increasing your internet visibility, but only if done correctly. The goal is to optimize your website in the same way you do your clients.
Perform a quick SEO assessment on your website to check what needs improvement.
- Are the pages catering to your buyer personas’ interests at each point of the buyer’s journey?
- Is the webpage loading quickly 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 engine 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 these listing sites.
Having reviews on major 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 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 your target audience. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit Groups are excellent locations to learn about your target audience’s changes and subjects of interest.
- 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’s not enough to simply write a blog article and hope your prospects stumble onto it.
A successful content marketing strategy revolves around delivering the appropriate material to the appropriate audience at the appropriate time.
You should optimize your site content based on the buyer’s 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 most interested in working with an SEO business. There are two approaches you can take:
- Google Ads: Text, picture, and video advertising that shows on Google Display Network or Search Marketing Platforms are examples.
- 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 using 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 require SEO services.
This may be an old-school trick, but it does open 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 and 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.
4. 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 repeatable methods and techniques that increase your agency’s income.
Establish Your SEO Pricing Structure.
One of the questions prospects will have for you will be about your pricing structure. There are a lot of answers to this, and if you’re unfamiliar with 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.
Focusing on the right prospects would be much easier for you when you qualify your leads. 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 assess your prospects’ requirements 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 an 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 I 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 on the following:
- Your customer
- SEO approach
- Suggested SEO solution
- Timetable and deliverables
It’s 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 demonstrates your effort in creating good rapport and 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.
5. 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 take on as many clients as possible, it’s critical to consider your operating capacity. Note that you’re still a startup, implying 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 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 teams.
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 for SEO agencies but for 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 burnt out can never be productive.
Create a succession plan rather than depending on a single rockstar. 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. “Whirlwinds” 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 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 cannot do the task, outsourcing is the solution. I touched on outsourcing briefly in the last section, but now I’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.
You’ve already accomplished a lot if you complete everything on this checklist. However, if you want further assistance in acquiring more SEO knowledge, you can seek professional help.
While starting an SEO company may appear 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 My Top Recommendation For Making Money Online In 2022?
Alright, time for me to get real with my lovely readers for a moment:
I’ve personally tried all of the major online business models:
- I’ve sold fidget spinners through Amazon FBA
- I’ve drop-shipped a toilet bowl putting green on Shopify
- I’ve sold women’s health supplements via Clickbank affiliate marketing
And I made money with all of them, so trust me when I say: there is no “perfect” business model.
THAT BEING SAID: I would at least recommend you implement something that is tried and true because I’ve seen TOO MANY people (including friends and family) get burned by stuff like SEO Business.
They come out of left field with some random idea, make it seem attractive, and then make themselves a quick buck by luring in unsuspecting people.
I’m not saying SEO Business itself is a piece of trash, I’m just saying you need to be very, very careful.
This is a big reason why I only recommend proven, tried, and true business models, like Lead Generation & Ad Agencies.
There are a bunch of programs out there that teach you those skills, but my top choice is the Digital Landlords program.
Why? It has proven leaders with their own 7-figure businesses implementing exactly what they teach you.
I’ve also got over a dozen personal friends there, so I feel comfortable telling you it works.
Whether you’re a complete newbie or you’ve been around the block before but have never had that “big win” to propel you forward, their program works.
1)Time: You can do this if you’ve got a spare hour or two each day. If you want to drop everything and go all-in, you can do this. More time obviously means faster results, but even putting in a few hours per day is enough to see real success.
And because of that flexibility, you don’t need to trade your time for money. Once the income starts, it’s recurring (for the most part).
That means you can take a month off, travel the country, pursue a passion project, chill on the beach, or charter a boat across the world.
But you can only do that once you’ve created an income stream that doesn’t require YOU to be there all day, every day.
2)Big Margins: With most businesses, you’re often going to have really slim margins. That means you need to hit a serious scale to make serious money.
Being a Digital Landlord, your profit margin is nearly 100%. Watch here to learn how.
Just a reminder: these Digital Rental Properties are worth (at a minimum) $500/mo in semi-passive income. And each time you create another one, your income increases, and the effort put into creating the next property decreases.
Best-case scenario, you have properties bringing in over $3,000+/mo on “auto-pilot.”
3)It’s Effectively Copy-Paste: Here’s my favorite part: once you have your first Digital Rental Property up, you can literally copy-paste another version of it and find another willing “renter” in a few days. DOUBLING your income doesn’t get much easier than that…
If you wanted to double your income with digital marketing, you would need to have knowledge and expertise. And I can guarantee you that’s a lot harder than a few clicks & a phone call.
4)You’re Helping REAL People: My biggest gripe with digital marketing is that you’re basically only helping yourself.
But when you’re a Digital Landlord, you’re helping solve REAL problems that people are ASKING for help with:
Small local businesses around the world need one thing: customers. Without them, their business would fall apart. If you can provide those customers, they’re going to be really happy – and they’re going to pay you for it.
You’re helping a struggling mother or father put food on the table for their families, put their kids through college, or simply live life a little bit more comfortably.
Having this type of impact on the world is what will help you sleep soundly at night.
So, the rest is up to you. You could keep looking at other off-the-wall business models like digital marketing and maybe hit it big one day.
You could keep researching and researching for the next few months (or few years), never making a concrete decision.
OR, you can look deep inside, think about those dreams, hopes, & desires, and make the decision to ACTUALLY make it happen, just like it has for thousands of other students before you.
Making a fortune while actually helping real people that need it.
If this sounds like you, click here to see how it all works.