As we transition into the new year, one thing remains consistent in the world of online marketing: Agencies continue selling SEO because SEO continues to work very well, driving targeted website traffic from Google’s search results that turns into sales and revenue.

It’s a beautiful thing, and when done right it can deliver results 24/7. Proper search engine optimization can help scale a business to amazing new heights — it’s the rocket fuel that sparks massive growth.

Because the demand for top quality SEO isn’t slowing at all, it presents you with the opportunity to offer the service and build a successful agency, even if you are outsourcing 100% of the work.

You would be surprised at how many agencies we work with on the fulfillment side. They market and brand their agency, attract clients and then hand off the work to my agency. I can tell you first-hand that many of them are doing very well financially.

I receive a lot of questions from agencies that do the work themselves and are looking for advice on how to thrive in today’s competitive market, as well as entrepreneurs looking to set up and agency and re-sell my agency’s offerings.

I felt that a blog post might help some of you that are interested in scaling your SEO agency in 2020, as well as those contemplating starting an SEO company in the new year. I’ve built several SEO agencies over the years, so I have been there and done that. SerpLogic, my current company was turned into a seven-figure agency very quickly.

Here is my best advice if you would like to do the same and start selling SEO yourself.


Treat it Like a Real Business from Day One

If you take some time to do a little competitor research, make sure to dive into the reviews left by previous customers. The majority of negative reviews aren’t even talking about the actual service or results. They are complaining about communication and how a company was impossible to get hold of.

This is unacceptable. A lot of “agencies” are a one-man show (and that is fine) but you have to run it like a real business, and that means maintaining consistent business hours and getting back to your clients in a timely manner.

Receiving a negative review because you failed to call a client back or reply to an email in inexcusable. Just because a business is run online doesn’t mean basic business fundamentals should be ignored.

Have a dedicated customer support email or phone number, create a ticket system or use help desk software like Zendesk or SPP. Whatever you need to do to make sure you have a strong communication line open and available for your customers.

If you cannot reply to all messages in less than 24 hours you should not be in business, or you need to consider hiring a dedicated support staff member to make sure all communication is timely.



Understand Relationship Building Will Make or Break You

I can remember first getting into the SEO business and starting my journey selling seo, and how other agencies treated one another. You would never openly speak with another agency owner. They were the mortal enemy. You wanted to destroy them.

Thankfully that way of thinking has changed, and now the SEO community is a little more friendly, and I have a theory as to why we have experienced this shift. Way back in the day SEO was still a mystery. Agencies were selling seo packages and a lot of the marketing alluded to the fact that some agencies knew the secrets to top rankings.

Remember how many products and services advertising “secret sauce” as one of the package components? Looking back at that now it seems so silly, but there was that mysterious element of SEO back then.

Now SEO isn’t a big secret. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s well documented that a winning SEO formula is a combination of solid on-site optimization, combined with great content and off-site link building.

Building relationships with other SEO agency owners, industry members and journalists will be the biggest asset in the long run.


Don’t be Afraid to Turn Away Business

Turn away a client that has his or her credit card out and is willing and able to pay? What?! Are you crazy?

I thought the same in the beginning, and when I had my first agency selling seo products we didn’t really pre-screen a client. If they had money they were in. This is the wrong approach and if I knew this back then it would have saved me a lot of headaches.


You cannot help everyone, and that is a fact. You will encounter some clients that have purchased poor quality services in the past that have had a negative impact on their domain, and it would be next to impossible to dig them out of the hole they put themselves in.

Some also have unrealistic expectations. They want to rank for a weight loss pill that is being dominated in the SERPs by Amazon and Walmart. The funny thing is these are the types of clients that are willing to pay, they’re the type that selling seo to is easy — because they are desperate.

Be selective. When you can deliver outstanding results that creates client satisfaction, which leads to long term clients as well as referrals.


Transparency Always Wins

The SEO agency has become much more transparent over the years, but there are still some agencies that attempt to pull one over and advertise some “top secret” Google hack, when in reality they are simply blasting low quality spam links they are purchasing on Fiverr.

This is a bad way to do business. All of our products offerings are exactly as advertised. We get our clients the links they want, and it’s up to them to use them correctly. We make it very clear that all we are providing are the tools to get the job done.

If someone optimizes a page correctly for a target keyword with low competition and then orders some outreach guest posts for it, then guess what? That page is going to experience a positive jump in the SERPs.

If they buy a few guest posts for a page on their site that they are trying to rank for “weight loss pills” they likely won’t experience any movement.

We would sell 10X more volume if we weren’t fully transparent, but that is not how I do business. Be transparent from day one and watch your agency thrive.


Invest in Your Own Education

SEO is an industry that is always changing. Google is constantly making algorithm updates and new techniques are always being developed to help secure links via outreach and creative methods.

Imagine if you never changed anything and were still using the same strategies that worked in 2008? You would be posting 500 word spun articles on blogs and blasting them with blog comment links and forum links.

What would that result in? A penalty and being de-indexed in record time — that’s what.

Investing in my own education has been highly beneficial, and I’m not just talking about SEO and marketing conferences. While those are great, there are ways to keep your education up to date without spending money.

Set aside some time every morning or evening and read the top SEO blogs and news sites. Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, etc. Yes, some of the articles are fluff from self-proclaimed gurus and experts, but they also are the first outlets to report SEO news and updates. It’s the easiest way to stay in the loop and informed.



Build a Team (Trust Me, You Cannot Do it All Yourself)

If you are starting an SEO agency you will wear many different hats in the beginning, and you might be filled with energy and enthusiasm, leading you to believe you can do it all. You cannot.

Trust me, I was the same way in the beginning. I thought I could close deals, service clients, answer customer support questions, etc. — everything. Trying to do it all yourself leads to burnout and being completely overwhelmed. The sooner you realize this and accept the fact that you and your business is only as good as the team you build, the sooner you will create a business that can operate smoothly without you having your hands in every aspect of it.

As soon as you are profitable, hire a VA to handle little time sucking tasks. Then, hire a full-time support person. From there you can bring on specialists to handle every aspect of link building and project management. Whatever you need done on a day to day basis — hire for it and put someone in place to make sure it’s done.


Delegate and Automate Your Busy Work

This coincides with the point above about building a team. Once you have the team in place you need to know who to delegate to and what items to delegate. There are some parts on the business that I handle exclusively, but there are other components of it that I make sure have someone fully trained to handle.

For example, all support tickets are handled by a dedicated team. There are specialists who handle outreach tickets, while others exclusively manage the editorial link orders. Answering support inquiries is a very important part of the business operation, but imagine if I hand to respond to all of them personally?

It would consume so much of my time and pull me away from other tasks that need to be addressed in order for the agency to continue to grow and succeed.

Understanding what tasks absolutely need to be done by you and what ones can be fully delegated is key. This circles back to building the right team. You have to have full trust and confidence in your team. When you achieve that you can delegate without worrying about whether or not the tasks will be handled correctly.


Innovate: Go Above and Beyond the Competition

One of the reasons my agency experienced such fast growth in the early years was because we were doing things that the competition wasn’t. While every other SEO agency was preaching “content is king,” we were being real.

We used content marketing to explain how it really worked. Yes, content was important, because it gave you something to use in your outreach in order to get links, but content alone will do nothing for your SEO.

It’s a tool to attract links, whether you are trying to attract them naturally or if you are buying them. Regardless, you need content to link to, and it needs to be quality.

Now more agencies are transparent and tell it like it is, but back when they weren’t, I saw that as an opportunity to go above and beyond, I even outed a lot of those gurus in posts on the blog that ended up going viral. The fact that an SEO agency was being open like that was appealing to many people.

There will always be ways to rise above and position your company in a way that is unique, giving you an edge. Think of ways to be different and give your potential clients a value-add that makes choosing your agency over other options more appealing.



Always Have an End Goal

This is very important.

This applies to any business, not just an SEO agency selling seo Products. When you have an end goal it constantly gives you something to strive towards, no matter what obstacles or situations are placed in front of you.

Being a business owner isn’t easy. It can be quite stressful, and as the success increases, so does the stress. Having an end goal gives you something to focus on when you need a little bit of encouragement.

Having a purpose will help guide you down the right path. Do you want to grow to the point that you become an attractive acquisition target? Do you want to grow to the point that you hire a design and development team to expand your offerings to include website design and app development?

Or do you just want to reach a new financial milestone in terms of revenue next year? No matter what that end goal is, make sure you establish it and always focus on it. Keeping it in your sights will help you reach it, surpass it, and then establish a new end goal.



Well, since SEO isn’t dead (still), selling seo (search engine optimization) services continues to present a lucrative opportunity. The demand is high, and with so much nonsense and snake oil out there you can really stand out if you take the time to do everything correctly.

Will it take longer to build a real agency rather than an overnight success? Of course, but this is the only way you will attract real clients that have real businesses, which will then help you pull in the contracts that support scaling to a seven-figure agency.

Most articles that talk about starting an agency are click-bait and designed to sell you a course on starting an SEO agency, run by some clown that in reality hasn’t built anything. I have nothing to sell you here. No course. No coaching. No mentoring. I’ve personally done this, so take my advice as what it is.

Do you have any specific questions about either starting an SEO agency or scaling the growth of your current agency? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will do my best to help you.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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