Running a business comes with its own set of challenges, and running an SEO company is no different. There is a lot to think about – attracting new clients, keeping your existing clients happy with quality backlinks as well as keeping on top of new trends and techniques. Read on for some tips on how to maximize the profitability and streamline processes in your SEO agency.
From acquiring new customers to helping them achieve their SEO goals, it can be a challenge to operate an SEO company profitably in a highly competitive marketplace.
However, it is definitely doable as has been demonstrated by some very successful multi-million-dollar SEO firms. Here a few useful tips that can help you run a successful SEO company.
1. Think like an Entrepreneur
You need to run your SEO Company like a true entrepreneur and think like an entrepreneur while pitching to new clients.
When asked about some of the biggest SEO companies, people almost always name Blueglass and Distilled. However, these are nowhere near as big as companies like 360i and iProspect. Why?
It’s not because the other SEO agencies are better at keyword research or have their clients rank higher, it is because they understand business and sales very well.
How To Pitch You SEO Company
Almost every entrepreneur has the wrong idea about pitching companies on SEO. They talk about how much more traffic the SEO company could get them and how high they could get them to rank on Google.
Mostly people also end the pitch with a tentative cost structure.
While this may work in regular pitches for regular industries, the approach does not work where SEO is concerned.
Put Yourself In Your Clients Shoes
Businesses who sign off on a six- or seven-figure contract do not care about your ranking promises or site traffic. They care about cold profit figures and the amount of revenue a SEO campaign can bring in terms of conversions.
You need to change the message of your pitch to align with the factors that businesses care about. You want to discuss the revenue and profit impact you are going to bring to the table.
A great way of doing this is by figuring out how much traffic a company is currently getting from search engines and what is their conversion rate.
Next, take that data and multiply it with their average order size to get an understanding of how much revenue the business is making from organic search.
The idea here is that instead of pitching rankings, you need to speak in terms that a business owner will understand.
Once you have the data, break it down into how much more traffic your SEO efforts can get the company from conservative, normal, and aggressive estimates.
Now, every pitch should be honest and you should explain the methods you would use and give the business an honest time range in which they can see these results.
Refine & Finesse Your Client Pitch
It is great to share the estimated increase in revenues they would see on a quarterly basis from your SEO company efforts. You can provide estimates on how much additional income you can bring to their business by using their average revenue per customer number and their conversion rate percentage.
Once you get this right, it is not going to be difficult to pitch $200,000 per quarter because you are going to make them an additional $2,000,000 in quarterly revenue.
2. Focus on Current Clients Before Seeking New Business
Many people spend more time acquiring customers than trying to keep them. You should spend 75% of your time and efforts in keeping clients and 25% in trying to acquire more because word-of-mouth is a powerful referral tool.
When your SEO company delivers fantastic results, you can expect to see more clients walking up to your doorstep without any additional marketing efforts.
Also, in this age of online reviews, it can be very difficult to keep bad customer experience a secret.
Make sure you are satisfying all your current customers rather than just focusing on acquiring new ones. You can have a first-hand account of your client experience by weekly calls, monthly reports, and sometimes even in-person meetings.
You can even use surveys to make sure your clients are truly happy. Make sure you ask your customers specific questions that will help you improve the service you are providing and not just generic ones, like ‘are you happy?’
3. Constantly Work to Build Your SEO company Brand
There are a number of SEO gurus who are at the top of their game and still make efforts to build their brand. These people understand that it is very easy to tumble off the peak.
You should make efforts to speak at multiple conferences, blog regularly about SEO, and even opt for blogger outreach where you can advertise your brand’s logo. It doesn’t stop there.
If you have the budget, look for advertising options. Banners on major SEO sites are a great way to increase your brand presence. As most of your clients are presumably in your area, look for some local strategies to help boost your online presence and attract clients.
You will see that your business will flourish through these efforts and that you will get bombarded with requests from new clients.
It is important that you keep up with efforts even when you notice a steady stream of incoming requests because, as mentioned earlier, at least 25% of your time and efforts should be dedicated to acquiring new business.
The only way you can grow is by getting more clients added to your portfolio who are willing to pay you more. But, always be careful to strike a balance between maintaining existing contracts and getting new ones.
In fact, exclusivity is a great strategy if you want to make a name for your brand in the industry. However, this works only when you deliver results beyond expectations, among other factors.
4. Keep Your Greed in Check
If you have the time and resources, never say no to a client. Sometimes, the low-paying clients are in fact more profitable in terms of time and resources consumed.
Also, you never know when the market may take a downward turn leaving you without high-paying clients as many top SEO companies found out when the recession hit.
Even if a client can’t match your average fees, it is advisable that you sign them on, as long as they are profitable. Where running an SEO business is concerned, you should always make it a point to keep your greed in check.
5. Don’t Spend Excessively on Overhead
One of the wisest things you can do as an SEO company owner is to keep your overhead low. You will have times when the money comes in like water, and likewise there will be times when the tap is just plain dry.
If you are in a tight spot, and you don’t keep your overhead low, you will have to start scaling back on operations and letting your employees go. That is one of the last things you want to do, because any employee that worked for you and leaves is an asset for your competitor.
Your profit margins should ideally be around 50% or higher. It might be difficult if your income is not yet in the six figures.
But, at any point of time your profits should not dip lower than 20%. This is after you save some money for rainy days, because no matter how good you are at SEO, there are bound to be rough times.
6. Dominate Your Niche
You can’t excel at every trick in the vast terrain of SEO. Hence, pick a niche and dominate it. Don’t run your SEO agency for all types of businesses. Instead make a name for your brand in particular territories, like startups or go the geographic route and pick companies only from a particular area.
You will be stuck competing with all of the seasoned SEO companies if you push your SEO agency’s operations to help out any type of company. You can make your networking and marketing expenditures cheaper and much more effective by focusing on one niche.
7. Consult with an Experienced Attorney
As an SEO services provider you may have some clients trying to cheat you out of your honest day’s wages. It is best to have a legal consultant on hand when something like that happens.
You should also ensure iron-clad contracts are signed by clients which automatically renew, at least for a few periods. SEO is painstaking work and the rewards stay for a few quarters. It is common for companies to get really happy when they see the great work you are doing and their profits rise.
However, over time they get used to the results and may start taking your work for granted. When the contracts come up for renewal, clients tend to take the solid results your SEO company provided for granted.
They feel they were deserved because they paid you for them and to a large extent they are actually right. This means you won’t get renewals even if you provided excellent work and deserve them.
You need to avoid this by creating smarter contracts that benefit both you and the client. Have clear goals set in place before starting an engagement. As a SEO services provider, you can state in the contract that if you hit those goals, the contract automatically renews for an extra year.
It really gets easy to have clients sign these contracts in the beginning because at the back of their head, they think that they don’t mind paying all along if you can achieve those set goals.
Remember, think like a real entrepreneur and explain things in terms of increased revenue, profits, and growth. An auto-renewal clause can save you a lot of negotiation and haggling down the line. It may even save you a client.