So, you’ve heard about the perks of running your own SEO agency.
How people quit their office jobs on a whim and end up running a 7-figure company within a year.
And now, you want to do the same.
It may sound too good to be true, but if you break it down, an SEO agency works like any other business.
Anyone with the vision and grit is capable of making it big.
Are you up for it?
If you are, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it.
7 Powerful Steps to Running a Successful 7-Figure SEO Agency
#1: Hiring your dream team
Every great agency starts with the right people. Here’s how you can start your own dream team:
Begin with a small group of specialists.
It’s tempting to hire a string of offshore freelancers at a cheap price, but training a small team of highly-skilled, dedicated individuals looking for long-term work will give you better productivity and quality.
Invest in a virtual assistant.
Though it may seem cheaper to personally work on all the menial tasks, this takes your time away from the more important things like pitching to clients and improving the company’s workflow. With a VA around, you can hand over the menial tasks, such as client reports, email follow-ups, creating invoices and more.
A team like this should give you the momentum you need to get started.
#2: Organizing the business structure
To cut the long story short, he didn’t get much done.
This is why he structured his company like an assembly line, with each employee assigned only one major task.
For example, one person would be in charge of content, while another would be in charge of SEO. And by hiring experts in that field, employees don’t waste time learning new skills and, instead, focus on their own task. This allows them to go through a client’s workload in just a day or two.
Also, treat your employees right. Compensate them fairly and remind them why they should be excited to work for your company. This way, they’re bound to stay on and work even harder.
#3: Pricing your services
Now that you’ve gathered your team, how much should you charge?
In the early days of your agency, it’s important to have some sort of edge against competitors, and a slightly lower price can be part of it. But once you’re dealing with larger clients who can afford to spend some bucks, then that’s a different story.
In reality, there’s no set price for SEO. Remember that every project and campaign is different. Some campaigns may be more complicated and would require more hours and manpower.
Just to give you a general idea, successful agencies don’t usually take projects that are worth less than $2,000 a month.
Sure, you may encounter offers below this price range. But as an agency, you have to think about your overhead expenses as well. Will anything lower allow you to at least earn some profit?
#4: Getting clients
First clients often come from referrals from friends, family or previous co-workers. There’s nothing wrong with that—in fact, referrals that come from acquaintances are almost guaranteed clients because your contact has most likely put in a good word for you.
So, when starting out, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make use of your peers’ large network of contacts to get your first clients.
#5: Marketing your company
Referrals will most definitely run out at some point. Once you’ve garnered a considerable profit from your first clients, move on to marketing.
Use these three methods to increase your client base:
Blogging works as a fantastic marketing tool because it drives user traffic. Blog posts about SEO, content marketing and related fields can bring more exposure to your company. The more technical and data-driven your posts are, the more likely clients will trust that you know what you’re talking about.
Attending and speaking at conferences
If you’re able to deliver a rousing speech about the need for SEO agencies in this age, then one conference can already guarantee several clients.
Neil Patel from Quick Sprout recommends speaking at non-industry events, such as fitness, cosmetics or finance conferences, as these are very likely to have big players in attendance. He was able to sign a $1.2 million contract with an online gambling company from speaking at a gambling event.
Offering a lead magnet
A lead magnet is a free product or service for interested clients. This could be a free SEO audit or a free consultation to discuss possible points for improvement.
Lead magnets are bound to attract clients. Offering them shows potential clients that you’re not simply a company who’s hungry for profit; rather, you’re a company who cares about their clients and genuinely wants to help them improve, even without making the financial commitment.
#6: Closing deals with enterprise clients
Once you’ve got interested clients on the line, it’s time to make a killer pitch.
Don’t just give clients a long, confusing list of services. Neil Patel suggests emphasizing not what you do, but what you can do for clients.
One way of doing this is by estimating the numbers. After all, the numbers don’t lie.
For example, take your potential client’s current Google ranking and how many visitors they currently have. Then, show them how many visitors they could get if they’re at #1. If ranking 6th raked in 1,000 monthly visitors, then the top ranking would get them 10,400 visitors.
It doesn’t end there.
Take their current conversion rate and average value per sale. If their conversion rate is at 3% and their average value per sale is $150, then the extra 9,400 visitors would give them an extra $42,300 in revenue per month. Once you show clients how much they can gain, they won’t hesitate to sign the contract.
Patel notes that once he told companies that he could make them an additional $3,000,000 in quarterly revenue, it wasn’t at all difficult to ask for $300,000 per quarter.
It’s also important, however, to list in detail how else you can help your client.
Show your clients a detailed analysis on their weak points and how you can help fix them. Don’t be afraid to reveal your methods because, chances are, even if they know how to fix the problem, they won’t do it on their own. Let them hire you to do it for them.
Invest in face-to-face meetings or Skype calls. Everybody knows that $10k+ deals don’t happen over an email exchange.
#7: Keeping clients
Treat your clients like royalty.
Every month, do a survey on your performance. Ask for honest and transparent feedback so you can learn how to best serve them.
Make it a point to submit client reports at least every other week to keep your clients up to date with your progress. Open communication with your client strengthens your relationship and increases their likelihood of staying with you.
All this may take extra effort, but it goes a long way. A happy customer is a loyal customer—and they’ll put in a good word for you to other potential clients.
Don’t spend too much time looking for new clients.
Patel shared his regrets about spending too much time trying to acquire more clients. He recommends dedicating 75% of your time delivering the best results to your current clients and spending the rest of your time marketing your company.
If you deliver great results, you’ll get more clients from referrals and word of mouth. Focus on satisfying your current clients before going out and searching for more. This also helps avoid overloading and taking on more than your team can handle.
Work on scaling your agency.
After a few months, don’t be satisfied with just 4 or 5-figure deals. Work your way up and don’t be afraid to ask for more. If you show companies what they’ll be getting, they won’t hesitate to invest in you.
Use your loyal customer base to capture even bigger companies. Pitch to larger companies in conferences and similar settings. Learn how to prioritize companies that can help you earn big in the future.
Also, be that company that does more than promised. This doesn’t necessarily mean adding five more hours to every workday. Work hard and play smart—figure out how to get the best results as quickly as possible.
Now that we’ve gone through the essential steps to running and scaling your SEO agency, there’s only one thing left to do: Do it.
It may seem risky and daunting, but if you play your cards right, you’ll be raking in seven figures in no time.
A lofty promise, yes, but an entirely plausible one.
Callum is the head of marketing at Warble Media. They are a boutique website design agency in Dubbo, NSW, Australia. He is passionate about helping local small businesses achieve success with their marketing.