I love this question. There are ample opportunities to learn about SEO for free because of the preponderance of information available and the willingness of SEOs to share their knowledge publicly. I strongly recommend that an SEO newbie read and reread both the Google SEO Starter Guide and the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide to SEO documents.
Neil Patel is a New York Times best selling author. He is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar and he helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. Neil has also been awarded Congressional Recognition from the United States House of Representatives. Continue reading
By ranking your website for keywords like ‘SEO [INSERT YOUR CITY NAME]’, ‘[INSERT YOUR CITY NAME] SEO’, ‘Buy SEO [INSERT YOUR CITY NAME]’ etcetera etcetera, assuming these keywords have good search volume (which of course you will have researched beforehand using Market Samurai), then you will have these local business owners actually contacting you! If you find yourself in this powerful position then that’s when you can really scale your business up and start earning large amounts of money.
The advice in the book is of course contingent on having a firm grasp of SEO, and I wouldn’t advise starting an SEO business unless you know what you’re doing. It can be a legal nightmare if you aren’t careful.
Don’t charge the lowest, honestly charge the most you can get away with. Always give yourself extra time on a deadline so never say the first date you could have it done because shit happens in life and you could end up missing that “easy” deadline.
The main benefit of an integrated model is you get to see a lot of different areas. Many people in the search industry talk the talk, but if their primary purpose is to sell, they’re less likely to have the chops. If you’ve got your own sites, and you win/lose based on how well they do, then you’ll likely have an understanding of algorithms that a lot of sales-oriented talking heads will never have. The downside is that you might spread yourself too thin over a number of projects, and thus become a master of none.
The SEO franchise model may be cost prohibitive, but an SEO licensing model can be a great fit for many consultants and web design agencies. Look for SEO business licensing opportunities that include some type of lead generation service. A proven SEO brand will attract leads and some may offer affordable lead generation services.
I used to rely on the word of mouth as my main revenue source. It’s easy to build a six-figure SEO agency, assuming you can provide the service. It’s really hard to create a seven-figure business from it though.
Hey Neil – I’ve used some of these strategies myself to build up a 7 figure agency at Powered by Search. As the business has built up we don’t tend to do a lot of ‘free’ work anymore but we do quite a bit of pro-bono work for non-profits who need our help.
Also, traffic for SEO keywords for huge cities like “SEO Los Angeles” and “SEO Chicago” is extremely low (despite the very high KD) compared to traffic for things like “best office chair” which has more volume but a lower LTV…
Your website is the hub of your SEO business. In the 10 years I ran my agency, I had at least 15 different sites. Pay attention, because I’m going to save you a lot of time, energy and AB testing by telling you exactly what worked and what didn’t work. To make this easy, just remember two simple words, “clean” and “simple”. Forget everything else, and ignore everything you see in web design today. Most website are terrible, even the ones created by amazing and talented graphic designers. Here’s why. When a customer comes to your website they want to know three things. Who you are, what you’ve done and how to contact you. That’s it. Everything else is bullshit. This isn’t just my opinion. It’s a conclusion based on analytics and years of obsessive studying and experience.
Start looking around to find an accountant who will tell you what your tax liabilities will be as a sole-proprietor or a single-member LLC. If you really want to take a kick to the shins, get a quote for health insurance and see how much it doesn’t cover.
Adding a link to your site in the footer of your client’s sites use to be great for SEO purposes, but not anymore. Today it’s great for getting new business. Add a clause in the contract that lets you put a link to your SEO company’s website in the footer of the page. When you get your client on page #1, potential clients can easily find your link and hire you to do the same for them.
2,000 Words – Hardly anyone does this because they are super lazy or just don’t know that this simple strategy works like a charm. If you’re targeting “SEO Albany” on your your SEO services page, then make sure that page has at least 2,000+ well written words or more. This worked for me and the data has shown this to work as well. Check out this graph below by serpIQ. As you can see, there is a direct correlation between having more words on a page and higher rankings in Google.
Moz’ Rand Fishkin carried out an interesting experiment with his Twitter followers to see the impact of a large increase in SERP CTR on search rankings. The results were pretty huge — he saw several position ranking increases in less than an hour!
Even to this date, I try to respond to every email I get and respond to every comment on this blog. Whatever I can do to help people out, as long as it doesn’t break my bank, I do it. Why?… Because I really care about you, just like people cared to help me out when I was a kid starting my first venture.
Having a consistent sales pipeline in place is essential for the growth of your agency. I always tended to focus more upon the fulfilment side of the equation as I have a high customer service expectation for our team, but the lack of sales pipeline was hampering our growth. Now I’d like to think we’re developing a balance between the two.
I once read from an agency owner that it’s impossible to scale if you have 30+ client meetings a month. I don’t agree! I believe keeping that connection is important if you want clients to stay with you for the long-haul. And if you don’t have the time to make many of the meetings, get an account manager that can.
An important first step for performing well in local search results is to claim your business listing in Google My Business and Bing Places. While search engines can potentially use information around the web (e.g. from a business’s website, local business directories, Yellow Pages, etc.) to generate local results for a business, only claiming the business will allow the owner to optimize the listing for the search experience. This will help generate more leads and potentially lead to higher rankings too!
You can add extra revenue sources by partnering with professionals and offering your clients more value added services such as SEO copywriting, article writing, web design, graphic / banner design, e-commerce setup, WordPress installation, etc.
It has to be said that advertising on these sites can be and miss but if you persevere and can get creative with your ads then there is definitely value in using them. Again, by reading Ca$hvertising you will give yourself a big edge over the competition with your ad copy.
Larger companies will hire one-man bands or small consultancies if they need what you have and what you have is difficult for them to get elsewhere. A lot of search marketing consultants won’t fill this brief, although some are brought in to help train and mentor their internal search teams.
Optimizely is an A/B testing tool that businesses can use to better their websites. A/B testing is a method used by digital marketers and web designers to analyze two types of a webpages, landing pages or websites and determine which one is better received using live analytics. Even if it’s a subtle change, like adjusted colors or differing design elements, A/B testing can provide worthwhile insights. Optimizely plans start at $17 per month.
I think there is plenty to takeaway here: speaking both as a professional SEO and as a nonfiction writer. But I also feel there is a unique and direct message to plenty of potential entrepreneurs reading this. I really feel that there is a clear point in your narrative that really stands out – one that I am going to call your “one-in-a-million” moment. I’m referring, of course, to this:
You’re going to need a page dedicated to the success of your current or past customer successes. This is often the second most visited page on your site, next to the About Us page. If possible, ask your happy clients to whip out their iPhone and shoot a 20 second video about their experience with you. Slap that on your website and watch the leads start rolling in.
It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t just mean Google reviews. You’ll also want to focus on getting reviews on your Yelp page (they’re used by Apple maps), along with other local directories. Your first priority should be Google reviews though.
Get your clients some rankings: It is important to use your portfolio to show. If a client sees that you are ranking for a keyword that is according to its industry, they might contact you. So, it is very important to maintain a loss of the portfolio so that you can start.
If the thought of coding freaks you out, you can also use Google’s Data Highlighter to mark up content with your mouse. (Note that your website will need to be set up with Google Search Console in order for this to work.)
People love to brag about new companies they are working with. It’s a good and exciting feeling about their future. Take advantage of this. Give each new client a referral letter that offers a cash reward for sending and referring any new clients that your agency signs. This is similar to the partnership program, except I don’t believe you have to pay 10%. A simple fixed amount or small percentage of the first contract is good enough.