The SEO industry is nearing the $100 billion mark in terms of how much businesses will be spending on SEO services. The search term “SEO” also has a significant growth over the years, which shows an increase in interest in the industry.

But, as the industry continues to reach new levels, not all agencies are able to grow as they should.

SEO agencies – whether a startup or an enterprise-level one – experience a few bumps that slow down their progress. The problem is when they let these hiccups turn into major roadblocks that keep them from moving at all.

So, what’s preventing these highly-skilled agencies from scaling? What are the solutions to help them achieve growth?

Case #1: No Centralized Digital Marketing Process

Successful SEO agencies have one thing in common. They have a process.

What happens if an agency doesn’t have a defined process? One word – chaos.

Not having a centralized digital marketing process means foregoing predictability that affects the operations of your entire SEO business.

This is a common case with most full-suite digital marketing agencies that have been working reactively, and common amongst the partners that just join forces with us.

As an agency, they worked with different freelancers, SEO providers, consultants, niche builders, virtual assistants, and marketers to accommodate fulfillment for their clients. With each provider comes a different SEO process that includes different sets of deliverables. This cuts the experience of their clients and removes the capability of their in-house team to maintain a repeatable process.

Lack of a centralized digital marketing process puts SEO agencies at a disadvantage in many areas:

  • Economies of scale: A decentralized process can eliminate the capacity of an SEO agency to perform better and faster.
  • Data-driven strategies: Not having a centralized digital marketing process is like finding your way in the dark. Without the consistency that a centralized process brings, your SEO business will not lack the right data to predict your next steps.
  • No alignment with all departments: The lack of a centralized digital marketing process cripples all departments – from sales and marketing, to operations and admin.

In the case of our partner, decentralizing their digital marketing process limited their agility to get things done for their clients and SEO business as a whole.

The Solution: A Streamlined Process and an Extra Set of Hands to Do the Work

The agency in the case above took to streamlining their processes so they can accommodate more clients in their digital marketing portfolio. As they fill out the gaps in their internal processes, they were able to have better control of deliverables for their clients.

Alongside improving their internal processes, the SEO agency expanded their team by outsourcing the work. This provided them with an additional headcount working off-site, while they train their in-house staff on improving their digital marketing expertise.

The Results

  • With the centralized internal process and additional headcount, the agency had an additional of 36 campaigns (450% increase in campaigns handled).
  • The increase in the number of campaigns contributed to an upward trend in their monthly recurring revenue (160% increase in a span of 16 months).
  • The influx of campaigns and additional revenue allowed the agency to increase their headcounts working offsite – from one to eight additional staff.

A homogenized process and outsourcing SEO provide the agency with better support for internal functions and allow them to replicate the experience for every client.

Case #2: No Administrative Capacity to Deliver a Consistent Client Experience

When was the last time you worked on a campaign? Did you handle everything on your own?

If you answered yes to the second question, you’re doing clients a disservice.

SEO agency owners tend to wear many hats to get things done for their clients. This shouldn’t be the case. Your responsibility is to ensure your SEO business is running smoothly, but this doesn’t mean you’ll be doing all the steering.

One of our partners had this dilemma before they started working with us.

The prowess of their agency’s sales force is exceptional, and this puts most of their concentration into selling SEO and digital marketing services. While they can rake in new clients from their large network of leads, they fail to maintain a consistent client experience due to a lack of administrative capacity.

It’s important for an agency to align both sales and operations to ensure there’s no gap in the delivery of solutions. Otherwise, the results can be more damaging than having unfulfilled deliverables.

  • No designation of roles: Lacking the strategy to delegate tasks derails campaigns and eliminates accountability.
  • Low client retention: As there’s no consistent experience for clients, retention becomes an uphill battle. This, in turn, affects growth opportunities for the business.
  • Delay in issue resolution: Without a dedicated personnel to provide information, there’s a delay in addressing issues, which affects the progress of a campaign.

Our partner’s lack of administrative capacity kept them from maintaining an efficient workflow. This, in turn, impedes their agency’s growth in the long run.

The Solution: Project Management and Business Consultancy are Key

An SEO agency that wants to get bigger (and become a seven-digit revenue earning business) needs to focus on getting more customers and acquiring new business. However, it’s essential to keep the experience consistent for every new customer and the existing ones.

This is exactly what the second partner did.

With their strong salesmanship, the work that goes into operations fell into their white label SEO provider. As the agency handed over the work to the provider (SEOReseller), they also received project management and business consultancy.

Project management allowed them to address their lack of administrative capacity, track fulfillment, and meet deliverables month on month. The agency didn’t have to worry about reporting campaign performance, as the provider prepares and sends reports monthly.

On the other hand, business consultancy made it easier to maintain synergy and align campaign goals. The agency implemented a customized workflow that match their service level.

The Results

  • Having consistent deliverables allowed them to retain more clients, which increased their average monthly recurring revenue from $5,000 to $65,000.
  • With better project management, the agency improved the average campaign lifespan to 18 months.
  • The customized workflow allowed the agency to increase fulfillment, which, in turn, increased their average number of monthly campaigns to 150.

The combination of project management and business consultancy provides the SEO agency with a framework that helps stay on top of deliverables consistently.

Case #3: Lack of Expertise

Expertise is often tied to the success of an SEO agency. The better you are at what you do, the more clients will trust you, the more opportunities you have to scale.

But, not all agencies start out as experts.

Some may have been working as business consultants and ventured into digital marketing as a new revenue source. Others may have been freelancers with a small number of clients and the basic understandings of SEO.

Becoming a full-fledged SEO agency means having the technical knowledge that makes you the expert businesses turn to. Oftentimes, this is the first hurdle for many startup SEO agencies.

One of our partners encountered this as a roadblock to growing their agency. The lack of expertise restricts the capacity of their agency to grow in different ways:

  • A limited number of clients: Agencies lacking the technical SEO know-how often find themselves unable to cater to specific clients with specific needs. This limits the number of clients they can accommodate with their skill set.
  • Misaligned expectations: Agencies who claim they can provide solutions but fall short on delivery can affect client expectations and put their credibility at risk.
  • Low revenue entry point: The amount you charge for your SEO should equate to the value it can provide to a business. The rates of agencies lacking technical expertise may not be as competitive as others, which affects their revenue.

Lack of expertise is a common pain point, but this doesn’t mean you can’t grow at all. It’s a matter of knowing who to trust and what you can do to build expertise.

The Solution: Providing the Value in the Form of Expertise

Clients are more likely to trust an agency that helps them visualize their success. This is where expertise comes in.

Building expertise is one of the steps our partner took to scale their SEO business. As they started by being a search specialist, they already had the SEO basics covered. It’s a matter of showing proof that they can deliver value for their clients.

Working with a white label SEO provider, their agency gained access to resource materials to brush up on their SEO skills and have ready-made collateral to send to their clients. They worked on improving their salesmanship and building efficient operations to provide exceptional industry expertise.

The Results

  • With efficient collaboration between their project managers and their team, the SEO agency was able to grow the number of recurring SEO campaigns. They are now handling 30 different websites.
  • From a two-man team, the agency now has five members. They were also able to relocate to a new office.
  • By building their expertise and strong relationships with clients, the SEO agency was nominated and became one of the finalists in the Bromley Business Awards in 2018.

Stronger expertise allows SEO agencies – especially startups – to position themselves as the provider to trust. This builds confidence among clients, which can translate to repeat business (or even new ones).

Key Takeaways

Scaling your SEO agency comes down to three aspects: process, resources, and expertise. Get all three of them, and you’ll realize that scaling is not so much as a difficult feat to accomplish.

To help partners scale their SEO business, we found this as a common formula among our most successful partners. This translates to the following key takeaways:

  • Make sure you’re organized: Develop a business model that will allow you to organize your agency from top to bottom. Write down your processes—make sure your team knows this by heart.
  • Collaboration is key: Synergy between the agency and the provider matters. A good working relationship can make all the difference in an agency’s path to growth.
  • Never stop learning: The moment you do is the moment you lose clients to competitors who’ve made efforts to ramp up their skills. Expertise sells.

Scaling an SEO agency doesn’t happen overnight. It involves thorough preparation and the right strategies to take your SEO business to the next level.

We’ve seen hundreds of agencies transform from good to great – and we can do the same for you. Talk to our Agency Consultants, and we’ll plan your next steps to scale your SEO agency.