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So you've worked for a digital marketing agency for a few years, you've built up your contacts and made yourself known in industry circles. You're ready to go it alone and start up your own SEO marketing agency. In this guide, we'll show you what you need to be successful and how to gain the competitive edge.
SEO stands for 'search engine optimisation'. An SEO agency is a business that helps clients increase their visibility in internet search results. By boosting a web page's search rankings, an SEO agency can help a business attract more potential customers.
If you're launching a new business, it's sometimes hard to know where to start. For a better idea of what you'll need to do to set up an SEO business, check out this quick step-by-step guide:
You don't have to be an SEO genius to start your own search engine optimisation agency, but you do need to know the basics of digital marketing to successfully sell your services to clients. SEO is a fast-changing business, so it's a good idea to stay on top of emerging trends and best practices.
Many people pick up the fundamentals of SEO from working in the digital marketing business for a few years. Working alongside talented marketers will teach you the tricks, tools and terminology you need to win over new clients.
Before you begin, it's good practice to devise a concrete business plan. This will help you to identify your business goals and realise your initial and ongoing expenses.
There are 7 steps to creating a winning business plan as follows:
There are no required qualifications to start an SEO business, although qualifications in marketing and writing can be helpful. If you want to increase your knowledge of SEO before you start offering services, you can study a number of courses online on platforms including:
An SEO agency doesn't require much equipment to get started. If you're working from home, you will need:
There are also many different professional SEO tools for analysing and measuring client's websites. Some of them are available for free but others come at a cost, but it's worth noting that most paid tools usually offer a free trial period. A few options worth investigating include:
Next, you'll want to set a good example for your clients by having a top-notch website that is professionally designed and optimised for search engines. This will require getting a domain name and web hosting before you start to build your website. Unless you're a dab hand at coding and cascading style sheets (CSS), you can use a pre-made theme or get a custom website built by an expert website developer.
For marketing and networking, having a customer relations management software such as CRM is an essential tool in growing your business and retaining clients.
Project management software can also come in handy. These apps make it easy to keep track of the status of your projects and manage how you allocate your time and resources. Jira, Trello and Zoho Projects are a few options you might like to consider.
Most agencies charge by billable hours and use some kind of third-party invoicing software such as FreshBooks to keep track of their accounts.
Using your business plan to form your business model will help you to choose which structure works best for your marketing agency. There are three kinds of structures to be aware of, including:
Registering your company and business name is required in Australia for taxation reasons. On top of that you'll need to register for an Australian business number (ABN).
You may need the following documents before starting an SEO agency:
You'll also need to consider whether you need to create any legal documents for your own website. These may include:
Many online legal services offer free or cheap documents to help you reduce your legal bill. Forms can be downloaded and customised to fit your business needs.
You can also find affordable lawyers online to help you with your legal requirements. Many online legal services offer free consultations for new clients.
There are many ways you can go with an SEO marketing company. The important thing is to find your niche. Do you have a specialised field or industry experience that will give you the competitive edge? The more you narrow down your market, the less competition you'll have, the easier it will be to get clients.
Some of the ways you can attract new customers include:
Another affordable way to get your name out there is to post a company profile on popular online marketplaces. These websites are great places to find clients and check out the competition. Options include:
Business directories such as White Pages, TrueLocal and Yelp are also great places for listing your marketing agency. For a fee, you can also find industry-specific directories online.
How much you charge your clients depends entirely on the scope and complexity of the project itself. Experience and the size of your agency will also determine your pricing structure. It's not unusual for agencies to use a combination of payment structures, such as:
To determine your pricing structure, do a little market research to see how much your competition charges and what they include.
What's the best way to land a client?
To get a potential client interested in your company, consider offering them a free website audit or a free keyword analysis upfront. Let them see what you can do and they'll might agree to work with you.
How do I retain clients?
Retaining clients is an important part of your business and is vital to developing repeat business. It will also help to build your reputation and client referrals.
Three key points to remember for client retention are communication, reporting and results. Keeping in contact with clients and showing the value of your work through reporting and results-driven data will keep them interested and invested in what your company has to offer.
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