SEO nowadays requires deep technical insights backed by resource intensive research. Our CEO details which areas you need to evaluate when whitelabeling & outsourcing SEO.
8 Things To Look Out For When Outsourcing SEO
Author: Will Bagnall, CEO
With Google updating the algorithm 500 to 600 times a year, keeping up with SEO requires deep technical insights backed by resource intensive research. Additionally hiring and retaining high quality, affordable SEO talent is now harder than ever. Large agencies aggressively headhunt emerging SEOs from smaller, independent agencies offering inflated salaries and company benefits which simply can’t be competed with.
That’s why many agencies that traditionally delivered SEO (a service that generated a healthy portion of their revenues & profits) for clients in house, are now finding it difficult to sustain and grow this area of their business.
With the skills gap increasingly obvious agencies should logically outsource SEO to companies who can better handle the strategic elements of the work, while continuing to focus on what they’re best at i.e. building multi-channel campaigns, marketing their own brand, generating sales and nurturing their client relationships.
Yet agencies typically don’t outsource (however uncomfortable they are with the efficacy of their in-house offering) or are reluctant to. They’ve often had bad experiences of SEO outsourcing in the past or the SEO firms that make contact with them are clearly flimsy with little substance beyond a gmail address, a dubiously large workforce and the assertion that they’ll deliver brilliant results for a low monthly fee (paid in advance).
So if you are making the positive decision to outsource it’s important to know what to look for. A multitude of SEO companies offer back-end agency support, but how do you recognise a high-quality operator you can build a profitable long term partnership with?
SUSO is a specialist outsource and whitelabel SEO agency that understands all the pain points agency owners have when faced with the problem of how to deliver a successful SEO service for our clients without the in-house resource available. We hope our experience can help you to find an SEO outsource company you can happily and reliably outsource SEO to.
Things to Consider When Choosing an Outsource SEO Partner
Here are the things you should consider when choosing an SEO outsource partner:
1) Do They Specialise in Outsource/Whitelabel SEO?
An SEO strategy performed by an agency for a direct client vs. via a whitelabel provider should not differ significantly. However working without direct contact with the client, and instead via someone in your agency requires a precise way of communicating, delivering and reporting the work. Communication needs to be passed on to the end-client without anything being lost in translation or delayed. Check whether the outsource agency has an infrastructure to support such a way of working and therefore whether they have efficient whitelabeling capabilities.
2) What Are Their Prices?
Only you can decide what price you’re willing to pay to achieve an acceptable sell-on profit, but understanding the varying scale of SEO pricing will be useful. At SUSO we recommend 20 – 30% charged on top of our whitelabel fees but in our industry, outsource agency prices can range from a few hundred dollars, to tens of thousands. If the outsource SEO agency you’re looking at is on the lower end of the scale, it might seem a golden opportunity to generate super-profits but your clients will almost certainly suffer along with your relationship.
SEO is resource intensive and any outsource SEO agencies charging super-low rates are almost certainly cutting corners. On the flipside, if you think a quote from an SEO firm is too high and they haven’t been able to justify their high pricing, they’re probably overcharging.
3) Do They Have Case Studies Backed by Analytics Data?
Plenty of agencies talk a good game in SEO, trumpeting industry knowledge and paraphrasing “Google Guidelines” into their messaging. But does this knowledge actually translate to successful SEO campaigns for their clients? The only way you can really know is to check whether they have case studies (here’re ours) that showcase genuine SEO growth examples which are broken down into the step by step strategies used. Understanding why they implemented certain strategies as well as how they did it, will give you a more informed sense of whether they’re the correct company to work with.
4) Do They Offer Standardised Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze Packages?
Successful SEO cannot be templated, or bought “off the shelf”. Be wary of SEO outsource agencies that sell standardised packages offering a set number of itemised deliverables. There are over 200 ranking criteria in Google’s algorithm and each website has its own intrinsic reasons why it doesn’t rank higher. How can a service that has templated, pre-defined SEO packages provide your client with the specific SEO actions they really need to rank better? SEO by its very nature is a holistic marketing process that requires well thought out strategy based on deep research and data. Pick an agency that has a bespoke approach to SEO strategy and pricing.
5) Are They an Agency or a 1 Person Freelancer?
Outsourcing SEO work to freelancers can be useful when you hit capacity issues and need an extra pair of hands – some of the best SEOs work for themselves. However if you want to scale your SEO clients, freelance SEOs will have a cap on the support they can offer. Consider agencies over freelancers when looking for outsource partners that can offer more ambitious scaling opportunities. An outsource SEO agency will have the in-house recruitment processes to add to their team, allowing them to keep up with your requirements as you win new business.
6) Have They Got the Technical Capabilities?
Having a technical awareness of the complex elements of the SEO algorithm is essential to creating an SEO strategy. Make sure that any agency you outsource work to have sound technical capabilities. It’s not enough to just have a “links” or “content” focused strategy – the technical part of SEO is the bedrock of any successful SEO strategy. Ask them about how they approach technical SEO and request to see case studies where technical SEO was used to increase their client’s Google rankings.
7) Do They Help With Your Pitch?
The ideal whitelabel SEO agency is an extension of your own in-house team. Therefore, when it comes to pitches and proposals, they should also be involved in the groundwork that goes into winning new business. Detailed upfront analysis and research is a requirement in SEO sales to showcase skills and demonstrate value – without this upfront value clients won’t trust in your ability to execute a longer term strategy. In a genuine outsourcing partnership this research & pitch assistance should be a cost swallowed by the whitelabel agency – they’re the experts and it’s win-win if you get more business.
8) Get References!
Ask to speak to other agencies who successfully outsource to them. Why would you ever trust a partner who can’t introduce you to another happy client.
The Bottom Line
Do your research, shop around and ask the right questions. A good whitelabel partnership will deliver huge opportunities to scale your agency, without the headache of hiring internally. Focus on what you’re good at and bring in SEO specialists as you need them. SEO is a growing industry now estimated to be worth $80 billion. Be in that industry but don’t overstretch or overclaim.
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