SEO is a very hot niche to be in right now, and if you think you have what it takes to succeed in this field, you could be very valuable to small businesses in your area or even big corporations. You should know, however, that you can’t expect to have a successful SEO business with nothing but a website and a nice pitch. There is a lot of work involved in building an SEO agency and keeping it afloat. There are also challenges inherent to this line of business that you have to be aware of and pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are a few things you should know before you get into the SEO business.
The SEO Field is Wildly Unregulated
The first thing you have to know is that there is very little structure around the SEO industry in the country, and you may not have to do much to get an SEO business officialised. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t care about rules or that you can do whatever you want.
For one, your website needs to comply with national and international rules and display how you’re going to be using cookies and personal information. You may also want to look up special tax rules depending on the number of employees you’re thinking of employing and the structure of your business.
You Should Look at Insurance
Another thing you should look at is insurance coverage. You might not expect that a business like an SEO agency would need any, but you never know if one of your clients will decide to sue because they believe that your work or advice brought harm to their business.
They could sue you on accounts of errors and omissions and they could win if you’re not prepared. The best way to protect yourself from these lawsuits and cover the costs of a judgment is to get errors and omission insurance, or professional indemnity insurance as it’s usually referred to.
In addition to professional indemnity insurance, you should get general liability coverage if you’re going to be operating from an office. General liability insurance can also protect you against copyright infringement cases. And you will need to get coverage for your employees if you intend to hire any.
You Should Consider Getting Some Form of Formal Education
As we mentioned earlier, the SEO field is largely unregulated and virtually anyone can build an SEO agency these days. With that being said, you could greatly benefit from having a formal education. This will not only allow you to run the business side of your agency better but will make you much more credible.
One degree we suggest you check out is business management. A business management degree will teach you how to manage employees, subcontractors, customer relationships, and your business’s finances much better. You also have courses like this online master’s in business management from Aston University which has a marketing module that will teach you the rudiments of proper marketing. You’ll then be able to use some of these principles when working for clients, but also when marketing your services.
You May Need to Rank for a Few Keywords First
Presenting yourself as an SEO expert when you can’t even rank for keywords in your area will make you look suspicious. This is why you may want to wait a little bit and use some of the techniques you preach to get actual results. Once a few of your keywords have ranked, you’ll have something to show to prospective clients and they will take you much more seriously.
It Requires a Bigger Initial Investment than People Think
Some people assume that you can start an SEO business on a shoestring budget, and that’s technically true. You can start selling your SEO service from a WordPress site with a free theme, but don’t expect people to come flocking.
Your website will be the first thing people will judge you on, and you can’t expect to have lots of success doing SEO if you don’t have a professional website. Unless you have a web design background and can design one on your own, then you’re looking at a £1000 to £1500 investment at the very least in the beginning.
You will then need to invest either time or money in creating and building content for your site to rank. Some people will even hire an SEO team for that. This is another £1000 to £2000 that you’ll need to invest. And we haven’t talked about insurance and other related costs yet. This may not be as big of an investment as in other niches but it’s still a nice chunk of money, so don’t underestimate this.
There’s a Lot of Competition
Another thing you have to know is that there is a lot of competition in the SEO niche, and you may need to get creative to get clients. You should learn as many marketing methods as you can and not be afraid to think outside the box.
One of the most underrated marketing tactics for SEO agencies is print, whether it’s in publications or pamphlets/flyers. A lot of people in the SEO field make the mistake of concentrating most of their efforts online when many of their target clients are not that into technology. This is why mailers and flyers can be so powerful, especially if you can educate your prospects.
You Might Have to Work for Free
Also, know that you may have to do some pro bono work before you get paid clients. This is how things work in this field, and this is the best way to build social proof. If you treat those clients like gold, they might drop a good word for you or even refer you to your first major client, so look at it as an investment.
These are all things you have to be ready for when starting an SEO agency. We would suggest that you take your time and learn about the ins and outs of the business before you spend a single penny on building your operation.