The search engine optimization business is booming and many small web design companies, ad agencies, and consultancies are finding they can significantly increase their revenue streams by offering an SEO product to existing clients.
While the business case for selling search engine optimization may be strong, there may be an even more compelling reason not to build the product yourself. There are a variety of methods for outsourcing SEO delivery that business owners should consider before diving into the messy work of SEO.
Over the last 10 years, the white label SEO industry has grown significantly and is now quite mature. There are options for outsourcing both to domestic firms as well as offshore resellers at a variety of price points. Technology has grown robust, and firms that specialize in various aspects of SEO are now available.
In this article, we will cover how to interview and hire a white label SEO firm for the purpose of outsourcing the deliverables associated with SEO delivery.
The very first few steps are quite obvious. You need to locate reputable white label SEO companies with quick searches. You obviously want to have a bias towards those companies that rank well themselves in Google. It stands to reason that if they cannot rank their own website, they would not perform particularly well with clients.
Here are the five steps you want to follow in your due diligence process as you interview and get to know the various firms in the marketplace. The more time you spend on this process, the better your decision will be.
Line Up Conference Calls with Potential Firms
We recommend that you make conference calls with every firm you’re considering doing business with. This will immediately eliminate any firms that are purely self-service and not open to communication on the telephone.
This may seem old-fashioned, but there are real advantages to picking a white label SEO outfit that has strong communication skills.
As you outsource SEO, you are essentially outsourcing part of your operations, and doing so without having telephonic communication with the team actually delivering the work will present significant risks to your client retention.
There is the counter-argument that self-service and website-only interaction is more efficient, which holds true for many retail an e-commerce applications where products are particularly simple.
Search engine optimization is far from simple, and the need for more in-depth communication and problem-solving is extremely likely. For these reasons, we recommend steering away from self-service options and picking a firm who will work with you on the phone.
Better yet, find a firm that is comfortable using video chat for virtual conferencing. Relationships are stronger over video and things will generally work more smoothly.
During your evaluation, you want to ask for hard data around customer service. The professional white label SEO outfit will use industry-standard measures of customer satisfaction such as net promoter score.
If you find the firm is not regularly measuring customer satisfaction with any quantitative rigor, you may want to cross that company off the list.
Ask for references from other agencies who can attest to the customer service experience. Online reviews will also be very helpful, keeping in mind that angry customers are usually the most vocal. A lack of reviews is a warning sign that a company may be too new to be entrusted with your client business.
Search engine optimization can mean a variety of things to different firms. Some companies still define SEO as the technical experience that is done to a website in the form of a one-time optimization.
Other companies define SEO as a link building process that requires constant link acquisition. Here the emphasis is on keyword position monitoring in Google and competitive backlink neutralization.
Still other firms view SEO in content marketing terms. These folks are in the business of creating very useful, long form content. We tend to spend considerable time on promotion of content in favor of slower content production schedules with more emphasis on distribution and backlinking.
Find an outsourcing firm who defines search engine optimization in terms that are aligned with your philosophy. You will be outsourcing the operational side of SEO to this firm and you want to make sure that how they complete the work will be satisfactory to your clients.
Technology is another area that deserves your attention during due diligence. A mature white label SEO reseller will have well-developed technology to support their operations. This technology will be critical for keeping the two teams organized and communication flowing smoothly.
It is tempting in a technology review to get hung up on bells and whistles and overly focused on aesthetics. While these aspects may certainly be important to you, what is most important is that the technology supports the work being done on time and to the quality specifications required by your customer.
Ask specific questions about workflow and how work is organized. Look for evidence of how the outsourcing team keeps all deliverables on schedule and uses their technology to know how much staff they need.
Watch for misdirection during this process where sales teams often show you exciting features and bells and whistles to distract from answering difficult questions related to operational effectiveness.
Clearly, you want to hire an SEO firm that has produced strong results in the past. Due to the private label nature of the business, it may be difficult to get exact rankings from previous customers as confidentiality is key in this industry.
As mentioned above, this is why looking at the rankings of the firm themselves is often good evidence of how effective their work is.
Even with the white label arrangement, they should be able to provide a few references you can talk to. It’s surprising how few business owners will actually make these phone calls and check the references. Don’t pass on this important step when you consider who to partner with.
Scaling and Growth Potential
The final consideration as you hire a white label SEO company is their ability to scale and keep up with your growth. Again, asking directly will not likely reveal the truth of a firm’s ability to keep pace with your sales.
Your best bet is to ask specific questions about levels of revenue for other clients they work with. Have they been able to support firms with $5 million in annual SEO sales? And do they have examples of companies that started with $0 and scaled to over $2 million in less than 24 months? Listen to the answers carefully and make your evaluation of how credible they sound.
The business case to outsource SEO to a white label firm who has a well-developed product is fairly strong. Rather than investing time and money on product development and technology enhancement, you can focus your efforts on selling SEO to your existing customers.
The ROI from sales and marketing activities will be nearly immediate as these firms have a mature SEO product ready to go.
There are, however, many pitfalls in selecting the right firm for your business. Your due diligence needs to include an in-depth review of their customer service capabilities. Review deliverables carefully and make sure they are aligned with your SEO philosophy. Preview their technology and ask for demonstrations and be sure to get specific examples of past results and the references to back them up.
If you follow these steps with your due diligence, you will build a partnership that will lead to profits for your technology firm.
Adam Stetzer holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has published on the topics of Internet Marketing, Absenteeism, Employee and Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Safety, and Culture. He has founded several technology firms, and is currently CEO at HubShout, a white label SEO reseller firm. In his 25 year career he has worked with companies such as General Electric, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Verizon, AT&T, Ford, LendingTree, American Express and Chevron Texaco. Adam has advised over 1,000 small business owners and blogs frequently.