Can Your Agency Survive the Pitfalls of Small Business SEO?

Simon JonesKeyword Research, Search Engine Optimisation, SEO Copywriting

Any SEO will tell you that there are lots of smaller businesses out there who are keen to SEO their sites but have a small budget. Unfortunately in the SEO industry there are plenty of cowboy firms that will take these companies money with no hope of achieving the results promised. Companies are often ripped-off, or are shown spurious results in the hope to pull the wool over their eyes.

In these days of high quality content being favoured by Google the question should be asked is it possible for agencies to realistically offer successful SEO for less than £350 per month? Our charge out rate is an industry competitive £80 an hour which means around 3.5 hours per month to actually carry out work and get results.

Well I still believe this is possible and in fact we have great results to prove the case. If you are looking to roll this out for your agency then the following guide should assist you:

  • Agree a Minimum of 6 Months in the Contract – Realistically this type of Client is probably non-profitable to begin with so you will have to sacrifice extra hours early-on to ensure they stay on the books where you can make the project more profitable beyond the 12 month point.
  • Be Organised – You have to have your sales materials, timesheet software, reporting templates, process (please see below) and working practices in excellent working order. Any mistakes here will slow up the process and either risk your Clients performance or make the project unprofitable for your agency.
  • Be Realistic – If a customer wants to be on page one for a ridiculously competitive term ask them to search for the term in Google. Then ask them if they have the same marketing budget as the top 10 companies in that search result. They will soon realise they cannot have champagne results at beer prices (please see the Keywords section below).
  • Keep Your Eyes on the Hours – Keep meetings to an absolute minimum, suggest telephone calls instead of face-to-face meetings. Avoid suggestions to meet the ‘whole’ team involved in the project. Every minute is precious with such a small Client, they need to be reminded that this is the case.
  • Site – Realistically there is a requirement with these small projects that you start with a decent website. Poor quality websites, or those that are are difficult or expensive to update are a non-starter for this type of project.

The Suggested Process:
This simple process will help you achieve some great results but still ensure the Client is profitable.

  • Month 1 Initial Meeting – There is a requirement for an initial meeting with Online Marketing team member, where the project goals are defined, working practices explained and regular Client contact by phone is agreed.
  • Month 1 Keywords – Must be local, relevant and realistic. Look for low competition but relatively high volume terms.
  • Month 1 Measurables – Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are added to the site (or access is granted). Goals and objectives are agreed and set-up in Google Analytics in month 1. IPs and filters, goal funnels are added etc.
  • Month 2 Technical SEO – All fixable Technical SEO issues that can be carried out in month 2 in the set time period are done so. Remaining Technical SEO must then be left until at least the 6 month review period.
  • Month 3 Content – Having defined what on-page content is required for the campaign the Client must create the content following your guidelines. Your agency can then optimise the copy for sign-off. Duplicated content will be identified and technical duplication removed where possible. Remaining duplicated content will be the Clients responsibility to remove with your direction over the following months.
  • Month 4 Google Local – Local listing for Google are created for the Client.
  • Month 4 Blog – Blog needs to be developed or created month 4. Get your Client to carry out the blogging, subjects should include; things that matter to their customers, local topics and issues and the blog should also link out to associated companies and local sites.
  • Link Building – This is time consuming so therefore the following would be required:
  1. Outreach, the Client would need to provide content whilst your agency concentrate on finding opportunities. If Clients are reluctant to create copy you could use a content service to drive costs down
  2. The Client would need to suggest sites where you could get links from associated businesses and in some cases make the first contact
  3. Orphaned links – Check the web for orphaned links which could point back to the site
  4. Leveraging existing links – Develop the existing links to get more strength from them
  5. Link reclamation – Search the web for mentions of the Client and contact the site for a link.

Here my quick guide to small business SEO. Please come back to, me with any questions and post your comments below: