How To Effectively Service Multiple SEO Clients Profitably And Efficiently
Over the past year and a half in this blog I’ve look primarily at supporting your own or your clients websites traffic building efforts using automation.
Primarily this is using Ultimate Demon along side other tools for spinning, hosting or content creation. The methods are based around building strong profiles and running link building campaigns within a finite time-set.
This works, and is probably the first action you need to take no matter what sort of website you are promoting. From micro-niche sites to authority sites. It applies in local marketing as well as national and international website promotion. But there is one area in particular where these tools may not provide 100% of the answer you’re after.
Client Retention Requires Long Term Commitment To Effective SEO
I’m thinking particularly here of off-line local marketing – Particularly with reference to running a small SEO agency and promoting client sites.
There comes a point where you need to outsource and automate.
The time will come when you need to turn off your profile creation campaigns and only run them periodically to refresh your first tier sites with content or to add a few more profiles.
At this point you need something else to take over. A cost-effective solution that will both add high-quality first-tier links as well as keeping your existing direct linking profiles powered up.
One of the biggest problems faced with those doing client-based search engine optimisation is the need to juggle many different websites in many different niches. All of them requiring content on a regular basis and link building continuously.
A typical workflow might be, for the first month with a new client to create a good first tier of links and to give them their initial push.
An example might be to send decent quality content to 20 or 30 WEB 2.0, WIKI and article sites, perhaps make a few blog and forum comments on niche relevant websites for link juice (as well as direct click through) from the links you place.
The mistake many will then make is just to repeat this process in the second month…. and the third with little idea of what to do next and how to progress.
A typical SEO professional may just, in month 2, create another 20 free web profiles, with some article, WIKI and blog posts and power those up.
Over time the links that were crafted during the first month will gradually lose power, become de-indexed and possibly have no real benefit at all. The SEO is always chasing their tail and after 3-4 months of doing this 2 things will happen
The clients site will stop rising in SERPs
The amount of work needed to just keep the site stable in this position will remain almost as much as it was in month one
Typically, the client will expect improving results over time. When these do not appear expect to begin down the rocky road of “performance reviews”, “contract renegotiations” and in all likelihood just losing the client who will move on and be less than satisfied with your work.
In short you’ve worked your ass off, made little cash for your hours of effort and been rewarded by losing your client and having them bad mouth you as (at best) “ineffective” to everyone they can find in your region or neighbourhood.
This is because you have not progressed your strategy. In short you are doing the first month’s SEO over and over again.
This isn’t an effective way to promote a client site and it isn’t an effective use of your time and resources.
What you need instead is a strategy that allows your existing high-powered links to increase in power every month going forward. To gradually turn your first tier from new fledging links into its own mini powerhouse. A real force with its own inbound link structure that provides “click through”, Page rank potential, link juice and search engine ranking.
Possibly even capable of ranking in their own right for your clients target words and phrases.
The potential to dominate the first couple of pages of Google with more than one profile or URL entity is still as possible in 2013 as it was five years ago.
Here is an example of an ineffective workflow
How To Do It Wrong
Month 1 (much manual work)
- Analyse clients site and its offsite linking profile (30 minutes)
- Analyse competition and keyword targets (30 minutes)
- Create or source content (2 hours)
- Create 1st tier profiles on Blog, WIKI, article forum and WEB2.0 sites in Ultimate Demon (1 hour)
- Create first tier links on these profiles (30 minutes)
- Power up first tier links with an effective second and third (indexing) tier (2 hours)
- Produce report for client outlining work done and the progress made against traffic and ranking targets and prepare monthly invoice (1 hour)
You did establish these at your contract meeting with the client didn’t you?
This is a full days work – likely 8 hours plus
Month 2 (still lots of manual work)
- Review clients site onsite and its offsite linking profile (15 minutes)
- Review competition and keyword targets (15 minutes)
- Create or source more content (2 hours)
- Create more 1st tier profiles on Blog, WIKI, article forum and WEB2.0 sites in Ultimate Demon (1 hour)
- Create more first tier links on these profiles (1 hour)
- Power up these new first tier links with an effective second and third (indexing) tier (2 hours)
- Produce report for client outlining work done and the progress made against traffic and ranking targets. (1 hour)
This is a full days work – a little less than month 1 in all likelihood but almost the same.
I want to be blunt here.
This is wrong!
It’s a waste of time and it doesn’t provide effective long term results.
The amount of work involved would mean that servicing the optimum number of clients and therefore making the maximum return on your time investment will be severely hindered by going to all this trouble for each client every month.
So What Is Wrong Here?
The plan for month one is fine. It’s a sensible plan, and probably needs to be carried out in just about all circumstances.
It’s month two where the problem starts.
You need to outsource just about all of these activities. Month one is where you gave your SEO client your real value. A full day or possibly two days of your time making sure you do the job properly.
From then on the entire process per client should be two hours per month maximum while giving you a minimum of 400% return on any cash investment you make in their site promotion.
As a little aside here, this relies on you pricing yourself and your skills at a reasonable sustainable level. The idea of doing an effective months optimisation work for any client site for under $200 is not going to earn you much money in the long run.
Even at the $200 mark you should only be looking to rank in the smallest of markets over the easiest of niches.
I can’t tell you exactly how much to charge, it depends on your client, and where you are geographically. In other words what your market will sustain.
In the USA range of prices I charge varied from $200 per month for very local SEO, up to around $1200 per month for those looking to make a regional or national impact.
If you’re thinking of doing “mates rates” jobs, and to make them cost-effective you’re probably going to have to do the whole thing by hand. If you’re charging less than $200 per month’s work, even to the smallest of markets, you really aren’t charging enough.
Okay. So we’ve established that month one’s plan is pretty good. How do we progress from there.
How To Do It Right
A Better Month 2 (very little manual work)
Check clients onsite status.
First check for new content. Does the client have a blog with new posts? Have new “news stories” been added or new “products”. You need to know this – you may want to link to these new URL’s.
This still best done by hand but should take no longer than 10 minutes.
The other questions should be:
- “Has the client added new content I can link to?”
- “Have any errors popped in in Google webmaster tools or whatever other analysis methods are being used?”
- “Can I see any errors in tags, metadata, site loading speed that I didn’t notice before”
19 times out of 20 this initial check will require no further action. You do the check, everything is fine, you move on.
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- Check clients offsite linking profile – AUTOMATE (5 minutes)
- Review competition and progress against keyword targets AUTOMATE (5 minutes)
- Check that first tier is still in place AUTOMATE
- Add a couple of new 1st tier sites (between 1 and 3 say) PARTIAL AUTOMATION – 30 minutes to 1 hour maximum.
- Power up existing and new first tier links AUTOMATE (5 minutes)
- Produce report for client outlining work done and progress along with invoice (HIGH LEVEL OF AUTOMATION 15 minutes maximum)
The absolute maximum amount of time should take per month is 90 minutes.
In this way processing 4 clients a day or 80 per month should be possible even for those lazy SEO’s who are only working a six-hour day and a five-day week.
Even after paying for all of your automation it should be possible to gross at least $10,000 per month if you can have the client numbers. That’s gross profit after paying for all of your automation, and all of your tools.
A $200 client should have month by month overheads in terms of automation of about $60. It scales up a little better than that with $1000 a month client taking almost the same amount of time, perhaps just another 30 minutes on the onsite check and link analysis, with the outsourcing costing no more than $100.
The mistake many looking to make third-party search engine optimisation career is to try and do it for free. They put zero value on their time and this is an entirely non-cost-effective way of proceeding.
Once you get even a little success then time is your main constraint.
Initially, when you only have one or two clients it might be worth doing everything manually, Perhaps you would learn more about search engine optimisation this way. But if you want to scale up, or even if you’re just lazy and want to make money in a far easier and more “hands off” fashion, then automation and outsourcing will allow you to make almost the same amount of money with a tiny fraction of the effort.
So What SEO Tools And Subscriptions Allow A Profitable Hands Off Approach?
1) An effective website analysis tool capable of producing white label reports that you can pass directly to your client.
This tool should be capable of measuring search engine ranking, doing competition analysis and possibly even backlink analysis depending on your client’s requirements. In most cases the same tool can be used for as many client sites as you have at no extra cost.
In other words, the more clients you have the more cost-effective this tool becomes.
Another aside – be and look professional!
I can’t stress how important this is.
Providing your client with absolute accurate data presented in a professional format that is sent along with every invoice, and possibly even includes the ability to create the invoice automatically within the tool itself will present both you and your business in a highly favourable light.
It can be the difference between getting or not getting a contract, and in some cases losing an established client or keeping them.
Don’t undervalue presentation. That’s not to mention the time a good analysis tool with white label output will save once you have set up the clients details once within the tool.
In most cases is just a matter of pressing a few buttons and the report can be printed off or produced in PDF format and mailed directly to your client along with your invoice. Saving you potentially hours of time and making you look good into the bargain.
2) Drip linking subscription.
I want to introduce a term called “link entropy” those of you who know about entropy will understand that it is the equalisation of energy within a system. Universal entropy is sometimes called the “heat death of the universe” as the energy will be spread so thinly that no one point will have enough energy to raise it’s temperature much above absolute zero (a fraction of a fraction of a degree above)
And how does this relate to links?
Many in third-party/client based SEO business make the mistake of letting their initial links gradually become subject to entropy. They are not continually powered up, and rather than gradually gain authority over time they lose it until they become de-indexed. Until even the most thorough of link searching tools cannot find them.
In short, they have gone. They cease to offer any value and either have to be found and re-powered up or (as happen in the vast majority of cases) just replaced. Only for the replacements to eventually suffer the same fate and need to be replaced themselves. It never ends!
That’s exactly the opposite of what your links should be doing!
When – for example – you create a blog post on a free WordPress.com subdomain it has virtually no power. Although WordPress itself has a Page rank of nine, virtually none of that authority is passed through to the subdomain you registered.
Equally, if you make some initial effort to power up that post, the overall effect will be short lived. It will boost the post in the short term – and in turn, the main target site will benefit for a limited period of time before “entropy” takes over and the authority and potential to rank higher in the search engines gradually wanes away.
What a waste!
These high-quality links need to be powered up indefinitely. They need their own links created continuously. A steady stream of links for as long as you are servicing the client. This process should ideally go on for months if not a year or more – in some cases for as long as you are servicing the client.
How the hell do I do that?
While you may want to add a couple more first-tier links each month, just to increase diversity and add a little power, your main focus should be on replacing any of those that are deleted and continually powering up your initial links.
Age is a vital factor, authority is a vital factor. You need your links to exist long period of time and gradually accrue authority. This is what makes them effective. Creating dozens of fresh ones every month and letting last months links just “wither on the vine” is not effective at all.
So the second item in your “hands off” SEO shopping list is a subscription that will add power and authority to your existing links continually, completely hands off. You provide the URL’s and keywords. The service provides SAFE effective links every day – hands off.
3) Sourcing great content?
The third and final piece of automation that you may want to consider is a way of creating, buying or more quickly authoring content of a decent enough quality for it to be indexed and importantly provide “click through” potential.
Yet another diversion. Sorry…
Very heavily spun content does not provide “click through” potential. Content doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, and high-quality spinning is often good enough. But you do need a way of providing decent content. For this you may want to quickly author your own content or use a third-party service that is cost-effective. Either way, you don’t want to spend more than 30 to 60 minutes sourcing this new content every month.
To sum up you’ll need:
Month 1 you would strongly benefit from a profile/link creation tool like Ultimate Demon to get your initial 1st tier built and powered quickly and to add/replace 1st tier links and profiles as appropriate now and then.
For month 1 and all subsequent months you’ll need.
- A website analysis, links analysis, competition analysis, and professional reporting tool capable of producing white label reports for you to give you client.
- Some method of creating 2nd and 3rd tier links that is effective, targeted and is completely “hands off” with no more than a few minutes admin per month required
- The ability to author, buy or adapt decent content quickly
That really is it.
You may want to post and link from a few niche related a few forums or blogs (or buy some good quality links on none private sites) from time to time to add variation – but that’s the entire process.
As I mentioned above, all of this should be done on a cost-per-client basis of no more than 30% of your invoice price, and ideally closer to 10%. Leaving between 70% to 90% of the invoice as your gross profit margin.
These are realistic figures. Your 90 minutes work for your cheapest client should net you $140 but leave your client highly satisfied with both the results you’re achieving and with a professional outlook that you are presenting to them. If you have high end clients then under 2 hours work from month 2 onwards should gross you a lot more.