How to Start an SEO Agency

Learning how to start an SEO agency can be a lucrative endeavor. SEO agencies can help companies cut through the digital clutter and succeed online. Good news: It’s pretty easy to get started.


Every business needs SEO, especially as more people turn to search engines to find products and services. The internet and the digital landscape have opened up a universe of opportunities for businesses. It’s never been easier to connect with customers and clients all over the world.


However, with 200 million active websites, getting noticed can be a tad challenging. That’s where SEO agencies come in. Their job is to ensure clients’ websites rank higher on search engine results pages.

If you’re looking to start your own SEO company, but don’t know how to, we’re here to help.

Let’s discuss the steps you need to take to start your own SEO agency. We’ll also cover some common mistakes that could derail the success of your SEO business and how to avoid them. 

What Does an SEO Company Do?

An SEO agency optimizes web content so that search engines can find it, understand it, and rank it according to users’ searches. The ultimate goal is to create and optimize content that ranks higher on search engine results pages. This process is called search engine optimization, or SEO for short.

There are many different factors that go into SEO, but the main goal is always to improve the visibility of a website. That way, it can attract more visitors from organic (i.e., unpaid) search results.

SEO agencies use a variety of techniques to achieve this goal, such as keyword research, link building, and content marketing.


Most importantly, SEO agencies help businesses grow and thrive. Digital channels have become a linchpin of success, allowing businesses to expand beyond their local markets. Clients need SEO to build a competitive online presence, which means you’ll have no shortage of potential customers.


Steps to Starting Your Own SEO Agency

Infographic on how to start an agency


Do you love the thrill of keywords and metadata? Are you drooling at the thought of finding the perfect anchor text for a backlink? An SEO agency might be the right business for you. 


Use this step-by-step guide to start your own SEO agency and make a killing by helping websites reach their full potential. 


Step 1: Start with the Basics

Before you can roll up your sleeves and get to work, you need to perfect the preliminaries. These include:

Digital Marketing Fundamentals

You’ll need a strong understanding of digital marketing fundamentals to start an SEO agency. You need to know how SEO fits into the larger landscape of digital marketing and how to use it to achieve business goals.

If you’re not already familiar with digital marketing, we recommend taking some time to learn the basics before starting your SEO company. Consider taking an online course or learning from other resources on the internet.

Develop Business Acumen

An SEO company is like any other business and requires a considerable degree of business know-how to get off the ground. This includes everything from understanding how to file taxes to drafting proposals and contracts.

If you don’t have a background in business, we recommend taking some time to learn the basics before starting your own SEO company. You can take a business course or an apprenticeship to learn the ropes of managing a business.

Prepare to Leave Your Job (If Applicable)

Many people who start their own businesses do so while still employed full-time. However, if you’re planning to become an SEO agency owner, it’s likely that you’ll need to quit your day job.

This can be a scary proposition, but it’s important to remember that you’ll be trading security for the opportunity to be your own boss.

If you’re not ready to make the jump, that’s okay. You can always start your SEO business on the side and transition to it full-time when you’re ready.

Step 2: Get a Lawyer and an Accountant

Your lawyer and accountant will help you navigate the legal and financial aspects of starting your own business. A lawyer can help you with everything from incorporating your business to drafting contracts. An accountant can help you with bookkeeping, tax filing, and other financial processes.

They will also help you determine your business structure, which can be:

  • An LLC: This is the most common business structure for small businesses. It offers liability protection and a couple of tax benefits.

  • A sole proprietorship: This is a simple business structure if you’re the sole owner of your business.

  • A partnership: This is a business structure for two or more owners.

Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need to worry about splurging on these professionals. The workload will be very minimal until your business picks up. Do some digging and find a good lawyer and accountant for your SEO business.

Step 3: Choose Your Niche

Your niche is the area of SEO that you’ll specialize in. For example, you might want to focus on eCommerce SEO, local SEO, or enterprise SEO (or all of the above in the future).

Choosing a niche will help you focus your attention and resources on a specific area. It’ll also make it easier to market your services to the right audience.

Not sure what niche to choose? Start by thinking about the type of businesses you want to work with and the areas of SEO you’re most interested in.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, do some research on each niche to see which one is the best fit for your business. Think about what you have the most knowledge about and how you can get your clients the best results.

If you still can’t decide; that’s okay! You can always change your niche later on down the road. It’s better to start somewhere than not start at all.

Step 4: Define Your SEO Services

SEO agencies can offer a wide range of services, depending on your niche. Let’s look at some examples:


  • Keyword research

  • Content strategy

  • On-page SEO

  • Product description optimization

  • Website migration SEO

  • Technical SEO audits

  • Blog writing

  • Guest posting

  • Link-building

  • Local business listings

  • Local citation building

  • Conversion rate optimization

  • Schema markup

  • International SEO

  • Managed SEO services

  • Content syndication

  • E-commerce consulting and training

  • SEO reporting and analytics


This is just a sampling of what many SEO agencies offer. You might choose to offer these services too, or just a handful of them.


No matter what you decide to offer, make sure these are services you can do well and get results for your clients. 


Step 5: Create Your Business Name and Logo

Your business name and logo are key parts of your brand identity. These are the things people will see first and have the power to make a strong first impression. For these reasons, creating your business name and logo shouldn’t be taken lightly.

How to Choose a Business Name

Your business name is what customers will see when they Google you. It’s important to choose a name that’s easy to remember and reflects your business’s culture.

Test how your business name might rank in Google search results. You can see if that name is being used by another business or see what is currently ranking for that name.

Choosing a generic word or phrase might make it harder for your business to rank. For example, the term “SEO Agency” is a term people often use when searching for SEO agencies, but that doesn’t mean yours will automatically rank #1 just because it’s your business name. 

In an ideal world, your business name will also be your website URL. This makes it easy for people to find you online and associate your name with your digital real estate. As we mentioned earlier, with 200 million active websites, you might not get your first choice for a URL. 

Before you land on a business name, you can check to see if that same name will be available for your website using services like GoDaddy. It doesn’t cost you anything to check a URL’s availability.

Creating Your Business Logo

Aside from the business name, you also need to come up with a creative logo for your SEO company. You’ll use this on your website, business cards, and marketing materials.

You can use an online logo creator to design your logo, or you could hire a graphic designer to do the same.

Fiverr is also a great place to find quality logo designers for a low price. Freelancers typically charge less for their services compared to full-scale design agencies, so you can get a great logo that reflects your brand image.

Step 6: Build Your Business Website

Since you’re working with other clients’ websites, it’s important to have one of your own. A business website is a must for any company in the 21st century—regardless of size. Not only will it be a valuable asset for marketing your business, but it will also serve as a hub for all of your online activity.

It also shows you “walk the walk” when it comes to SEO. How you present yourself on your own website can either help or harm client trust in hiring you for their SEO needs.

You don’t need a large and overly complicated website. A simple website with a clear layout is all you need to connect with your clients. Be sure to include the following on your website:

  • Your contact information

  • A brief description of your services

  • A portfolio of your previous work

You can create your business website using a DIY platform like WordPress or Squarespace. If you need help, there are plenty of tutorials and guides online that can walk you through the process.

Alternatively, you can hire a web designer for a more professional website.

infographic on how to start an seo agency

Step 7: Compile Your SEO Toolbox

As an SEO agency, you’ll need to have a few essential tools in your toolbox. These are the tools that you’ll use on a day-to-day basis to achieve your clients’ goals. In fact, it’s safe to say an SEO company is only as good as its tools and your ability to use them.

Some of the most important SEO tools include:

  • A keyword research tool: This will help you find the right keywords to target for your SEO campaigns.

  • A link-building tool: This will help you find opportunities to build links and improve your website’s authority.

  • An analytics tool: This will help you track your progress and see how your SEO efforts are paying off.

These are some of the tools you’ll need in your SEO toolbox. It’s never a good idea to skimp on your SEO tools. If the competition is using better tools, all your clients will run to them. 

Google has an incredible array of free SEO tools to get you started. They’re pretty powerful (even though they’re free), plus they help you tap into Google data to give your clients an edge. 

Paid tools (think Ahrefs, SEOJet, SEMRush, etc.) are also worth the investment, giving you more data and more ways to serve your clients without limits.

The most important thing is to find the tools that work best for you and your team. Once you have your toolbox in order, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful SEO agency.

Step 8: Create a Pricing Model

As an SEO agency, you need to have a pricing model that allows you to make a profit while still providing value to your clients.

There are a few different pricing models you can choose from, so it’s important to find one that works for your business. The three most common pricing models for SEO agencies are:

Hourly rate: This is the most common pricing model for SEO agencies. You simply charge your clients an hourly rate for the work you do.

Project-based: This pricing model is based on the scope of work for each project. You and your client will agree on a price before starting work on the project. This model works well for one-off services or clearly defined tasks.

Retainer: This is a recurring monthly fee that your clients will pay you. This fee gives them access to your services for a certain number of hours each month. This is a common choice for managed SEO services. 

You need to find a pricing model that works for you and your business. There’s no right or wrong answer here—it all depends on your unique circumstances. You can even create client-specific packages that match your clients’ specific needs.

Step 9: Create an SEO Proposal Template

An SEO proposal template is a document that outlines the SEO services you offer to potential clients. It’s important to have a proposal template that you can use as a starting point for each new client.

Your SEO proposal should include:

The area of focus: This is a short statement to include the goals of an SEO project and what you want to achieve for your client.

The problem statement: This is where you outline the problem that the client is facing. This could be a decline in traffic, poor conversion rates, or something else entirely.

The solution: This is where you explain how your SEO services will solve the client’s problem. Be sure to include specifics here (e.g., keyword research, content strategy, on-page optimization, implementation, etc.) so the client knows what they’ll be getting for their money.

The timeline: This is where you outline the timeline for the project. Be sure to be realistic here so the client knows what to expect. Be sure to factor in any delays and worst-case scenarios.

The expectations: Share with your client when you anticipate seeing results. Set realistic expectations from the start to build immediate and ongoing trust with your client.

The pricing: This is where you outline your pricing model and the associated costs.

The call to action: This is your final pitch to the client. Tell them what you need from them and how they can get started with your SEO services.

A well-written SEO proposal template will go a long way toward helping you win new clients. Be sure to tailor each proposal to the specific client so they know you’re taking their unique needs into account.

Step 10: Create a Contract Template

A contract is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of your relationship with a client. It’s important to have a contract template that you can use as a starting point for each new client. 

Contracts offer protection for you and your client. It creates accountability for both sides to ensure clients receive quality work and you receive timely payments.

The lawyer will help you craft a contract that works for both you and your clients.

Step 11: Test Your Systems

Take your systems for a few trial runs before you start serving clients. For example, sign some sample contracts, test your SEO tools, and click through every link on your website to ensure everything is in working order.

This will help you work out any kinks in your system and ensure that everything is running smoothly. You can use dummy data to test your systems.

You should also use your own website to test your SEO skills. Try the same services you plan to offer your clients and create case studies using your own data. This will give you tangible results to share with your clients, plus it helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Step 12: Launch Your SEO Business

After you’ve completed all the necessary steps, it’s time to launch your SEO agency. Start finding clients by using organic SEO, paid ads, social media, email marketing, and good old-fashioned networking.

As a way to entice new customers, you can offer free SEO audits or consultations to prospects to showcase your expertise and value. As you grow your client list, you can ask satisfied customers for referrals.

Keep actively promoting your business to reach the right audience. There are plenty of marketing channels to do so. Find one that works for you.

Step 13: Hire Staff (If Necessary)

You may need to hire additional staff if your company grows. You can start by hiring freelancers or contractors to help with specific projects. 

As your business expands, you can hire extra help as needed.

How to Start an SEO Agency, Simplified

Learning how to start an SEO agency can be the first step to a lucrative career. It’s a service every business can benefit from, so there’s no limit on potential earnings. 

But as with any business, starting an SEO agency is not a decision to be made lightly. There are a lot of steps involved in the process, plus it requires a great deal of skill and ongoing learning.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful SEO agency. Just remember to take things one step at a time and to seek out help when you need it.

SEOjet is a comprehensive SEO solution that can help you meet your clients’ demands. Sign up for free and let us help you grow.


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