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12 Ways to Scale Your SEO Agency (Actionable Guide)

  • James De Roche
  • 9 min read
12 Ways to Scale Your SEO Agency (Actionable Guide)


Running an SEO agency is hard work. And scaling one is even harder. Without the right mindset, you risk stagnation (or worse).

It’s also hard to improve your agency if margins and client retention are low.

It’s a perfect storm that keeps you stuck in your business, overworking on accounts while struggling to grow your agency.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

As a freelancer and now agency owner, I’ve worked with various agencies and clients in the marketing space. Some did very well, others struggled to grow.

What’s the key to success?

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It’s about having the right approach (and knowing what to do and what not to do). Here are 12 actionable steps you can take today to scale your SEO Agency.

1. Stop Undercharging

It’s the unattainable triangle: Speed, Quality, and Price.

You can pick two.

The only way to do SEO on a budget effectively is to space out deliverables. High-quality content, strategy, and implementation require resources. So, you have to trade speed.

Sadly, SEO takes time, and most businesses urgently need results.

That means it’ll cost more if you want to move the needle faster.

This isn’t about greed. A budget gives your team more time to focus on each account while maintaining your margins.

Meet Ranktracker

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Behind every successful business is a strong SEO campaign. But with countless optimization tools and techniques out there to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Well, fear no more, cause I've got just the thing to help. Presenting the Ranktracker all-in-one platform for effective SEO

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If you don’t charge enough, you have to get more clients. More clients means more work. And if you’re a small agency, that means you’ll end up trying to squeeze more out of your team.

But you can’t get blood from stone. Your team can only do so much. And trying to push them harder will only end in burning out your people, ruining any potential gain from new clients.

Want better results, happier employees, and more satisfied clients?

Increase your rates.

The unattainable triangle

2. Take Money Upfront

You need to take money upfront before starting any work. This is especially true if you’re a small business.

Unpaid and late invoices put unnecessary stress on you as a business owner. They can also damage vendor relationships. And if those payments end up in collections, it can ruin any profit-sharing bonus you may have for your team, ruining morale.

The easiest way for SEO agencies to collect money upfront is by offering a productized service (instead of retainers).

This way, your client pays for a set amount of deliverables upfront. After, your team knocks out those assets and delivers them on time. There’s no ambiguity on the project and no outstanding invoices you need to follow up on.

To do this, send over the invoice at the start of the engagement. Don’t start work on a project until your client pays the invoice as dealing with collections and payment reminders can be a hassle. This protects your cash flow.

And protecting your cash flow is key. Low sales and poor cash flow are the main reasons businesses fail.

3. Don’t Say “Yes” to Every Client Request

The best client relationships are the ones where they see you as a partner, not a vendor. Essentially, you have a seat at the table. And you’re there to help your clients make critical decisions that drive growth for their business.

That’s what SEO is about.

Unfortunately, the downside is that it’s easier for clients to view you as an employee the longer you sit at that table. And that leads to scope creep…

Client and agency relationships are different.

Clients don’t always know best. They may have limited or dated SEO knowledge. Or they may lack general marketing knowledge.

Your job is to push back on work that’s outside of scope. Not just because it’s an additional cost to your business, but because it’s likely not going to move the needle.

If you’ve done your due diligence and built out a solid SEO strategy, you’ll have a clear roadmap of the work you need to do.

Addressing random tasks prevents you from focusing on that strategy. Worse, your client will still expect you to make progress toward the core deliverables.

This stretches your team thin.

Table any additional tasks from clients until you complete the current scope of your project. And let them know that you’ll address them afterward. (This way, they don’t feel ignored.)

If your client insists, it may make more sense to create a ticket system they can use for future tasks. This acknowledges their needs but still keeps you focused on what matters most.

4. Reflect After Campaigns

You can’t improve if you don’t reflect.

Take the time to run post-mortems on accounts that you lose. Try to pinpoint where things went wrong and what you can do to improve them.

We break up our campaigns into chunks. At the end of each chunk, the team member who managed that part of the campaign needs to reflect on the process.

They need to ask:

  • What went well?

  • What didn’t work?

  • What can we improve?

  • What did we learn?

  • What challenges were there?

Without a culture of continuous process improvement, your business will stagnate. Process improvement keeps your workflows lean, helping you scale growth.

As the owner, you need to encourage and reward your team for helping improve how your business functions. Work with your team to keep work easy, fast, and enjoyable.

Campaign post mortem

5. Pick a Niche

Early on as a business owner, you need revenue. So, you pretty much say “yes” to everything. The challenge, though, is learning when to say “no.”

At some point, you need to narrow down on a niche. Otherwise, you won’t stand out.

There are plenty of SEO agencies out there that “do it all.” The problem with this is that it’s not scalable.

SEO strategies differ for B2B, Local, E-Commerce, D2C, etc. There are also a lot of different markets out there: SaaS, Manufacturing, Skincare, Healthcare, etc.

Success in each requires the right processes, tools, relationships, and experience in place.

You need quality, niche writers (subject matter experts) to ensure you provide high-quality, helpful content. You need to know the keywords to tackle and avoid. And you need to know where you can go for link placement.

Often, much of what you build for one niche doesn’t translate to another. As a result, you start from scratch with each new client.

That’s 10x the work.

For example, building relationships with people you can reach out to with link requests takes time, effort, and energy. And every time you onboard a client in a new niche, those existing relationships likely won’t work because they’re unrelated.

So, you have to build those relationships again.

From scratch.

Without a niche, you’ll also struggle to become an expert in a particular industry. And that limits the kind of results you can get your clients. After all, the big wins you can get for a client come from truly knowing their industry.

6. Focus on ROI (Not SEO Jargon)

Traffic, impressions, bounce rate, and all the other marketing jargon we use to communicate success don’t mean much to business owners and executives. They want to make money.

To them, SEO is an investment.

Executives want to know what kind of return they can expect. You need to know their current conversion metrics, the state of their funnel, and how much organic traffic they get. You also need to know how much traffic their competitors get.

With that data, you can run a traffic projection analysis that can forecast an estimated ROI on their investment in SEO.

Yes. SEO can generate value in a lot of different ways. It’s not just about conversions. It’s about supporting the sales team, expanding brand awareness, and establishing trust.

Still, most clients will look to ROI to justify their advertising budget.

7. Set Up Goal Tracking From Day One

Before starting any campaign, you need to have a baseline of data. Hopefully, your client has some form of analytics on their site. If not, you need to get it up and running ASAP.

You also want to track the right goals and events.

It’s best to have a call with the client, the decision maker, and (preferably) a member of the sales team.

On the call, you need to outline metrics your client will use to gauge success. After the call, make sure you have goal tracking in place that measures those exact metrics.

It also helps to record the call. Your team can use it as a reference in the future. And you can refer to it later on if there are any disagreements.

8. Use Templates and SOPs

You cannot give your best effort to clients if your business is grossly inefficient.

As an agency owner, templates and standard operating procedures (SOPs) are your best friend. These allow you to rapidly build out high-quality assets for your clients without a lot of time.

Our agency has everything built out in our project management system.

We simply launch a new project from a template that has entire workflows already built out. After, we assign tasks to team members.

Each task has videos, screenshots, and guidance to help them rapidly knockout client work.

SOPs provide further guidance and training for more complex tasks. We also use SOPs for contractor onboarding, sales calls, content briefs, blog writing, and more.

Without templates and SOPs, your team will waste a lot of time figuring out how to get started. With them, they’ll rapidly knock out basic tasks and have more time for strategic thought on accounts. Plus, they’ll have more bandwidth allowing you to scale your organization.

9. Prioritize Team Communication

Communication can make or break an agency.

Without clear guidelines on tasks, your team members can end up wasting hours working on a task incorrectly. Worse, they can feel isolated and frustrated.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a fine line between overcommunicating and micromanaging.

Don’t fall on the other side of the horse.

As a remote-based agency, we go through the extra pains of clear communication. Every task someone assigns must have all the information upfront (due date, specs, deliverables, file location, etc.) While it may take a few extra minutes, it prevents frustrating mistakes.

Don’t micromanage, though.

Trust your team. Don’t waste time checking in before due dates to ask if they’re working on assignments or telling them things they already know.

And if you’re worried about deadlines, pad them. Scheduling things to be due a day or two early. This gives you a buffer and reduces stress.

You also need to be responsive.

If your team members reach out to you directly, you need to get back to them quickly. The longer they wait, the less supported they feel. And that can damage your workplace culture.

10. Don’t Overly on One Client

Eggs. Don’t keep them in one basket.

You should earn revenue from several different clients. Client concentration is when a client makes up anywhere between 10% - 20% of your revenue, depending on your industry.

This puts you at risk.

Client concentration can decrease the value of your business, put you at risk for devastating cashflow issues, and take away your leverage when negotiating rates.

Plus, it’s harder to tell a majority client “no” because they make up so much of your revenue. This scope creep can pull resources away from your other clients, damaging those relationships and your margins.

Instead, you need stronger positioning based on a diverse collection of clients. This empowers you to stick to your guns and provide the best service you can (and one that’s aligned with your goals, mission, and vision).

Otherwise, you’ll keep saying “yes” to random requests until your business is essentially an outsourced marketing department for your client.

11. Fire Clients When It’s Necessary

You need to know when it’s time to walk away from a client.

If a prospect or current client exhibits any of the following, you need to fire them:

  • Poor Product or Service: No amount of SEO can fix a garbage product or service.
  • No Trust: Clients that push back on every post you create, overly criticize your writers, and constantly second-guess your strategy make it impossible to get results.
  • Bad Culture Fit: Avoid clients that don’t align with your business goals, missions, or company culture. You can only fake it for so long. And everyone will resent you for trying.

It can be hard to turn away money (especially if you started up as a freelancer and are used to the feast-or-famine mindset).

Still, it’s better to protect the integrity of your business and team than to let clients damage the foundation of your business. And It’s not worth burning out your staff or risking other client relationships to hold onto a bad client.

12. Drink The Kool-Aid

If you’re a digital marketer, you need a great website and incredible content. If you don’t have that, how can you expect your clients to invest in SEO?

There are a lot of great SEO agencies out there that are horrible at marketing themselves.

Their websites are nothing more than a digital business card (if that). They may have a few failed attempts at content. But, that’s about it.

Don’t be that SEO agency.

Creating content that stands out in the SEO niche is hard because our market is supersaturated. There are a lot of great marketers and businesses out there that own the space.

As a result, it can be easy to give up and think you need to focus your efforts elsewhere.


Instead, create content that fits your niche specifically. You may not rank for those big keywords with tons of volume, but you’ll craft the assets your prospects and clients need.

Meet Ranktracker

The All-in-One Platform for Effective SEO

Behind every successful business is a strong SEO campaign. But with countless optimization tools and techniques out there to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Well, fear no more, cause I've got just the thing to help. Presenting the Ranktracker all-in-one platform for effective SEO

We have finally opened registration to Ranktracker absolutely free!

Create a free account

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You can test new strategies that can benefit your clients. Or, you can train team members on processes, and even give them a platform to create thought leadership.

How to Implement Organizational Change

Change is hard. But, it’s necessary if you want to increase your margins, decrease churn, and grow your SEO agency.

Adjusting your mindset will take time and resources.

If you have the budget, you can either expand your team’s hours to help support you on these tasks or bring on a contractor to provide support. Alternatively, you may need to spend a few nights and weekends getting your agency back on track.

Still, the investment will pay off as long you follow through and work toward building a leaner, more scalable agency. In the end, your team and your clients will thank you.

James De Roche

James De Roche

Managing Partner, Lead Comet

James De Roche is the managing partner at Lead Comet, an SEO company that focuses specifically on B2B organizations. He’s obsessed with finding more efficient ways to drive revenue through organic search for growing businesses.

Link: Lead Comet

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