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Starting An SEO Company
Starting an SEO company (correctly) is a lot harder than you might first think. Let's assume for a moment that you're at the stage where you're launching the company, whether that means you'll be starting a full-scale SEO company or going it alone is up to you.
Here's a quick summary of what you've got: a new site with no links, history and probably light on content. You've likely got a name with very little brand recognition and an SEO (you) that probably has little in the way of recognition as well. If these don't apply to you then this article likely doesn't either, but if any of this sounds familiar then hopefully you'll find some helpful advice here.
Just to give you a bit of an idea of the perspective being taken in this article's writing, I started an SEO company back in 2004. While the company now enjoys solid rankings and traffic from a variety of sources as well as additional other marketing avenues - this obviously wasn't always the case.
When the company was first started I had a budget of, well - I had enough to cover the hosting and about a month without a wage. So you can imagine that it was pretty important to come up with a strategy that included getting business today and also promoted working towards building growth down the road. If you're just launching your own SEO company, you're likely in a very similar situation. Here's are some things and tactics to consider …
Getting Yourself Noticed
Getting yourself noticed can be hard in the beginning. It can sometimes seem like that saying, "it takes money to make money," except more like, "it takes a name to make a name." There are a few tactics that, if done properly, can help you get your name in front of your prospective clients.
Entering SEO contests such as the classic nigritude ultramarine or more recent yicrosoft directory is a great way to test your skills, get some publicity, win some prizes and build a bit of a reputation that will help with some other tactics we'll cover later. There are pretty much always SEO contests of some sort going on. By doing your rounds on the forums and running searches every now and then you'll be able to quickly uncover what they are.
And as a bonus, even if you don't win - this gives you the opportunity to deeply study the tactics of the winner knowing the domain ages, the backlinks, the onsite elements, etc.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, writing articles (and by articles, I mean good - informative articles) is a great way to get yourself known by both your potential clients and those in the publishing world (who, let's remember, are the ones who control whether your works get read by your prospective clients).
Often it can be challenging to write for your potential clients AND for the editors. For your potential clients you want to write something that shows you're en expert but without "giving away the farm". The editors and publishers have a different take on things. They're not there to sell you business, they was readers and that means they need to provide valuable content. Basically, you might not have to give away the farm but you will have to say good-bye to a few of the chickens.
There are three great point that need to be understood when you're pondering how precious that nugget of insight you have into the way the engines work:
- You're not going to cover everything in one article. Even if Matt Cutts was point-forming all the secretes to high rankings he has stored in his head - he could NEVER do it in a couple thousand words. You're writing an article. Not an encyclopedia so relax - if everything you know about SEO can be given away in 2000 words perhaps you're starting the wrong kind of company.
- Tomorrow things will be different. SEO isn't just knowing what you know today, it's testing and keeping up, and reading so you know what's coming tomorrow. Even if you gave away everything (let's pretend that's possible for a second) things will be different in a year.
- And perhaps the most important point, your clients don't have time! The reason someone hires an SEO is that their time is more valuable doing what they do and they're rather hire a professional SEO than learn the skill set. I don't do dentistry on my kids, they don't promote their own website.
Attending conferences such as Search Engine Strategies and SMX is a great way to get known. The specific conference and it's location will influence the types of contacts you'll make but they're always valuable.
For example, at Search engine strategies San Jose I've always tended to meet and mix with other SEO's, publishers and other assorted geeks. At the same convention in New York you're more likely to meet business people and company executives there for research and to find consultants. Two very different groups - both valuable in their own way.
In the end, if you're looking to start your own SEO company it's going to take a variety of tactics and some patience to really see the benefits. The period before you are able to secure a name for yourself or attain solid rankings is a difficult one but which can be overcome with patience and hard work.
If you can use tactics such as well-written articles to get yourself business in the short term, attend conferences and enter contests to build a name for yourself in the community (which is going to help get your articles syndicated much quicker) and you'll have the recipe for a successful venture in the world of SEO companies.
Note: It's important to note that this article is written based on my own personal experiences. While I and the Beanstalk company were successful - there are other ways to do it and any advice noted above should not be held as the "recipe for success". Before starting a business you need to consider all angles including laws, your own personal skills, funding, etc. We were starting it with very little funds, a solid skill set, and a strong understanding of how to market an Internet company based on previous work experience. You need to consider your starting point and skills before engaging in any new business.
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