When you build an agency, the one thing that you need to do is you need to hire the right people to help in its growth. The only way to grow from being a start-up to a multi-millionaire company is through staffing and resourcing.
Your staff is one of the most important resources in the agency, and without their help, your organization will not be able to grow. They are the ones who will either build or destroy the reputation and image of your agency.
The control of hiring the staff remains in the hands of the agency; hence, this decision should be made correctly. When you hire someone, you need to focus on many different factors. Hiring the wrong person will create a very bad effect on the performance of the company.
Along with this, you need to stay on top of the latest changes in your field and hire people based on that change. You cannot hire someone with age-old ideas and plan to take your company forward. The person you hire should be aware of the latest trends in the competitive market and work accordingly.
Staffing is a very important management function that includes hiring, training, managing, and tracking the right people for your agency. Molding the hired people into a capable team of workers who can meet the needs of your agency is extremely important.
In this module, you will learn about the fundamentals of staffing and resourcing. You will also know how to track, manage, and hire people for your company. In addition to this, you will be made aware of the different organizational structures that you can follow for your agency.
The knowledge from this module will not only help you in hiring and managing suitable people but also let you follow a structured plan for the growth of your agency.
Job Titles and Roles Required In an Agency
Agency hierarchy is when your staff members are divided into different groups based on their responsibilities. For any standard agency, there are three main kinds of hierarchies. These hierarchies can have different names based on the kind of agency it is.
The first level of the agency consists of the executives who are your CEOs and COOs. The next level is the management level, which is the senior managers, senior strategists, etc. Underneath them is the executive level, which consists of people who carry out different tasks related to your agency.
The people at the executive level look after the complete functions of the organization. Here, they take care of the company policies, the strategies, alliances, and other managerial tasks that can only be handled by the top management.
The management level consists of team seniors, senior strategists, and such who plan out the tasks that would be carried out by the execution level staff. Mid-management works as a medium of communication between the top management and the low-management.
The last level is the execution level, which consists of SEO strategists, content writers, and other staff, which carries out the tasks given by the mid-management.
Execution Level of an Agency
As already mentioned, the people at the execution level execute the tasks needed by the top and middle management. There are quite a few roles in this level of management, and together they form the most important part of an agency.
The staff that you hire for this role would be in charge of delivering needed services as per different contracts. In an SEO agency, this role is generally given to the SEO strategist. When you are initially starting your agency, all you need from your strategies are in-depth SEO knowledge.
As your agency keeps growing, you also need to keep up with the changes. Here you will have to hire someone who not only has SEO knowledge but is also specialized in other key areas such as content marketing, tactical SEO, link building, or any other SEO area.
Account Managers and Project Managers
The job of AM/PM would be to handle the clients and carry out the necessary communications. They will be managing tasks as well as tending to the needs of the clients. Whether it is scheduling tasks, sending deliverables, taking care of client requests, or even sending emails, the AM/PM has to do it all.
You need someone who can multitask and is quite responsible. People working for this role need to be quick on their feet and should also have good communication skills. They should be able to pass on the needs of the clients to the designated people and get the work done on time.
Another very important role is sales, which help to bring in new clients into the agency. The growth of your business is measured using different parameters, one of them being the number of clients that are associated with you.
The work of the sales department is to bring new contracts through different techniques. They will also focus on networking proposals, pipeline development, outreach, and other necessary tasks that could bring in new prospects to the agency.
Without a strong sales team, you cannot grow your client base.
One of the most overlooked departments is the marketing department, which is a very necessary part of an agency. Marketing can help you build the brand, demand generation, and extend your reach.
You can initially start this yourself and then hire someone dedicatedly for this position when your agency expands. Marketing involves different activities such as website marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, advertisement marketing, and many others.
Marketing and sales revolve around each other. Both of these departments work in sync to contribute to the development of your business. Hence, with the proper marketing techniques, you will be able to generate more sales.
Another very important department of any agency is the finance department. Any transaction that occurs in your agency should be recorded. Without a proper financial record, you will not be able to keep track of the money that is going out and coming in.
The work of the finance department is to manage the daily transactions made by the agency. Whether it was budgeting, forecasting, bookkeeping, or any other financial activity, the department would handle everything.
When the agency is small, the records can be kept by you. However, you do have to hire more and more people as the agency keeps growing.
SEO Agency Organization Chart
The first level of the agency is the executive level or top management. Generally, in an SEO agency, you can have a CEO, CFO, and COO. CEO is the Chief Executive Officer, CFO is the Chief Financial Officer, and COO is the Chief Operating Officer. The functions of each of these positions are different, and not all agencies have three of these positions together.
The next level consists of the Director of SEO, Director of Links, and the Director of Content. As is evident from the names, the roles and responsibilities of these positions are specific to different departments.
Under the director, the level is the Senior SEO Strategist, Senior Content Strategies, and the Senior Links Strategist. Working under these for their specific departments are the SEO strategist, content strategist, and links strategist. The last level of the hierarchy consists of analysts from different departments.
Depending on the kind of SEO agency you want to build, there will be changes in the position names and the roles of the staff. Here I have provided you with a general idea of what an SEO agency looks like and which are the positions that you need to focus on for its smooth operation and growth.
When it comes to my agency, I add one more layer to my organization, which is the support level. Here I bring in offshore staff for the required departments. The senior management level below the director level is also cut out from my structure.
How to Build the Organization Structure?
When you start an organization, you cannot hire people to handle different departments. The thing about a start-up is that you need to handle everything on your own. Starting from service delivery to finance, you need to know all the departments.
If you are starting the agency with a few other people, then that is all the help you will get. In the beginning, your agency will not have the required funds to hire different people suitable for the job.
As your agency keeps expanding, you need to establish different departments. It would be hard for you to manage the work alone. You will need people for service execution, management, sales, marketing, finance, and other responsibilities.
That is when the salary factor comes into view. Here you can establish a monthly payment structure for your staff instead of an annual package. What happens with the monthly package is that the management becomes easier, and you will be able to change people if you are not satisfied with your staff performance.
When to Start Hiring?
If you are unsure of when to start hiring, then the right answer to this would be the moment when you feel overwhelmed with the workload. You do not have to hire people until and unless the workload increases, and you are unable to take care of it alone.
Remember, hiring someone means you are investing in your company. If you can make that kind of investment, then you can start the hiring process.
What Position to Hire For First?
There is no hard and fast rule as to which position you need to fill first. The choice for this would be different for every agency. The hiring process depends on your requirement. Simply, you should hire someone for the job that you hate doing yourself.
To be on the safe side, you can hire people for the managerial position since they take over most of the tasks that are needed to run an agency. If you are not comfortable doing SEO related work, then you can hire an analyst.
When you divide the responsibilities between different people, then you can focus on more important tasks that need your attention specifically.
What Should You Pay Initially?
The payment for the first hire should be on the lower side but should also be able to justify the experience and knowledge level of the person. You will not get good quality staff if you try to keep a very low payment structure.
The payment would differ for every organization and would solely depend on your capacity. Keep in mind that you may have to train people to fit into the role that you want them to play in your agency.
Where Should You Hire From – Local, Offshore, or Outsource?
You can choose different talents in different positions. Do not offshore talent for a full role and just give them specific tasks that you need to be finished within a deadline. If you need people for communication-related tasks, then you should hire local people.
Any communication position should be filled with people who know the local language and are based in your office location. Do not attempt to hire offshore talent for communications. You can outsource people for bookkeeping and finance if you wish.
What To Look For In The People You Hire?
This depends on the person that you are hiring and the kind of organizational culture that you want to build. While some people like to keep the environment strictly work-related, some people want their employees to have a fun and engaging work experience.
Make sure that the person that you hire has similar personality traits as you. This will help in better communication between you and your staff. Also, keep into account the experience and knowledge of the people before you hire them.
Where Can You Find The Right People?
(Source : Google Images)
Technology has broadened the channels from where you can hire people. There are many social media channels, such as LinkedIn, and job hiring sites such as Upwork and other networking events. You will find hires everywhere since people are always looking for jobs.
Hourly Model for Billing
Along with the hiring process, there is another aspect that you need to focus on, which is the pricing model. The pricing model that you choose for your agency will create a huge impact. You will be able to make out your incomes and expenditures in the form of profits, salary, and such.
It can be really hard to find the pricing model which suits your agency’s needs. You can follow monthly as well as hourly billing. Though monthly billing is what most agencies follow, I vouch for the hourly model.
The best thing about the hourly model is you can make out what you are paying your staff per hour. This will help you determine what you should be billing. SEO agencies should go for tracking and billing hourly due to the nature of their services.
You can manage your resources better if you pay people for the time that they are working. Fixing a flat monthly rate may not work for you since it becomes hard to determine whether the work done is worth the money you are paying.
When you pay hourly, you get full utilization of the rate and also gain internal profits. Another major thing is that paying hourly means you get paid for all the work that you do.
For many SEO and advertising agencies getting a flat rate from clients can mean extra services that the client thinks is included in the package. Charging hourly for any project gives you the chance to fulfill the needs of the client and also get paid for whatever work that you do.
Why Should You Opt For Hourly Billing?
There are various benefits of opting for hourly billing. First and foremost, this method of billing creates a clear relationship with the prospect. When you approach a prospect with a project and decide on the payment, they will very well know what they are paying for.
In an hourly model, the prospect is paying for your time since both performance, and value-based payment becomes very subjective. It becomes very hard for the prospect to assess your payments when you opt for these subjective parameters.
The model is very simple and straightforward and eradicates any payment related to confusion between you and the client. All you need to do is agree on a time based on the kind of project that you are doing.
Secondly, you can quantify your work and keep track of the results. Through hourly payment, you will be able to ensure that you get faster results. You can calculate the hours that you can put in a month and charge according to that.
Before you start any project, make sure that you clear out the expectations with your prospect. Form a project plan and ensure that you follow through with the plan. This creates more value for you as compared to monthly billing.
Scaling Your Agency
You can effectively scale your agency through hourly billing. This helps you make a calculated structure for your hiring process, expenditure, margins, etc. There are certain key performance indicators that you can calculate using hourly billing.
Revenue per Seat
There may be numerous staff in your organization, and keeping track of each staff’s revenue generation can be a tiresome task. When you follow the hourly pricing method, this becomes very easy. You can see how much revenue each of your staff is generating every hour.
With this, it becomes easy to calculate the performance of the staff. You can differentiate the ones that are actually working as opposed to the ones whose performances are not up to the mark. This helps you understand the worth of the employee for the agency.
The utilization rate is one of the most important KPI that every agency should focus on. You can calculate this rate by hours billed divided by the hours that are available for billing. This means that you can find how much each person is available for work.
It helps you to make many important management decisions. You can determine whether you need more people in your organization. You must ensure whether your employees are overworked or not.
If they are over-utilized, then you need to bring in new people to help them out. In the same way, if your employees are underutilized, then you need to ensure that they are used to the extent of their full potential.
This KPI is what we derive from calculating the utilization rate and for when you need to point out the overworked employees. For them, you need to find new employees who can share the workload. However, you do need to calculate the number of people that you need to hire to keep the workload balanced.
How to Calculate Hourly Rate?
You can find this using a tool, but here is just an overview of what parameters you need to take into account to calculate your hourly rate. Firstly, you have to gather all your expenses, which include your rent, tools used, and any other monthly payments.
You will then record the total billable hours. For this, you will have to consider your vacation days, sick days, weekends, holidays, and daily hours. Generally, daily working hours are considered to be 6 per day. Some people may also go for a maximum of 8 hours, depending on their work structure.
Another expense, such as the tax rates and your margin, is also taken into account for this calculation. You can include your profit in this margin. Once done, you calculate the different parameters and find out your hourly rate.
If your billable rate is not up to your expectation, then you can make adjustments to it. You can make these changes based on your work experience and the performance that you have benchmarked for yourself. The rate that you ask for should be worth the work that you do.
Forecasting Utilization and Profitability
The main aim of creating billing data is to make financial forecasting based on different parameters. You can start with the number of clients you have per month, followed by the monthly retainer fee each month (of the total clients), monthly payroll, and expenses.
Using these, you calculate the gross profit. For example, your retainer revenue for the month of August is $30,000. Your monthly payroll is $33,693, and other expenses are $2998. Here your gross profit will be negative, -$6691 to be exact. This means that you have suffered a loss of the mentioned amount in the month of August.
You can calculate the gross margin, which in this case is -22%. You can change the number of clients, total revenue, and expenses to change the gross profit and gross margin. Record the billable hours needed by the project and the hourly rate.
Including details about your monthly expenses along with the monthly payroll of all your staff will keep all the data under one roof. Calculate the utilization rates using this data so that you can know if your team members are working in the right manner.
Building a Forecasting Template
Here you will learn how to set up the template to keep track of the above-mentioned data. There are three main metrics that you need to focus on – utilization rate, billable hourly rate, and profitability. You will be calculating these metrics using the data.
Get started by creating four tabs, which are Clients, Roles, Team, and Expenses.
In the ‘Clients’ tab, insert the name of your clients, their project duration (put start month and end the month on different rows), and the retainer revenue per month.
The team roles, job title, role type, and salaries are mentioned in the ‘Roles’ tab. Add the different members of your team in the ‘Teams’ tab. You can also include any future hires along with their start dates since they will also be a part of the forecast later on.
Include the date of the different expenses that you would be making per month. For expenses that are one-time, the end date will be noted one month from the start date. Create a ‘Project Plan’ tab where you will be setting up plans or each new prospect.
These are the data you need to calculate the utilization rate. You can set up a different color for them to help you track the differences. For example, set orange for low, green for good, and red for over. If you see that a particular employee has red for longer periods, then this is the time to hire someone new.
How to Track Hours?
When you work on a project, you need to track the hours that each employee is working for. This helps you understand who is working more than they should and which employee is not putting in their complete efforts.
(Source : https://clockify.me)
Here, I have mentioned a tool Clockify which helps to track the hours of any project. You do not have to use this particular software; you can also use Google Sheets if you wish. The main aim is to track the hours of each employee for their own benefit. You can discuss the results in any weekly meeting to assess the performance of your employees.
Rebuild Your Project Plans Using Hours
You can build a sheet using which you can take into account each task and the hours that it would require to finish those tasks. This is quite helpful when you are building a project plan.
Not only will you be able to determine the hourly expenses, but you will also have a record of the tasks that you need to complete. You can use this data to calculate the utilization rate of the different employees and track their performance.
Create records for different project plans and track the expenses and time for each employee who is a part of the project. This will include people belonging to all levels of management. This data is extremely crucial to ensure that the project goes smoothly.
How to Build Sales Projections with Hourly Data?
The importance of tracking hourly data will be felt when you need to build sales projections. Through the proper assessment of this data, you can understand the time it will take to complete a particular project. Not only that, you can pick up specific tasks that may be needed for some other project.
You can effectively use this data for future proposals, which include the same tasks. Use this as a pitch for your next client, showing them a sample of your strategy. The client will be impressed by your planning, and this can help you get the project very easily.
The communication in such a case would be much clearer. The client will already have an idea of what you would be provided along with the rate for the tasks. You will not have to explain to them your services separately.
What Do You Send The Clients?
One thing to remember while sending your clients the proposal using hourly data is that you do not have to send them the hours billable. What you can do in this case is to calculate the monthly retainer for the proposal. This means you will tell the client your monthly fee, but this data would be built on the hourly data.
Every month you can bill for the hours that you have spent working or can also give them an average amount. This is how a retainer project works. You will have to keep track of your hours, which is internal data. You can calculate the retainer fee based on the internal data, which the client does not have to know.
Sending the clients the total number of hours you will be working for is not necessary. The only time you will send them is when they ask for the data. However, sometimes when you bill the exact hours, the amount can be more than what you actually bill the client.
Businesses are always mindful of their expenditures. Given the ever-evolving and competitive market, a business owner will look for various ways to cut costs. Even top-tier firms are tempted to slash digital marketing costs if an SEO agency isn’t delivering exactly what they need.
Companies outsource SEO agencies to increase traffic, keyword rankings, and more. However, as an SEO agency, you have to constantly be at the top of your game to keep your clients satisfied.
Every client has different requirements, communication styles, website ideas, and levels of flexibility. It is, in fact, harder to find a new client than to retain an old one. A client will want to stay with you if you provide value, desirable output, as well as honest feedback.
If your client’s website has a fall in traffic or does not attain a high SEO ranking, you risk losing this client. Luckily enough, we have done some extensive research to help you extend your SEO contracts.
This module details ways in which you can understand your clients and their business to pave the way for an extended SEO contract. You will learn everything from analyzing to strategizing and implementation of these steps. So, let’s get started!
Where to begin?
The initiation process of anything is always confusing. It is vital to take well-planned steps after a detailed analysis of your client’s business as well as current SEO status. Wondering how to kickstart this analysis? Take a look at these 3 easy steps.
1. Plan Early
It might sound tough to extend a 6-12 month contract to a 12-24 month one, but early planning can take you places. The first step to ideal planning is appropriate timing. Your planning process needs to start at least 3-4 months before the estimated completion of your SEO contract.
Secondly, effective communication plays a huge role in your analysis. You need to speak to specific people to get specific data. For instance, you can collaborate with the business development team to give you a better look into the future opportunities that a particular company might have. Additionally, the business development team can team up with the operations team to see where a client stands.
If the client is happy, then look for things you can do to increase his satisfaction. If he’s unhappy, you need to check where you’re lacking. Finally, the sales and the delivery team need to work in tandem.
The delivery team needs to find out the gaps in the client’s campaign. Meanwhile, the sales team builds on those gaps to come up with the next pitch for the client. Planning early can make this whole process much simpler and accurate.
2. Understand your Client
As we mentioned earlier, every client communicates differently. You need to understand this style and build a solid rapport with your client. For instance, if you have worked with a client for over 7 months, you’re sure to have built some sort of relationship with them.
This relationship helps you keep up with the client’s needs. A client may ask for things like an increase in website traffic, deliverables, content creation ideas, keyword rankings, etc. It is important to develop a detailed customer report to meet these expectations.
If you plan to download the Google Analytics Report and send it to your client, trust us, it will nullify all your efforts. You need to create a custom report using both Artificial Intelligence and manual research.
This report should be crisp, have necessary numerical data, as well as show exactly how the business is doing. The key here is to be brutally honest. Portray exactly where you succeeded and point out your shortcomings. This way, your client will trust you to make the right decision for his company’s campaign.
Read the next step to understand how you can combine AI and manual analysis to give you the data you need.
3. Acquire Useful Data
AI and manual analysis work hand in hand to produce the data you require to plan a future SEO strategy. Artificial Intelligence or AI tools extract data to show the real numbers behind traffic progressions. Additionally, AI looks into goal completions, e-commerce sales, etc.
(Source: Google Images)
Manual research enables you to look into more intricate aspects like tasks completed, links acquired, as well as content built. This manual research can be done through SEMRush reports, Google Analytics, MOZ reports, Google Search Console, etc.
AI and manual research combined can give you an accurate campaign report. This report helps you pitch an SEO strategy for the next phase to your client.
It is very important to curate detailed and precise reports because clients cannot be underestimated. Some clients may know everything about SEO and SERPs, while some may be clueless about the entire campaign. Either way, it is safe to stick to an ethical and dedicated process.
This brings us to the next segment, where we’ll talk about hosting an end-of-contract meeting. This discussion will focus on how to pitch to your client about the extension of the SEO contract.
Pitching an SEO Contract Extension to your Client
Your client needs to know that you’re already preparing a future strategy for his campaign. This requires you to schedule a meeting with your client after your campaign’s SEO analysis. The first step is to be clear about your project plan.
You need to start by explaining the current campaign progress. If the SEO figures are doing well, you can tell the client how you plan to maintain or better these rankings. On the other hand, if things are not so smooth, communicate to your client exactly where you faltered.
The key to getting the client to understand your future potential is to have control over the flow of the conversation. You need to ensure that you give the client a solid assurance of your project plan’s success.
One thing you must remember is that you cannot present the initial pitch to a client and promise to deliver the same thing all over again. You need to think out of the box to come up with fresh and new ideas to impress your client.
Once you’re done explaining the plan to the client, and you see that he’s interested, slide in a firm and confident, “Can I send you the quote?” We’re sure that by following the analysis method dedicatedly, you’d have come up with a solid new campaign idea. The client is sure to see your efforts and consider an extended contract.
4 Effective Ways to Extend an SEO Contract
Here are 4 ways in which you can approach your client for an SEO contract extension.
This is a pretty effective step for clients that have relaxed budgets and are open-minded. This method works best on low-maintenance clients who hand over the charge to you while they sit back.
The ‘restart’ strategy focuses on the idea of resetting the campaign. The internet experiences whirlwind changes almost every single day. These changes urge SEO agencies to accommodate new ideas for campaigns.
Now, if you’re thinking a little tweak here and there will do the job for you, that’s a big fat negative. Companies that invest freely also like to see visible results. You cannot expect a client to spend hundreds of dollars on you for a mediocre SEO campaign.
This strategy works brilliantly on clients whose businesses are doing fairly well because all you have to do is refresh the SEO campaign with newer ideas. These new ideas can comprise fresh content strategies, advertising plans, or even creative campaign ideas.
2. Cool Down
This method is for clients that are mindful of their budget. Some clients have financial restrictions and do not want to spend a hefty amount on marketing and SEO. This method requires a different analytical approach.
You can approach the client with a plan that includes a slightly different version of the initial pitch. Some campaigns don’t require being refreshed to succeed. Keeping this in mind, you can pitch newer content ideas and other possibilities to the client.
Three things you can do to get the cooldown strategy going are:
● Constantly introducing new topics
This will let your client know that even at a lesser budget, you’re putting in efforts to keep him satisfied. Additionally, this will increase your chance of getting a contract extension.
● Link generation
This includes offering your client details about how you will analyze the competitor’s backlinks, devise guest blogging strategies, improve the social media campaign, build infographics, and more to generate new links.
● Monthly report
Your client needs to know that you’re constantly working for their campaign. The best way to keep your client informed is to provide him monthly reports. These reports should be brief, to-the-point, and should reveal accurate SEO statistics.
If you provide complete SEO services like UX/UI design, business development, Facebook Ads, Web Page optimization, etc., this method is for you. This lets you take a break from the tiring SEO process to come up with other ways to add value to a contract.
You can use this step to take your client’s attention away from SEO aspects like keyword ranking, SERP status, link generation analysis, and traffic stats. This method will allow you to pitch fresh ideas to the client to boost the campaign quality.
You can offer to curate video content, engaging infographics, Facebook Ads, an optimized social media campaign, and other design work. This will not only add positive value to your pitch but also let you find different ways to effectively meet the SEO requirements.
You can also use this method to convince your client that their campaign needs optimization in terms of content, design, and other aspects. You may also add that these changes can bring positive changes to their SEO rankings.
Most importantly, taking a break from SEO can help you bounce back from your plan’s failures and give you better ideas for the future. Once you’re back on track, you pitch new SEO-related ideas to your client to better your chances of an extension.
Walk away. Yes, you read that right. Clients and SEO agencies cannot work towards different goals and have conflicting ideas if they want to succeed. Sometimes, finding the right fit can be harder than you imagined.
Some clients prefer using their ideas for a campaign than to give SEO agencies a free hand with their work. Such clients can get irritating and over-demanding, which makes it impossible to work for and with them.
If you’re stuck with such a client, it is better not to initiate an extension because it is pointless. Rigid clients cost you precious time, energy, money, and effort. These clients will see no trouble in ordering tons of rework even if you put in your 100% the first time itself.
Well, walking away is the smartest option in such cases. You might lose a client or two, but you’ll save the time and effort to look for new and better fitting clients.
With this, we conclude our module on how to extend your SEO contracts. We’re positive that this module has given you a clear picture of the struggles of the retention process. However, this module has also detailed how easy it is to retain a client of you think, re-think, refresh, and implement.
Furthermore, clients hire you not just to increase web page traffic, drive new leads, and increase SEO rankings but also to make the optimization process effective and organized. We hope you remember that it is difficult and costs a lot more to get a new client than to keep an existing one happy.
Remember that you need to research well, stay transparent, plan early, and communicate effectively with your client. Another key factor is your communication within your agency’s setup. Your client’s needs and your team’s efforts work hand in hand to give you the results you desire.
So, once you read this module, review and analyze the steps, and watch your SEO contracts extend to longer terms than you ever expected
Before we dig into the process involved in monthly SEO reporting with Google Data Studio, we have to understand what a monthly SEO report is.
A monthly SEO report is a document that project managers usually create to assess the project’s growth in a month. As you quickly assess this at the beginning of the next month, you can have better plans for that month.
With all the updates you provide with this, your clients will get clarity about the amount of work the agency is doing. You can assess ranking progress, SEO health, organic traffic progress, backlinks, etc. with a monthly SEO report.
In short, a monthly SEO report can be described as an overview of a website’s monthly performance in search engines that focuses on organic traffic, rankings, and other such metrics.
Similarly, local SEO reporting can be defined as assessing the keyword trends and campaign growth locally instead of globally.
There are several tools online that you can use to check your monthly and local SEO report. But only go for those that provide the three important things – growth, insights, and recommendations.
Five Phases of SEO Campaign
Whenever you carry out a digital project, it is led by an SEO campaign. You plan to optimize a website or page so that it improves in terms of Google SEO rankings. It is a long term process involving elements such as SEO analysis, keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, etc.
Even though the end results of an SEO campaign are always unknown, you can plan your efforts to almost reach your goals. Your hard work might also land you into the trending pages of Google SEO ranking.
To improve your SEO rankings, you can follow the five phases of an SEO campaign, or popularly known as The Blueprint. Agencies follow this pattern every month to race further in the SEO competition.
Learning – When you begin your project, you start with your research. Become familiar with the previous month’s report and work from there.
Improving – With the help of a monthly and local SEO report, keep your pros consistent, and work on eliminating the cons. Ideate on plans that will work for your SEO campaign.
Building – Once you have reflected on your report, it is time to put those ideas into action. Make use of your best accessible resources to create a campaign that will woo the consumers.
Promoting – With a campaign ready in hand, be ready to distribute it across the platforms. Maximum promotion is directly proportional to maximum reach.
Evaluating – Now comes the important step of all. At the end of every month, your SEO campaign should be thoroughly evaluated, especially if it is active for a few months. Evaluating will bring you factual information about where your SEO campaign stands.
Understanding Phase 5: Evaluating the SEO Campaign
Like we said, evaluating is a parameter to know how well your SEO campaign is doing and why. The monthly SEO report will also show you the campaign’s weaknesses for you to work on.
This phase holds great importance because to improve on your SEO campaign, you have to understand the faults in it. Note that the quantity of faults does not determine whether the campaign is substandard. In fact, no campaign is perfect, and it is made with mere imperfections.
That being said, evaluating your monthly and local SEO report will bring awareness and allow you to ideate on how to reduce these faults over time. There are several components to take into consideration when it comes to evaluating. However, these two hold great importance.
Monthly SEO Reporting
Evaluating a monthly and local SEO report is not that difficult when you understand what you need to look at. If you are new to SEO and do not understand the metric meanings, it is completely okay.
Everyone goes through this at some point. Nevertheless, take this time to understand those metrics. These will come in handy at the time of evaluating your monthly SEO report.
Once you do your homework, go ahead, and evaluate your monthly SEO reporting. Take some time to prioritize what weaknesses you need to work on.
SEO Closeout Reporting
An SEO closeout report is simply an overall version of the monthly SEO report. While the monthly and local SEO report digs deeper into the growth of the campaign, the SEO closeout report compiles it.
It consists of the overall SEO campaign goal, methodology, results, timelines, budgeting, and so on. There is not much that goes into a closeout report that is not included in the monthly report.
Overview: Evaluating Monthly SEO Reporting
Yes, we know that evaluating the SEO campaign itself is a phase, but evaluating has a process of its own. This is because many factors play a key role in helping you improve.
You might already be aware that Google Data Studio is a platform that caters to your evaluation needs to enhance customer engagement and drive traction. This is part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite alongside other products such as Tag Manager 360, Analytics 360, Attribution 360, Optimize 360, and Audience Center 360.
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Data Studio assists you with data analysis and visualization to create remarkable reports that you can store and share. To start working on data, you first have to gather data. Once you do this, you can then check for calculating, formatting, and reorganizing.
With prepared data, you can go ahead with visualizing on the canvas. The Data Studio has a feature where you can connect the dots and outline them in any manner. Moreover, you can share these reports and collaborate with your partners across seven seas.
Refer to The Blueprint template to understand the following features of the Google Data Studio. This will help you understand what to expect from the platform.
As you access the template, you will see your pages on the top-left part of the document. In total, there are four categories of pages that are carefully segregated for easy usage. You can go ahead and customize the required ones or remove some pages that are irrelevant.
All: Monthly Summary, Organic Traffic, and Breakdown, & Organic Landing Pages
The pages included in this category are monthly summary, organic traffic performance, organic traffic breakdown, and organic landing pages. The category can be used by any kind of website that requires lead generation, goal completion, or eCommerce. Most of these pages also have ‘last six months’ and ‘last 12 months’ visibility for you to distinguish.
ECommerce: Organic Revenue Dashboard, Breakdown & Demographics
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The eCommerce category includes organic revenue dashboard, breakdown, and demographics. You will only be able to use these pages in case your client uses Google Analytics. These can be used to track the eCommerce business’ revenue, transactions, and GA.
Goals: Organic Leads Dashboard, Breakdown, & Demographics
They have a similar layout to the ‘all’ category in terms of the monthly structures. Due to this, you can assess your long term trends as well. This will assist you with the goal set up for the client’s website.
Local: Location Breakdown
This category has only one page called location breakdown. You can use this for any website that is linked with a location page URL filter. For instance, if your landing path is linked to any local page, then this one will be relevant for your evaluation.
All: Keyword Visibility and Rankings, Target Keyword Rankings and Page Rankings, & Live Links and Content
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This category includes everything ‘keyword’. You can evaluate all your keyword rankings and trend changes in this section. If you publish content for a website, then the live links page is relevant to your evaluation.
Sub-Processes: Evaluating Monthly SEO Reporting
The evaluating phase further branches out to the monthly SEO reporting sub-processes. Here you can understand the basics of the Data Studio, ways to compose your report, and customize it with the platform’s features.
The first two steps involve reviewing the output in Google Data Studio and understanding the basics of the platform. In this module, we will be explaining these two as we guide you through the next steps. This will allow a deeper understanding of Data Studio’s features.
Wiring Up Your Data Studio
If you are aware of the Data Sources, then you know that you have to set-up four essential ones. These include the monthly keyword tracking, Google search console by URL and Query, and Google Analytics. Setting these up will help you to link your website together.
· Google Analytics Set-up
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Starting with the GSC set-up, make sure you make a copy of this data source before going further. Once you do this, change the name of the source to match your preference. Follow the below path to finish setting up Google Analytics,
Edit Connection > Account > Select Website > Reconnect > Apply
The following path links your website to display all the metrics. Later, you can format or change this data.
· Google Search Console (URL & Query Set-up)
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The set-up for GSC by URL and Query is the same. Similar to GA, you start by making a copy of the data source. Moving on, you change the name and follow the path given below,
Edit Connection > URL Impression > Select Website > Reconnect > Apply
As previously mentioned, you can format or change later.
· Keyword Tracking Set-up
Unlike GA and GSC, there is no native connector for keyword tracking. Instead, you compose the data in Google Sheets with the help of The Blueprint template. With the help of Sheets, you can present the data on Google Data Studio in your keyword ranking section.
Referring to the template, you can see sources included, such as monthly keyword tracking, target pages, campaign timespan, etc. To get started with the template, you can follow these simple steps.
- Set your keyword tracking service like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or others.
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- Further, obtain the data from any three time periods. This includes campaign start month, last month, current month, or such depending on your evaluation.
- Set the columns properly so that your monthly SEO reporting can function smoothly.
- Set a campaign month on your Google Sheets.
- Lastly, make a copy of your GA and GSC data sources, as previously explained.
Creating and Sharing Your Report
This is the most interesting and essential step. Although creating your monthly SEO report requires minimal set-up, here are some things you can do to make your job easier than before.
When you open Data Studio, you can use The Blueprint Template and replace the older data sources with the news ones that you created earlier.
Further, pull the data report into the platform. Since all of the platforms used earlier were native Google sources, the data will mostly fit perfectly. In any case that it does not, you can manually edit the settings.
Since your client will be receiving this, be sure to change the name to theirs. You can also change the logo if you are using the template. Do not worry about the date as the range changes automatically.
Once your charts show up, remember to look through the report thoroughly and fill out the monthly summary page. Check for the keyword tracking sources and update it monthly.
Update the live links and content page as well. You can either connect it with the client’s workbook, or you can change them manually.
For sharing the monthly SEO report, you can share links and collaborate after deleting irrelevant content for clients. You can also download PDF’s to share or store backlogs. While doing so, you have the option to select certain pages.
Before we end this module, here are some additional things to keep in mind. During GA and GSC set-up, be sure to go through the field changes. However, you can ignore semantic configuration. In regards to sharing the documents, Google Data Studio allows you to set a reminder as well.Even though you have the feature, try to avoid it at all costs simply because it will help you remember on your own every month. Make sure that you consistently update the data, or you might end up with loads of backlog.
It is very important for agencies to bag an SEO contract from clients to stay afloat. Most agencies see contracts as a secondary or tertiary requirement for their business. This approach is completely wrong and will not be fruitful in the future.
Creating content and successfully marketing it is not where your job ends. You will generate ample leads with the help of these processes. However, you need to keep convincing these leads to give you business. Until you have a signed SEO agency contract in your possession, the deal is never final.
You need to create contracts meticulously so that you minimize the chances of people finding loopholes in them. These SEO contracts template needs to have concrete ideas and principles that cannot be wavered easily.
As an SEO agency, it is your responsibility to draft up contracts that are favorable to both parties. These contracts need to benefit you and your client equally. This may sound tricky at first, but with proper consultation, you should have no trouble drafting up the perfect contract.
One of the biggest problems faced by SEO agencies is that their job is very dynamic. How can you draft a fixed contract for a job that is ever-changing? There are many ways to tackle this problem. One of them is following a very simple template that can change your life.
Continue reading to learn more about how you can create SEO contracts for agencies. From convincing your clients to closing the deals, you can brush up on all your skills here.
Everything you need to know about contracts as an SEO agency
There are 4 major steps to creating the perfect SEO agency contract for any SEO agency. Think of these steps as your holy grail to reaching new heights of success.
These four steps are only followed by the initial work you put into your agency. You first start by creating relevant content for your agency and marketing it to the world. This will help you generate leads that are highly beneficial for you.
After this, you make the prospective fill out a general form on your platform. You sieve through prospective clients in this way. In the end, you will only be left with people who are actually interested in your services.
You then get on a sales call with them or try to reach them through other methods. You must schedule a video call with them after the first sales call. This video call will allow you to understand if this client is worth your time and energy.
Then you can start using these techniques on them to convince them. Here are the 4 essentials that you absolutely need to know about.
1. Convincing leads
You begin by convincing the leads that you generated through your marketing ventures. Convincing them to provide you with business is the first and the most important step for your agency.
This process is generally carried out in 5 steps. These steps include.
A. Rapport building:
You need your client to like you and not just your business. You want them to think of you as an approachable person and someone they can trust. You need to start building trust in your clients right from the beginning and not just through your business.
The best way to do this is to get your client on a video call. A regular zoom or google meets call is also great for such meetings. When you are face to face with your client, it is easier for them to understand you and get a slight idea of what your intentions are and vice versa.
You can begin by asking them a few personal questions to break the ice. Ask them where they are from. You can take this conversation further and mention any experience you have had at their place of origin.
The key is to connect with your prospective client on factors you both can relate to. You can also talk to them about sports teams from where they are. Ask them if they like their sports team and which sports league they follow. This will make your client feel comfortable around you.
Further, you must do your homework on their company well. Know who you are talking to and the position they hold in the company. Find out their personal contributions to the company before this call too. You should give them compliments about their work in the company.
Talk about a particular project that was headed by them, which you really liked. This is the last thing you should do before you jump right into business. Start on a happy note by incorporating a little bit of flattery into your conversation.
B. Leading question:
Once you are done breaking the ice and making your client feel comfortable around you, it is time for business. You need to start asking relevant questions now. These questions will help you steer the conversation into a direction you please.
Ask them questions about their company and the issues you think they are facing. They have already filled out a form that has details of these questions. So, make sure you do not repeat the same things on the form.
Let them know that you went through their questions and have a few more to ask them. Talk to them about their issues and don’t mention your company at all. This is about their problems, and your job is to dig them out and assist them with solutions.
You don’t need to self-promote on such calls. This client is already interested in your services. That’s why they filled out the form and were interested in getting on a video call with you. So, focus on getting their perspective on problems so you can create an immaculate proposal for them in the future.
These questions will make your clients think that hiring you is their idea. Let them think that you didn’t force them into hiring you. They should believe it came to them organically. Clients generally like being in control, and if you are too pushy with your proposal, they might cancel it.
C. Elevator pitch
After talking about their business at a stretch, it is time for you to tell them what your agency is all about. Make this elevator pitch short and comprehensive. You can begin by asking them how much they already know about you.
It is possible that they came across your platform through a video and so they probably know a little bit about you. However, if it was through referrals or online ads, chances are they don’t know much.
Ask them how much they know about you and how did they come across your platform. Then edit your elevator pitch according to your needs. Give them a very brief description of yourself and the agency if they already know about it. You can make it longer if they are clueless about your agency.
D. Discovered issues
Once you hear them out, you need to show them how much you know about them. If your client thinks you know about their company, they are more likely to ask for a proposal upfront. By this point, you probably have done enough research about their company and the flaws you found.
You need to tell them about the things you discovered in your research. However, you can’t let off too much. You don’t want your client to know about your game plan. You just want them to know you are thorough with research and capable enough to solve the issues you found.
These issues don’t have to be severe and very difficult to find. Look for generic problems like broken links, thin pages, etc. This should be enough for your client to consider you a good prospect for the job.
E. The close
You have now reached the end of the video meeting. You need to greet them kindly and still ask them a few questions to be sure about this client. You don’t want to present them with a proposal right away. In fact, you shouldn’t even ask them if they want one from you. Let them ask you first.
You need to ask these prospects if they are genuinely interested in your services. Ask them if they are looking at other agencies and if they are accepting SEO agency proposals. Their answers should be able to convince you if they are worth your time and effort.
Before giving them an SEO proposal, you can mention your pricing. This doesn’t have to be detailed yet but give them an idea as to how much you charge clients. This way, if they cannot afford your services, they will back off instantly, and that will save you a lot of time making a proposal.
2. Closing the leads
The second step of this process is closing leads. You attracted a good number of clients to your agency through your marketing ventures. You followed up their requests with a sales call and then a video call. Now is the time to close these clients. Convincing them was a very important task, but closing them is the final deal.
You need to create SEO proposals to give to your clients as you close the deal. There are two major aspects that you need to be proficient in while creating an SEO proposal. The first is research. Your SEO agency proposals need to be well researched and should contain everything your client is looking for.
Here is how you can approach this part of the proposal making process.
A. Researching proposals
As mentioned earlier, you should know what you are talking about when you pitch the proposal to your clients. You need to do ample research about their business before you ask them to hire you. Pitching the right things to your prospective clients is a very important part of closing SEO contracts with prospective clients.
You asked them questions in the first sales call, you spoke to them about their company in the video calls, and you even went through their concerns. Now you know what their perspective is and how they wish to approach their problems.
This is the first step of research where you learn about them and what they think.
After this, you need to come up with 10 opportunities where they can approve. These are just the problems you found on their website. However, you will word it like they are opportunities for them to improve and not just problems that need fixing.
This is a great way to show your clients that you are not here to point out issues, but you are there to improve their SEO agency performance. This kind of research will take you a little bit of time, but it is essential. Spend a few hours on the prospective client’s website and figure out the top 10 places they need improvement in.
This number doesn’t necessarily have to be 10. There could be as many problems as you could find. However, 10 areas of opportunities show the client how dedicated you are to their company and are ready to help them personally.
You will need a folder where you put all your research into a client. This makes your work very organized. Create a separate file that has these 10 opportunities for improvement too. You can edit it and make it look presentable before you send it to your prospective client, along with the pricing and proposal documents.
Your job is to present them with the problems you found but not all of the solutions. Make use of SEO tools online to find these problems. There are three steps that you can follow to point out all the weak spots on your client’s website.
Clearly, you will not be focusing on only one tool. You will simultaneously go through many issues at once, and the deeper you get into their site, the more problems will surface. Here is how you can uncover these issues easily.
DeepCrawl is a very popular website that allows you to find technical issues with a client’s website. You can use the various tools available on their platform to go through a target website and assess it properly.
This platform is great for when you want to look for problems like thin pages, weak content, broken links, and 4xx errors on the website. You can also use this platform to look for duplicate content that is responsible for low rankings on Google searches.
Ahrefs and SEMrush
You already know how important Ahrefs and SEMrush are for an online entity to prosper. You must put the website through these tools to assess their content, keywords, and linking opportunities.
This type of assessment will let you come up with better opportunities for content creation. You can also look for relevant keywords and how accessible the landing pages are. Make sure the client uses keywords for meta descriptions and all the H1, H2, and H3 titles wherever necessary.
The best way to find out how relevant and helpful the content is for the platform is by checking the UR and DR of the website. A low DR and UR indicate that a lot of work will need to be put into this platform.
Topical and visual analysis, content structure, UX on-page SEO
This is where you assess the external linking and internal linking of the website. The depth of the platform and how well the company is using its resources online. You need to check their content and the UX.
Check how much they spent on their website too. This will give you an idea as to how much they are willing to splurge on their SEO needs too. Accordingly, you can create a budget for them.
Flip through the pages of the website and note down all the issues you come across. These could be anything, and as long as you know how to fix them, list them down in the opportunity list. Your client needs to see your dedication and thoroughness through your research.
Making SEO agency proposals is a time consuming and meticulous task. Before you invest so much time in it, you need to be sure your client means business. Ask them if they want a proposal and then only go ahead with the research and pricing.
Let your prospective clients know a little bit about how much you charge for your services. This should be done prior to proposal creation. You can tell them about how you will help them and give them a ballpark figure.
This should be enough for your clients to decide whether they want your services or not. Create a pricing template that can be used for multiple clients. It makes your work easier, and this process exponentially faster.
Here are a few details that you can mention.
- Broken link fixing
- On-page and Off-page SEO
- Content analysis
Mention the basis on which you charge too. How many hours you will put in and which area you will be focusing on.
You need to learn how to segregate your clients into two broad groups. These clients will be treated differently because they have very different needs and requirements. These two groups can be.
- Business-to-Business company
Business to business clients is very important for your agency. They, as a business, deal with other big corporations and have big projects. However, they do not need a lot of technical SEO. You need to work on getting traffic on pages that have a lot of essential content that will help them make money.
The key is that for B2B companies, bottom-funnel pages make them more money than anything. So, focus on their content creation and try to drive the traffic to these pages that will get them the money they need. You can drastically improve their performance by hyper-focusing on their important landing pages.
- eCommerce businesses
You need to focus on a lot of technical SEO for eCommerce businesses. Content marketing is essential for this type of business too. However, it is not as important as it is for B2B clients. You can create a great interface for such clients by interlinking their webpages properly.
You can also use a lot of external linking to create a good flowing website. Additionally, writing content for eCommerce professionals is significantly easier because their content is straightforward.
Now you need to start sending them emails. You send them the proposal along with the pricing document and the top 10 areas of opportunities. This will give them a better insight into what they are in for.
Additionally, make your emails friendly and engaging. Ask them how they are and if they want to catch up soon once they go through your proposal. This way, they will be under a social obligation to get back to you as soon as they possibly can.
3. Creating your proposal
The proposal has to be simple and easy to understand. However, you need to add all the essential details that your client will need to know about before you draft up a contract. It doesn’t have to be too complicated.
One of the easiest ways to make a proposal is through a presentation. All the slides could have information along with screenshots and images to make them more descriptive. This makes difficult understanding processes very easy for your client.
Given below are the important details that must be included in your proposal.
a. Introductory slide
This slide will have nothing but the title and a few logos. Make it very simple and don’t add anything too complex on this slide. You should, however, add your logo along with the logo of the client you are catering to. After this, add a few other essential details like the date and your contact information.
b. Table of contents:
This is an optional slide. However, adding a table of contents before your proposal makes it easier for your clients to navigate through your proposal. You can link specific slides to the content and add subheadings if your proposal is too descriptive. This is completely up to you, but it is important that you make the slides easy to understand.
c. An executive overview of your consultation
Now you need to add a few details that you spoke to your clients about. You need to add all the points that were previously discussed in the video calls and the consultation that took place before you were hired.
Starting by writing down all the things you have already spoken about is a great way to set the tone of the proposal. It shows how thorough you are, and it also helps jog your client’s memory. This way, no one can throw around false acquisitions in the future, and you can also go ahead and add it to your contract later.
This section is brief, and it only lists out the problems faced by your client and what your suggestions are for them. You will write about these issues and your solution suggestions in the other slides in detail. Don’t forget to specify the points you can help with.
This is where you deeply analyze the issues and give your inputs. After the discussions you have had with your client in the past, they already have an idea of your capabilities. Build on those interactions and elaborate on your plans regarding the SEO of the company.
You still do not need to let out too much. Keep it concise, but don’t miss out on details that could cost you your job. Here are a few slides that you can add to your PPT proposals. These are merely examples, but they are commonly found in most SEO agency proposals so they can be of great help.
Here are a few things that you can analyze
- Website cleanup: Your research on DeepCrawl can be put to use here. Mention how your services can be very helpful when it comes to website cleanups. Make sure you add relevant screenshots to make it easier for your client to understand.
- Landing page optimization: You can mention how you will improve their landing pages. Mention how the use of keywords can be extremely beneficial in this case.
- Content: Content creation could be a great help to your client’s SEO optimization. You can talk about any low hanging fruit pages, improper use of keywords, and add there how you plan on changing it too.
- Link acquisition: This is a very generic part of SEO agency proposals that you will add in almost all proposals. You can create a basic template for this slide and use it in almost all of your proposals in the future without a lot of changes.
You need to show your clients that everything you do for them is completely required. When you back your services up with proof, it makes it easier for your clients to make a decision. They want to know where their money is going and if it is worth it.
Your proposal is not just a document that shows how much work you are ready to put in for your client. It is also a very important document that convinces your client that you are the best person for the job with every slide.
You need to show your clients that hiring an SEO agency is an investment that they need to make. It takes a lot of time for the results to be seen, but they need to trust the process. This proposal needs to be able to instill a sense of trust in your clients too.
Don’t guarantee any sort of performance on your end, though. You don’t want your clients to get their expectations too high. SEO is a gamble, and it’s not always possible to guarantee concrete results. So, make sure you imply success, but don’t mention it literally.
e. Campaign goals:
These are your campaign goals. Where you plan on reaching by the end of your SEO contract with the client. You write about the solutions to the problems you found and then mention how they will benefit the company.
You can mention short-term and long-term goals, too, so that the clients know what they can expect. These goals could vary from one client to another, so be sure not to use the same slide for multiple clients.
The campaign goals talk about what you are planning to do. Whereas the deliverables you talk about how you plan on giving it to them. This is where you define your game plan and your course of action.
You tell the client what you will be tackling, and when you will do that. This will be a step by step procedure of everything you intend on doing to boost your client’s website quality. Here are a few methods you can use as they are quite general.
- Google search audit and course of action
- Competitive analysis of the business
- URL mapping
- On-page SEO improvement for landing pages
- Monthly reports
- Funnel model for keyword usage on the website (bottom level keywords used for sales pages and the mid and top ones used for blogs)
You can add a slide where you mention who all will be working on this project. A description of the team makes it very convenient for the client to approach employees who are responsible for certain tasks. This will also help avoid any confusion regarding the project in the future.
h. Timeline for results
This is completely optional. However, if you want, you can also add an approximate timeline that suggests when you plan on accomplishing a few landmarks in this process. It doesn’t have to be accurate and make sure you mention that.
i. Pricing breakdown
Aside from the actual pricing document, make sure you also add a pricing breakdown. Your client needs to know where all he is spending his money on. This breakdown will make the transactions very transparent.
j. Social proof, clients you have helped, client reviews, case studies
In the end, you can add the logos of the clients you have worked for in the past. Even if your client knows about your history, it is always safer to give them a few client reviews to look at. It will be like reassurance to them and a testament to your quality of work.
4. Legalizing your proposal
As mentioned earlier, most companies try to skip out on the SEO agency contracts when they get into new business. However, it is not something you can overlook so easily. You need a contract to avoid any legal discrepancies with your clients.
It is not very likely that your clients will make a decision to involve the authorities. However, there is still a chance that you might get sued for any issue with your services. So, it is wise to make sure that you always have something in writing and also something that is legally binding.
You can use an SEO agency contract template online and customize it as you please. It is advised that you get it double checked by an attorney before you sign it.
Now that you know how important SEO contracts are, you should prioritize them in your business functions too. Make sure you customize all the contracts you send to different clients and learn everything about them. You need to know the rules inside and out to play by them and avoid any potential legal problems that come with running an SEO agency.