It's not uncommon for agencies to overlook a potential source of clients: other agencies.
Yet Dani Owens has cracked this code. She's the founder and owner of Pigzilla, and some of her biggest clients are fellow marketers: people who use her white label local SEO services to get the job done.
She also offers a variety of consulting and training services to SMBs, which offers them a more affordable local SEO option than simply paying a consultancy many hundreds of dollars per month.
It's a model that shows all of us that there's more than one way to, uh, bring home the bacon!
So tune into today's podcast and learn about a different way to structure your agency.
What does Local SEO training look like?
Dani admits that Local SEO training is a challenge.
"There are so many different tools and methods for completing certain SEO tasks. So trying to get that documentation together can be challenging. Local SEO training could include videos, walkthroughs, and of course, SOPs."
She has put together a local SEO training database that stores all of her training documents in one place.
"It comes with a timeline so you can work through the tasks that need to be worked on. It's not super simple."
Of course, the big challenge for many local business owners is they have to focus on actually running the business.
"For them to start trying to become an SEO is a totally different discipline. It's similar to learning another trade. For them, I think it's challenging because they have to decide. Do I want to become an SEO expert? Or do I want to hire someone to take care of that?"
In spite of the fact that training is a major part of Dani's business model, she nevertheless believes it makes more sense for most SMBs to hire an SEO to take care of the work unless they are someone who is very interested in learning SEO for its own sake.
Which businesses are more likely to DIY?
The SMBs who take the most advantage of Dani's training services tend to be smaller businesses.
"They want to get the work done, but they don't have the budget for it. Local SEO is expensive."
She says there are a few things that can help SMBs keep their costs down.
"Clients can start collecting their own reviews. Sending out emails or asking people they've serviced to go ahead and leave them reviews using tools like GatherUp or Grade.us. They can write their own blog posts because they're experts in what they do. If they just created one blog post a month about a topic they get questions on, that helps."
Dani notes that SMBs can often even do their own basic link building.
"Maybe they have a partnership with a company. They could simply ask: hey, would you mind linking to my website, or putting a badge on your site saying we're partners? Those are practical things that the small businesses can do that don't require a bunch of SEO knowledge."
Of course, there are pitfalls.
"With GMB, you know the categories that are assigned to the listing are super important. Just shuffling those around could have large impacts.
Somebody could go into a GMB listing just to optimize it and maybe they destroy the rankings it has, or they're thinking they're going to put a keyword into the business name, which could get them suspended.
They can definitely damage their SEO efforts by not knowing the full story before they start working on things."
A great way to warn clients: Google's a fickle beast!
One challenge local SEOs often face is that when Google starts suspending listings or changing their algorithms, clients get impacted, and they get upset. This was especially prevalent during the pandemic where Google limited its support staff, ensuring it takes longer than ever to get help.
"It also seems like listings are getting suspended much more easily just for making simple edits to the listings. It takes a little while to get reinstated."
Instead of trying to crack the code on turning Google into a helpful entity, Dani worked on finding a way to help her clients understand that this is all part of the process.
"I love to set the expectations. I want people to have realistic ideas of what's going to happen. Because otherwise, it just leads them to disappointment and frustration.
I do like to tell them that SEO is optimizing the best we can for the search engine. The search engine is in control of everything. They're going to be deciding where and when to show your website.
The expectations are super important to me."
What white labeling SEO services look like
Dani offers several options to agencies that would like to partner with her.
"It's either a full white label program where I've mapped out all the processes and have checklists or I just sometimes subcontract if there are more customizations that are needed. Some SEO companies will already have their processes in place, and they just need some kind of support staff."
Why did Dani choose to white label?
"I started Pigzilla in 2014. After some time, I started realizing my natural fit is more on the implementation side than on the client-side. It was about finding a natural fit for me, with low stress. For me, this has been really good. I really enjoy it. The agencies I white label for, they do a good job of managing the clients, and I do a good job managing the work."
Setting up a business arrangement with another agency
Most agencies find Dani through referrals, though she is starting to get leads from people who are Googling "white label SEO services." Others find her by coming across one of her SEO training articles.
As for setting up the contract?
"The subcontracting is just an hourly rate. [I work] wherever they need me. Whatever I can do, I hop in there. It comes down to keyword research, full website audits, technical audits, on-page implementation, keyword research, GMB management, content requirements, link building, citations. All of it."
She also gets some clients who need help with every aspect of SEO.
"Then it's a specific outline program. We're going to do all these audits, we're going to have these conversations, we're going to schedule the work, we're going to double-check the work, we're going to have monthly reports with some analysis or insights, and then the agency I'm sending the information to can now go to the client with that and give an update on what's going on."
Trends and predictions for the rest of 2021
Dani says that she feels like the pandemic has really helped most businesses understand that they really do need to have an online presence.
After the initial panic period from SMBs in March of 2020, Dani started to see an uptick in people saying: "We need to get this SEO stuff under control, because we need to be able to sell online, or have people contact us, and alter the way we do our business."
In Dani's eyes, the future of SEO is looking bright:
"I see the future of SEO as being probably something we've all wanted: people (the general population) caring about it!"
Creating white label reports
Dani's principle for creating any report for any client is the KISS principle.
"The client's going to care about their conversions. Overall, their organic traffic. So I try to keep the reports simple so they don't distract the clients reading them or cause panic for no reason."
She gives an example of what might cause one of those panics.
"We've all had this happen. Keyword XYZ has dropped to this position. It's not anything to be concerned about."
Clients get concerned anyway if they see it.
So she focuses clients on conversion data like phone calls and contact forms.
"I don't include a list of keywords and their rankings. I just include the trend chart of their rankings so they can see if it's getting better or worse. And the specifics on conversion. Maybe the channels they came from. And how many were completed during the time period? I will include an analysis saying the organic traffic is up this much compared to last year during the same time period. And keep it simple."
She also includes a section on what Google is up to lately.
"Each month there are multiple things that could be impacting the clients. They could be nervous or scared."
"GMB suspensions are happening for editing listings. I might say something like: don't worry, I won't be making edits to your listings at this time. I'm taking care of it. It gives them that security so they feel confident.
They're happy they're paying you. Besides doing the work, once you get to the SEO maintenance phase where you maybe have most of the work done, that's when they're going to really appreciate that type of analysis, where you're still keeping an eye on everything, monitoring and protecting their investment."
Some of the experts Dani follows are:
What's your right now cause?
Dani encourages other marketers to pay a bit of attention to their work-life balance.
"I know Covid's been really hard for a lot of people, and some people are desperate for work. Sometimes work-life balance takes a hit. I get that. But it's really important for mental health as well as the family unit. I love working in SEO, I feel very blessed, but it's not the only part of my life."
She points out that in the marketing industry, it can be really easy to get hooked into work and to focus on that too much.
"That's each person's decision. I just think it's super important because you can burn yourself out. It's just something to be conscious of and cognizant of."
Connect with Dani Owens
Want to get into some Local SEO training with Dani? Find her on her site or Twitter.