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Truth about your “Local SEO Agency”

The truth is, you’re more than likely overpaying for your search engine optimisation without even realising. Here is how to fix it and stop paying for white labels.

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard — 10 minute read.

The truth about your SEO agency is that it’s probably not who you think it is.

You’re probably overpaying for your search engine optimisation without even realising it.

Disclaimer: We’re not here to bash or belittle agencies who do this. We’re here to expose the truth, the facts and the information small business owners need to know.

We are a white label company. We do the work for other agencies and report directly to them. Most in-house specialists will offer something along these lines and apply a slight discount.

White Label SEO Image

Let’s face it, SEO is a high ticket item service; as the business owner, you pay an agency a “service fee” to maintain and service your rankings within search engines. Prices start from $1,399 per month and will vary depending on various factors, including the size of your business, the industry you are in and the keywords you are looking to focus on.

Like many other industries, high ticket services offer businesses a considerable profit. So as you can imagine, providing these services can be very profitable for a web design or marketing company.

At the beginning of each month, your agency should be sending you some regular updates in an email or a report. Constant communication is essential to ensure they’re meeting targets and providing results. This way, you can also keep track of your rankings and conversions. You may also have the opportunity to suggest keywords you wish to focus on.

It is implausible that your SEO agency will be just taking your money and sitting on it. However, if you believe they aren’t doing the work, here might be happening. More likely, they’re taking your fee and paying what is known as a “white label” or “private label” agency to do the work on their behalf for a much lower price.

The easiest way to explain this is to look at it comparatively with your power bill. Technically, it doesn’t matter who your bill is with. The power all comes from the same place. In this case, the white label. The company that sends you the invoice or bill is simply a pretty logo on an invoice header. They typically don’t provide you with the power to handle the billing and report.

So What Is Wrong With White Labelling?

As far as we know, there is nothing wrong with white labelling. However, as a small or medium-sized business, you may be overpaying for a service you can get for a far lower cost, much like your energy bill. You’re essentially paying a middle man instead of going direct.

We are not advising to go direct to the white label agency either; there are many reasons why we tend to advise against this.

  1. They Don’t Understand Your Business: They work in bulk, so you lose out on niche relative marketing and quality. Whether you’re an electrician or a café owner, you’re treated the same, typically having a very different strategy. An electrical SEO strategy is focused more on emergency response, suburbs and services, whereas a café is focused on proximity and desire.
  2. There Is Little Communication Between You And Them: With discount often comes loss. You’re paying them to do a fundamental task. Customisation, negotiation and understanding don’t exist because you didn’t pay for them.
  3. Notorious PBNs (Private Blog Networks): These are blog based websites owned internally and made up of hundreds of blogs built for hundreds of industries to build “niche backlinks”. This means you and all your competition (within the same industry) get the same or similar links, ultimately valueless.
  4. Reporting Is Either Nonexistent Or Limited: Unless you have given clear and precise instructions, you won’t know if work is being done or not and will have no record of your results.

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How do white label SEO agencies work?

White label SEO agencies work on a B2B basis. A middleman will order backlinks and content in bulk and distribute them across various clients.

Let’s lay it out: As an example, let’s pretend I’m a florist. My marketing company is 009Marketing, and the private label doing the work is ABCDigital (All hypotheticals).

I, like the florist, pay $1,000 to my marketing company which sends $400 to ABCDigital, and for that $400, I get two links and 1 article. 009Marketing pockets the remaining $600 as profit.

An order comes in for two links and 1 article at ABCDigital. The account manager looks at the industry, in this case, flowers and assigns the order to an “expert”. This “expert” is sitting behind their desk waiting for new orders.

Packed Offices

Once a new order comes in, they will write and submit a small 400-600 word article about flowers. They then look at their database for relative niche websites such as home decor and relationship advice. They then publish that 400-600 word article linked to your business on both websites, and it’s done.

Once the order is completed, an email goes to the account manager, who emails 009Marketing, and then reports to the client.

Disclaimer: They’re not all like this. But for the most part, it is what we have seen. This is what happens for the majority.

Outsourcing For Link Building & Content Creation

Outsourcing is entirely separate and is used to send speciality work out with clear, precise instruction.

This is far less common and used by search engine marketing companies who want more control over the results, content and link building strategies.

Outsourcing Content Creation

At sitecentre®, we use content writers who are outsourced. We then have a team of content writers and editors who write speciality pieces and edit all the outsourced agencies’ content.

The main reasoning behind this is that if there was only one in-house writer, there is a risk of them experiencing “burnout”. Burnout is when the writer has written about the same topic many times and is now repetitive because the writer has written about a subject so much that the ideas have all been used.

Content Creation

Here is an example: A writer writes weekly for three plumbing businesses in 3 states around Australia. That’s three articles per week about various plumbing related topics.

There are only so many things you can write about before you circle back, and it becomes repetitive. The content has been done, and it’s starting to match content on the other sites.

Using another writer becomes valuable because new writers offer new ideas, styles, wordings and variations.

To hire a full-time employee wouldn’t make sense because once this burnout happens, we cannot simply look for another.

Outsourcing content creation can be valuable but allows the search engine marketing company control over the content. Here are some great places to find quality writers:

Outsourcing Backlinks

Outsourcing backlinks is not precisely ordering 20 links and distributing them like white label link building. It’s not a bulk purchase. It’s a speciality order.

Occasionally a client will come along in a small niche or a new, not yet established niche where finding relevant links is few and far between.

To outreach linking of these backlinks can be an extremely long process. But very valuable because although it’s a small or underdeveloped niche, that means you’re not the only one struggling to get new quality links.

Link Building

Hiring someone far cheaper to do the dirty work, in this case, is essential. We can spend 40-60 hours attempting one link for a tough industry or pay someone 40-60 hours and get the same link but far cheaper.

We still control the link, what it points to, its anchor text, and what content it’s in, but we acquired it far cheaper and within budget.

Search Engine Optimisation Profit and Margins

This will be the controversial section that no one wants us to talk about.

How much money do we make selling the SEO service? We’re happy to talk about it because this is one of our key points of difference.

White label SEO services aside, as a web designer, graphic designer, or digital marketing agency, selling themselves as an SEO expert is easy whether they do the hard work or use a third party to do the work.

The margins can be huge.

Put this into perspective: Your budget of $1,000 can either be sent to a third party for $400, and it’s a 60% profit for being the name on the invoice. Or they can do the work themselves and spend 2-3 hours billed at $300 an hour to write an article or two, create two average links and call it a month.

On the other hand, you could get an agency passionate about business growth. Works with you and your brand and works for a far lower profit margin.

Rain

You don’t know; ultimately, all SEO companies will tell you that they can get you first page results. There is a maximum of 10 results in Google Organic Search. Not everyone can be on the first page.

The issue here is that you don’t know what you’re getting for your money. It’s even more complicated when looking for a company to take on the marketing efforts. One company offers it for $799 and another for $1,499, and they both tell you that you will get the first page.

Here is the truth

The price has nothing to do with your results. That’s a fact.

The $799 company could spend $600 on good content and get some great links for you. A talented team could back them. The $1,499 company could spend 3 hours of work or use a white label service and make a significant margin.

This is where margins come in and can work to your advantage.

Ask what that money ACTUALLY gets you and work out the maths yourself. If they tell you two articles, three backlinks, and some on-page SEO for $1,499, that’s some expensive content!

If they’re not willing to disclose this information, odds are they don’t do the work and don’t know, and you should keep looking. If they disclose, but the maths doesn’t add up, question it.

That’s why we’re different.

When we order content, it’s logged, recorded, and reported when we spend time on your SEO campaign. Your invoice is itemised with labour and costs associated and justified each month. This includes our hourly rate and who worked on your campaign.

We work on low-profit margins as we know that SEO requires countless hours. Your investment needs to drive results, and our results will ALWAYS dominate our competition. Not only because we’re passionate, data-driven with a very talented team but because your budget goes a lot further.

So who are these white label sellers?

Suppose you’re still interested in these online marketing, link building, and private label SEO companies. We have a list for you.

Disclaimer: We don’t use nor recommend any of the following. However, we’re not here to dictate your choices, and we’re here to provide you with advice. We recommend doing your research before using any of the following.

  1. The Hoth
  2. SEO Reseller Hub
  3. Rankpay
  4. Fatjoe

What are your thoughts? Let us know by commenting below, sharing or liking our content on social media.

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey is the CEO of sitecentre® and a data analyst in the SEO, Paid advertising space that uses machine learning and AI to advance sitecentre® as an industry-leading digital marketing agency across Australia.

Find them on their website: sitecentre®, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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