The Truth About White Label SEO & How to Maximise Your ROI


In this guide we’ll take you through the trials and tribulations of choosing, working with and maximising a working relationship with a white label SEO partner.

It’s crucial that you can rely on the services you pick and it will work out for you, the white label partner and most importantly of all, the client.

In most cases you’re outsourcing SEO because you can’t or don’t want to service it yourself, so we’ll first address why this is. Once you understand the issues that may face you, we’ll show you how to choose a partner that fits your needs.

The first, and perhaps the most important hurdle to overcome is whether you’re going to be telling your clients that you’re outsourcing the work or not. Only you can decide that, we’ll touch on what should impact your decision later.

Remember this and try to picture how you’re going to deal with this process as you move through the issues that might arise from telling the client you’re doing it in house, or not.

Establish why you need white label SEO

There are several reasons why picking and working with the right white label SEO partner will be difficult, but firstly you need to understand why you’re looking to white label your SEO services, to make the right choice.

Usually there are 4 reasons people use a white label service:

  • You don’t want to service SEO clients – maybe because you don’t want to add it to your services, not interested in the extra workload or just don’t understand how SEO works.
  • You can’t service it – maybe you have a skill gap or are at capacity and not interested in expanding.
  • You want to make more money, for no extra work – you could be selling similar products and see an opportunity to cash in.
  • You have SEO clients currently but need to switch – maybe the ranking results are not good enough, prices have increased or you just don’t get on.

Whichever category you sit in is irrelevant at this point, but it’s vitally important to understand your current and end goals.

Don’t run in to a white label partnership with an agency just to tick a box.

I want to make money from it, now what?

Once you’ve pin-pointed exactly why you want to outsource your SEO requirement you can look at what’s needed to achieve your goals and work out how to choose the right people.

From there you’re on the home straight and can match your goals with a potential partner.

Now, let’s go through each of the buyer personas and establish what your goals are.

I don’t want to service SEO

If you’re a ‘don’t want to’ type of business, then you’re probably hoping a white label SEO agency will have some magic beans that will make your life super-easy and give you a hands-off experience so you can focus on the day job.

Which, is partly true.

But you’ll still play a pivotal role, we’ll go in to that later.

We’ve all been there though, it isn’t easy going outside your comfort zone. I’d imagine that you don’t want to service those clients for one of 5 reasons:

  1. You don’t value it as a service but want the £.
  2. You don’t have the skills in house and not interested in growing.
  3. You’ve started a white label process before and it was easy for you.
  4. You’d rather stick to what you’re good at.
  5. Your business is all about being a middle man and outsourcing all services.

For whatever reason, you’ve got some customers that want SEO and you don’t fancy helping them out yourself but want to capitalise on the situation that’s been presented to you. An opportunist you are.

white label seo packages

You have quite a big problem as you’ll be looking for the easiest option, probably buying on price too.

White label SEO can only be easy for you if you refer it to a partner and just take the cream out of the backend of the deal, on a commission basis.

If you don’t fancy taking a back seat and letting someone else do the work directly, it is time to realise you’re going to need to do some additional work, sorry about that.

Don’t worry though, it’s a basic middle-man job, you’ll need to sit between the white label SEO agency and your client to ensure everything is on track.

You’ll need a basic knowledge of SEO and to have some of the lingo, just don’t get in to bed with any bigger clients who have lots of experience with it, as you’ll probably get caught out.

Be sure not to fall in to the same trap as many others before you, avoid doing these things and you’ll be well on your way to getting paid just for connecting the dots:

  • Don’t add on more than 15% margin – if you do, this will effect the CPA of the end client too much, any business person with some savvy will cancel your service pretty quickly when they realise.
  • Don’t over promise – SEO isn’t quick or a guarantee of generating customers so don’t fall in to that trap unless you can back it up.
  • Don’t think the results will speak for themselves – clients cancel SEO services even if the rankings are great, communication and seeing the benefits outside of rankings are what keeps them around for years.
  • Don’t be a barrier if you built the website or host it – possibly the biggest issue white label SEO companies face is dealing with third party web developers who are precious about holding on to the £20 per month hosting contract. Don’t stand in your white label partners way of achieving results, for you. Real SEO agencies are not interested in stealing the client from you, they just want to get ranking, that’s what makes them tick.

If you’re prepared to work at it, you’ll need to find a white label partner that can take as much of the mundane account management work that you don’t want to do.

I suggest you do not use any of the off-the-shelf white label packages as that will raise questions from the client that you may not be able to answer, go with an established physical agency and let them talk to the client on your behalf, give them an email under your brand and let them do the hard work.

Remember that SEO agencies only want to get rankings, they’re not going to steal your clients hosting, web building jobs or whatever else you do for them. They just want to make SEO work and hate failing.

Give them what they need and remove as many barriers to success as possible and you, the client and the white label agency will all do well from the relationship.

I simply can’t service SEO

If you’re in the ‘can’t service SEO’ category, your job is the hardest of all, as it’s probably true that your understanding of search nitty-gritty isn’t perfect.

Which, of course, makes it very difficult to judge what is or isn’t the right strategy to adopt, or indeed the right white label partner to pick.

So, your decision making process needs to be based on your white label partner either educating you or the service not needing that level of detail.

You have 3 options, all have negative and positive outcomes:

Pick a white label SEO agency that do EVERYTHING for you and pay you a commission on the backend of the deal.

  1. This will generally lower the amount you earn from each deal.
  2. You don’t ‘own’ the client so you can’t up sell anything.
  3. You earn without doing much extra.
  4. There is no capacity cap if you pick a large white label partner agency.
  5. There will be communication issues and workload implications, especially if you built the website for example.

Pick an agency that educates you during the process and gives you everything you need to help the client.

  1. You’ll be exposed if the client asks you questions directly.
  2. You’re pretending to be doing the work so will need to learn the lingo.
  3. You’ll have direct contact with the client so you’ll be able to up sell.
  4. It will probably cause a ‘lag’ in processes, you’ll be a middle man and the success of the campaign will depend on your ability to communicate properly.

Establish some basic packages with the white label agency and don’t over sell the same package to the end client.

  1. Usually this type of approach doesn’t bring huge SEO success, at least in terms of rankings.
  2. Client will probably choose based on price, generally a bad sign about the longevity of the contract.
  3. Only really appeals to low end clients (£500 pm or below).
  4. Will be simple and slick to manage, can probably be automated if partner has some good systems.

You want to make more money, for no extra work

I’ve got bad news for you Del boy, white labelling SEO isn’t for you.

Though there could be some short term success, you’ll soon get caught out.

Generally, people in this category:

  • Over promise without considering the consequences to the client.
  • Don’t understand SEO so sell something that doesn’t exist or that doesn’t correlate to what will be delivered.
  • Make tonnes of excuses to keep the client and have lots of bad debt, impacting the relationships at both ends.
  • Are not interested in the ‘mundane’ account management role that is needed to make it work for all parties.

But, all is not lost. We all know you never get something for nothing, if you have access to clients wanting SEO then it doesn’t take much to make it work.

If you’re in this camp and are looking to form a white label relationship, please don’t call my agency, instead do some reading on SEO and buy an off-the-shelf package deal with  Fat Joe or alternatively, put some work in and do it properly.

You have SEO clients currently but need to switch

You’re in a great position, but also a risky one.

You’ve got a selection of clients who are expecting to see results from you, maybe right now, but you’ve just got rid of your white label SEO agency because of whatever reason and need to move quickly, otherwise you might lose those clients.

Realise the position of power you are in.

For some SEO agencies adding 1 client a month is a good result, and you’re sitting there with a decent ‘wedge’ to send over to them, use that to get your clients a good deal. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Extra work, links, blogs, reports. They will all make a bigger difference to the end client and your relationship with them.

Don’t use that power to make a bigger margin though, 15% is your limit, otherwise you’ll end up with a client over paying for a service that isn’t going to get the returns they expect.

So, who do you switch to.

Well, there’s a couple of options in reality. Not in terms of white label SEO agencies, but top-level strategies.

It depends on how hands on you want to be and your knowledge of how SEO works.

If you feel confident you could probably buy in everything you need and spend a few days managing that process over the month.

Once you’ve established the onsite elements of SEO, you need to start building content and links. If you’re confident in choosing what route will create a return for your customer, then do it.

There are plenty of packages available for content creation and link building that are pretty good, you could even hire a freelancer online.

But, if you’d rather go down the traditional route and see the whites of the eyes of those people you’ll be passing a good proportion of your revenue too, choose an agency with credibility. And probably one that is fairly local, or at least picks up the phone when you ring.

What better place to start looking that to search on Google, here’s a few searches you could use, pick one of the top three though, have some respect for yourself:

  • White label SEO
  • White label SEO agency
  • White label SEO company

Don’t go past the top 3, definitely not on to the dreaded second page.

“oi Dave, where should I hide this dead body…second page of Google mate”

Your goal with choosing your SEO partner is simple:

  1. Find an agency that can deliver your clients’ specific needs.
  2. Find an agency with proven experience in your industry.
  3. Find one with an established and large team.

What would you do with too many leads?

So, you’ve found someone you’re thinking about working with, now what?

Picture the scene. You’ve been doing some searching online and an agency or two really catch your eye.

They’re attentive, have experience in your market, on the ball and seem to know their stuff.

How do you know if they’re legit?

First things first, do some basic checks:

  • Companies house, who are their directors, do they have a good history, have they got money in the bank, are they growing.
  • Do they practice what they preach, do they rank for their own keywords, try searching around their location for “SEO agency + location” and see if you can see them.
  • Lastly, ask for some client ranking examples related to your client’s industry. Don’t be bowled over by long tail results either, one and two word phrases are what you should be looking for, alternatively “location + competitive industry” is a good indicator too. Say for example “estate agent in location” or “lawyer in location”.

If they don’t stack up in any of these tests or something isn’t quite right, move on.

Don’t fall down the hole of asking for references either, you’ll just be presented with the one or two family/friends/clients that they’ve done good for. Obviously they’re not going to give you the details of someone who will give them a bad rep.

You’re ready to go, what now?

You’ve chosen your white label SEO partner, now depending on what position you’re in the world is your oyster. Or is it?

Either you’re ready to start gathering some clients and sell these new incredible services to them or you’re going to be passing some existing clients over to your new star-spangled team.

If you’re the former, I’d suggest some caution.

Don’t be drawn in to selling something you don’t know about, focus on learning your new product first.

If you’ve got a few clients lined up to send over to your new partner it’s time to ensure all the right principals and processes are in place, start with:

  • How are you going to deal with client communication – Are the white label SEO agency going direct to the client under your brand? Are you giving them an email address for your company?
  • What access do they require to the website, analytics, CMS?
  • How will you deal with issues like notifications from Google telling the account owners the location of the login, showing it isn’t you doing the work?
  • What is the reporting process – Which KPI’s do you want to monitor and provide to the client? (Traffic, rankings, leads, etc) and when are you going to receive this information?
  • What targets are they going to achieve and when?
  • Do they have a CRM that you can login to to see what’s going on in real time in case the client asks a query?
  • Can you white label that CRM to give access to your client?
  • Inter-agency communication – When and what are you going to talk to each other about?
  • Proposal process – What happens when a new potential client comes around? What are the turnaround times?
  • What information do you need to gather from the client in order to accurately create a proposal?
  • Do they use templates that you can white label?
  • Content and links – Some clients like to be hands-on and sign off each piece of content created for their website and see every link, how are you going to work this?
  • SLA – Do you need a service level agreement around turnaround times at both ends?
  • Contracts and non-competes – Are either of these required?

You probably didn’t realise just how much you’d need to do right? Sorry about that. Once you’ve set the first client up you’ll be ok and all this stuff will become second nature.

It’s vitally important to set stringent KPI’s at this stage, even if they are very basic like rankings or traffic goals. It helps keep the agency in check, trust me you’ll thank me later.

A common issue within SEO companies is to take their foot off the gas if the client lets them. Generally, the 10% of clients that shout the loudest are the ones that get the best results, most attention and resource.

You’ll end up paying for other clients to do well unless you become one of the shouters or set tight targets.

Your clients aren’t doing great, how to sort it out

Bad luck, but don’t tear those contracts up yet, there are loads of reasons your clients might not be doing great.

Firstly, what do you count as ‘doing great’?

Remember that SEO is about rankings. That’s it really. Although some agencies will set some KPI’s with leads or traffic expectations, be careful not to overpromise.

If you’ve promised your clients traffic, leads or whatever then that’s on you if you haven’t discussed that with the SEO company and they backed you up that it’s possible to meet those expectations.

But, let’s assume it’s your rankings that are struggling, so make sure it isn’t because you haven’t given it enough time.

BREAKING NEWS: SEO takes time.

Usually you’ll get a quick improvement and then a staged growth over several months. Don’t expect too much in the first 6 months, stage targets over 12 months ideally minimum.

Typical SEO growth comes in steps

Just make sure your client is on the same page.

All other reasons for not ranking yet can often be difficult to understand or take back to your client if they are not openly discussed the moment problems arise.

A good example of this is budget.

Some white label SEO agencies will take your work for the sake of it, nod their heads and hope that they make it work and keep your business for as long as possible.

Others will openly say that the budget is too high or too low from the outset, typically this results in changes in budget, keyword targets or KPI’s, up and down.

All of which are easily understandable, but other situations like this arise and are often reasons for a breakdown in relationships between companies and white label SEO partners. All could be dealt with if are proactively sorted and discussed, but here are some other reasons why white label SEO relationships break down:

  • Over promising from agency to client.
  • Over promising from white label to agency.
  • Under delivering rankings.
  • Agency communication not answering client’s issues.
  • Lack of white label ‘resources’ like reports, updates passed through chain.
  • Agency taking too much of a margin or over charging client, adding too much margin to CPA.
  • Agency not completely understanding service and talking about products that are not delivered by white label agency.
  • White label agency under charging or not pushing back when budgets are tight, impacting resource levels.
  • White label agency not having dedicated process for WL relationships.
  • Agency not updating client regularly, relying on monthly reports to tell the story.
  • White label not empowering agency to educate client.
  • Agency not providing relevant access to website for white label agency to carry out their tasks quickly.

Are you ready?

Now you should have everything you need to launch a fruitful white label SEO relationship and to ensure that your clients get exactly what they pay you for, if you have any questions feel free to comment below.

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