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Search engine optimization remains one of the key-ways companies can reach an audience.

While the death of SEO has long been predicted by critics of the strategy, it is still a crucial component of a marketing plan in 2020 – and it will continue to be so long into the future.

It is therefore not a surprise that starting an SEO business is still popular. Here is our ultimate guide to setting up a company that can be successful in this ultra-competitive industry.

1. Are you providing SEO or an affiliate service?

The first question that you need to be asking when starting an SEO business is regarding the types of services that you are going to be offering to clients.

Many marketing agencies nowadays offer a full-service approach, which means they provide everything related to marketing – including SEO – for a single package price.

SEO agencies usually just focus on that one target rather than any other kind of marketing. Specialising can be useful as it reassures clients that SEO is your real strength, rather than being just one of the strings to your bow.

Another option is to set up an SEO company that works as an affiliate service. This is an increasingly popular road to go down, but it is already starting to get quite congested as a result.

2. Pick a successful niche to focus on

Standing out in the SEO world is not easy, but one way to achieve this is to stick to a niche.

Headlinecasinos.com is an example of a successful affiliate site within the casino niche and there are plenty of others that have worked out well by focusing on one specific area.

There are a lot of examples of successful launches in a specific niche. In the financial area, nerdwallet.com has proven to be a big hit. For technology, pcmag.com is an excellent place to go, while in the health industry there are few better sites out there than healthline.com.

Some niches are already more full than others, so the challenge is finding an area where there is a shortage of specialism in SEO, then working out how you are going to meet that demand. As well as an industry niche, your firm could focus on one area of SEO, such as voice search.

If you have special knowledge of a certain sector, then it makes sense for the SEO business that you set up to focus on acquiring clients who operate in that particular niche. While staying general also works for some new SEO companies, a niche might be a better way forward.

3. What will be done in-house and outsourced?

Staffing will be a key concern when starting up a new SEO business, of course. You will likely want to be as lean as possible to begin with to keep costs down as much as possible.

Outsourcing could therefore be worth considering, as this is one of the best ways for companies to make money. This can be through the use of freelancers, with lots of people currently looking for part-time work after losing their jobs due to their coronavirus crisis.

In fact, there is so much talent out there right now that outsourcing makes a lot of sense. Just be aware that your clients may prefer for the work they pay you to do to not be sent elsewhere.

Working in-house can be beneficial as it is a lot easier to keep an eye on a project’s progress.

4. Setting the budget for your SEO business

Unless you have a huge amount to spend on your new SEO business, setting a budget is going to be one of the most important steps to take in the formation of your company.

Work out how much you are hoping to charge for your SEO expertise as this will be a key figure in working out how much money you have to spend.

Loans are typically used by people to get businesses off the ground but it might be harder to secure funding at the present time due to the global pandemic.

You can start pitching for clients right away, however, as long as you are confident that you will be able to do the work. Starting small is recommended, so a tight budget should not be an issue.

SEO businesses are highly scalable and a lot of businesses in the industry benefit from word of mouth recommendations. It therefore does not matter if there is not a lot of cash behind you to start with. Companies will always need SEO, so businesses in this area can thrive long-term.