Beginner’s Checklist for Starting an SEO Agency

Are you thinking about starting an SEO agency? With all the tools available to start, run, and grow your business, there has never been a better time to start your own SEO agency.

Unfortunately, there is a big gap between having the desire to start a business and knowing what to do to make it happen.

FIRST… You’re going to need to brush up on the latest in SEO, digital marketing, and the basics of running and growing an agency. Luckily, you’re in the right place to get all that knowledge with Offline Sharks training and services so be sure to check out what we offer: OFFLINE SHARKS COURSES

SECOND… You’re going to need a checklist of the steps required to get your SEO agency ready for your first of many customers. Luckily, you’re in the right place for that as well!

Beginners Checklist to Start an SEO Agency HEADER Offline Sharks

Beginner’s Checklist for Starting an SEO Agency

Starting any digital marketing agency requires you to make some decisions while setting up a growth-minded foundation with the right tools and resources. The “Beginner’s Checklist for Starting an SEO Agency” walks you through getting that done.



☐  Pick a niche

While SEO services are basically the same across all industries, it is tough to sell those services unless you niche down and address prospects in a language they understand with your brand messaging and marketing. Specializing has the added benefit of being able to show how your services have worked for businesses exactly like the prospects.

☐  Pick a geographical area

You could offer your SEO services worldwide, but being the big shark in a small ocean will land you more clients. Start locally and grow from there. People want to work with someone that knows the area, and they trust people whose address is close to theirs.

☐  Choose what services you will offer

Look at competitors and see what services they offer to get an idea of what services are actually selling and for what price. To start, choose services currently have the resources to provide. There are only so many hours in the day, so look at subcontracting by becoming a reseller or hiring people to do the work for you.

☐  Domain name and hosting

Go Daddy is one of the most popular places to get your domain, so I’ll share their tips here. But remember that you don’t have to host your domain with the same company you bought the domain from. It might be easier but not necessarily cheaper.

  1. Make it easy to type. 2. Keep it short. 3. Use keywords. 4. Target your area. 5. Avoid numbers and hyphens. 6. Be memorable.


☐  Business Name

Don’t miss an opportunity to optimize your business for search engines. When you can, including keywords such as location (Shreveport SEO), niche (Auto Dealership SEO), or results (Rank First SEO) make promoting your services easier.

☐  Logo

Just do it. You’ll need it for the website, advertising, marketing, business cards… everything. Keep it simple, don’t go crazy with colors, and you can do this yourself (Top 15 DIY Logo Makers) or hit to get it for less than $7.

☐  Buyer Personas

Know exactly who you are selling to so you know how to address their needs. Your marketing will be centered around how efficiently and affordably you solve these people’s problems. Here’s a popular tool for creating buyer personas – do at least 3.

Hubspot Buyer Persona Tool


☐  Pick a face for your brand (usually YOURS)

People want to do business with humans, so give them a face to go with the business. This is more important when you don’t meet prospects face to face. Consider getting some professional photos that show your big HUMAN smile so prospects feel more comfortable.


☐  Launch search optimized website

Unless you are a website designer, get this done professionally. You’ll want a clean website that tells people who you are, what you do, and why you’re the right choice. Include reviews and testimonials. I suggest an interactive contact page and public pricing for transparency (and qualifying prospects).

☐  Claim your Google My Business listing

You’re a real business now, so important that you let Google know so they can start sending traffic your way. You, more than most, know how important this is, so go get it done right now: Google My Business.

☐  Claim your Yelp listing

Your reputation (or lack of reputation) is speaking volumes to prospects. Control the conversation by claiming your Yelp listing, encouraging reviews, and responding to both positive and negative feedback. Do the same on other review sites important to your niche.

☐  Claim your brand on major social media networks (and those of your niche)

Get on social media and claim your business brand and name before someone else does. You should probably check on social media handles before solidifying your name choice. Fill out your profiles in their entirety and optimize for search with relevant hashtags. Cover the Big 4 to start – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


☐  Create and promote useful, actionable content

Establish yourself as THE expert in your market by investing time and/or resources in publishing and promoting really awesome content on your blog and landing pages. Don’t be afraid of giving away all your secrets, remember your clients are paying to NOT have to do all or any of the work. Also, consider guest posting on sites your target audience visits often.

☐  Have a system in place to gather and promote reviews/testimonials

Testimonials and reviews are huge influencers for prospects. Ask your happiest customers for reviews where they matter most to your business (GMB, FB, Yelp, etc.) and testimonials. Then showcase them – not just on your website, but also on social media, ads, and in your email marketing and proposals.

☐ Build trust and credibility

Be clear on the details of your service and how it has worked for others on your website. Clients base their purchase decisions on trustworthiness and expertise. Credibility takes time to build, but with consistent examples of your expertise and results, it becomes a powerful acquisition tool.


☐  Pick accounting software

Your accounting needs are straightforward: general ledger, accounts payable/accounts receivable, fixed assets, and bank reconciliation. In most cases, you only need the basic plan or core accounting with one or two add-ons to intuitive software that makes your life easier – NOT harder. Try free trials of the most popular software to find one that works best for you. Here is a comparison chart of the most popular accounting software available: Top 20 Most Popular Accounting Software.

☐  Select and set up payment methods

You’re probably familiar with PayPal and Square. Does your accounting software include the ability to process and receive payments? Or are you going to need a separate system that integrates seamlessly? Make sure your software works well together. Create an invoice template and send a test invoice to yourself for 10 cents to see how the invoicing and payment process looks and feels for your clients.

☐  Create a standard contract

Have a contract is a requirement, not a recommendation. It details what your offer is and what is expected from you and from the client. Additionally, it should include clear policies on payments, deliverables, and refunds, so expectations are clear. Determine your pricing structure (hourly, fixed, retainer?) and include that as well.

Start Your SEO Agency without Reinventing the Wheel

There is no shame in using existing tools, templates, and processes. Actually, it’s dumb not to. Don’t stop or stutter when you hit a wall. If you are unsure about what software to choose, how to find your keywords, or even what “schema markup” is, get on the internet and find out.

Overcoming Obstacles Quote Offline Sharks

Join local and online communities full of people with similar goals, eager to share their experience and offer assistance as you start and grow your SEO agency.


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Offline Sharks is committed to practicing and teaching ethical marketing, so while financial goals are important, you’ll instantly see that maintaining our stellar reputation and supporting our community of beginners and veterans is more important. Come see for yourself!

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Nick Ponte

Nick Ponte

Born and raised on Maui, Nick was employed as an automobile mechanic before founding his own local marketing agency. Nick naturally wrestled with the change from tradesman to marketer (not an easy transition) but, like Tom, he wouldn't give up. Through years of commitment, Nick has grown to be a highly skilled web developer and marketing expert with a specialized skill-sets in a variety of fields. He has developed many high-traffic, high-quality websites that incorporate the best practices for today's digital marketing. Today, Nick eagerly shares his experience and knowledge by helping others in cultivating their business.

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