You Want to Re-sell SEO? Great, But Please Stop Ruining Websites

Tommy McDonald
Originally from Ireland.. currently chasing the sun in Spain. I've been involved in the SEO industry in one form or other for the past 5 years. You can find me rambling about my SEO experiences, theories & opinions on

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    Note from Tim: before you start reading this article, I wanted to give you just a bit of proof to illustrate that the issue that Tommy talks about below is real.

    A few months ago we did a quick survey on how our customers approach their SEO. And even though we didn’t ask for it directly, quite a few people decided to vent on their experience with SEO agencies.

    Question: What is frustrating about doing SEO for your site?

    Question: Do you have any budget for SEO?
    badSEO-02And here goes the post…

    Fact: a large percentage of SEO agencies that have big fancy offices and spend mid to high $XX,XXX a month on AdWords traffic to generate leads don’t know a thing about SEO.

    They couldn’t rank a client if their life depended on it.

    So, how are they staying in business and generating millions of dollars in revenue?

    Well, first, they have their lead generation and sales pitch perfected. Second, they have a great outsource partner that doesn’t mind being behind the scene and actually provides high quality work.

    When both sides work in sync it can be a marriage made in heaven, producing great results and making a lot of money. When one of the sides tries to take shortcuts it leads to a complete disaster, loss of clients and loss of revenue.

    Common Mistakes Re-Sellers Make

    Greed is the number one downfall and I personally see it often.

    Let’s be honest for a minute; a large percentage of “SEO providers” jump right in and start selling SEO services without having a clue as to what SEO is all about. They only see the dollar signs. As you are well aware, SEO can be a lucrative business.

    So, rather than spend the time to become properly educated regarding on-page and off-page factors, techniques and strategies, they just start selling. They look for the cheapest “service” to resell and let the dice roll.

    I cringe when I audit websites that claim to have paid an “SEO agency” thousands of dollars a month for the past half-year and the garbage pointed at their site is equivalent to Fiverr gigs totaling $15.

    While buying some “links” for $15 and selling them for several thousands of dollars a month sounds like a great business plan it is one that will always be short lived.

    The results won’t come, websites will be penalized and clients will bail when a competent SEO takes a look at their link profile and realizes the pure crap that has been performed.

    Another common mistake it relying too much on automated tools.

    For example, Moz’s on-page grader is good, but simply running a URL through that and sending the client an “on-page report” isn’t going to magically improve their on-page SEO.

    If you don’t know how to do it, that’s fine. Just make sure you partner with an outsource provider that does in fact review on-page elements and makes changes that will help the overall SEO.

    Common Mistakes Outsource Providers Make

    The re-sellers aren’t the only side to blame when things so sour.

    Providers need to understand that when the dust settles it’s the quality and thoroughness of their work that dictates whether or not a client is going to be a long-term client or jump ship to yet another ‘SEO agency” when the results don’t come.

    SEO is a results based industry. No customer is going to keep paying their monthly bill if they don’t see an increase in traffic.

    So, instead of just firing links (or whatever is included in the package) and letting the re-seller handle the rest you need to take it a step further these days.

    Every business has a website and every website needs some level of SEO.

    If you take a look at most small business websites, you will see they are a mess. Anyone with half a brain can see that no matter how much traffic hits the site they aren’t going to get phone calls or sales. If the website design sucks, let them know. If the offer is horrible and you know it’s not going to convert tell them.


    Because you could do your job and provide the best SEO service, ranking them #1 for several keywords and pushing a boat load of traffic to the site, but if it doesn’t translate into dollars and sales the SEO will be seen as “not working” and they are going to cancel.

    Outsource providers should be going above and beyond to offer suggestions. Keeping the sites healthy and performing well ensures that the customer stays with the agency month after month.

    Going out to secure the client in the first place is the hardest part, and this is something that is brought to outsource providers on a silver platter.

    They don’t have to deal with customer service. They don’t have to pitch clients and close them. They have one job only, and that is to provide a great SEO service.

    So, if you are a provider go that extra mile to deliver something truly special. If you are a re-seller and looking for an outsource partner look for one that will do more that just build links and send you a report.

    What Re-Sellers Should Focus On

    In a perfect re-seller/provider relationship each side only has to focus on a few things, granted the other side does their job as well.

    There are two main things you, as a re-seller, need to focus on if you want to build a successful SEO business:

    • Marketing: You need to constantly promote your SEO service and have a steady flow of leads. There is no cap on how quickly you can scale up and how large your operation can be, since you aren’t performing the actual work.You need to have a very transparent relationship with your service provider, and know how much work load they can handle. If you overload them or if they tell you they can take on more than they can really handle your business will come crashing down and it will be game over.
    • Customer Service: Keeping your customer base happy is key. You will learn that it’s much easier to keep your current clients onboard than it is to seek out new customers.It’s also much more cost effective to keep your churn rate low. It will cost you much less of your bottom line to provide excellent customer service then it will to generate, nurture, and close new leads. Live chat, email support and phone support is key.Also, use a help desk solution like Zendesk to keep all of your customer service in one central location, accessible by everyone on your team.

    Happy customers = happy profits.

    What Outsource Providers Should Focus On

    Outsource providers need to focus on to main points:

    • Providing Quality: I really get annoyed at the whole white hat vs black hat argument that SEOs tend to constantly bicker about. I get even more frustrated when I see SEO agencies and outsource providers advertise their offerings as “100% safe white hat SEO” when anyone with a brain and even the slightest SEO knowledge knows that a statement like that is completely ridiculous.White hat SEO is not safe. Take off your hat for a minute and admit that SEO involves building links, creating content to attract links and putting things into place that all have one objective, and that is to game the search engine results.So many SEOs will claim that they are “white hat” and that they just create content and assets that get shared online. While that is great, let’s not try to fool anyone. It is all done with the goal of achieving a higher position in the search results. Sure, some SEO is “safer” but there isn’t a single SEO strategy that is 100% safe, and anyone, re-seller or outsource provider, that claims otherwise is 100% full of crap.TL;DR: outsource providers need to provide a quality service without making ridiculous claims in order to attract re-sellers. Let’s not forget something very important: most re-sellers are going to repeat, word for word, what the outsource providers say. If they say they are doing “100% Google penalty proof SEO” the re-seller is going to tell their clients that they offer 100% safe SEO.

      Penalties are part of the game. They happen. If clients know upfront that no SEO is 100% safe if something does happen you can work to correct it, rather then them ask why the 100% safe SEO failed.

    • Providing Value: As I mentioned above, SEO is more than just building links. I can’t tell you how many times I have audited a local SEO client that wasn’t ranking for what I would consider to be very easy keywords. Ones that should rank just with proper on-page SEO. Sure enough, we fix the on-page SEO and clean up the site to improve its load time and sure enough, the site ranks for several terms. The client thinks we worked some crazy miracle, when in reality we just did some basic SEO. A solid outsource provider needs to really provide SEO and not just link building. Truth be told, the re-seller isn’t going to have the technical know-how to fill in the gaps and take care of the simple things, like titles, alt-image tags, H2 and H1 headings, etc. These are little basic things that if ignored, can really hold a site back.

    Both sides need to do their part…

    If you are serious about re-selling SEO and want to build a legitimate business, and be in it for the long haul, look for the following traits, characteristics and options when picking an outsource provider to handle the actual work.

    Doing so will allow you to focus all of your efforts on attracting new clients and keeping current clients onboard.

    No gimmicks:

    If an outsource provider is trying to suck you in with outrageous gimmicks do you really think they are going to provide a quality service?

    There is no truly safe link building, there aren’t 100% Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird proof SEO. It just doesn’t exist.

    This is a relationship, so make sure you know who you are jumping in bed with. Spend some time to really vet them, to the point that you are completely confident putting your valuable clients in their hands.

    User-friendly backend:

    When the re-seller can quickly see a snapshot of the entire SEO strategy it’s easier to pass on information to the client and when the SEO is transparent the re-seller will see all of the components that together make up the complete strategy.

    If someone is telling you that the “secret sauce” is private, then that is a huge red flag. Strive for full transparency.

    So many outsource providers are worried about the re-seller figuring out what they do, but to be honest they don’t care. They are using an outsource provider because they don’t want to do the actual work. They don’t want to hire and train an entire SEO staff.

    My company provides the actual “SEO” for some of the largest companies. These are companies that are constantly making the Inc 500/5000 list and do several millions of dollars in revenue every year.

    We show them everything we do and guess what? They have never, and will never, attempt to do it on their own. They are able to do such huge revenue numbers because they have perfected their end, which is customer acquisition and sales, while leaving the actual SEO to us.

    Hands-free reporting:

    If you are re-selling you want to keep your customers happy and eliminate unnecessary support tickets.

    A simple report, whether weekly or monthly, will keep clients informed and as long as the service is delivering results they aren’t going to bother you.

    Remember, a small business owner is going to hire you to do the SEO because he or she doesn’t know how to do it and doesn’t have the time to attempt to learn. Keep them satisfied and content and they won’t bother you.


    I hear horror stories daily about outsource companies that re-sellers have worked with in the past.

    Poor communication, infrequent working hours, etc.

    Sadly, many of these providers are working out of mommy’s basement and they don’t have a legitimate setup. That is just the nature of SEO in general.

    Look how many “companies” there are that have a cell phone as their main office number. They aren’t even legally licensed and registered businesses.

    If you can’t get consistent support how good do you think the quality of the work will be? If you don’t vet your provider and throw crappy service at your clients’ websites you are just as responsible, if not more, when the crap hits the fan.

    Quality work:

    You need to take a test drive before you buy, right? You’re not going to buy a new car off the lot without sitting in it to make sure it is comfortable and driving it to make sure it performs as expected.

    Before you commit to an outsource provider get a first hand look at their work.

    Sign up for their service and point it at a test site. Create a lead generation page, throw some good content on it targeting a few keywords and see what kind of results they deliver.

    If you wouldn’t use the service on your own site what does that say? It’s saying pretty clearly that it’s crap.

    Be Responsible

    I’m not trying to be negative or discourage people from becoming SEO re-sellers. Heck, that is how I make a decent percentage of my income.

    But, at the same time I see horror stories every single day and 9 out of 10 times it is due to an incompetent SEO provider that just pointed pure trash at a website without truly knowing what he or she was doing.

    The SEO industry already has a huge black eye, and we all need to be responsible.

    For every SEO cowboy that has no clue as to what they are doing, that is an additional kick in the SEO industry’s balls that affects every single person reading this.

    Sell SEO responsibly, help businesses thrive online, but for the sake of this industry, please stop ruining websites .

    Tommy McDonald
    Originally from Ireland.. currently chasing the sun in Spain. I've been involved in the SEO industry in one form or other for the past 5 years. You can find me rambling about my SEO experiences, theories & opinions on

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