The history of the white label SEO industry deserves its own post. It's a story of business-destroying penguins, motorcycle crashes, agency lead lists emailed to competitors in the dead of night, and bizarre tattoo contests.
But I want to use the "literally" in this story's headline literally. So what do you need to know about white label SEO services?
Let's get right into it.
Here's what you need to know about white label SEO:
- What Is White Label SEO?
- Who Are the Best White Label SEO Providers?
- What Type of White Label SEM Services Are Available?
- How Can I Scale My Agency Using White Label SEO?
First, a definition:
What is white label SEO?
Essentially, white label SEO companies provide fulfillment services and SEO software for other digital marketing companies. These companies (also known as SEO resellers) then sell white label SEO products with their own branding, often using a private label dashboard. The white label company provides delivery, infrastructure, and tools, while the reseller sells the products and manages customer relationships.
Let's pretend for a moment that SEO is chocolate milk, which is easier to understand, delicious, and rich in calcium. Companies like HubShout spend quite a bit of money to raise the cows, mix the milk with chocolate, and bottle it. The SEO reseller puts their own name and branding on the chocolate milk because they have stores and customers who want to buy it. The SEO reseller doesn't have to go through the trouble of raising livestock, and their customers get a delicious beverage.
That's exactly how white label SEO works, except the chocolate milk is made up of link building tools, blogs, social media posts, and SEO software. In order for this arrangement to work, both the white label provider and the reseller must be able to earn a profit from the relationship, while still offering SEO services that customers (we call them end-clients) can afford.
Who are the best white label SEO companies?
HubShout recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, and we've seen a few white label SEO providers come and go in that time. When our owners entered the SEO reseller space in 2009, there were only a handful of competitors (some have lasted to 2018, some have joined forces, and some have disappeared).
Today, there are really only five white label SEO providers you need to know about. We don't mind telling you their names, even if we aren't quite magnanimous enough to link to them. Still, they aren't hard to find.
If you're looking for the top white label SEO companies, these are the only names you need to know:
- SEO Reseller: One of the most well-known providers in the industry, they also have the benefit of an exact-match domain. The address on their website says San Francisco, but you'll find them in the Philippines.
- HubShout: That's us! The address on our website says Rochester, New York, and you'll find us in Rochester, New York (we also have an office in Washington, D.C.). We're one of the only white label SEO companies based entirely in the United States, which has been an asset as Google prioritizes high-quality content.
- The Hoth: New to the scene, The Hoth has grown quickly in recent years. This Florida-based company is known for a cute mascot and a tattoo contest, which we have to assume is part of some strange hipster-occult initiation ritual?
- eBrandz: Based in India, this team emerged from the directory submission industry. We’ve had occasional contact with their owners every few years, but don’t know them well. We do know that their Executive team is in the U.S. regularly for meetings with large clients.
- Posirank: Based out of Maryland, this service, as we understand it, is very self-service focused (like the Hoth). Customers' main source of interaction is through the website.
What types of services do white label SEO companies provide?
Of course, the precise deliverables, services, and plans differ from agency to agency, but for the most part you'll find the following services at the top vendors:
Depending on the provider, these white label SEO services can be provided a la carte or as part of a recurring monthly package of managed SEO services.
In our experience, most SEO resellers are looking for high-quality onsite content, killer link building tools, and white label PPC support.
Why do agencies work with white label SEO providers?
White label SEO can be an excellent tool for growing your agency -- if you know what you're doing. In order for the SEO reseller model to work, the agency has to be capable of generating their own leads, closing sales, and managing customer relationships. Even the best white label SEO company in the world can't do that for you.
However, a relationship with the right SEO vendor removes a lot of the barriers to scaling your agency. When you have a dozen SEO clients, it's easy enough to work with freelance writers to produce content. Targeted email outreach can often yield some solid link placements, too.
Beyond that, scaling an SEO operation like this becomes incredibly difficult and costly. Many digital marketing companies either can't -- or don't want to -- hire a team of in-house writers, social media marketers, web designers, and SEO analysts. Leveraging a relationship with a white label vendor ensures that you are always ready to take on new customers.
Plus, SEO has become more complicated. We've talked a lot about content and link building, but there's a lot more involved in running a successful SEO campaign. To get those page one rankings, you need a thorough analysis of the client's site, you need to keep an eye on site speed, anchor text profiles, local listings, mobile experience, Google My Business, countless algorithm updates, and keyword density.
And we haven't even talked about conversion tracking yet. To demonstrate ROI, you also need SEO software that can track phone calls, sales, and web leads. Rather than investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop these capabilities in-house, thousands of digital marketing agencies have instead turned to the SEO reseller model.
How can I scale my agency using white label SEO?
If you're looking for the top white label SEO companies, then you probably have one question on your mind.
How can I grow my company using private label SEO services?
There's no single answer to this question, obviously. That being said, after 10 years in the industry, we've helped thousands of digital marketing agencies grow their business. In fact, we see that as our mission: helping businesses achieve their dreams.
There are a few common ways to use white label SEO to grow your business.
A Sales-Focused Approach
In the most traditional reseller relationship, the white label provider focuses solely on delivery while the reseller focuses on sales and customer service. We've seen many successful SEM companies built on this model. By tapping into local markets and leveraging a talented sales team, you can build a flourishing digital marketing company.
If you want to focus on customer service and sales, this is an attractive route to growth. Because resellers don't have to worry about fulfillment, their monthly revenue will increase the longer they can retain their end-clients.
The Value-Added Approach
Strangely, some of the most successful SEO resellers we've seen aren't actually SEO companies. At least, not primarily.
Let's say you run a successful web design company. Unfortunately, once the initial build is done, your revenue from that customer drops sharply. In addition, more and more of your customers are asking for ongoing SEO services. Without an SEO product, you're leaving money on the table. Recurring-revenue engagements are better because they provide predictable revenue, stronger valuations and long-term customer relationships.
The same is true for SEM agencies that specialize in eCommerce, web development, social media, and PPC services. For these agencies, white label SEO vendors give them a ready-made SEO product to increase their revenue-per-customer.
Pricing White Label SEO Services
Of course, for the white label SEO business model to work, resellers have to mark up the wholesale prices. A 100% markup is most common in the industry. If the initial wholesale price is too high, the retail price point won't be competitive.
This has presented some challenges for the industry, and the top white label SEO companies have responded in one of two ways:
- The Race To The Bottom: Many vendors are competing to offer SEO packages with the lowest price point. That's why there are so many vendors based in India and the Philippines.
- Investing In Technology: To justify the higher price point that often comes with white label SEO, many vendors have instead invested in offering higher quality services, stronger link building tools, and private label SEO dashboards.
We've seen these two approaches reflected in our resellers as well. In our experience, the majority of resellers will either try to keep their prices as low as possible, or they will justify a higher price point with strong service.
And, for what it's worth, our most successful reseller also has the highest average plan price.
So how should white label SEO products be priced at the retail level? Can your clients afford the standard 100% retail markup? When we surveyed digital marketing agency owners in 2017, we found that:
- 50% of small business clients spend between $501 and $2,500 per month for digital marketing
- 36% spend more than $2,500 per month
- Only 10% spend more than $10,000
On top of that, 32% of agencies reported that SEO was their highest revenue product, tied with web development for the top spot.
As in any industry, finding the right price point can be difficult. You need to generate enough revenue to grow without pricing yourself out of the market. Fortunately, the digital marketing industry is growing fast.
Many companies are actually increasing their digital marketing budgets. A minuscule 2% of small businesses plan to decrease digital marketing dollars, while digital marketing budgets are expected to increase by an average of 12.3% over the next year.
Is white label SEO right for my agency?
We could sing the praises of white label SEO all day. And you could write up an extensive list of the pros and cons of white label SEO. Ultimately, we've seen this model work really well for thousands of agencies.
But we have a word of warning:
The reseller model only works if the reseller can provide stellar customer service and has a rock solid close rate.
If you can't do either, then it doesn't matter which vendor or products you choose. That's why we're so selective of the agencies that apply to our SEO reseller program.
Another word of warning:
We're obviously biased when it comes to choosing between the best white label SEO companies. However, if you've narrowed down your list of vendors, we have a simple technique for choosing the right vendor.
When you talk to a white label SEO vendor, ask them if you can target an impossible keyword. If your client is a car dealership, tell the vendor you want to target "ford trucks". If it's an electronics store, tell them you want to target "flatscreen tv".
The best white label SEO providers will caution you against an impossible keyword. They'll tell you that you can probably rank locally on those keywords with an aggressive approach. They'll recommend white label PPC services instead. Or they'll advise you to pick more appropriate keywords.
But the less reputable vendors? They'll ask for your credit card info and offer to get to work right away.
Ultimately, you want to find a white label SEO company that you can build a lasting relationship with. If you take the time to find the right vendor, you can work together to scale your agency.