There are several different ways to classify SEO vendor relationships. How a marketer does this ultimately comes down to the reason for the classification. When it comes to relationships and purchasing options, it may become even more complicated.
A lot goes into purchasing SEO services. For example, when deciding between pricing options, business owners may become confronted with two main options. They can purchase the services they need individually and scale up as needed. Otherwise, they may opt to purchase full packages.
There are also direct and indirect vendor relationships to the client and between providers. In the former case, a business owner may purchase services from a small company that handles the service itself. If the company is an SEO reseller that hires out specific tasks to another reputable company, then the service relationship is indirect.
Packages Versus À La Carte
When choosing an SEO vendor, one of the first decisions customers need to make is what services they need. As the vendor, you need to think like the customer and offer pricing options accordingly. Will you provide a packaged deal at a higher cost but greater value? Or do you prefer to cater to businesses that keep some functions in-house by offering individual services?
Think of it in the way you would a combo at a fast food restaurant. You have $10 cash to spend. On the menu, it may say $5 for a burger, $1 for a side of fries, $1 for a soda, and $2 for dessert. This totals $9. However, you could get the same items in a combo for $7.99. Which one would you choose? For many people, the package seems like a better option. However, they often don’t finish the meal.
Consider the difference if you already have dessert and soda at home and you really hate fries anyway. It might make sense to just purchase the burger for $5 and save the remaining $5 for another day. Maybe you can double-up on just the burger and ignore the items you don’t want or need. Now, you can eat for two days on the $10 or feed two people. Comparing that to SEO services, that could mean buying two articles instead of one. It may also mean double the hours of service on a specific task.
Just like some restaurants don’t provide lunchtime combos, not every SEO vendor provides packages. Which one will you be? And, when you are a customer, which one will you purchase? Note that when you outsource some of the services to another company, how it prices its services affects your business as well. Like the customer purchasing services from your company, you also need to decide which purchase type offers the best value.
Pros and Cons of À La Carte
- Data Analysis: If you rely on data analytics to decide your pricing model and product offering, à la carte is a much better option. When people buy in packages, it blurs what the most popular service is in favor of the most popular bundle. When people purchase individually, you have a better chance of identifying your moneymakers and what to play up during marketing campaigns for your business.
- Scalability: That said, small businesses may rely on individual service purchases more than others. These owners often start out tackling many of the administrative tasks on their own. As the business expands and attracts more revenue, then the business owner may begin to outsource various tasks. If the owner’s only options are to purchase a full package at a higher cost from an SEO vendor, this may turn them away.
- Decision Paralysis: Offering à la carte services can present too many choices. The Harvard Business Review warns that giving customers more to choose from doesn’t always make them happy. Instead, it can make some customers feel overwhelmed as they try to decide what services they need. One way around this is to bundle some options together. For example, offer content creation services, as opposed to content writing and then content editing.
Pros and Cons of Packages
- Revenue Opportunities: Even if you focus on à la carte services, there is no harm in offering a few packaged deals or bundles. Forbes calls this mixed bundling. According to the Harvard Business Review, bundling provides the opportunity to increase sales and revenue. How so? Think back to the fast food restaurant example. You still only have $10 in cash and the fast food items are the same. Maybe all you really needed was the burger, but if you can get the full combo for $7.99, that might look like a steal.
- Potential for Waste: The major disadvantage is that over time, the customer may begin to see the additional services as wasteful. This could lead to dissatisfaction. For example, a company may already handle sourcing its own images in-house for articles but accepted the service from you because it came in the package. The resulting surplus of photos the company can’t use in time may begin to seem like a waste of money, causing the manager to shop for a better deal.
Direct Versus Indirect
Many companies prefer to maintain a direct relationship with clients and handle all services. Still, there are others who decide to outsource some or all of the SEO work. When you involve a third-party SEO vendor in the mix, your company becomes an SEO reseller and the other becomes a white-label SEO service. This allows you to focus on what you do best while subcontracting some of the work out to another company.
If you have been handling your own SEO in-house for quite some time, this may seem surprising. However, outsourcing is an industry norm. In fact, Forbes estimates that 59% of SEO agencies partner with at least one white-label vendor.
Pros and Cons of a Direct Relationship
- Quality Control: If micromanaging your own services is important to you, then a direct relationship offers better quality control. Note that better control is not the same as total control. Your own workers may sometimes make mistakes. In fact, it is sometimes easier to vet the performance of a white-label SEO vendor than an employee. Even if an individual’s resume features impressive work performance, attributing specific successes to one person in a company that employs many can become difficult.
- Contract Requirements: Some companies may insist on you handling all the SEO and marketing work in-house. In this case, partnering with a white-label company violates the contract. You may get this request from companies known well for their secrecy, such as Apple. Even companies not usually secretive may have strict rules around a specific release.
- Restrictions: The obvious disadvantage here is that you remain limited in what you can offer. If you do not already provide SEO services in-house, you may lose clients who request this. If you become overbooked, you may need to decline additional orders. This can also cost you clients who now need to work with your competitors.
Pros and Cons of an Indirect Relationship
- Meet Deadlines: If you have a high volume of orders, working with a white label SEO vendor helps to ensure no work is too much work. If you can’t handle all the work in-house, you can pass it on to someone else. This reduces the risk of rushed work, thereby helping you to maintain high-quality results. Should your work volume slow down later on, you can always re-absorb that work.
- Economies of Scale: When you add SEO to the services that you provide, the initial costs are high. You may need to charge customers high prices to cover that initial investment. Partnering with white-label vendors helps to lower the cost because they can take advantage of economies of scale. The lower service cost for them translates to lower expenses for you and lower prices for your customers.
- Better Use of Skills: The more a company specializes in a specific area, the more in depth are the skills it brings to the table. These skills benefit not just the original company but your own and your customers’. Similarly, you can focus on your own core competencies. This ensures that job assignments go to the person most capable of achieving stellar results.
- Dependency: The main disadvantage of becoming an SEO reseller is the dependency on another company. The skills of that company and the quality of the work produced reflects on your own brand. To get around this, it is important to have a good liaison and proper quality control measures in-house. Someone needs to check the work before it gets passed on to your client.
Hire the World-Wide Leader
One of the greatest concerns you should have as an SEO reseller is hiring the wrong SEO vendor. Poor results on the vendor’s part can ruin your brand and destroy your relationship with your customers. The best way to avoid this risk and take advantage of the perks is to work with the industry’s best.