[Masterclass] How to Start an SEO Agency & Grow it to $2M

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Team Slam
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Starting your own business isn’t easy in any industry, and if you want to tackle the competitive world of search engine optimization (SEO) then your planning and preparation need to be on point. If you’re wondering how to start an SEO agency, we’re here to help. 

From acquiring and retaining clients in an intensely competitive market to figuring out project management, this guide has everything you need to get started on the right foot.   

In this article, we’ll discuss: 

  1. What does an SEO agency do, exactly? 
  2. SEO agencies: the legal stuff
  3. How to handle SEO agency operations
  4. Resources and templates for starting an SEO agency
  5. How to start an SEO agency with Slam Media Lab

At Slam Media Lab, we specialize in creating high-quality products and resources to help agency founders take their businesses from concept to million-dollar success. As an award-winning web design agency with over a decade of experience, we know what it takes to get ahead in this industry. We’re excited to share what we’ve learned with you! 

This article covers how to start an SEO agency (HINT: With SEO). If you’re looking for a deep dive, check out Slam’s How to Start an Agency masterclass taught by our founder and CEO Silvia Li Sam. Watch the trailer:

The course goes over how we did it at Slam, plus:

  • How to find your niche, conduct research, and where to start your client search.
  • Everything you need to know about legal and operational setup, from business registration to banking solutions.
  • How to craft winning, high-conversion proposals.
  • How to market your agency with branding, SEO, and social media strategies.
  • How to leverage ChatGPT to streamline your processes.
  • …and more!

We've been floored by the excitement around it! For a limited time, the first 10 people who sign up with this link will get 75% OFF with code AGENCY100.

What Does an SEO Agency Do, Exactly? 

The main purpose of an SEO agency is to improve the visibility of websites on search engine results pages (SERPs). Agencies focused on SEO generally deliver the following core services to their clients: 

  • Keyword research
  • Link building
  • Content creation
  • Technical SEO

In addition to these services, agencies also provide clients with an agency SEO report to measure website performance against KPIs. 

Consider, for example, a client who has hired your agency to boost the flow of organic traffic to their short-term rental website. To improve the website’s search visibility, keyword research is the logical starting point for your SEO campaign

The keyword research stage involves looking at things like search volume, keyword difficulty, and keyword rankings. This will give you valuable data on the average number of times a user searches for a given query every month and will help you gauge things like the keyword’s difficulty and position within Google. At Slam, we prefer (and recommend) Ahrefs for keyword research.

Let’s say you’ve identified the keywords you can potentially target on behalf of our short-term rental client. Now it’s time to look at acquiring links–arguably one of the most important aspects of SEO. Simply put: to rank in Google search results, you need to have links. 

There are a lot of different methods for building a strong backlink profile, and methods vary depending on the client’s needs. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to focus on creating content that can be naturally integrated with links to internal and external pages

A few examples of SEO-friendly content creation include: 

  • Blog post content
  • Landing page content
  • Meta descriptions and page titles 

Once your content is ready, it’s time to move on to technical SEO. This involves checking the client’s website for crawlability and Google indexing, reviewing the site’s structure, and ensuring the site’s speed and other core performance vitals are in optimal working order. 

The unavoidable reality of running an SEO agency is that you’ll need to contend with a lot of jargon and technical terminology. If you’re feeling lost, check out our course on How to Start an Agency where we go over everything you need to know

SEO Agencies: The Legal Stuff

Navigating the legal process is one of the most confusing parts of figuring out how to start an SEO agency. From deciding on a business structure to registering your business with the relevant state authorities, legal considerations are complicated and entirely non-negotiable! 

Fortunately, there are great tools and resources available to make the legal logistics slightly less overwhelming when it comes to: 

  • Legal setup and registration
  • Licenses and permits
  • Banking

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these logistical matters. We’ll also walk you through some of our preferred tools for managing everything from state registration to taxes. 

To simplify the process of keeping your legal and tax obligations organized, Slam offers a Legal Tracker for agencies

Legal Setup & Registration

The first step to setting up your agency is to decide on a business structure. Will you run things as an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, or something else? The structure you choose will affect your tax obligations, liability, and business registration requirements. 

Many businesses choose to incorporate in Delaware due to its favorable laws and business environment. Here are six reasons we suggest doing the same: 

  1. Flexible corporate laws offering a high degree of flexibility.
  2. Court of Chancery that handles corporate litigation.
  3. Privacy – Delaware doesn’t make you publicly disclose the names of officers or directors.
  4. Favorable tax laws for companies that do not conduct business within the state.
  5. Investor and legal community preferences due to precedent and predictability.
  6. Efficient filing and administrative processes.

Once you’ve decided on your business structure and prepared the relevant documentation, it’s time to register your business with the relevant state authorities. We recommend using Stripe Atlas for this process – especially if you’re setting this up in Delaware. Stripe will also help you get a Tax ID number from the IRS, among other things. 

Furthermore, you’ll need to register your employees to keep everything above board when it comes to payroll and benefits. At Slam, we rely on Gusto for all things HR!   

Licenses and Permits

With your business setup and registration complete, it’s time to obtain the necessary licenses and permits. This process will vary depending on your location and the nature of your services, so it’s a good idea to do some research at the local level. 

One important thing to keep in mind is whether you’ll need a registered agent if you aren’t working in the state where you registered your business. For example, if you formed your LLC in Delaware but conduct your business in California, you need a registered agent in California for the following five reasons: 

  1. Legal requirement for foreign LLCs
  2. Point of contact for legal documents
  3. Compliance with state regulations
  4. Physical presence requirements
  5. Privacy and convenience

Slam does business in California, so we use this service to ensure our compliance with local regulations. 

It’s also important to look into insurance requirements, which may vary by state. Gusto is a great tool for finding insurance quotes and coverage details.   


With your registration, licenses, and insurance in place, you’re ready to start moving money! Organizing your banking logistics from the very beginning is critical for managing bill payments, invoicing, payroll, and tax obligations

At Slam, we use and recommend the following accounting tools: 

  • Stripe – Payment links without code
  • Quickbooks Online – Cloud-based bill payments and invoicing
  • Deel – Payroll and compliance for international teams 

For a more detailed guide to streamlining your financial reporting, check out our course on How to Start an Agency

How to Handle SEO Agency Operations

Managing an SEO agency is no joke. From communicating with clients to keeping track of multiple projects with lots of moving parts, keeping everything organized is a major challenge. 

When planning for your SEO agency operations, you’ll need tools for: 

  • Project management
  • Content planning
  • Communication
  • Design

In this section, we’ll explore these areas and their importance in more detail. We’ll also take a look at Slam’s favorite SEO agency tools.

Project Management

SEO agency projects are multifaceted. They involve lots of complex tasks that need to be broken down and tracked according to interdependent deadlines. Even the best ideas can easily get sidetracked by inefficient resource allocation and miscommunication between the project’s specialists. That’s why a good project management system can make or break an SEO agency. 

At Slam, we rely on tools like Notion and Airtable for project management. For example, when we land a new client, one of the first things we do is set up our client template and task system in Notion. For an easy-to-use project management template, check out our Notion Task List template. 

After creating the client’s template in Notion, we add information about their Webflow and DNS access along with links to their Slack channel, Google Drive folder, Figma design file, and other resources relevant to the project. We also make sure we’ve included up-to-date contact info, a project timeline, and anything else we need to stay on top of the relevant details. 

To learn more about how we handle project management, check out this Loom walkthrough of the system we use at Slam. If you’re having trouble deciding which project management software to use, check out our guide on Airtable vs. Google Sheets

Content Planning

Content planning for an SEO agency involves using strategy and optimization to launch and distribute your online content. It’s a critical process that ensures your content is high-quality and rich in the right keywords. By mapping out topics, keywords, and publication schedules, you have a better chance of consistently producing valuable content that attracts and engages your target audience. 

At Slam, we do so much content planning that we’ve created pre-made templates to make the process easier. We even made them available to the public! You can make your agency work easier by using our: 

For access to all our project management and content planning templates, plus in-depth instructions on how to use them, check out our How to Start an Agency course. 


To stay on top of client expectations and progress reports, you need a streamlined and user-friendly communication tool for your SEO agency. That way, you’ll build trust and respond to client requests and concerns before they become a major issue. 

Communication software is also great for managing your agency’s team of specialists. Whether you work exclusively with in-house staff or contractors through UpWork or both, you need a way to communicate with everyone involved in your client’s project. 

At Slam, we rely on Slack for most of our agency communication. We appreciate its real-time messaging, file sharing, and collaboration features. The platform also lets us organize channels by project, team, or topic, which is much more streamlined than trying to organize all those moving parts via email! 


Even if your agency doesn’t hyper-focus on graphic design, you’ll still need access to good design tools for creating agency client reports with visual appeal. And if you’re supporting clients with their brand identity and web design, reliable design software is a must. Fortunately, there are several user-friendly design products on the market today for SEO agencies looking to make a visual impact. 

For an easy tool that lets you create a wide range of visual content, we recommend giving Canva a try. Thanks to its user-friendly interface, it’s an accessible software for people with varying levels of design experience. Some common uses for Canva include: 

  • Social media graphics
  • Presentations
  • Infographics
  • Banners & headers

And if you’re looking for a way to seamlessly transition graphics from design to development, look no further than Figma. This collaborative design tool is great for:

  • Interface design
  • Prototyping
  • Team collaboration

As award-winning Webflow experts, we love the Figma to Webflow integrations that make design and development a streamlined, painless process. This software’s cloud-based versatility and real-time collaboration features make it a great choice for your SEO agency. 

Resources & Templates for Starting an SEO Agency

Slam offers four great tools for managing the day-to-day logistics of your SEO agency: 

  1. Marketing Proposal Template
  2. Feedback Template
  3. Meeting Notes Template
  4. Content Calendar 

All four of these templates (and more!) are included in our How to Start an Agency course. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these products and how to use them. 

Marketing Proposal Template

A marketing proposal is a comprehensive document that ensures alignment between your marketing efforts and your client’s budget and business objectives. If you’re looking to take over a client’s digital marketing, you’ll need to pitch them your ideas. In other words, you need to prove that you understand the assignment and you’re ready to deliver. 

As an award-winning B2B web design agency, we’ve submitted our fair share of marketing proposals over the years. In our experience, a well-designed marketing proposal template is a great tool for accelerating the process according to a pre-designed framework. 

Our marketing proposal template saves time, reduces errors, and improves efficiency by eliminating the need to start from scratch. It’s a must-have resource, which is why we’ve included it in our How to Start an Agency course. 

Feedback Template

Collecting, evaluating, and responding to feedback are critical aspects of running an SEO agency. In essence, feedback helps you continually improve, which will lead to happier clients and overall success in the marketing industry. 

Our feedback template provides a structured framework for collecting consistent and actionable client insights. We designed it to encourage specificity and help respondents articulate their thoughts through prompts and guidelines. It’s the perfect resource for collecting data, which makes it easier to analyze trends and identify areas for improvement. 

Meeting Notes Template

Meeting notes are a non-negotiable part of managing an SEO agency. Every time you meet with a client or team member, you should have a mechanism for recording what was discussed during the meeting. Meeting notes help maintain your organization’s knowledge base and support accountability – both crucial aspects of collaborating within a team or organization. 

The Slam meeting notes template streamlines the meeting documentation process by providing you with a structured format for consistently recording things like: 

  • Agendas
  • Action items
  • Decisions
  • Follow-up items

With our template, you’ll save time and maintain uniformity across different meetings. It’s just one of many templates included in our How to Start an Agency course. 

Content Calendar

If you’re looking into how to start an SEO agency, a content calendar is definitely something you should write down on your list of must-have resources. After all, high quality content is a non-negotiable part of search engine visibility and audience engagement!  

A content calendar is a strategic roadmap for creating and publishing content. It ensures your content stays consistent and timely by helping with: 

  • Keyword selection
  • Content topic planning
  • Team collaboration

At Slam, we’ve created loads of great resources for organizing and optimizing your content. For example, this Social Media Editorial Calendar will save you weeks of time. 

Also, our Airtable Content Calendar is great for optimizing your content and staying ahead of the competition without becoming overwhelmed by administrative tasks. To learn more, check out our guide on how to use Slam’s Airtable Content Calendar

How to Start an SEO Agency with Slam

Too often, SEO agency founders end up spending hundreds of hours trying to find the best resources to launch their business. From figuring out the legal stuff to identifying the best project management software, figuring out how to start an SEO agency is no easy task! 

At Slam, we’ve spent a lot of time documenting our battle-tested and proven processes. Now, we’ve turned them into templates and made them available to founders like you. 

To access all of Slam’s templates and processes, check out our How to Start an Agency course where you’ll have access to everything you need to streamline your SEO agency launch. 

As an award-winning design agency, we’re also available to partner on projects. Here are just a few of the award-winning services we offer our clients:

If you’d like to set up a free consultation, contact our team today. 

Interested in starting other types of agencies? Check out our guides:

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How to Start an Agency [Course & 20+ Templates]

Leverage our proven blueprint to start your own million-dollar agency. We did it in one year. You can, too. Our course packs in 20+ templates and exclusive insider processes, addressing every challenge from startup to success.

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