The Pros & Cons of White Label SEO

Nate Nead
January 6, 2023

Offering search engine optimization (SEO) services to your clients could be lucrative.You help them rank higher in search engines, so they attract tons of organic traffic.They pay you a few thousand dollars per month.Sounds like a win-win, no?Well, as many ambitious content marketing agency owners can attest, executing the necessary work to make an SEO campaign successful can be challenging.You need the right resources. You need the right tools. You need knowledge and experience. And you need dozens of different specialists in fields like link building, mobile optimization, keyword research, and even data analytics.If you offer all these things yourself, you'll need to hire a full team, which can greatly increase your costs and jeopardize your profitability.But there's another option – using a white label SEO service.What exactly is white label SEO? How does white label SEO differ from white label marketing? And is it really as good as it seems?

What Is White Label SEO?

A white label product is one that is figuratively “white labeled,” meaning it’s not branded by the company that produces it. Instead, it’s branded and marketed by a second company, which typically masquerades as the product’s originator.In the specific case of white label SEO, this means another agency is going to do all the search optimization work on behalf of your clients. Depending on the arrangement, that could include keyword research, strategic consulting, content generation, link building, and even reporting and analytics.Your client will never meet with the white label SEO reseller, nor will they see their brand or know they exist. Instead, they'll see all the work branded with your identity. You get to claim this work as your own.The white label SEO reseller will charge you a fee (usually a retainer or a per-project fee) for their work. You can mark this up and charge your client whatever you think is appropriate. In exchange for simply passing information back and forth and monitoring the campaign to make sure it's being executed properly, you can make a handsome profit.

The Perks of White Label SEO

These are some of the best advantages of using white label SEO services:

Access to true experts

Regardless of how much experience you personally have in search optimization, working with a white label agency gives you access to true experts. You don't need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Google algorithm updates, nor do you need to offer sage-like wisdom about which keywords to target; instead, you can lean on people who have decades of combined experience and rest assured that your campaigns are going to be managed well. Additionally, because you'll be working with some of the best people in the industry, your clients will likely see better results than they would otherwise.

Plan flexibility

Whether you’re interested in diversifying your overall digital marketing offerings or focusing exclusively on SEO services, you'll be pleased to know that working with a white label SEO agency typically gives you significant flexibility. You can hire this agency for a couple of pieces of content, years’ worth of ongoing efforts, or anything in between. If you lose a client, you can terminate your arrangement with the white label agency. If you gain a client, you can expand your arrangement.

Long-term scalability

One of the downsides of building your own SEO team in-house is that you’re fundamentally limiting the resources you can expend on SEO campaigns for your clients. If you only have a few people on your team, you'll have an upper limit of clients you can take on; once you reach that threshold, you'll be forced to either hire more people or stop growing. But with a white label agency, this isn't the case, as white label agencies are designed to be scalable. These institutions have access to tons of experts and resources, so they can easily grow with you. There's practically no limit to the work you can send their way.

No need to hire

Speaking of hiring, if you're working exclusively with a white label SEO agency, you won't have to worry about hiring at all. You don't have to worry about creating job descriptions, interviewing new candidates, or training people for a role that they're going to leave in just a few years. All that work is done for you, so you can just sit back and let those experts do what they do best.

More revenue opportunities

Partnering with a white label SEO reseller could mean increased revenue opportunities for your company. If you're currently offering a suite of digital marketing services, but SEO is a weak point, you can now upsell all your existing clients on SEO services – and appeal to new clients as well. And as previously stated, there's no upper limit to how much you can use your white label agency, so as long as you keep finding new SEO clients, you can keep growing.

Specialized tools and resources

Do you know the best tools to do research on your competitors? If you had to calculate your domain authority right now, would you be able to do it? Could you figure out where you're ranking for a variety of target keywords and use that information to devise SEO strategies your campaign? Your white label agency can answer these questions confidently, because they have the specialized tools and resources necessary to make their campaigns successful. These are highly specialized, highly experienced groups of people, so they have access to some of the best technologies and resources in the industry.

Reduced effort

Salespeople spend a meager 30 percent of their time on selling SEO services. They spend the rest of their time answering emails, attending meetings, and tackling other administrative jobs that aren't relevant to their main responsibilities. If you take on new SEO clients, doing the work yourself, you and your employees are going to be forced to dedicate time to those SEO campaigns. But if you have a white label agency take care of everything on your behalf, suddenly all that time becomes freed up. You can spend that time on much more important responsibilities, like investing in the business, making critical decisions, tackling core responsibilities, or even just taking a break if your schedule is already overloaded.

Brand reputation benefits

Some companies appreciate white label SEO because it makes them look amazing. When you report to your clients that you've helped them achieve rank one for some of their most lucrative target keywords, and when you let them know that you've doubled their domain authority in a relatively short amount of time, they're going to be ecstatic. They're going to see your brand as a bigger, more impressive authority in the digital marketing space, and as a result, they're probably going to spend more with you. Whether you're interested in scaling up your SEO efforts, upselling your clients on different marketing services, or generating more referrals from your existing clientele, this is a net benefit.

Analytics and improvements

If you were going to do all the SEO work yourself, would you be able to prove the value that your organization is adding? One of the perks of working with a white label SEO firm is that they take care of the reporting, analytics, and strategic decisions for you. [caption id="attachment_1044" align="aligncenter" width="185"]

A quality white label SEO partner will provide a dashboard from which you can see progress on all your client campaigns.[/caption]They'll give you a breakdown of all the work they did and the results they were able to achieve; they'll also make suggestions for how you can improve these campaigns in the future. It's up to you how you want to use this information.

The Downsides of White Label SEO

So far, white label SEO sounds like a great deal.But there are some disadvantages you'll need to keep in mind.

Dependence on external parties

The results of your campaigns are going to be heavily dependent on the quality of the white label agency you hire. While you may be able to do some of the SEO work yourself, the whole point of hiring a white label agency is to support a hands-off approach. If your agency isn't competent, if they don't have available resources, or if they simply misunderstand the goals of the campaign, it can work against you. However, this isn't necessarily an indictment of white label SEO in general; instead, it's a warning that you need to do your diligence before bringing on a white label SEO partner.

Less direct control

Some digital marketing leaders hate the idea of using white label services because they have less direct control. You'll be communicating with your clients constantly throughout this process, so if they ask you a tough question or if they criticize some of the techniques used in their campaign, you might not be able to answer directly. Additionally, depending on the partner you choose, you may not have much control or say in how the agency runs a particular campaign (e.g. link building or local SEO). If you want to see a different style of content or if you have a different strategic philosophy altogether, you may need to find a different white label SEO partner or cope with the fact that this isn't your preference.

Less transparency

Most excellent white label SEO agencies make transparency a priority. They openly communicate about their SEO philosophies, tactics, and approaches. They also openly report on their results, acknowledge their failures, and boast about their biggest successes. Even so, by its very nature, this relationship is never fully transparent. You probably won't be seeing or communicating with all the people behind your campaign, and you won't be able to granularly analyze every minor change to your client's web presence.

Potential communication issues

Working with a white label partner can also introduce some communication issues, especially if you don't have a clear line of contact with an account manager at that agency. If you accidentally misrepresent your client's goals, or if your white label agency misinterprets something you said, it could lead to problematic developments. Still, if both parties are committed to effective communication and some redundant measures to prevent these types of disasters, it shouldn't be a major concern.

Reduced profitability

You can technically charge whatever you'd like for the SEO services you offer your clients, but if you charge too much, your clients aren't going to pay it. Accordingly, most digital marketing agencies only charge a small markup on top of the core price of white label SEO services. If you compare this to what you could make if you offered all your services in house, you might be disappointed.[caption id="attachment_1042" align="aligncenter" width="552"]

marketing agency profitability

While profitability is reduced, the upside is that marketing agencies tend to be highly profitable.[/caption]There's no question that reselling SEO services, rather than doing the work internally, is going to lead to reduced profitability on a per-client basis – at least, if you're accounting for a perfect in-house scenario. The math works out very differently if you're forced to hire tons of new people, if you struggle with scaling, or if you aren't able to give your clients results that motivate them to stay with you.

Is White Label SEO Right for You?

Is a white label SEO provider the right move for your digital marketing agency?That all depends. If you don't have the experts to do the work in house, if you're trying to maximize profitability while minimizing effort, or if you just want your clients to have access to the best experts in the industry, white label SEO is a no-brainer.If you're concerned about transparency or if you want to maintain direct control over your clients’ campaigns, white label SEO may not be a good fit.For everyone else, you're probably somewhere in the middle. If you're feeling uncertain, or if you just want to be sure your white label partner is going to operate effectively, your best bet is to talk directly to a white label SEO company so you can get a better feel for what they do.Ready to get started with a white label SEO plan?Or do you have a few questions before you’re ready to jump in?


Nate Nead

founder and CEO of Marketer

Nate Nead is the founder and CEO of Marketer, a distinguished digital marketing agency with a focus on enterprise digital consulting and strategy. For over 15 years, Nate and his team have helped service the digital marketing teams of some of the web's most well-recognized brands. As an industry veteran in all things digital, Nate has founded and grown more than a dozen local and national brands through his expertise in digital marketing. Nate and his team have worked with some of the most well-recognized brands on the Fortune 1000, scaling digital initiatives.