8 Challenges of Running an SEO Agency in 202320 min read

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The Top Challenges Of Running An SEO Agency In 2023

The Top Challenges of Running an SEO Agency in 2023

Running an SEO agency in 2023 can feel like trying to navigate a maze blindfolded while juggling flaming bowling pins.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s no joke that the challenges facing SEO agencies have only increased in complexity and intensity over the years.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of top challenges encountered by SEO agencies in 2023 and discover what strategies they can deploy to tackle them.

We’ll cover topics related to technical knowledge, agility, customer experience, finance, resource management and more.

Ready? Let’s dig in.


  • When hiring a SEO specialist, look for someone with a proven track record of SEO success, technical and programming skills, research-minded approach, internet knowledge, flexibility, up-to-date expertise, and excellent content writing skills.
  • To attract qualified SEOs, offer competitive compensation packages, create an employee referral program, provide flexibility in work arrangements, offer continuing education opportunities, simplify the application process, and highlight desirable opportunities.
  • To manage client expectations, agencies should prioritize transparency and honesty, understand their clients’ pain points and objectives, provide regular updates on progress, and clarify what clients can expect based on their budget and goals.
  • To set realistic expectations with clients, manage your time, avoid overpromising, offer flexible deadlines, keep communication open, put everything in writing, and have a managing system in place. Remember to measure customer satisfaction, using surveys.
  • To stay ahead of competitors and ensure client satisfaction, SEO agencies must stay informed about algorithm changes, monitor web traffic, produce high-quality content, and follow reliable SEO blogs.
  • To stay up-to-date with search engines’ algorithm changes, use third-party tools, attend webinars, follow credible SEO experts and popular SEO blogs, create high-quality content, make changes one at a time, follow Twitter hashtags, have a recovery strategy, and join communities and forums.
  • Creating quality content is essential for any SEO agency and requires content writers to understand the significance of SEO and optimize content for search engines by tailoring it to the target audience, being informative, engaging, relevant, and regularly updated while optimizing for keywords, meta descriptions, titles, etc.
  • One of the challenges is managing the client and link builder relationships. Using a dedicated CRM for SEO agencies can help.
  • Content creators can use tools like VistaCreate and Biteable for visuals, StoryChief and Google Docs for writing, and BacklinkManager and SEMrush for tracking progress and optimizing content.
  • Measuring the success of SEO efforts is crucial for running an SEO agency and tracking metrics such as search engine rankings, keyword search volume, website traffic, and content performance can provide insights into the effectiveness of SEO strategies and reveal areas for improvement.
  • To stand out from other SEO agencies, highlight unique advantages, specialize in a niche or industry, and analyze competitors’ tactics.
  • Link building is important for SEO and there are various techniques available such as guest posting and broken link building; to ensure high-quality links, analyze competitors’ backlinks, create engaging content, use relevant DoFollow links and avoid unethical practices.
  • When setting fees for SEO services, businesses should consider factors such as time, resources, value, and competitors, and use cost-plus pricing strategies. According to the rrecent survey conducted by GrowthRamp  64% of respondents price their services between $76 and $150 an hour.

1. Finding Qualified SEOs

“Anyone can set-up an ‘SEO agency’ overnight and call themselves an SEO expert. But that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. There are hundreds of little things that go into the bigger picture of doing SEO and it takes many years of experiencing what works and what doesn’t to truly do a good job.” – Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings

While some marketers may think that SEO specialists just toss a few keywords on webpages like fairy dust, these talented professionals are actually multi-tasking wizards who analyze website elements, optimize content, improve ad rankings on search engines, and do so much more!

A qualified SEO specialist should thouroughly understand the search engines, keyword research, meta descriptions, web design and other aspects of SEO.

Knowing what qualities to look out for when hiring an SEO can help your agency to find the best talent available.

What qualities should you look for in SEO?

When hiring a SEO specialist, consider looking for someone who will:

  • Demonstrate a proven track record of SEO success by providing at least three recent references;
  • Focus on conversions as the main goal of any SEO strategy, instead of just boosting search engine rankings;
  • Possess technical and programming skills combined with a fundamental knowledge of web design and development;
  • Have a research-minded approach, with the ability to think critically and make quick decisions when necessary;
  • Be well-versed in how the internet works, including a strong knowledge of analytics and a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel;
  • Be flexible, with the ability to adapt to changing situations;
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest techniques and trends in the field;
  • Excel in content writing to create effective and engaging website copy.

Now that we’ve covered the key qualities to look for when hiring a SEO specialist, let’s explore how you can attract highly qualified SEO professionals to your agency.

How can you attract qualified SEOs to your agency?

Creating an impressive careers page, writing effective meta titles and product descriptions themselves, and using relevant keywords can help attract qualified SEOs, but it’s definitely not enough.

To attract top-notch SEO professionals to your agency, you should:

  • Offer competitive compensation packages with potential for growth (if you’re wondering what can be considered “competitive”, here’s some reference regarding SEO specialists salary);
  • Create an employee referral program to bring in qualified candidates;
  • Offer flexibility in terms of work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible schedules;
  • Provide opportunities for continuing education and professional development, like attending conferences or taking courses;
  • Stay up-to-date with modern SEO strategies and techniques;
  • Establish a strong online presence through thought leadership and positive reviews;
  • Make the application process simple and quick – don’t discourage the candidates by making them click through 15 pages of detailed application. The process shouldn’t take longer than 5-10 minutes;
  • Highlight desirable opportunities, such as working with a variety of clients and industries, gaining project management skills, and having access to experienced mentors.

2. Managing Client Expectations

There are several key things you need to remember when managing client expectations:

#1 Transparency and honesty are key

when it comes to what can and cannot be achieved. You should always set realistic timelines, budgets, and results.
Unrealistic promises should be avoided at all costs!

This helps build trust between the client and the agency while avoiding misunderstandings or disappointment in the future. Creating a detailed plan for each project with time dedicated to rapport building and communication is also essential.

#2  To manage your clients’ expectations, you need to understand their pain points

Plu, you need to understand why they hired you.

This could vary greatly from client to client, so it’s important to understand their internal issues and objectives. You also need to clarify their goals and really understand what motivates them so you can focus on the right things.

#3 Be transparent about the results!

It’s important to provide regular updates on progress and be clear about available resources and deadlines. Failure to do so could lead to miscommunication, conflicts, and reputational damage. So, keep the communication flowing!

#4  Make sure that your clients know what they’re paying for.

Clients can get upset when they don’t get what they expected or when they feel like they’re not getting enough attention. To avoid this, it’s important to be clear about what clients can expect based on their budget and – like we mentioned before – to set realistic goals. How exactly should you do it?

Keep reading.

How to set realistic expectations with clients?

First, let’s decide what exactly a “realistic expectation” is, when it comes to SEO?

A reasonable expectation is that an SEO program will generate relevant traffic that increases consistently over time.

Now that we’ve defined what a realistic expectation is in terms of SEO, here are some key factors to consider when setting expectations with clients:

  1. Manage your time:

It’s important to be aware of your limits and how much work you can handle. Taking on too many clients can lead to subpar work, unnecessary stress, and could damage relationships. Instead, strive for a balanced workload that you can handle comfortably.

  1. Avoid overpromising:

Underpromise and overdeliver to keep clients happy. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, as it can harm your reputation and relationships. Always consider potential obstacles that may arise during the project and be transparent with clients about them.

  1. Offer flexible deadlines:

Leaving some wiggle room when setting deadlines can help avoid stress and disappointment. Being upfront with clients about potential delays and offering realistic deadlines can help manage expectations and prevent miscommunication.

  1. Keep communication open:

Maintaining open communication with clients is crucial to building strong relationships. Keep them in the loop about project progress, any issues that arise, and clarify any questions before proceeding. Good communication can prevent misunderstandings and build trust.

  1. If the Brief doesn’t feel right, don’t accept it:

Get to know your client and their business, and if their instructions are unclear or unrealistic, push back. Agree on what you can do to help and explain why certain things aren’t possible.

  1. Decide between Fixed Price vs. Hourly Rates

For straightforward projects, fixed priced jobs are suitable. However, if a project is too vague or has too many unknowns, suggest an hourly rate.

  1. Put everything in writing

Before starting any project, put together a comprehensive proposal and email it to the client for written consent. List all the things the project will and won’t involve and make it clear what the client will and won’t be getting for their money.

  1. Have a managing system in place:

Skype & collaborative documents like Google Docs can be used here; setting up scalable processes & teams will help deliver reports on time too! It’s also wise to have strategies ready should any unexpected changes or updates occur.

How can you ensure that clients are satisfied with the results?

Measuring customer satisfaction is a must.

Surveys such as:

  • customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • customer effort score (CES)

are common methods to measure it.

It’s essential to communicate any dropped rankings before clients find out themselves, and present analysis and solutions in an understandable way.

Agencies should never fudge reports if they’re delivered late, but explain why their report will be delayed instead.


  • keep the main point of each report in mind
  • avoid repeating yourself multiple times
  • use a convincing tone with rhetorical questions and stories to keep readers interested
  • present analysis & solutions in an educational yet fun manner

3. Keeping Up With Algorithm Changes

Staying up-to-date on algorithm changes is a must for any successful SEO agency.

SEO trends in 2023. Source: demandjump.com

With algorithms constantly changing, it’s essential to stay informed and ready to adjust your SEO strategies accordingly. To do this effectively, SEO agencies should:

  • monitor web traffic closely
  • abstain from black hat SEO practices
  • produce high-quality content
  • read reliable SEO blogs.

Additionally, they should make sure their websites are up-to-date and error free; follow renowned SEO experts; use tools like Google Alerts to keep track of algorithm changes.

By understanding the strategies and tools available, SEO agencies can remain ahead of competitors while ensuring their clients are satisfied with the results.

How can you stay up-to-date on search engines’ algorithm changes?

  • Use Google Alerts and other third-party tools to keep up with changes in search results and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Webinars hosted by companies like Semrush, BrightEdge, and Search Engine Journal are an effective way to stay up to date with the latest in SEO.
  • Follow credible SEO experts and popular SEO blogs to stay updated on the latest SEO news. You can follow SEO thought leaders on social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
  • Consistently create high-quality content that drives traffic and is user-friendly
  • Make changes one at a time and track the effects of each change to avoid making pointless alterations
  • Follow Twitter hashtags like #GoogleUpdate and #GoogleAlgorithm to keep yourself updated and gain insights into the industry’s major players#googleupdate on Twitter
  • Have a recovery strategy in case Google’s updates negatively impact your site and business
  • Joining communities and forums such as Reddit’s SEO subreddit and Quora can help share knowledge and troubleshoot issues.

4. Generating Quality Content

High Quality Content; Source: textuar.com

Creating quality content is a must for any SEO agency. Content writers need to comprehend the significance of SEO and how to optimize content for search engines in order to craft content that is both useful and SEO-friendly.

Quality content should be:

  • tailored to the target audience
  • informative
  • engaging
  • relevant to the business’s objectives.
  • optimized for keywords, meta descriptions, titles, etc. (guaranteeing that it’s visible and ranked highly on SERPs)
  • regularly updated so as not to fall behind algorithm updates or changes in the SEO landscape.

By following these guidelines you can create valuable content your audience will appreciate while optimizing it for search engines at the same time.

What tools can you use to help create quality content?

Content creators have access to tools like:

  • VistaCreate and Biteable to create visualsVistaCreate is a graphic design tool that allows users to create professional-looking images, infographics, and social media posts without any prior design experience. Biteable, on the other hand, is a video creation tool that allows users to create animated videos, explainer videos, and other types of video content. It provides a library of pre-made templates and assets, making it easy to create professional-looking videos.
  • StoryChief and Google Docs for writingStoryChief is a content marketing platform that allows users to create, optimize, and distribute content across multiple channels. With StoryChief, you can write and edit content, optimize it for SEO, and publish it on your website and social media channels.
    Google Docs can be used to create and edit blog posts, articles, and other types of content, making it easy for SEO specialists to collaborate with other team members on content creation.
  • BacklinkManager and SEMrush to track progress and optimize contentBacklinkManager is a backlink tracking tool that allows you to monitor your website’s backlinks, including the number of backlinks, the quality of those backlinks, and where those backlinks are coming from. It also has a dedicated CRM to manage your link-building partnerships.
    With SEMrush, you can analyze your website’s backlink profile, identify opportunities for link building, and monitor your competitors’ backlinks to gain insights into their SEO strategies.

5. Tracking Results

digital marketing, technology, notebook

Measuring the success of SEO efforts is essential for running an SEO agency. It helps you identify what works and what doesn’t, so that you can make informed decisions to optimize your strategies and get better results.

The metrics tracked depend on the goals set by many business owners the agency, but some of the most important ones are search engine rankings, keyword search volume, website traffic and content performance. Tracking these metrics gives insight into how effective your SEO strategies are, reveals potential areas for improvement and allows you to measure progress towards objectives.

Even the best outreach strategy won’t be complete without the tool to measure its effectiveness. One of the best tools to track your results is Backlink Manager. It allows you to track your links with an automated link monitoring system with status updates, notifying you when a link you paid for has been removed or the page is down.

BacklinkManager screenshot


Check out the best tool for monitoring your backlinks!


How can you use analytics to improve your SEO efforts?

Analytics can be a powerful ally in your SEO endeavors. By tracking and analyzing data, it can help you spot easy wins to increase traffic, comprehend keyword intent, and monitor focus keyphrase data. Moreover, it can assist you with mobile traffic monitoring, site search focusing and locating top-performing pages.

By taking advantage of analytics, you can:

  • get insights into user behavior and site performance
  • identify top-performing pages and keywords
  • track user engagement metrics such as bounce rate and time on site
  • analyze where your traffic is coming from.

By using this data to optimize your content and website, you can improve your search engine rankings and attract more qualified traffic. Additionally, integrating Google Search Console with Google Analytics can provide even more valuable data for SEO analysis.

6. Staying Ahead of The Competition

Competition everywhere; Source: Makeameme.org

There are several tactics you can employ to make your services stand out from other agencies. One of the biggest challenges in SEO is finding ways to be successful and unique.

To differentiate your SEO services from others:

  • Focus on highlighting its exclusive advantages such as an inbound marketing strategy, hyper-targeted organic visibility, and cost-effectiveness. Show potential clients how these benefits can help them reach their objectives.
  • Explain clearly the differences between SEO and other digital marketing services while proving that real results can be achieved with transparent pricing.
  • Specializing in a particular niche or industry also helps establish yourself as an expert, which attracts clients looking for specialized knowledge or experience.

How can you ensure that your SEO efforts are more successful than your competitors?

To ensure that our SEO efforts outshine the competition, it’s essential to understand and apply strategies that give us an edge. This includes conducting a competitor analysis for insights into their tactics and adhering to SEO best practices.

Here are some ways to stay ahead of the competition in SEO:

  • Analyze your competitors’ on-site SEO and overall SEO activity;
  • Consistently produce high-quality content that is relevant to your site or business. Use other mediums like videos, podcasts, and infographics to make your content more attractive;
  • Utilize internal linking to create a spider web out of your website and keep visitors on your site for a longer period of time;
  • Keep track of your company’s backlinks;
  • Focus on search queries that yield the highest traffic for businesses in your category and industry.

7. Building Links

Backlinks are kind of a big deal; Source: Nichemarket.co.za

Link building is like making new friends for your website – it’s kind of like networking in real life. You want to connect with relevant websites to boost your visibility, traffic, and online presence.

Link-building program helps to connect you with high-quality websites that can improve your SEO. These links can build brand awareness, bring relevant traffic, and even help establish trust and credibility with potential customers. That all leads to more conversions.

Link building helps your website rank higher in search results and gets you more attention from potential customers. Just like with real friendships, it’s important to choose high-quality sources and be consistent. The benefits include increased traffic, enhanced credibility, more revenue-generating opportunities, better website analytics, and long-term growth.

What methods should you use to build links?

Link building is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy. There are many powerful techniques you can use to build links, such as guest posting, broken link building, link exchange, social media outreach and more.

It’s vital to understand the different methods available and pick the ones that best fit your website’s objectives and target audience. Testing out various link building tactics and monitoring your results can help you identify which methods work best for your website.

How can you ensure that the links you build are of high quality?

To guarantee the links you construct are of top-notch quality, it’s essential to:

  • analyze your competitors’ backlinks
  • craft high-quality content which is interesting, relevant, informative, and engaging
  • use visuals such as charts, graphs, and infographics
  • make sure that your links are pertinent to your topic, are DoFollow links, and evade duplicate content.

It’s also important to concentrate on forming relationships with other websites in your industry, rather than relying solely on automated link-building tactics.

Link building is a crucial aspect of SEO, but not all techniques are created equal. There are certain practices you have to avoid at all costs. These include paying for links or participating in link trading schemes, not diversifying backlink sources and attributes, accepting links from irrelevant or low-quality websites, and utilizing black hat tactics.

It’s important to stick to ethical and effective white hat techniques to ensure that your link-building program is secure and successful.

8. Setting Fees

calculator, hand, calculate

When it comes to running an SEO agency, setting fees for services is a must. This is because the fees you charge will determine your agency’s success and its ability to draw in and keep clients. Thus, it’s essential to contemplate various elements such as cost, value, competitors, positioning and profit when deciding on fees for services.

Moreover, studying your rivals’ pricing can be a great way to build upon your pricing strategy after you’ve identified your business goals. By understanding the different factors involved in setting fees for services, you can create a pricing plan that is both competitive and profitable.

What factors should you consider when setting fees for your services?

‘Many people in SEO undervalue their services. If you are good at SEO, you should be able to command at least $150 per hour, if not more.’
– Marie Haynes, expert on Google’s search algorithms

When setting fees, calculate the time, resources and money invested in marketing efforts such as link building and website optimization.

Focus on the value your services bring – increased traffic, higher visibility on search engine results pages and better customer engagement.

Researching competitors’ pricing can give you an idea of market rate for SEO services.

Interested in specific numbers? According to the recent survey conducted by GrowthRamp, 62% of respondents price their services between $76 and $150 an hour.

How can you ensure that your fees are competitive in seo industry?

To ensure that your fees are competitive, businesses must research their competitors’ prices and employ cost-plus pricing strategies. Cost-plus pricing is a method that takes into account the cost of producing, delivering, and marketing the product or service as well as desired profitability. This allows businesses to set a price point that yields reasonable profits without being too expensive for customers.

Moreover, they should consider the value of services provided and time invested to guarantee fair and reasonable fees. By doing so, businesses can arrive at an optimal pricing decision that maximizes profits while staying competitive in the market.


Running a successful SEO agency in 2023 involves various challenges, but they can be addressed by being proactive, staying up-to-date, and working with experienced SEO specialists.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s your biggest challenge with your SEO practice?

Keeping up with the fast-evolving landscape of SEO. As any SEO professional knows, the SEO landscape is highly dynamic and ever-changing. Keeping up with these changes is becoming increasingly difficult, creating a major challenge for SEO practitioners.

Staying ahead of the curve requires comprehensive knowledge, experience and resources.

Are SEO agencies profitable?

Yes, SEO agencies can be profitable if the right processes are put in place. The key steps for setting up an SEO business and earning revenue from it include building a customer base, retaining clients, developing effective marketing strategies, and leveraging resources optimally.

With the right approach, starting an SEO business can be a worthwhile endeavor.

What are the SEO challenges for 2023?

Small businesses must prepare for the ever-growing challenges of running SEO agency. These challenges include limited budget and resources, competition, algorithm updates, keyword usage, title and meta description optimization, mobile optimization, improved search engine ranking, and Core Web Vitals.

Feb 21, 2023 marks the deadline for all websites to be compliant with the Core Web Vitals. This means that businesses must ensure their websites are optimized for mobile and have a fast loading time.