2 ideas for new revenue streams for your agency in 2021


Are you in danger of overlooking potential new revenue streams in 2021 that promise quick, tangible wins for your SMB clients as well as a healthy return on investment for your digital marketing agency?

What? There’s potential for new revenue streams in 2021? Despite the fact 54% of local marketing professionals reported a cut in marketing budgets in 2020 and 50%, a reduction in paid ad spend?

If your agency’s primary focus right now is optimising clients’ websites and/or paid ads, then yes – you could be working smarter, not harder.

Local SEO & GMB presents the immediate and most significant opportunity for new revenue streams

If your digital agency doesn’t already offer ‘Local SEO & GMB services’, it’s time to work smarter, not harder. There’s potential to introduce 2 new revenue streams in 2022. These promise a healthy return on investment for your small business clients and agency, so keep reading.

Perhaps your digital agency already offers ‘Local SEO & GMB services’? In which case, thats great, but keep reading anyway. Because you could pick up ideas for streamlining processes and channeling your agency’s efforts for the ‘greatest’ pay-off. What’s more, there may be potential for you to extend your offering by introducing a second new revenue stream.

New to Local SEO, GMB and the ‘bigger’ opportunity in 2022?

If Local SEO and GMB is new territory, then first tune into ‘What is local SEO?’. Because this spells-out the enormous opportunity for your SMB clients serving a local customer-base – and your digital agency – to cash in on Google’s local organic SERP returns in 2022. It also includes valuable references to inform ‘Local SEO best practice’ and your agency’s wider ‘To-do-list’. It’s also worth checking out this local landing page checklist; a free downloadable PDF that spells out the winning formula for engaging and converting new customers ‘on a local level’.

Fuelled by Covid-19, people are shopping ‘local’ more than ever before. As a result, nearly half of all searches carried out globally on Google in 2020 demonstrated ‘local intent’. Which adds up to a mind-blowing est. 1 trillion searches in total. Covid has, in effect, thrown small businesses and digital marketing agencies a lifeline – by affording the opportunity to capitalise on Google’s ‘free clicks’.

GMB supports new revenue streams in 2022 (note: plural)

GMB is a critical component of Local SEO. Long referred to in the digital industry as “every small business’s new home page”, GMB arguably counts for more than that now.

In fact, marketing professionals rated ‘GMB elements’ the No.1 local ranking factor in 2020.

An optimised GMB listing is the golden key to increased SERPs visibility for your small business clients that serve a local customer base. Which is where the promise of new revenue streams for your agency also comes in (note: plural). What’s more, those new revenue streams promise healthy profit margins, given GMB and Google’s local organic SERP returns is essentially ‘free media’.

An optimised GMB listing will deliver a good return on investment for your SMB clients. So this bodes well for retention too. Because it means new GMB services should go a long way to improving customer satisfaction, helping to plug your agency’s leaky churn bucket. That’s over and above the promise of profitable new revenue streams.

Local ranking factors chart - Moz Local 2021
Local ranking factors chart Moz Local survey 2020

GMB will get your clients found more quickly and easily than their website

Now I’m a massive advocate of ‘Website content is King’, but the fact is, GMB will get your local SMB clients found more easily.

No need to take my word for it:

“What you’re looking at is a local service or local business, essentially. And for that I would make sure that you have a really strong Google My Business entry set up. Because that’s something that can be shown a little bit easier in the search results (than your website) for queries like this” 

(John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, Google SEO office-hours, July 2021)

With the introduction of new GMB revenue streams, you can help your clients to capitalise on the GMB opportunity while they’re busy carrying out their day jobs. New paid-for GMB services shouldn’t prove a hard sell for your Sales team either. Because the benefits of an optimised listing are significant and tangible.

For starters, your small business clients stand to capitalise on Google’s organic SERP features, the ‘Knowledge Panel’ and ‘Local Pack’. Which, serve to answer the 2 x most common types of local search queries:

  1. ‘Business name’ (user enters direct search)
  2. ‘Business type’ + ‘location’ / ‘near me’

Google SERP ‘Knowledge Panel’ – the opportunity to cash in on free clicks

The Google SERP ’Knowledge Panel’ feature is the key to your SMB clients standing out on page 1 of Google’s local organic SERP returns when someone carries out a direct search for their business name. (If you’ve ever flirted with keyword research, you’ll know the ‘business name’ is one of the most common search terms for any business.) As a result, the Knowledge Panel presents an immediate opportunity for your clients to engage and convert hot new leads. But only if they have a GMB listing.

  • Knowledge Panel – returned 11.83% page 1 Google SERPs to answer desktop user’s queries
  • Knowledge panel – returned 14.87% page 1 Google SERPs to answer mobile user’s queries

Based on US figures as of 06 November 2021. You can check out what Google SERP figures currently apply to your local market.

The Knowledge Panel has the added benefit of enabling direct website clickthrough, driving more traffic. Also, it has direct click-to-contact features, serving customers on mobiles to excellent effect. Furthermore, it showcases validated reviews and ratings for your clients’ business, driving conversion.

Spelling the opportunity for new revenue streams. Google SERP 'Knowledge Panel' feature - an opportunity for SMBs to engage and convert hot leads.

Google SERP ‘Local Pack’ – the opportunity to cash in on free clicks

When you’re looking for a local service or product and don’t have a particular business in mind, you’re most likely to carry out a search on Google for ‘Business type + location’. For example: ‘24-hour emergency plumbers, brooklyn, NY’ or ‘24-hour emergency plumbers near me’ if you’re on a mobile. Google likes to show its ‘Local Pack’ as the first results to answer these queries. The ‘Local Pack’ are those three business listings displayed under a Google Map on the results page.

An optimised GMB profile is the key to clients showing up in the ‘Local Pack’. Which means, if your client’s don’t have a GMB listing, they won’t show up in the ‘Local Pack’ and will miss out on an enormous opportunity to engage and convert new customers.

  • Local Pack – returned 41.39% page 1 Google SERPs to answer desktop user’s queries
  • Local Pack – returned 26.51% page 1 Google SERPs to answer mobile users’ search queries

Based on US November 2021. Head here to check out the figures that apply to your local market

Highlighting further potential for new revenue streams in 2021. Google SERP 'Local Pack' feature - an enormous opportunity for SMBs to engage and convert new customers.

The first Idea for new revenue streams for your digital agency

Why not offer to manage your clients’ GMB listings for them and take the burden off them? You can help their business to cash-in on Google’s local organic SERPs or ‘free clicks’ for the appropriate fee(s) obviously.

If you’re juggling multiple client’s needs, spanning multiple locations and business sectors, then one step at a time. Look to introduce a new revenue stream that offers a basic GMB service to start.

Set out to optimise your clients’

  1. Contact details
  2. Opening hours
  3. Categories
  4. Descriptions
  5. Promote their website URL
  6. Monitor your clients Q&As
  7. Post new reasons to visit their website pages

This will pay dividends in the form of Google’s organic SERP feature returns: the Knowledge Panel and Local Pack. Which will drive targeted new leads for their business.

I often encounter “aged” unanswered questions posted by ‘hot new leads’ on GMB Q&As. For instance: ‘Do you offer this specific service?’ Its frustrating when answer is ‘Yes’ but the questions go un-noticed. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to convert new leads into paying customers for your SMB clients in the future.

By posting new reasons to visit your client’s website pages on GMB, you can also drive more targeted traffic and repeat visits. And, in the interests of working smarter, not harder, did you know you can sync GMB Posts with Facebook so posts are published to both platforms simultaneously?

Other GMB features include Menus, Photos, Videos and Analysis to impact local rankings. Of course, all these count in the bid to stand out from the local competition. But the introduction of a second new revenue stream promises the next ‘greatest’ pay-off for your SMB clients and digital agency.

What’s the second idea leading to new revenue streams in 2022?

Third-party endorsement is key to driving new customer engagement and conversion for small businesses. But small business owners are often too busy running the day-to-day aspects of their business to engage with their customers on reviews platforms in an appropriate and timely manner. Consumer behaviour highlights the need to embed a robust ‘Google Reviews strategy’ for your SMB clients. Which, naturally leads to the second idea for new revenue streams for your digital agency in 2022:

87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019

73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month

When writing a review, 20% of consumers expect to receive a response within one day

BrightLocal – Local consumer review survey, Dec 2020

Google SERP ‘Reviews Mark-up’ – the opportunity to cash in on free clicks

If your small business client’s GMB profile or website showcases or links to reviews/ratings that Google deems valid, it promotes these in their business Knowledge Panel. But also under their website’s meta-description displayed in the SERPs. Showcasing reviews in both places helps stand-out from competitors, driving website CTR (click-through-rate), more traffic and conversion.

  • 23.23% of Google’s desktop SERP returns feature ‘Reviews Mark-up’
  • 30.90% of Google’s Mobile SERP returns feature ‘Reviews Mark-up’

Rankranger (US, November 2021). Check out the figures that apply to your local market.

Over and above having a positive psychological effect on the reader and driving conversion, reviews boost local ranking. Meaning, if you help your clients to generate a steady stream of positive reviews – and help them respond to reviews in an appropriate and timely manner – then their pages are more likely to be returned in Google’s SERPs to answer searchers queries.

Another opportunity for new revenue streams. Google SERP 'Reviews Mark-up' feature - helping to drive engagement, website click-through-rate and new customer conversion for SMBs

Why focus on ‘Google reviews’?

Marketing professionals rated ‘Google Reviews’ the No.2 local ranking factor in 2020.

It’s a good idea for your clients to generate reviews on other relevant reviews platforms too. And you might consider introducing a new revenue stream that extends to other reviews platforms. But as it stands:

Consumers are most likely to look at Google My Business for local business reviews

BrightLocal – Local consumer review survey, Dec 2020

Focusing on a ‘Google Reviews’ offering first and foremost enables you to channel your agency’s efforts. This is with an eye to introducing a 2nd new revenue stream that promises to deliver the ‘next greatest’ pay-off.

4 Top Tips to serve this 2nd new revenue stream 

1. Showcase reviews on your client’s website

It’s important to showcase reviews and ratings on your clients website local landing pages to drive conversion. But reviews won’t count for anything unless they can be ‘validated’. By adding a link to the original online review source too, this aids ‘reviews authentication’. As well as satisfying Google, website visitors will have a sense of trust because they’ll know your clients are not just ‘making stuff up’.

2. Focus on the most important review factors:

  • Star rating
  • Legitimacy
  • Recency
  • Sentiment
  • Quantity

3. The GMB owner (that’s you, given your clients’ consent) can:

  • Encourage
  • Monitor
  • Thumbs-up
  • Respond to reviews on Google
  • Report spam

4. Apply reviews schema mark-up

Reviews Schema mark-up needs applying to website pages. Your client’s Web Dev’s first stop is Google’s developer guidelines for structured data review snippets

Channel your agency’s efforts for a healthy return on investment

The good news is, you can manage multiple client’s listings and Google reviews in a single place. This will help streamline processes and drive efficiencies to ensure your agency reaps a healthy return on investment from these 2 new revenue streams.

You’ll first need to register your agency on Google My Business, then create an organisation. You can even pro-actively request ownership of your local business clients GMB listings. But before you do anything, it’s a good idea to check your SMB clients are eligible for a listing.

GMB continues to be a strong focus for Google. New features are rolled out fast, feeding specific business verticals and Google’s ‘Zero-click’ SERPs frenzy. However, this means it can be hard to keep up and time-consuming. So it’s well worth mulling over the idea of a ‘tiered’ GMB offering based on client spend. Moreover, a ‘Local SEO & GMB service tailored to serve specific business sectors’ presents an immense opportunity for your digital agency and SMB clients to cash in on Google’s local organic SERP returns (‘free clicks’) moving forward.

Capitalise on new revenue streams but make sure you can do it right

You need to ensure that the effort required to capitalise on GMB listings and Google Reviews for your SMB clients will deliver a payoff for your agency. So, make sure to test your processes and fee structures before rolling them out to your broader client base.

  • Proceed with caution
  • Scale your agency’s offering(s)
  • Trial ‘proof of concepts’
  • Outline clear priorities
  • Scope end-to-end processes
  • Up-skill digital agents
  • Carry out ‘time and motion’ studies

Don’t forget to put the right Local SEO testing tool in place at the very start of the process. You need a tool that enables you to benchmark, track and report back to clients on the value you’re about to add. Not just on GMB but spanning all online platforms for their business. Why not take Insites up on their offer of a 7-day free trial?

Congratulations – The smartest people always read right to the end.