There are so many businesses in a number of different industries that rely on the internet for attracting new customers and growing their business. Businesses with websites that rank high in the search engine results pages and have good online visibility will get the attention of those searching for their products and services and convert them into sales. This has made SEO and tech support essential services for businesses who want to grow online.
Search engine optimization (SEO) service providers help improve internet traffic to attract new customers and increase brand awareness for their clients. The services they provide are crucial for many businesses that must attract online customers to survive and grow. However, SEO and tech companies may have a difficult time finding traditional financial institutions to provide merchant account services. This is because they are considered high-risk accounts.
There are several reasons why SEO companies are considered high risk, including high ticket transactions, untrustworthy SEO businesses, and high chargebacks. In this guide, we will discuss why SEO and tech support companies are considered high risk as well as how businesses in the SEO industry can find a trusted professional to provide them with merchant services. At First MCS, we can help SEO companies in the Chicago, IL area with effective merchant services.
Why are SEO and Tech Companies Considered High Risk?
The importance of SEO services has grown significantly and businesses within many different industries turn to these professionals for help expanding their business and increasing their bottom line. Yet, these businesses are considered high risk for several reasons. One of the biggest things that scares away traditional merchant account service providers is that SEO businesses do not sell a physical product. There are also a fair number of SEO providers that are unreliable and scam their clients.
Another reason SEO companies are considered high risk is because they may have long fulfillment periods which is one of the causes for high chargebacks. SEO and tech support businesses need to make sure they find a merchant account service provider with experience working with high-risk businesses.
SEO and tech support businesses are considered high-risk for the following reasons:
- Large and fluctuating tickets: The cost of SEO services may vary widely depending on the service provider and on the specific services provided. Some businesses may spend thousands per month on SEO services while others may spend under $1000. The difference in ticket amounts is off putting to traditional payment processors and these tickets tend to be large which comes with an increased risk of chargebacks.
- Fraud: Digital marketing and SEO is a legitimate industry with many certified professionals. Unfortunately, there are also many SEO “companies” that take advantage of businesses with a limited understanding of SEO by promising things they will never deliver on while taking their payments. The existence of these fraudulent companies puts SEO in the high-risk category.
- Fulfillment periods: SEO services can have long fulfillment periods as it usually takes 3-6 months for businesses to start seeing the results of an SEO campaign. With these long fulfillment periods, there is a chance that customers may be misinformed by the SEO provider of what to expect in a certain time period, and longer times waiting to see results can result in more chargebacks.
- SEO best practices: While reputable SEO professionals engage in ethical SEO practices (white hate SEO), some engage in less ethical practices (black hat SEO) to get results. Google emphasizes the use of best practices and will penalize websites that engage in black hat SEO tactics. Businesses can find their websites penalized due to a bad faith SEO company or even if a reputable company makes a mistake.
- Long sales process: Selling SEO services to businesses is not something that is done quickly. It takes time for SEO businesses to close a sale as the selling process may include more than one meeting with a potential client, and businesses looking for SEO services typically talk to multiple providers before making a decision.
- Don’t sell physical products: SEO services are intangible in the sense that there is no physical product, and it may be unclear what the criteria is for SEO services that are considered successful. This leaves too much room for interpretation and fraud which makes traditional payment processors uneasy.
- Card not present transactions: Businesses typically pay for SEO services online, over the phone, or through the mail, making them largely card not present (CNP) transactions. CNP transactions are considered riskier than transactions done with the card present.
- Chargebacks: Chargebacks are considered a major risk for SEO companies and there are two main reasons why they are a problem. The first one is that many businesses that get SEO services have little to no understanding of SEO and may request a chargeback if they feel they are not getting good results fast enough. The other reason chargebacks are high is because untrustworthy SEO companies may promise unrealistic results in a short period of time and their clients get upset and request chargebacks when the results they expect do not materialize.
How to Reduce Chargebacks
Because the SEO industry has a reputation for high chargebacks, businesses within this industry must take active steps to reduce their chargeback ratio. This will not only help their chances of finding a professional to provide them with merchant services, but also save them from lost sales and potential fees.
SEO and tech support companies should take the following steps to reduce chargebacks:
- Show credentials: Businesses want to know that the SEO companies they choose to work with are trustworthy and deliver the results they promise. Make sure you show your credentials to potential customers, including portfolios of your work with other clients and any certifications or awards your business has earned. Referring them to current clients who have experienced success with your services also helps.
- Draft clear contracts: When you get a new client, make sure you draft a contract that clearly states the work your company will provide as well as the results you hope to achieve and a realistic timeframe to achieve them. Make sure that your clients fully understand the terms of the contract and then deliver on the work you promised. Being transparent with the actions you are taking and setting realistic expectations for results will help reduce chargebacks.
- Communicate with clients: Once an SEO project is underway, make sure you communicate often with your clients. Set up regular meetings to discuss the progress and results of their project and send them monthly reports that detail the work you have done and the results of your work. Your clients are much more likely to trust you and believe in your work with consistent communication.
- Use SEO best practices: SEO services may be highly technical, and it takes a level of expertise to be successful. SEO companies must always engage in SEO best practices which includes not only avoiding unethical practices, but also staying up to date on the most effective white hat SEO tactics. Reputable SEO businesses should always be aware of the latest Google algorithm updates and adjust their strategies to stay within SEO best practices. Implementing strategies that follow SEO best practices will reduce the risk of client websites being penalized which helps prevent chargebacks.
How to Get a Merchant Account for your SEO and Tech Support Business
SEO and tech support businesses may have a hard time getting merchant account services from a traditional payment processor, but there are professionals like First MCS who are willing to work with businesses with hard to place merchant accounts. You can take the following actions to increase your chances of getting merchant account services for your SEO business:
- Establish secure financial history: As discussed above, the tickets for SEO services fluctuate and some SEO providers may not have stable income. You must establish a history of financial stability by showing the last several months of invoices. It helps your chances to show payment processors that you have a client base that consistently pays for your services and contributes to the financial stability and profitability of your business.
- Establish credentials: Because of the significant number of fraudulent SEO service providers, you need to establish your credentials to show that you are a reputable professional. Share your portfolio and case studies of your successful clients as well as positive reviews you have received from satisfied clients. You may also consider referring them to current clients. Make sure to show them any awards and certifications you have received as well.
- Take action to reduce chargebacks: Even payment processors that work with high-risk businesses do not want to take on clients with high chargeback ratios. You can increase your chance of securing merchant services by showing the actions you are taking to reduce chargebacks. Merchant account service providers that work with high-risk businesses are much more comfortable taking on clients that are actively trying to keep their chargebacks under control.
Hard to Place Merchant Account Services from First MCS
The SEO industry provides an essential service to help businesses grow and prosper online but to provide these services, SEO and tech support businesses need safe and efficient payment processing. SEO companies are in the high-risk category which makes it difficult for them to get payment processing services from a traditional bank or financial institution, but there are merchant service providers like First MCS willing to take on the accounts of SEO and tech support companies.
Our professionals at First MCS provide merchant services for hard to place accounts and we have experience working with SEO and tech support companies. We will work with you to set up a payment processing solution that best accommodates the needs of your business and we provide 24/7 customer support to quickly resolve any issues.
You can reach First MCS by calling (866) 673-3099 to learn more about how we can help your SEO businesses with our hard to place merchant account services.