Ranking in Google Will Help My Business, But . . .
. . . I don't feel like I can trust an SEO company to shoot me straight.
It doesn't matter what the product or service . . . it is difficult impossible to make a smart decision when you are at the mercy of the salesperson to shoot you straight..
This frustration is evident in every industry and for every consumer. Myself included . . .
For me personally, this frustration overcomes me when I visit the auto mechanic.
Mechanic: Hello Mr. Campbell, I know you brought your truck in for a standard oil change but we identified a major oil leak. This is one of the worst leaks I've ever seen. This is a super complex oil leak! We're going to be removing manifolds and drip pans and replacing gaskets and re-building the flux capacitor. The total will be $2,500 to fix all of this . . . but we'll throw in the $79 oil change for free.
Yikes! $2,500 seems cheap if it is as bad as he says. But I know nothing about the inner-workings of my truck so I should probably get a 2nd opinion.
I can drive my truck like a pro. And my mechanical prowess for filling the gas tank and taking it in for an oil change are truly unmatched. But I cast my ego aside just to show off my skills as a smart shopper.
So I decide to visit another reputable mechanic for a valuable 2nd opinion. I know he's reputable because I hear his radio commercials and see his billboards.
Mechanic #2: Hello Mr. Campbell, good news. We could detect no oil leak. The bad news: you must replace your shocks and struts immediately, if you don't re-build this exhaust manifold you may not pass your next vehicle inspection. It will all come out to $2,500 . . . but we'll throw in a free $79 oil change.
Are you kidding me?!?!
Is Your SEO Firm Your "Auto Mechanic"?
SEO may be just as foreign of a concept to you as the underbelly of my truck is for me.
It is so darn frustrating when the only people trying to explain SEO to me are the ones trying to sell me full SEO services.
Tack on that they all claim to have the next new greatest "secret".
And from one SEO firm to another prices range from Kia to Cadillac.
Let's make a deal . . . I am going answer a few common questions for you, dispel myths perpetuated by a sometimes shady industry, and at the end I have an offer that you can't refuse. (You can refuse. I just needed a dramatic end to that sentence.)
How does Google work?
I'll let Matt Cutts answer this. He is the Head Engineer at Google and acts as the de facto spokesman when they speak to the SEO industry about changes in their algorithm. He is often cryptic in what he says, and is rather evasive with answering direct questions. You might say he's like the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, but he handles PR for Google.
However, Matt does an excellent job of explaining how Google works in this video from a couple of years ago.
Even though this video was not produced this year, the concepts discussed are still at the core of how Google works. All the algorithm changes and special techniques and tactics that we use as SEO's are still designed to give Google what it wants - which are results that provide a positive user experience and keep consumers coming back for more.
How many keywords should I buy in my SEO package?
None! Making you choose your SEO package based on keywords is a sign of an SEO Firm who is executing outdated strategy. Here's why . . .
Many years ago, crushing the search rankings meant building thousands of links to your website. The more the merrier. If an SEO was going to target 25 keywords vs 10 keywords, they would need to fire up their automated software and crank out even more links.
Google is smarter now than they were today. And they will be smarter tomorrow than they are today. Do we really think that the company at the forefront of building self-driving cars really can't tell the difference between websites that are trying to "cheat" their way up to the top of the search engines?
Google is smart enough to know that when a consumer searches for "drain cleaning Dallas" or "plumber to unclog my toilet in Dallas", that consumer has the same intent. In fact, there are likely hundreds of similar combinations of keywords that all mean this same thing. So why should you be limited to just 5 or 10 or 25 keywords.
Next generation SEO strategy requires execution beyond a limited universe of keywords. And, in fact, limiting yourself to only 5 or 25 or 50 keywords can actually trigger an over-optimization penalty with Google.
The Exception: Life is full of exceptions. If you are operating in multiple service areas, then this is where the concept of multiple keywords may come into play. I would still not define them as keywords for the purpose of asking you to make a decision. Instead, this would be a more comprehensive discussion around all the importance of various geographical zones.
How many press releases, blog posts, and infographics should I buy each month?
100 press releases every month. 100 blog posts. 500 infographics. Let's go ahead and throw in 1,000 Facebook and Twitter posts, and 200 YouTube videos.
Of course, I'm kidding.
I am amazed at how many SEO firms place the onus back on the business owner on deciding which SEO tasks are needed each month. Every industry and every geographical market has businesses competing for the first page with varying degrees of maturity.
For example, if you are a DWI attorney in Dallas Texas, the effort required for your search engine optimization will be far different than if you are a DWI attorney from my town (population 2,000 with zero competing DWI attornies).
Likewise, SEO effort is different if your website is currently on Page 2 vs currently on Page 8.
The business science of SEO is allocating limited resources to achieving your objective.
If you have no budget, then you would do as much as you can of all of the things every month.
But that is not how a business owner deploys capital to achieve a return on investment.
How do some SEO firms quote me $3,995 per month while others quote me $295 per month?
First off, I am not disparaging all SEO firms that charge $295/mo.
In fact, once again, if you own a law practice in my hometown, then $295/mo is probably a very fair rate.
However, most firms that charge $295/month operate a churn-and-burn business model that means their #1 value-producing activity is not ranking websites, but acquiring new paying clients.
Let's define the Churn-n-Burn Business Model: Pay top dollar to acquire you as a new client, give you an automated report that looks nice, have an account manager string you along for as many months as possible, and release you back into the wild when you get tired of the cash outflow.
I have actually written a lengthy article about this practice called Theft by SEO.
Let's take this discussion to the opposite end of the spectrum for a qualified SEO firm - Lead Generation.
Focus & Scale's sister company ReallyLocal Marketing operates multiple lead generation sites, but let's use as an example TravisCountyRestoration.com, a lead generation website in the water and fire damage industry. We built the website. Rank the website. A local water damage company pays $150 for every phone call that comes from that website because they know they close 50% of the calls, and the average value of a job is over $2,500.
So effectively, the local water damage company is paying $300 for a $2,500 job.
That website is in a geographical market that may generate 15 phone calls a month. Or $2,250 each month.
Why in the world would any skilled expert execute SEO in that market for even $1,495 a month when it is worth over $2,000 at a minimum as a lead generation site?
So when a company is offering SEO at a value that seems too good to be true - you really have to question whether they see you as a partner or just another sucker.
I've done my research. Can't I do my own SEO by blogging and posting on Facebook and Twitter?
Blogging is a fantastic way of providing value to your website visitors. But is that blog post optimized for SEO. How is it interlinked with other website pages. Does it link to other businesses? What businesses? Where are they? Do those businesses link to you? How long should the blog post be?
This barrage of questions is only meant to show you that just writing a blog in itself is not enough. The same can be said for posting on Facebook and Twitter.
One of the common myths in SEO is around the amount of content you publish on social media sites. Google certainly monitors social signals as is evident when Twitter hashtags are displayed when searching current events. Google had to incorporate this into their real-time search results or risk Facebook being the go-to place for people to see current events news.
However, it is rather absurd to think that your local business is going to see such a huge spike in social signals that it actually impacts the local search results. The only time this may be the case is when you are being talked about online for all the wrong reasons. Google's Matt Cutts has never confirmed the impact of social media on local search rankings.
SEO done correctly sounds expensive. Are there any alternatives?
Absolutely, I'm glad you asked!
Google did not create their search engine so that business owners would be forced to hire ranking experts and spend thousands of dollars each month. Especially when a business website is the obvious best answer to a user's search query.
Indeed, Google actually provides business owners with the playbook for how to rank on their search engine. The playbook, in their eyes, is very simple: Focus on delivering value to your website visitors by creating a website experience that answers your customer's questions.
That's it. Plain and simple. If you do that, then the rest will take care of itself.
But if only it were that simple.
If it were truly that simple, then every business would have the same website, set up the same social profiles, write the same blog posts, and everyone could be ranked on the first page, right?
Of course there is more to it than that. But at its core, you are trying to improve the relevancy and authority of your website so that Google says "wow, this website answers the user's search query perfectly".
But even more importantly, you must do this with limited resources in the most efficient way possible.
The business science of SEO requires allocating resources efficiently.
The value of an SEO expert is not in the time it takes them to click a few buttons on the computer, but rather knowing which buttons to click, in what order, and how often.
All of this to say that much of what we do can certainly be done by you as the business owner (or hopefully by a less costly staff).
This is exactly why we introduced the first of its kind in this industry - SEO Managed Services.
What is Managed SEO Services?
Simply put, your staff executes the activities that they can do well and our team executes the activities that we do well (and that don't make sense for you to do yourself).
For every SEO project, there are certain tasks that are highly specialized, such as strategy. Then there are other tasks that are recurring each month that are not highly specialized, and with the right coaching anyone in your office can do them.
This is probably not unlike your business. Even the most highly trained specialists like brain surgeons still have operating room techs that hold instruments and make the surgeon more efficient.
Depending on the number of hours that your staff is available to help, your monthly SEO costs can be greatly reduced. In fact, it is common for costs to be reduced by 40-60% every month.
Here's how it works:
- Our team thoroughly researches the current state of your website and the competing websites in your market. We then propose a full service monthly fee.
- We tell you how much money you can save if your staff will commit to executing SEO tasks for "X" hours per month. "X" hours is going to differ project to project.
- Our team will coach your staff on how to do the task, we will review their work, and provide feedback to the owner or manager on the quality of the work.
- Separately from those tasks executed by your staff, Focus & Scale will execute specific SEO tasks that cannot be handled internally.
Shameless Offer Sub-Heading
So this is where I make you an offer that flies in the face of conventional wisdom . . .
This is where most SEO firms will either ask you to fill out a 20-part questionnaire revealing your deepest darkest secrets about your marketing budget or they have an input box where you enter your web address to receive a free SEO audit.
Look . . . if you are still reading this, then from my point of view, you are obviously interested in SEO for your business.
The free SEO audits you receive are garbage!
I know this for a fact, because the software company that creates that SEO audit tool has tried to sell us the same thing.
Make no mistake, those free SEO audits are designed to identify problems that you don't have.
Just like you cannot take one specific SEO strategy for one website in one market and then copy-paste that same strategy onto a different website in a different market . . . the exact same can be said for those SEO audit tools.
I find it particularly incredulous when the tool points out how many Facebook Likes or Twitter Followers the page has. Or says it is not connected to a social media page at all. Who cares!?!?
You need a real live audit for your website in your market.
Whenever we take on a new client, we actually provide our client with an executive-level SEO training so that they understand what all is involved. We want there to be no question as to what we are executing every month for our clients.
We follow the same process for our SEO audits.
This is not a pre-recorded video.
We want to sit down with you one-on-one, share our screen with you, walk you through our analysis and explain what we are seeing, and . . . (drumroll) . . . allow you to ask questions.
Yes, I know! It's a crazy thought that someone actually wants you to see their process and allow you to ask questions.
"That is the best free SEO audit ever!"
Whoa . . . slow down. Unfortunately for all you freebie seekers, this is not free.
This audit is not a pre-recorded video. This is not a report automatically spit out of a software tool.
This live audit is $89.
This is pennies compared to the amount of money you could waste on SEO if you don't know what to look for.
These live audits can take from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many questions you have. Most of these take about 45 minutes, though.
Who Is This For:
- If you are not sure what your current SEO firm does and are suspicious because you are not ranking . . . this is for you.
- If you know that ranking higher on Google would lead to more customers . . . this is for you.
- If you are un-sure if SEO is a viable and smart investment into your lead generation efforts . . . this is for you.
Who Is This Not For:
- If you think that $89 is too much money to invest in your business . . . this is not for you.
- If you are already an SEO expert because you do a lot of online research on blogs . . . this is not for you.
- If your website preys on people who don't know any better (payday loans, MLM, get rich quick) . . . this is not for you.
Let's Wrap This Up
You have invested several minutes into reading this far down on the page, you know that this is a unique offer that is not what you typically hear from SEO firms, and so you know that now is the time to make this one-time investment to support your future decision-making related to search engine marketing.
Click the button below to schedule your one-on-one live SEO audit.