Don’t Throw Away Another Marketing Dollar! 7 Things You Must Know Before You Buy SEO

SEO vs PPC vs Social Media, Gorillas, Bunnies, Google’s Brain, SEO “Experts”, and SEO Consultants

About 90% of the business owners I talk to have a story of paying money to an SEO Service Provider or another type of Internet Marketer and getting little to no results.  This is often not just small amounts of money, but vast sums of money that resulted in zero dollars back in their pocket.

(To be fair, this is not just true for internet marketing.  Did you know that Yellow Pages still charges LARGE amounts of money to have an ad in your phone book that will just make you a target of cold calls?)

I know of multiple businesses who paid thousands of dollars for Search Engine Optimization and didn’t even sniff the first page of the search results.  I’ve seen businesses pay a small amount for basically empty services that provide no value — this is very common.  I’ve seen people being promoted a whole list of services that actually does stuff, so it seems great on the surface…but it doesn’t result in any extra revenue into their pocket.  There are so many ways to waste your money.

I hate to see this happen to anybody!  It can actually take a business down by trapping cash flow that is critical to the business running.  It really bothers me to see quality businesses providing a valuable service to their community go down in flames because they were dazzled into buying the latest goobledidad that would improve their online somethingorother or they bought SEO Services from a Dallas SEO Firm who…either isn’t able to take care of them or doesn’t care enough to take care of them.

I totally understand why most business owners are highly skeptical of so called “Dallas SEO Experts.”  You should be skeptical!  You are getting calls, emails, snail mailings, texts, faxes, and carrier pigeons every week with different messages saying they have the latest technical solution for marketing your business online.  The amount of conflicting messages is staggering.  Also, if you are like most business owners or managers, you’ve gotten run over on the information super highway!

You have a lot to lose…Your business…Your financial future…All your hard work…Down the drain.  I understand.  And I empathize with your situation.  Don’t let it happen to you.

I’m a complete SEO Geek that wakes up thinking about SEO, goes to sleep thinking about SEO, thinks about SEO when my wife is talking to me…I need to work on that last one.

Please, please, please, PLEASE read this short list to help protect yourself.  Even if you don’t end up contacting me or you only use this as a test to see if someone who is quoting you is legit, then that’s great.  I’m happy.  I’ve saved some precious dollars from going from a business that provides a valuable service to a business that does not provide a valuable service.

(1) What Exactly Is Your Market Searching — AKA Keyword Research

This step is absolutely critical and needs to be thoroughly explored for all the opportunities available to your business.  However, most people performing SEO look up the top 5-10 most searched terms and check this off as done.  WRONG!  This results in about 90%+ of businesses going after the same 20% of traffic out there.  Its not that that traffic isn’t valuable and shouldn’t be targeted.  No, its that you want to also target that other 80% of traffic that few, to no businesses are targeted.  I’m very good at ferreting out lots of valuable traffic that has low competition.

Keyword ResearchWhat is the point of ranking for something that no one is searching?  Well, there’s no point from a business standpoint.

I see many people that (at first) are ecstatic to get 1st page rankings for things no one is searching.  Then, months down the line they do the math and figure out that no new business came through their doors and they think to themselves, “But, but, but I’m on the 1st page of Google!”  Well, your SEO Consultant failed to walk you through the 1st and most basic internet marketing exercise.

Google gives out search data freely.  They tell you how many people are searching for…whatever you want.  Now, the data they give is far from perfect (they hide the low volume traffic numbers, but that’s well over 50% of the total traffic!), but its a great start.  There needs to be some sort of evidence that your market is out there searching for your products or services.

Tip: Always ask if they’re giving you Broad Match Searches” or “Exact Match Searches.”  Exact match is much more conservative and can help you zero in on precise searches.  Broad match search quantity includes searches for anything related to that search phrase.  Exact match only gives results for that 1 specific search phrase.

(2) Is SEO the Best Fit for Your Company?

Once you’ve found what your market is searching, its time to do some math.  Wahoo!  Math!  I know, I know, you LOVE math.  Well, at least you love the kind of math that prevents you from losing money and brings in more profit to your business!  Any SEO Consultant worth his or her salt should help you make this evaluation.

Take a look at 3 different numbers to see if you should pursue Search Engine Optimization:

  1. Average Customer Value
  2. Approximate Quantity of Search Volume That Is Your Target Market
  3. The Cost of Doing SEO

At the very least, if you were to rank #1 for all your search phrases, would you make substantially more than the costs of SEO?  The answer is not simple, but from the 3 numbers above you can get a decent enough estimate.  There are other factors like site conversion rate, lifetime value of a customer, etc, but 1st, do a reality check this way.

If you’d only make $100 over the next 12 months by ranking #1 for everything, then SEO is probably not worth it for your business!  However, if the numbers show that if you averaged ranking #3, you estimate making 10x the amount of money it would cost to do SEO, well then you have a winner.

If you didn’t do step 1 (keyword research), then you cannot make this estimation.

Being able to make this calculation is why I don’t like Social Media as much as SEO.  Social media is unpredictable.  Therefore, it is difficult to make even an estimated calculation.

There are a lot of services like Social Media that provide you with activity, but not measurable progress.  This is one of the biggest forms of wasted capital in internet marketing that I see out there.  A company sells you on all sorts of extra features that result in no extra business in your pocket.

You can do this calculation much more accurately with Pay Per Click (PPC).  However, PPC is far more expensive than SEO and its costs have been increasing for business owners by as much 50%-150% per year!  As low quality SEO providers get the boot from Google’s algorthims, companies flee to PPC.  Furthermore, you’re not really building something that has powerful exponential growth built in like SEO.

Don’t get me wrong — PPC can be great if its profitable for your business.  However, would you rather pay less or more for the same traffic?

SEO provides the best balance between predictability of results and cost.  Usually.  Contact me to find out.

(3) What Does Google Think Of Your Site Right Now?

Google's BrainDo they hate you?  Do they know you exist?  Do they like you?

You figure out what Google (and the other search engines) thinks of you by doing a full On Page and Off Page Analysis.

On Page Analysis consists of 4 major factors:

  • Do your page title have the appropriate keywords in them?
  • Do you have the main keywords or slight variations within your text at least once?
  • Is the linking structure of your site setup properly?
  • How well do people respond to the look and feel and flow of your site?

That’s not ALL there is to it, but it gives you a good 1,000 ft of where you are.  The good news is that this is usually the easiest stuff to fix.

Off Page Analysis consists of 4 major factors:

  • How many sites are linking to you?
  • What is Google’s opinion of the sites linking to you?
  • How relevant are the sites linking to you?
  • What text do the sites linking to you use to link to you?

Again, the rabbit hole goes deeper than those 4 factors, but you get the idea.  The bad news is that this is very difficult for you to do yourself.  Frankly, most SEO experts do a poor to mediocre job of this.  And that’s good news for me and my clients.

(4) Are You Currently Ranking and Getting Traffic?

If you’ve setup visitor and ranking tracking software (there are many ways to skin this cat), then this is easy and invaluable information to capture.

If you haven’t stop reading right now and call me (469-438-8153) to help set this up ASAP.

At the very least you should have visitor tracking software because it is free and easy and you want a good set of historical data to analyze — which you can’t start capturing until you’ve installed the software.

With this information you can see what Google already thinks you’re relevant to (if anything).  Again, this is wonderful information to have.  Start getting it or find an SEO Consultant to help you get it. Now.

(5) Do You Have Duplicate Content?

Go put your website into Copyscape.  Has someone online copied your content?  Has the person you hired to create your site content copied it from elsewhere?  Have you been naughty?

That site will tell you.  Hopefully, you have no results.  If you do, I highly recommend you take steps to fix it as quickly as possible.

The easiest way to fix it usually is to reword the content on your own site that is showing up as duplicated.

The Search Engines don’t serve up the same content for the same search result.  What they will usually do is pick 1 as the authority and ignore the other duplicates.  Even if you created yours first, there’s no guarantee that you will be picked as the authority.

You must know this before you start with an SEO project or else you may be trying to rank a page that Google thinks is just a copy of someone else’s page out there!  Don’t waste your money by failing to (have your Dallas SEO Consultant) do this easy step.

(Quick note: There are OK ways to have duplicate content on your site that most people aren’t aware of because Google’s duplicate content rules are often misunderstood.  Duplicate content isn’t automatically bad news for you!  Call me to discuss if you get positive hits on Copyscape.)

(6) How Competitive Is The SEO of the People Ranking On the First Page For Your Search Phrases

Gorilla-Bunny SEO

Are you facing 500 lb Gorillas that won’t back down easily or cute little bunny rabbits that will scurry away at the first sign of danger.   Where your site falls on the Gorilla-Bunny spectrum directly affects how much money you’ll need to spend and how long you will expect it to take results.

Don’t let your SEO Consultant get away with the lazy technique of using “competing pages” as a competition metric.  The competition that matters is on the 1st page.  Who cares about the guys on page 100?  You’re not competing with them at all.

Who would you rather play a pickup game of basketball against — 5 Michael Jordans or 20 Little Ol’ Grannies?  Easy choice.  I’d pull out my kids’ baby pictures of my kids and throw them at the Grannies.  But, even if I didn’t have pictures on hand, it’s still no contest!

Always, always, ALWAYS take a close look at the competition.  If this step is not taken, then you have no idea how much money and/or how long it will take to meet your ranking and traffic goals.

If you don’t you may realize 6 months in you are facing an army of angry Gorillas who see you trying to take their bananas while holding just a puny pocket knife!

Also, the competitiveness of the different search phrases for your market will affect your SEO priorities.  Maybe search phrase 1 gets searched 2x more than search phrase 2, but is 10x more competitive.  You will likely get a better ROI going after the 2nd one as a higher priority 1st.

(7) Do You Know the Steps You Need To Take?

Has your Consultant provided an action plan overview?

Now, I’m not saying they have to give away the farm to you by outlining every little step they will take, but they do need to give you a general plan to work with and understand that there is a plan that is customized to your business situation.

The plan can change also as new information comes in.  That’s OK too.  The plan doesn’t need to be perfect from today to year 2050

The plan aso doesn’t have to be the same every month.  In fact, it should not start off at full blast — you need to slowly ramp up your link building.  If your “SEO Expert” says we’re going to build 200 links for you every month from here to eternity, then you should consult with someone else!  Your link building should not be the exact same thing every month — that is not natural and Google notices that!

(8 — Bonus!) Are Local SEO Listings Showing Up In Your Search Phrases?

Do Google’s Local SEO Listings show up in the search results for searches you’re trying to target?  Knowing whether the Local Listings show up is important because the way you rank in those is a little different from Organic SEO.  Here’s an example Dallas Local SEO search and what the Local Listings, Organic Listings, and Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads look like:

Dallas Local SEO -- Organic SEO -- PPC Graphic

To summarize, you need Online Reviews, Citations, proper SEO for your listing (a lot like On Page Search Engine Optimization), and a good domain authority.  If you want more details you can watch this video I made on Dallas Local SEO.

Conclusions

Dallas SEO Rankings ReportI want to conclude with a story that spells out truly how much money a business can burn to a crisp with marketing, but how it can turn around with the right steps taken.

I have a client who previously paid someone FULL TIME to do Search Engine Optimization for him.  Guess what his results were?  Nothing.  Nada.  No rankings anywhere.

$40k/year + benefits for no new business in the door…and he’s not the only one who has had the same thing happen to him!

In less than 5 months I had the results for him you see to the right. —>

He’s #2 for his top search phrase that we’re targeting and in the top 5 for 14+ search phrases that are actually getting searched.

He started off with no rankings at all.

…And…He didn’t pay anywhere near $40k!

Folks, don’t hire someone full time to do your SEO.  Just don’t do it.  The only ones who will accept a position like that will not be very good!

I offer a Free Online Presence Analysis.

Here’s what you should do right now to get the full value from your marketing dollars:

Call Me (David — your friendly neighborhood SEO Geek) @ 469-438-8153

…Or Shoot Me an Email Telling Me a Little about Your Business

SEO Strategy

Having the Search Engine Optimization Strategy that best fits your business is absolutely critical to your success.

If you’re using the same, run of the mill, plan that everyone else is doing, you probably won’t succeed.

In order to understand the fit, you need someone who understand enough to be able to identify many different SEO opportunities.  I’m sure there are some that I’m not aware of because there are hundreds of ways to do SEO.  Yes, hundreds.  But, I can usually identify many very high ROI opportunities if the company has the appropriate search volume to justify the cost.

Its pretty fun when you get this right because your SEO is 100,000%+ more effective — no joke!

YouTube Easy Video Creation and Marketing Example

In order to see how awesome quick and simple videos can be to make, check out this video:

That video took me 10 minutes to make…and it was the 1st time I used the software!

I’m certain that next time it will take about 5 minutes.   5 minutes to create a valuable piece of online content for SEO and internet marketing in general.  That’s pretty good :)

Here’s a screenshot of the video in case you can’t see the video above:

YT Video SEO and Marketing Example

Content Marketing is NOT SEO

Rand Fishkin is famous in SEO.  His company, Moz, has done some really cool things, but their general message is missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

Here’s a really good, technically correct article he wrote about how SEO doesn’t change as much as people think — something that I agree with very strongly.  I just shot a video about undying SEO principles last post.  I made that before reading Rand’s article, so its not a response to his.  The meat of the content is very different.

While his main path…

randfish-criteria-content-marketing-not-seo(click pic for enlargement)

…Does actually work, it is only 1 of many, not necessarily mutually exclusive options available to a business when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.  Here’s the real kicker: to most businesses content marketing either makes no sense at all or it is the most expensive with the possible least return over the next 12 months.

Content marketing is a method that works well with SEO, but each company has its own set of unique SEO opportunities.  There’s not just 1 SEO technique that works best for EVERYONE.  There are hundreds of unique paths a business can take with SEO and content marketing is just one of those paths.

Some companies, for example, I can get big traffic within just a few weeks after we make changes.  This opportunity is not available for anywhere near 100% of companies, but when it is available, it is awesome for everyone.  Its not Black Hat as many would assume.  It doesn’t break any of Google’s rules.  This is 1 path/technique and it is not mutually exclusive to many of the other techniques out there.

The statement I would make is that Content Marketing for the purposes of SEO is a terrible business decision for most companies.  There are simply too many better, more reliable marketing methods.  Now, this can be true of SEO as a whole.  SEO is not for every business.

Let’s compare content marketing vs a few other forms of marketing available to businesses:

pfft

This is just 1 common example for 1 company.  Different companies have different numbers, but a few things remain pretty fixed — cost and reliability.  Content marketing is very expensive and it doesn’t work for a lot of companies no matter how long they do it.  One of the exceptions is that there are some companies that are creating content already or who have the skills already in place to create good content.  Then, the effective costs added could be very low.  It still doesn’t mean its the best path, but its a step in the right direction.

Furthermore, I’m not limiting my business estimations to just SEO Marketing or even Internet Marketing.  I love Direct Mail.  You can get a very fast return on your money with this method.  I think its powerful for many businesses — hence the loads of junk mail you get…some of which you actually look at, right?  I know I do.  Direct Mail is inexpensive and requires little investment to get started.  And it is very scalable.

SEO and all its different techniques and paths have to be able to compete with other forms of marketing from a business ROI standpoint.  Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

The best thing SEO has over most other forms of marketing is that you’re building a lead generation machine.  Its not a 1-1 trade of pay X dollars, get Y back like you can sometimes build with more direct marketing.  It’s an army of constantly growing robots trying to take over the world for you:

SEO Robot Army

Why limit yourself to only 1 robot when you can have 20?  I like robots…but I digress.

Would a plumber be successful at content marketing?  Probably not unless he had other unique qualities to his content…like being funny.  How many articles can you write on “finding a plumber in [city]?”