Lesson 1 - SEO - Getting started
Pretty much every business owner would know that having a website is an important step to getting increased sales and exposure. But let’s say you have your website launched, configured, and good to go. What next? This is where we, as SEO experts, come into play.
When clients you’re working with are looking to increase their exposure for a variety of purposes, whether it be questionnaires or a check out e-commerce process, by targeting your site to the appropriate customers, you will get higher traffic with buying intent. Search Engine Optimization is making leaps and bounds on helping business owners do exactly that.
How do they do this?
SEO is an ever-changing strategy and generally consists of two important viewpoints. The on-page and the off-page.
As fate would have it, starting with the on-page is a great idea, especially if you wanted to help optimize the user experience as well (UX). But there are still a couple of steps you want to take on early to save you trouble later.
Let’s go over each process and help paint the bigger picture here.
If you want to learn more about the basics of SEO, check out our course Intro to SEO
Step 1: The initial audit.
With the overflowing success of digital marketing, we can expect some might be taking advantage of even the most successful of clients. It helps to see what they have been up to in case there are serious errors that need to be addressed. Check for any serious issues such as an abundance of bad links, over optimization, duplicate content, and of course, the Google sandbox. This is always a smart first step because some jobs out there require more work than the site is worth.
Step 2: Competition analysis.
One very easy way to plan your keywords or understanding how much work may be involved is to look at the competition. In most cases even by knowing the city can prove fruitful as you can easily ascertain Los Angeles California has a lot more competition than say Kickapoo Kansas. At the end of the day you can use their data to read how much organic traffic there is for keywords related to that specific niche, as well as what strategy their competitor has used for SEO, or if they did SEO at all.
Step 3: Keyword research
Anyone and everyone could look up a URL and see a chart of what keywords are getting traffic. But are all keywords equally valued? Certainly, you would rather target someone ready to use the services offered on a website than the one doing some basic research. Determining what keywords have buyers intent is what sets SEO techs above your typical business owners. Picking up your low hanging fruit pages to get higher up in Google's search engine result page (SERP) is always a solid first step to your campaign.
Step 4: Link building
Link building is a great tool to take advantage of. Any links with good authority will help add more strength to your site if linked properly. Pages with high trust, traffic, and theme (TTT) will boost your relevance to search engines. Using links that are trusted by Google will of course benefit you, and just as assured if Google has associated a site as spam, links from these pages will penalize you.
With every Google update, Google adds weight to different areas for search engine optimization. The best practice to go forward through Google updates and stay relevant is to learn the previous updates first. The best way to do SEO is to make sure that whatever it is you’re doing, it will last through Google’s own updates. When the algorithm changes, we too must change with it for the goal associated with client expectations.
You can learn more about our link placement services on real websites for your specific project by clicking here.
Lesson 2 - How to Sell SEO
An important thing to understand that sales skills work in any field where you need to sell. Selling in person is different than selling over the phone
In person, your appearance is key in getting their attention. If you want them to get the feeling of success, you will have to look the part or at the very least be very convincing. Because of this business being dominant online, over the phone has always been a great way to sell. Here are some key points to be reminded of when selling over the phone.
Start off strong - Ever hear the phrase you have 7 seconds to make a good first impression? A first impression is huge in the world of sales. It determines if you can be trusted or if you’re even worth listening to. A good start would be to have a strong start - with something to catch their attention.
Mirror your customer - Have you ever talked to someone over the phone that speaks too fast or mumbles? 1 or 2 extra coffees may seem like a great way to get motivated, but it’s best to make sure you’re speaking with the customer and not so much at them. If you speak at the same pace and avoid interrupting them, they’re prone to stay on the phone. Keeping them on the phone longer has proven to give higher success in conversion.
Diction - Having procured an enlightened vocabulary is a wondrous achievement. However, it’s best to mirror a customer and that includes the words you use. Don’t oversimplify, but try to match your potential client and understand that using words they don’t understand is more likely to cause anger than impress. Seeing eye to eye and understanding each other is key when selling someone anything.
Volume - One of the popular things I see in every sales strategy is to be loud and exciting. This can be rather daunting in a typical 20-minute phone call of asking important questions along the way. If you add more volume and pitch to a word, you can change the sentence entirely. Observe with the sentence below:
~ I didn’t say that I took Theo’s white cup.
Using volume on specific words you want your customer to focus on is always key in selling. Adjusting the volume on your words can change the mood to your advantage as well.
These skills should prove valuable if you’re getting started in sales. With a bit of practice, you will find that the way you speak to everyone will start to change. This is you adapting to address your points in conversation much easier. Quite a useful skill to have in your repertoire. Now it’s time to focus on a great portion of how to sell SEO.
Set a Proper Expectation
Now that you’ve conquered the avenue of speaking to clients, the other factor we need to take into consideration is what to say or talk about. As awesome as it is to talk to as many potential clients as you can, don’t overbook. If you’re not available to talk to someone at the time you both agreed to, I’m afraid you already lost a leg to stand on. Being able to communicate back and forth establishes trust, which everyone in sales knows is crucial for gaining and keeping business.
For more information on the topic, check out our in-depth article about Setting client expectations and avoiding nightmares.
When going through these calls your emphasis should be targeting any specific pain point that they are dealing with. Don’t sound like a scripted cold caller, but rather have a conversation with the client and tell them what strategy would work best for them. Having a checklist of good questions to ask is a great idea you should implement. If you went through an entire conversation but never learned what website they used, you failed big time. Missing other key information pieces may not be so obvious, and would be best if tallied on another sheet for you to use.
Base your questions on research made during the call. Some of the obvious pain points in traffic can be found in a timeline, and this helps show that you’re already onboard with a solution.
Asking about specific dates that show problems and already knowing it will help you close, and you should always be closing.
Q+A) Some popular questions you should have are pretty common, and you may use them already. Something like, “how much is a sale worth to you on average?” gets tossed out by everyone, but has also proven to be difficult to get answered, either because it's too varied or personal. Be ready to alleviate said anxiety with the idea that you’re using that info to calculate growth based on keyword research. Of course, ask if there are specific keywords they may be targeting. Getting your ideas together for selected keywords will help your partnership.
Budgeting) A typical sales pitch will be to ask for their information off the hop. Then proceed with probing questions to get info along the way. We find by asking open-ended questions, ie. questions going beyond yes/no answers, you are allowing the customer to give you the information you need to sell them. What keywords are you looking for? What budget are you setting for a marketing campaign for me to fall within? How soon do you want to get started? How much more business are you hoping to get monthly? (yes they can grow too fast!).
Deliverables) Lastly, We need to understand that SEO will help bring traffic to the website, but this is only part of the goal for the client. The visitors themselves need to translate into conversions and provide a positive return on investment (form filled, phone call, or products purchased). What good is the traffic if a phone call goes unanswered, an email goes ignored, or no action gets taken. You can use this information during the sales process about their ROI, which can be important when your deliverable is traffic.
You can learn more about keeping your clients happy from our in-depth article on [Reporting & Retention] (link this when the blog post goes live)
Time Expectation) How long will it take to see results? You can bet this question will need to be addressed. The time will vary based on the business’ themselves. Ranking keywords that are on Page 2 will be easier than others and based on the competition in the market, it’s best to give realistic expectations. Gaining keywords that you aren’t ranking for can be a focus for a month. To better portray the time needed I find it better to break down what the months are being used for and when the ROI will come into effect. Setting the time expectation before starting is necessary.
The Art of the Rebuttal
Everyone in phone sales is familiar with the term rebuttal. The idea of not taking no as an answer, and being ready to refute any and all dismissals someone can throw at you will make you a force to be reckoned with. This can come naturally over time, but try to think of ways someone could argue they wouldn’t need your service and have some lines ready to use to throw back at them. It’s also best to acknowledge what they said and even repeat it back in summary before using the rebuttal.
We can understand SEO as being confusing and expensive when you’re just starting out; most companies only keeping competition in a local area is fortunately less expensive than the nationwide counterparts. All the local clients we engage with are also faced with a difficult time keeping up with Google’s updates
By beating everyone to the punch and ranking higher you can procure an ROI that will pay for the services on their own! “I can see you’re already ranking for some great keywords that will shorten the time for an ROI, would you like to use these to get faster results?”
This example addressed their hesitation and focused on the benefits and eventually following into the assumption of your sale. Keep this strategy in mind for the best results.
Lesson 3 - Search Engine and User Experience
Google, or search engines as a whole, are always changing to offer users a better experience. Because of this necessity, some pages will grow in popularity over others. It’s important to focus on the trend of these changes because the pages that consistently rank are following the same path Google is trying to show you.
Sites that are visible to the modern world via a tablet or cellphone, and can adapt to be responsive on a multitude of browsers, are an important trend to keep up with. Ensuring that the site content is related as it will need to be relevant with the page and the overall theme. It should also be designed with navigation in mind. Any call to action or information provided should do so readily to avoid a bounce back.
Web crawlers will go through the content with no interpretation of context. Pictures and video are great for a person, but a machine sifting through the data is focusing their own way to determine relevance. An algorithm is an algorithm and time and time again we consistently prove that we can use it to our advantage.
Search engines break down sites and test them for keywords. Because of this, we know keywords, user metrics, as well as site structure somehow gets filtered into machine learning so that search engines can categorize your site accordingly.
You can learn more about finding the best kinds of clients for SEO services from our article Who Are The Best SEO Clients? (And How To Sell To Them!).
What gives content its quality?
It’s no surprise that the amount of traffic a particular website receives is being measured by search engines. Google, in particular, captures data such as “bounce back” which is when a user clicks to engage with a site and leaves after mere seconds. They can determine that site didn’t present the user with the information they searched for within the keywords used to find the said site. The same can be said with how long you choose to stay on the target page if you stay on the site then you’re telling the machine you found the information you needed. These are engagement metrics that are commonly looked at for your page from search engines.
Google is often referred to when looking at the topic of machine learning. They make changes to their algorithm often, and time has proven that abusive strategies are being dealt with. It’s been known that Google has used human evaluation to help “train” their algorithm to discover what can be considered bad quality content. This was adopted for Panda which dramatically changed over 20% of all search results.
Links also play a role since search engines figured out that the link structure helps the page reach popularity. When a high profile sites link to other pages it just makes sense that a search engine would pay attention. Since its inception, link analysis algorithms have become improved over time and enforced to this day.
You can find out more about content and some common marketing mistakes that can be avoided in our post here.
Search queries by category
We can categorize the types of searches people are using on the web to break down and categorize our customers' intention.
Buyers search - These people are looking for places to purchase, an online store to purchase, or a specific task they need to be done. These searches are the best we can find for a client because of the high conversion rate. They don’t always have to be your typical customer with a credit card in hand, but could also be signing up for a service or getting driving instructions to a site.
Information search - This broad category can be related to a variety of searches are skewed into the category of someone just trying to get information. They can sometimes prove useful for someone typing in a search to find said business or name but are often relating to someone learning about a product. This is the difference between someone learning what a product is vs. figuring out how to buy one.
These are things to consider when you hope to develop good content. You may have heard the phrase “good content” thrown around before, but it’s important to understand that when you’re creating content, it needs to be useful and satisfy the reason someone will be taken to it. Making sure your content addressed the need for someone visiting is crucial, but also optimizing it for buying purpose is ideal.
Lesson 4 - Selling SEO doesn’t need to be Difficult
Selling anything could be considered difficult, but when you’re reaching out to someone with a problem and offering a solution, you’re leaps and bounds ahead of going door to door selling steak knives. You first need to start by selling yourself. Look at the success of companies that are achieved through Google traffic. Upon reading further into this article you should have a good understanding of what experience has taught so many others.
A good starting point is that people selling tend to get overwhelmed by the amount of depth there is in SEO as a whole. You don’t need to overwhelm a customer with SEO knowledge because they don’t care about the process, they just want results. Know enough to be able to tell them how you can get them the benefits they’re looking for from the SEO service as a whole, and know how to explain how you will get this done.
You don’t need to be an SEO God to be able to sell SEO to a business owner. This can address all the entrepreneurs out there who think they will not only have to do all the work but all the reporting and relationship building as well. There are countless SEO agencies offering white label service to appease those of you who have the resources to acquire clients but not the techs to provide the service. This will, of course, require communication, but press that against the tech work and you surely have the lesser workload.
Your time is equally valuable and skipping to a white label strategy is more common than you might think. Hiring, managing, quality assurance, and customer service already exist and are quite capable of helping you seem like the expert in the field with the level of service they provide.
You can find out more from our full-length article Why Selling SEO Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
Lesson 5 - Setting Up a Sales Funnel
Long gone are the days of getting a phone book and brute forcing your way into the business world. With the modern era of web content and digital marketing, you can save yourself from the hard work and skip to the part where people call you. SEO is and of itself, inbound marketing and you may have seen your fair share of funnels like the “earn 100$ hourly from home” etc. If you’re more than comfortable with a phone book, by all means, and try it out. We’re playing a numbers game in the end, and we want to do this by having multiple streams of lead generation.
Offering a free consultation is probably the most used on digital marketing landing pages. A service where you offer your time and break down the services they would require to grow. Even getting a form fill can be of use so you can email them invites to a report or SEO lesson, which results in a video of how SEO can benefit them.
Create articles that cover the facts of digital marketing that already exists. Getting the features and benefits in front of them can often lead to them wanting to ask questions when interested, and if you leave your number they will most certainly rather ask you a question than the screen they’re looking at.
Special offer mail outs is a bit classic, but a cheap way to do it, even free if done digitally. This can be done to target business owners but can sometimes be met with problems reaching the decision maker.
Sometimes trust is the real issue when dealing with these business’. Occasionally a business owner might just sit on your promotion to see how long you’re at it before taking a swing themselves. This is another way where persistence plays a big role in getting a call to action from the right decision maker. Again trust is very important and should be a huge focus when selling.
Having a Book Now button for consultations can also be useful when set up on a Google My Business listing. Get a form filled out for basic information and come in strong with your homework completed like a list of strong keywords, or information about why they’re not ranking in the top of Google’s SERP.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with reaching out. You can look up some rather strange and hilarious ways that people have reached out to business owners with a success story to complete it. Just know that the only way you can reach out and get the customers to reach out is to try to get them in the first place!
Find out more about setting up simple sales funnels from our article How To Get & Convert Clients: Simple Funnels That Work
Lesson 6 - Maintaining Clients
So you already landed a client, and keeping them is always going to be in your best interest. How can we do that? The worst thing you can do for your client is to fall off the map with no contact. This is especially true considering the services offered are intangible. Keep the client happy with updated reports on how the work is coming along. Once a month is also a terrible idea because in the time passed they will likely forget your name and then some! Schedule a call with them within the first 2 weeks to ensure that the contact is kept.
Following up once a month with reports will help them see the progress they’re achieving and also give more feedback for goals. If someone is earning 10$ for every 2$ spend, you can imagine the first words out of their mouth when you call is how can we grow more! This opportunity is lost without maintaining contact. If using white-label you can easily get these reports made for you, but also could potentially add your own personal touch to your reporting to make them feel comfortable.
Common tools like AHRefs or SEMRush can be used to create a nice presentation for your results. When paired with a timeline of changes you made, they can see first hand how the work is coming along and what work will be needed to push further. This is also why it’s important to set expectations properly. Don’t oversell and underperform or you risk losing everything you worked for.
Keep a good track of the work you’re doing for the client and log it. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily work for them, and some information should be kept confidential. However, a brief rundown of what you are doing for them is going to go a long way to give them an idea of what you’re working on. This will prove useful for acquiring case studies for other clients to look at when you yield those positive gains. With the breakdown of what you did and a timeline showing their results, this will be a perfect recipe to fuel your sales funnel with original case studies.
You will always run into your fair share of business owners that will be unsatisfied in any industry. These are often the ones you need to pay attention to because 9/10 dissatisfied customers are more prone to leave than to call for help. If you reach them before the problem happens you will keep the relationship stronger and prove you’re the right person for the job. This could be leveraged to your advantage by getting your client to leave you a nice review that you can use.
Good reviews are very valuable as they help you establish trust with accredited business owners. Think about how something as simple as an emailed link to rate your service could allow you to filter upset clients, or directly post the good ones. People are always more prompt to leave bad reviews only, and upon reaching out to all clients with this request will ensure you grasp the good reviews as well. Feel welcome to try out some review software for assistance.
Now, in conclusion, we hope this information goes smoothly with you yielding the same successful results we’ve seen. Do some homework by looking up some nice local business’ for you to try, and see if you can impress them with your research enough to close them.