My First Success at SEO (Part 2)

The meeting at his house went well and he was fine with the price of $800.00. I had arbitrarily picked a labor time of $20.00 per hour, and guesstimated it might take about 40 hours(!?) to complete the website. I actually had no idea how much work it would take, but 40 hours seemed ample. I knew there would be a steep learning curve, but it would be like pay for on the job training. Sweet. $800.00 was a nice payday for a newbie, and it was doing something besides manual labor. I’ll take it.

The really stupifyingly ridiculous thing I did was to guarantee that I would get him to #1 in the state, or he could demand his money back! I wanted to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and boy, I sure did.looking back now as an experienced SEO and IM’er, I see that as insane behavior. Let’s look at what I had gotten myself into. I knew the basics of SEO, but nothing deep. I had never made a website. I had heard of WordPress, but was not familiar with it. I didn’t know squat about doing competitive analysis (so of course had none of the critical software I would need to save myself huge chunks of time) I had heard of outsourcing, but had only a vague idea on how it really worked…and here I was promising this guy the number one roofing spot in the state. Can you say NOOOOOOOO….?

Our deal was $400.00 down, and the remaining $400.00 when the website was finished and online, which I assured him would be within 8 weeks. I wasn’t tuned into the standard business practice of having a contract, and he never mentioned it, so we shook hands, and out the door I went with his promise of sending the deposit check that following Monday.

When I left his house on that warm and bright April morning, I felt great. I was calling everyone I knew saying “I got my first client!” “I got my first client!” (never seeing the dark clouds of anguish that were waiting in my future)

My video analysis was all theory and no practice. Telling someone he should get a new website, and be ranked above all his competitors was all accurate, but the minor fact that I had never done it before, and was sketchy on the whole process, was lunacy. The important thing was, was that I was hungry, and believed I could do it, and that means a lot

I made a list of what I thought I needed to learn. I did love the subject, and I had a good work ethic, so while the research was fun at first, when the smoke cleared, and I looked down at this humongous list, I sat back and said “holy shitoly!” It read something along the lines of “learn WordPress, learn competitve analysis,learn cpanel, learn FTP”… ad nauseum. Oh, and learn how the roofing business works also.

I can tell you that one thing that probably saved my bacon was getting him a strong domain name. Luckily,
roofingcontractornh.com was available so I snapped it up for $10.00. Remember, this was still in the day when exact match domains had some good SEO advantage.

The first couple of weeks were just taking notes, reading the Warrior Forum, and watching what YOUTUBE videos were available at the time. I was at the computer 12-14 hours per day. It was a huge education in a short amount of time, but I slowly started wrapping my head around the material. I had a talented graphic friend who made him a really attractive header, and that was the only “outsourcing” I did, but it made the website look very professional.

It took me about 10 weeks(!!?) to finish the site. I was prepared to take some money off his final bill to keep him happy, and published it to the web. Now it would all be about the waiting. I was as nervous as a cat watching the SERP’s day after day, but one glorious day, there he was, at position 5 on page one! I added more content and learned more about siloing and correct alt.txt, made those changes, and within 2 weeks he WAS at position #1!

That result was certainly not because I was some kind of SEO prodigy, but rather, the competition was seriously unoptimized, and I just rose to top with the stuff I had implemented.

I took $150.00 off the bill because of my being late with the delivery. He was still  happy and I was happy that I was able to do what I said I would

Within a few months, He got some jobs directly from the website, so any guilt I felt about my “high fee” lol, passed quickly. Profits in roofing jobs can be substantial, so investment in the site was absolutely worth it. I had earned $650.00 with a skill I had no clue about a few months earlier. It was not an easy go, and in the end I learned some valuable lessons about real world SEO. Good enough.

Things did not end as I would have liked, however. His site was hacked about a year and a half later, and while I explained to him what would have to be done, he just decided to let the domain name expire, and just forego the website. He then bought a full page ad in the Yellow Pages (!), and we lost touch. These old school guys are an interesting bunch.

That was his choice, and I’ll never understand the thinking behind that move, but it is what it is.

I did my part, and it was great training in becoming a professional SEO. It gave me the confidence to move forward,and move forward I did…….

End

My First Success at SEO (Part 1)

My first success in SEO was only about 4 months after I had been studying it. SEO was easier back then. I had read about the lucrative opportunities in offline marketing, so in late 2009 I decided it was time to start getting some offline clients under my belt. I began scanning the business websites in my area (Central NH).

Having been a pro painter for 10+ years, I felt I knew some of the construction niches pretty well, and that that might be a good place to start. I looked at painters, carpenters, plumbers, roofers, electricians, etc. The whole 9 yards.

Firstly, I was amazed at how many guys didn’t even have a website Many of these guys were in their 50’s and 60’s and were clearly old school. print ads, yellow pages, all the stuff that was on it’s way out. When I first began contacting people, I thought dazzling them with my SEO knowldge was the ticket. No no no. The only thing I accomplished was leaving these guys confused and very uninterested in my services. Bye bye now. Cold calling sucked. back to the drawing board.

I then had heard about a contact method which looked pretty effective, and didn’t even require the dreaded cold calling model.The method was to create a live, over the shoulder video and voiceover explaining the flaws in their website and/or how the competition was kicking their ass in the rankings, and attach to an email.

I was using a program called Jing, which was free, but only allowed 5 minutes of video time. 5 minutes? no problem. I just had to open a bunch of tabs ahead of time, be organized, and talk fast. Allowing for the inevitable verbal flubs prompting a do-over, sometimes one 5 minute video took me 30 minutes. Neurotic.

For weeks I made them and sent them out, waiting with baited breath. I waited… and waited. Of course the fatal flaw with this system (which my naive brain wasn’t factoring in), was that my hard work was at the mercy of the inbox delete button. Looking back, I’m guessing most of my carefully crafted videos were probably never even seen. I had a good pitch once someone actually listened, but thinking someone would actually delete my video before even looking at it seemed impossibly rude (the reality, was of course, very different) It was aggravating, but, at the same time, a good sales training education all the same

my email headline would read something like “free competitve analysis of the xxxxxxxxxx.com website”, or something equally dry. This was a few years before I learned better copywriting practices, obviously.

I would subsequently learn another trick marketers used, which was to embed a fake URl instead of a real one for the video location. This way, if someone was actually interested enough to watch the video, and clicked the video link, it would go to a 404 page (not found), and then, hopefully the contractor would reply to the email saying “Hey, the link for that video doesn’t work”, and THAT was when you’d actually make the video. Now you weren’t wasting time because you had a warm lead. Clever, these marketers.

Another thing I learned about was an email software product called “Did they read it?” which secretly attached to all outgoing email and tracked if the recepient opened the email, and, if so, how long they kept it open. Great stuff.

Unfortunately, this knowledge was not imparted before I had sent out about 15-20 videos, but I was honing my pitch with every video I sent out. I actually found one on an old hard drive not long ago, and it was pretty okay for someone with limited experience.

One day, one happy day, I did get a reply from a roofer who had a crap YP website that I had looked at,told him of the many problems on it. I had also shown him a live SERP listing where he was at the bottom of the page, and no doubt getting very few clickthroughs. well, It finally worked! He emailed me the next day.

I called him back, and we had a nice conversation about his business, his efforts to get online, his unhappiness with his current website, and his annoyance at how the competition was beating him. This was in early April, and the roofing season was just getting in gear, so we made an appointment to meet at his house the following Saturday.

Now remember, I was only doing SEO a few months, and I had never even put together a website before, so I really had brass balls to be taking on the internet marketing efforts of an established business with the little I knew, but I guess
I had the “Fake it ’til you make it” attitude, and while I really needed the money, I wanted test myself in the process ( and test myself I did, God knows) …..

See part 2

Some business owners don’t get it (and maybe never will)

Being smart does not preclude one from being completely clueless in other matters. There have been numerous business owners I have met, who have, unfortunately, fallen into this category. It can be infuriating, but since I am in a proper business atmosphere, I must maintain complete civility and decorum even in the face of stupid behavior. It is not an easy thing to do.

Here are a couple of true stories that will serve as examples:

Several years ago,there was a guy who ran an Oriental Rug store up the street. Needless to say, he had expensive stock (some of the higher end models running up into multiple thousands of dollars) In my prospecting phase for local clients, I came across this guy’s website. Seemed like a slam-dunk. A Homestead DIY platform with zero SEO, poor navigation, and pathetic results in the listings. It was, for all intents and purposes, a useless website. How you making any money, dude? I’m here to help!

Winter in this part of NH can be unforgiving. We are a tourist town, and businesses do pretty well for about 7-8 months, and then it’s time to hunker down during the late fall into winter, praying for spring the whole. Some places do okay with “leaf peepers” (foliage tour buses), and then skiers passing through, and of course occasional Christmas shoppers, but more businesses than I care to think about have come and gone, victims of old man winter. Not many people are walzing around in 20 degree weather looking to throw a rug into the back of their SUV, but something like that might just happen during the nice weather, so let’s at least get the website in front of some eyeballs.

So, one winter day, I walked up to the storefront to give him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and there he was, outside on his steps, having a cigarette and checking out his phone. He looked up, and I began my pitch. “Hello, Mister xxxxxxxxx, my name is Mike Philbin, I live right down the block. I am an experienced internet marketer who helps local businesses with their websites by getting them to the top of Google, where potential customers are looking for oriental rugs…. and I stand by my ranking projections. I can help your situation a lot!”

He looked back down at his phone “I already have a website

“Yes, I know” I countered, “but it’s not showing up anywhere if anyone searches for oriental rugs in New Hampshire, and I can get your business in front of a lot more consumers”

Maid Whiz tossed his cigarette into the street, flicked the back of his hand at me like I was some kind of annoying gnat, and started walking back into the store. “I’m all set” he said – and then he was gone.

Clownie.

He did actually close up shop, or went out of business, or whatever, a few months later. There were rumors that the joint was just a front or write-off for a wealthy foreign business owner who could care less about how many rugs he sold. The other rumor was that it was a business alright, but really had nothing to do with selling rugs. Hmmmm…..

Who knows?. The only given, is that in my mind, the guy forever remains Clownie

SEO- My Early days

Okay, I’ve been an SEO specialist for over 6 years, but at the speed things change on the web, and with the amount of study I’ve done in that period, it might as well have been 20 years, so I guess I have the right to talk about “the early days”

I remember around 2005, I had a friend build me a website for my radio jingles business (I had been around computers a long time, but I still didn’t know much about making a website). I had been a lifelong musician, and wanted to take a shot at the jingles game. I was already a songwriter and arranger, so it seemed like a worthwhile effort. I figured If I had a website online where I could get my bio and mp3 medley in front of potential clients, retailers and the like would be calling me day and night, lol.

He did a nice job on the website (a dreamweaver creation), and I was so pumped the day he uploaded it to his server (domain names, servers, FTP, et al, was just so much black magic to me then, so he handled everything.)

I’m sure it didn’t propagate for a couple of days, but I’ll never forget that moment I typed in “musictosellby.com” and there it was! ONLINE!! I had it made now.

I soon discovered If I typed in the exact URL in the address bar, it would, of course, be there, but when I typed in “Radio Jingles NH” in the browser bar as a general search, no such luck. My competitors were there, so where was my site? Hmmmmmm……

My friend said you have to “give it time” to get to the first page. okay, I’m a patient man. I waited a couple of weeks, and tried the search again. Zilcho.

2 more weeks, still nothing. I didn’t even understand about crawling and indexing (or care), I just wanted my website at the top of the first page! my friend came over, and started going deeper into the SERPs. There it was, finally, at the bottom of page 3. Page 3?. Yuk.

Anyway, a few more weeks passed with no improvement, and he then admitted “I think you might have to talk to an SEO”, to which I replied “what is an SEO?” He told me “An SEO is someone who specializes in search engine optimization, which is the study of getting websites to rank highly. I’m not really that familiar with it, but one of those guys could explain it to you.” Okay. It was the first time I had ever heard the term, and promised myself I’d look into it. And I did.

I found a few SEO agencies in the southern part of the state, and called one. The guy gave me a good overview of the process, all the while dropping terms like Metatags, Keyword Density, and Backlinking. I remember thinking to myself,”what is this guy talking about?” I asked him what he charged, and he said “$150.00 per hour” I almost dropped my teeth. I was a house painter at the time, climbing up tall ladders in the hot sun for $20.00 per hour. Is this even possible?

I thanked him for his time, and said I’d get back to him (not). It was then and there I decided to do my own SEO (really?)

I sought out articles on SEO (Youtube was still in it’s infancy) that were published at the time, and tried to follow them. I think I experienced a form of brain freeze after a couple of hours, totally overwhelmed with the plethora of terminology and strategies.

Long story short, I gave up on the idea of doing my own SEO, and since I couldn’t afford a professional SEO, I abandoned the whole kaboodle. Too bad, but 4 years later, with a lot more Internet Marketing under my belt, and Youtube videos everywhere, I took up the charge again with a vengeance. I learned it well, and 6 years later I’m still standing. While the learning is an ongoing process, I’m very good at what I do, and it is now how I pay my bills. Yowza.