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

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