You’ve probably heard that SEO is the key to succeeding online, but you have no idea how to get it to work for your business. You’re not alone! Learn what SEO is and how you can make it work for your business by hiring a real SEO professional.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO can be a little bit confusing, so Mark asked me to write a quick article to help to simplify it a little bit. Put simply, SEO is getting a website to show up in the search engines when someone searches for a particular keyword online.
Just as a quick example, if there was a plumber in Irvine that wanted more business, they could hire us for an SEO package. We would work behind the scenes to make it so that their website would show up when people searched for “Irvine plumber,” “plumber in Irvine,” “emergency plumber Irvine,” or any similar search term.
If I am explaining this to a business owner, it is at this point in the conversation that people usually start to think that I am talking about Adwords, Google’s advertising program. They will ask me either, “so you work for Google?” or “and then you pay money to Google to get it to show up, right?”
We definitely do not work for Google. We set up your website in a way that Google likes and can understand (or we work with awesome designers like Mark from MegaMad to make sure that your sites are set up properly), and build the influence of your site so that Google thinks that it is more popular than it currently is.
Just to simplify, Google’s search results are broken into 3 sections. There are the ads at the top and sometimes on the right side, there are the maps results on local searches, and there are the regular organic results. People pay Google to be in the top section or the right side ads. People pay an SEO agency (like Two Cans!) to help them to show up in the maps section and/or the regular organic results.
So why don’t we just pay Google? For one thing, in most industries it is too expensive. As a quick example, let’s take the plumber in Irvine that we mentioned above. For a single click for terms like answering service or telephone answering service it is between $40 and $60. Then, when you take into account that a good conversion rate for Google’s ad program is 5% – and that means that 5% of people that click on your ad do something that you want them to online (like sign up for an email list, download a whitepaper, watch a video – it does not mean that 5% buy) you are paying almost $1000 per lead. We routinely bring businesses like this between 20 and 30 leads a month. I really wish that we cost $20,000-$30,000 a month!
There are some legitimate reservations that businesses have to hire an SEO agency. For SEO to work, it takes 4-6 months to see results. That ends up being a big investment up front, and it takes a lot of trust that it is going to work. Some people choose Google Adwords simply because they can start getting leads right away.
Another reservation that business owners have is that SEO is expensive. Our packages start at $750 per month and the prices go up depending on how competitive the market is and how big of a city (or cities) they are targeting. SEO is a big investment, but we only take on clients that we are sure that we can show a very good return on investment on. We have turned down several clients that wanted our service because we were not sure that we could help them to make enough money to justify our service.
A final reservation that we hear a lot is that people have been burned by a bad SEO company in the past. A lot of SEO companies try to get business owners to sign up for a 12-18 month contract. They have a great sales system in place, but unfortunately their SEO process is not nearly as good. Understandably, the business owner gets really tired of paying for 12-18 months of service that brings no results. This is why we decided to structure our contracts as simple month to month – our clients can cancel at any time (with 30 days notice). We think it is pretty simple concept – if we are not making you money, you are free to leave. We do ask clients to give us 4 – 6 months as that is how long it takes to see real results, but you are free to cancel with 30 days notice.
If you as a business owner take a long-term approach to marketing, SEO is an incredibly cost effective way to grow your business. While there is a considerable investment to get started, SEO offers a regular source of very high quality leads. Leads that come from SEO consistently have the highest conversion rate when compared to other lead sources (even higher than personal referrals) because the leads are actively looking for the product or service.
Beyond that, the amount of leads that come from SEO is ever expanding. As the popularity of a site grows, Google generally sees fit to show that site for more search terms. What this means is that although your monthly cost does not go up, the amount of traffic that your site generates will grow over time. So, unlike Adwords where you will always pay (a lot!) for every click, with SEO you end up on the first page of Google for more and more search terms without increasing your budget.
A lot of businesses can benefit from SEO, but it is definitely not all businesses. We generally look for two criteria to make sure that a business is a good fit for SEO. First, people actually have to be searching for it. It doesn’t do a business any good to be ranked #1 on Google if no one is searching for the product or service. We always research the search volume to make sure that SEO will make sense for a potential client.
The second criterion is that the business’ clients have to have a high value. Let’s take a restaurant for an example: Restaurants are generally not a good fit for SEO because their customers are not worth enough individually. Let’s say that an average customer is worth $10 to the restaurant. We would have to bring in 75 customers every month just to break even on a $750 package. There may not be enough searches to bring in 75 customers every month. Or, let’s say that it is a good month and SEO brings 100 customers to the restaurant. Even then, they are only making an extra $250, which doesn’t make sense to make that kind of an investment.
On the flip side, let’s look at an orthodontist. A single patient is worth several thousand dollars, which makes it much easier for us to show a return on investment to an orthodontist. If our service costs them $1500 a month and we bring them only 5 clients that are worth an average of $3500 each, that is $17,500 of income for a $1500 spend, which is a pretty great return on investment.
We take client selection very seriously. There are enough bad stories in the SEO world, so we do not want to add any more! We do a lot of research upfront to make sure that SEO makes sense and that we can actually make you money. The first step in the process is to fill out our Discovery Form. We ask some questions about your business to help us to make sure that we are a good fit for your business. Once we have that information, we will do some research and schedule a 30 minute consultation where (if we feel that we are a good fit) we will walk you through our proposal and answer any questions that you have.