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When you’re first getting started, referral business is the norm. Speaking from an agency perspective, referrals are pretty much standard operating procedure. You deliver great work, one client tells their friend or colleague, and hey presto, you’ve got another client.
It makes a lot of sense in the beginning. After all, every client (or customer) counts – especially when you’re new. You’ll take any business that comes your way.
But at some point, either the leads either dry up, or you get bigger and need to charge more and the time comes where you can no longer help Tom, Dick, or even Harry. Maybe you’ve gone deep in a niche and become a specialist which narrows the breadth of your client base.
Whatever it is, you start to realize the inescapable truth:
What got you here, will not get you there, and the referral’s just don’t cut it anymore
This is the point that we found ourselves. We just couldn’t scale on referrals alone.
So, even though it may feel like you’re kinda sorta f**cked, you’re actually much closer to getting leads and sales than you realise.
Because the people who need your help are out there. Online. Searching for you every day because they need your help. You just need a way to reach them.
Which is where Digital Marketing & SEO come in.
And luckily, the era of needing to spend big money to reach your audience is done. And while that sucks for the Don Draper’s of this world, it’s great for you. Because if you put the hours into your marketing, it will pay off.
And you can get started almost overnight.
If that sounds like BS, or too good to be true, here are some numbers to inspire you.
Google is the #1 search engine globally and it processes about 3.5 billion searches every single day. In 2017, e-commerce websites accounted for around $2.3 trillion in sales. Those metrics are spread across all verticals, from retail to service. And you can nab a small piece of it for yourself through search engine marketing.
So, how do you do it?
These seven techniques will get you moving forward fast.
Not just any content you put up on the Web will make a difference to your brand. Blog posts, in the form of written, video and image-driven content are the #1 most effective form of content, but they need to connect with prospective customers where they are – by being informative and useful.
So first thing’s first, you have to figure out what people are searching for.
Keywords are the “search queries” people type into Google when they are looking for products and services like yours. Your goal in search engine marketing is to build a base of content that reflects the right keywords and stokes interest in your offerings.
To get the right keywords for your business, you need Google Keyword Planner.
It’s a free tool that provides keyword suggestions. All you have to do is type in a few words and Google will provide you with a whole list of search suggestions, plus the average search engine traffic you can expect from each option.
Grab a list of 20-30 of these and make a note of the ones that have a “medium” amount of traffic. You don’t want to go into the most traffic-heavy keywords right away since they’re usually the most competitive, but you don’t want to start too small building your base of traffic.
Keywords themselves are raw information, things like:
While these reflect the way people type on the Web, they don’t all make great titles for a blog post. Although if you did put together the keywords above that would be an epic blog title…
“Funny Cat wearing Surf Trunks Turns to Paleo Food”
I could see that one going viral.
Anyhow, please don’t string random keywords together. 😂
The point we’re trying to make here is that a blog’s title makes or breaks it: It has to be catchy and compelling since it’s almost the only thing on the page you can be sure every reader will see. It determines whether your article will be read or not.
Plus, your titles have to reflect your particular brand and solutions.
So, you might have titles like:
With your titles, keywords are important to consider, and you want to try and come up with interesting and fun titles as well.
Questions work well.
So do comparisons.
And things that get you curious or leave you hanging are some of my favorite titles.
You want to keep your customer in mind with your titles always. So for example, if you make custom mid-century-modern furniture, and after step 1 above you’ve identified a high demand for mid-century-modern couches you may want to publish something like:
“20 Contemporary Versions of Classic Mid-Century-Modern Couch Designs”
This is a great title because it satisfies the 5 requirements of a great Blog Title:
Once you have your titles, you know the implicit promise your content is going to make.
All you need to do is get some basic facts, add your own unique perspective, and stir it together into an article that informs, assists, and delights. Luckily, getting that research done is usually just as easy as starting with the articles that currently rank high on Google. Start with those, and think about how you can be better than the one ranking first in the organic (non-paid) rankings for your keyword.
Naturally, there’s tons of conflicting info out there on how to write and structure a post.
“Done” is better than “perfect,” so keep these high points in mind:
The way you publish your content is almost as important as writing it. Optimizing your URL with your keyword will also put you in a better position in search. A good URL is short and tidy, so readers will understand it at a glance.
If you’re editing your blog in WordPress, this is referenced as the permalink inside the post. You can edit it, and you should consider your title and keywords carefully.
So for example, if your keyword search on google keyword planner shows that
Paleo foods is a great keyword combo
then your blog post title of:
“Paleo Foods that made Hulk Hogan cry” might have a url structure like so:
Make sure that the permalink structure in your blog is set up correctly. If you’re in WordPress, click on the settings, then permalinks, then make sure that “Post Name” is selected.
Please note, if you do need to switch, make sure you set up 301 redirects for the old pages before you make the switch. Here’s a great article that will teach you how to do this.
Once you start publishing content, keep plugging away at it. New traffic often starts slowly but can gain momentum quickly. However much time you can set aside a month do your best to stick with it! Once a week is great if you can put aside the time. That’s around 50 blog posts a year. That is solid!! If you can’t manage that, don’t worry – it’s better to set realistic goals and do what you can.
You can use free software like Google Analytics to keep track of your growing traffic.
But if you really want to keep a watchful eye over everything and want a more intuitive and easier to use dashboard, check out analytics software like Agency Analytics which is what we use here.
“Brick and mortar” stores thrive on local search traffic, usually in the form of the keyword phrase “[business type] near me.” For Google to send you this traffic, it needs a way to know the actual location of your business. Claim your free listing at Google My Business to help it along. Seriously, this one is not hard. If you do anything after reading this article, do this first! And this is not just for local businesses. Claim your GMB listing no matter what kind of business you are.
Social proof in the form of testimonials is a no-brainer. Not only does it matter to the people who are looking for someone like you to do business with, it matters to Google as well. Why? It validates your business, proving you’re good at what you do and sends cues that they should serve up your business as the #1 result your prospect is looking for.
Testimonials and reviews don’t usually happen on their own unless they’re negative – because hey it’s the internet and people love to bitch and moan! For most businesses, it takes proactive outreach. It’s not hard to do, and it’s a good habit to cultivate to follow up with your clients.
When you do it, follow these rules:
Don’t send out a mass email. Make it personal and heartfelt.
Keep it short and sweet
Include a link directly to where they would leave the testimonial, usually Google or Yelp.
Here’s how to link people directly to leave you a review on Google
And while we’re on the subject of reviews, clients sometimes ask how you can get a negative review delisted… Sadly, it’s not easy… and damn near impossible.
The best way to approach it is to build up your positive reviews so that the old negative one moves down and eventually falls away from the first page of reviews. Plus more 5 stars will eventually overpower that 1-star review.
So that’s it! Best of luck on your journey of getting your business out there!
None of the above is rocket science, but it takes work and dedication.
If you’re all the stuff we just talked about sounds great, but you’d like to keep focusing on the business that you’re in AND you would like to grow your traffic, then give us a shout!
We can help take the weight off your shoulders and get things cranking for you.
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