The one common factor I seem to be seeing lately in examining companies looking to move forward with an SEO campaign is that they have been burned by a previous company. Yet, they still believe in the process and still hire me on despite the problems that they have encountered with previous SEO company practices.
This is encouraging in that it suggests 2 things in my opinion.
1) It appears that these company owners that need good marketing still believe that digital marketing is the way forward in the foreseeable future.
2) It seems to me that other forms of marketing are losing their ability to attract new customers for business in many cases.
The other thing that occurs to me is how many of my competitors have very inferior skills and practices and this is easy to determine after a quick examination with SEO software tools such as Ahrefs and Serped.net. My 2 favourite SEO tools.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, or trying to boast of my superior SEO skills, let me set the record straight. I will use a current example to make my point.
I recently received a referral from of of my current clients. They have been with me about a year now and they came from a bad experience with another company previously. We have achieved some really good results over the last year and so they felt compelled to tell another fellow about what I had done for them and so I gained a new client.
The new client is in the HVAC industry. HVAC is very competitive and so I knew I would have to bring my best game to this round. It all started out with a friendly phone call where the owner expressed his concerns with moving forward with SEO since he had been burned in his last experience.
Seems to be a pattern here!
We spoke on the phone for a good 45 minutes and I tried to get as much information as I could regarding this persons pain surrounding their business and it’s need to find a reliable marketing strategy for growth. It’s important that we try to understand and listen to business owners because there is a lot we can learn from them especially in the early phase of the relationship.
What I learned is that they had previously spent over $25,000 on a search marketing campaign and felt that they had received zero results. I knew I was going to have to really dig in and have a hard look at what had happened over the last year so as soon as I got off the phone I opened up my SEO tool suite and went to work trying to get to the bottom of their dilemma.
Oddly enough, it only took me a few minute to see what the problem was. I opened the Site Explorer section of Ahrefs and had a quick look at the company link profile thinking I would find a lot of poorly constructed anchor text or one of the other common SEO mistakes that we often see from companies that practice out of date SEO techniques.
To my amazement, it was nothing of the sort. It was a complete lack of link building that seemed to be the problem and not the methodology that was at fault. I know it’s popular in certain SEO circles nowadays to say that link building is dead but I can assure you that I am privy to some very top testing info that says otherwise and my own personal experience suggests otherwise as well.
So here is a company that spent $25,000 and I could literally count the number of links that were built to his site in 10 months without taking my shoes off. ( That’s less than 10 for you who didn’t get the joke )
I could barely believe that this was the case. It meant that the guy paid for nothing or next to nothing. I do over-the-shoulder videos and walk potential client through a bit of a behind the scenes peek at what goes on in the SEO world since I am very aware how little people understand what it is that we do and I know how uncomfortable it must be to give someone thousands of dollars of their hard earned money to a process that they can barely conceive of.
I basically showed this fellow how he had been almost forgotten over a nearly year long time frame and assured him that a company on this high of a budget should have at least built 100 new links to the website during that time frame at that budget.
I got the usual response in our next face to face meeting that I often get from my patented over-the-shoulder on screen SEO videos. He said that “ he never felt so knowledgeable and comfortable about investing in the SEO process as he did now”.
This is a little tip for those of you who might stumble across this article who happen to be in the SEO game or even the social media of ads game. Do over-the-shoulder in screen video for your potential clients. I have gotten more positive feedback from them then I could have ever imagined. they really help people get comfortable betting on you to help them.
Back to the story.
I thought something was odd about the menu because it did not seem to contain all of the proper pages that I saw while I was just looking around initially doing a quick overview of the site’s content. There didn’t seem to be enough individual dropdown sections to represent all of the individual pages I saw while scoping things out.
I was right. The previous company had the wrong menu selected and so what this meant is that there was no way for a person visiting their site or for that matter, there was no way for Google to find, almost 60% of the pages on the website. This is hard to believe since the previous company was not some fly-by-night outfit. They were apparently a very large digital media firm.
Although it is not my usual routine, and it is nowhere in my agreement to do so, I went to work and spent about 6 hours fixing the whole structure of the website. I found content that was not finished. Loose “shortcodes” on pages that had not been utilized. And here is the funniest thing I found. ( if you can call what happened to this business funny by any stretch) When I went to the “Media Library” to fix all the “alt text” for the photos, I saw a whole bunch of photos that just didn’t seem to belong in a HVAC company’s photo library. What these photos did look like was photos from a doctors website. And indeed they were. Over half of the library was pics from what appeared to be a dentists website. Upon further investigation it appeared that there were even pages on the site that were dedicated to things like” patients” “our doctors” and the like.
Unbelievable I thought to myself. You can Imagine the shock when, at the next client meeting, I showed him all of this stuff. Stunned does not do justice in describing the look on the man’s face.
It was at this point that I said that it seemed to me that what had really gone on with his last experience was less a matter of incompetence on a knowledge level and more a matter that he had just got lost in the shuffle of some big companies disorganization. Let this be a lesson to the reader that just because a company boasts about how many people they have under their employ and how many offices they have nation wide they are only as good as their ability to keep track of their clients.
Digital marketing is a very rapidly expanding field and it is easy for a growing company to let their growing client base outrun their organizational skills and have a client get lost in the shuffle. I have gotten passed over before by prospective clients because I am an independent, and so for that reason, I don’t appear as impressive to some people. Rest assured though, you will never get lost or forgotten at my company because I have a more intimate awareness of every clients’ situation and simply can’t allow myself to take on more work than is realistically manageable.
Who needs the stress?
The moral of the story is make sure you don’t just hire a digital marketing firm because they have a lot of staff. Talk to someone at the company and do some due diligence.
Don’t have an expensive lesson like this poor guy did.
PS. He is in good hands now at least.
See the other part of this company story here