I get a lot of good questions at live events where I’m speaking and even when just there to network and have a good lunch.
A few of those are going to make it onto the blog, particularly where I’ve sent a detailed reply, with the identifying information redacted of course.
So onto today’s question from a recruitment consultant starting a ‘one person’ operation from scratch with a new website, consisting of a one-page free template from Godaddy.
I’ve just had a pitch/quote from an SEO company to fix my site up, I don’t understand it and don’t know if I should work with them.
It’s always disappointing to see what players in the SEO industry are up to as it rarely is helpful to small business owners, more just firing out quotes and hoping some stick rather than actually helping and, well, even looking at the site properly and offering some initial thoughts before they quote.
Clearly if a business owner hasn’t even put a real site up yet, a report into the technical issues with it aren’t going to be very positive. However solving those doesn’t solve the initial problem.. the client needs a new website, and a strategy for marketing online before they even know whether SEO is the right tool for the job.
A couple of words of warning: Agencies that plaster the ‘Google Partner’ logo all over their SEO quotes and paperwork are at best being sloppy about disclosure, and at worst trying to deceive customers. Google does NOT and has said they probably never will, offer a partnership, endorsement, or other program for SEO. The partner program is purely for pay per click advertisers on Google.
It doesn’t help that Google’s own staff sometimes publish incorrect information on this as part of their PPC sales pages.
So here were my initial thoughts about how to proceed and start to think about the various options ahead.
Buy A Website Template
Your current site is fine as a place-holder and virtual business card for people like me who already know you to check out and interact with. I now, for example, know what types of candidate you’re able to help and could pass any on to you that I met, and so on.
However, for new candidates who don’t know you already, and for larger corporate customers you might want to place customers with you really need something more modern.
I wouldn’t recommend a template if you’re an established business and can afford a designer or need a lot of custom pages, beautiful graphics, and can’t make substantial modifications in-house because you’ll get something way more polished and that you’ll love if you work with a good designer.
But for a one person business it really is the only cost-effective way to go until you find your feet and have a clear vision for your brand.
I recommend Theme Forest for purchasing your template. – http://themeforest.net
There are lots of places you can get free templates, but when it comes to customising them or even just making simple changes yourself, premium templates will give you a lot more options, and save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Try to pick one that isn’t too fancy (loads quickly, looks nice on mobile etc) and has additional internal pages done that you might need (about, location, blog, staff, testimonials etc).
I recommend you use WordPress (so look in the WordPress section on Theme Forest!) as your site platform as that gives you a word processor type editor and easy ways to customise and edit your own content – something you’ll definitely want in future to save time/money.
Simply Business have a great guide to getting started with WordPress and walks you through it step by step. http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/wordpress-for-small-businesses/ They recommend the Yoast SEO plug in (which some people love, some people prefer to do things manually, for you it’ll be an easy way to fill in things like Meta Descriptions, generate a sitemap and so on).
The other reason you’ll want to do all this stuff is that it’ll support your work in future marketing efforts (from paid ads to marketing automation) in ways that you simply won’t be able to achieve with your current limited site.
Basic Local SEO/Marketing
We have a free primer in the non-technical stuff you need to do to ensure your business has a good local presence (shows up when people around your registered location are searching for your business type) on Tech Function magazine. It’s a shortened version of the paid live training that I do and covers a fair bit of ‘local SEO’ strategy.
Advertising, Marketing Automation (E-mail etc)
Once you’ve got the basics right you’ll want to start thinking about how you can reach your target audience whether it’s candidates or hr managers etc. The easiest way is to build up some ideas for ‘stand out’ content that will appeal to them.
You can see a little of that in our free course which is about educating local businesses and then obviously we can connect with ones we think are a good fit with us. You can see a newer one here – http://techfunction.net/what-is-public-relations/ – which we’re using to target business owners and marketing manager who are looking to find out more about what PR is. There are a few subtle CTAs in there at the moment but once it has lots of links and ranks well on Google it will have more ;).
You’ll ideally come up with about 20-30 pieces of content initially and write those up. You can use a mix of linkedin promotion, paid ads on linkedin/facebook etc, e-mail marketing and so on to get them in front of people. Each one will have some kind of call to action that lets you get them ‘into your funnel’ and keep in touch with them (via your e-mail newsletter and marketing automation set up).
Guide to becoming an office manager for senior administrators
— The article itself has basic tips, advice etc and has a ‘content upgrade’ offer where if they give you their e-mail address they get a full 10 page report into career progression from senior admin–> office administrator
— Result: You now have someone on your list in the ‘wants to be office manager’ ‘senior administrator’ tags.
Rinse and repeat for all the different types of target person you need to target and you build up a powerful database pretty quickly.
I do a 2 hour live training 1-1 session on marketing automation for £350 after which:
– you’ll be set up on Mautic (open source/free for small companies marketing automation tool)
– your first campaign will be set up for an example customer time
– you’ll understand how to add future campaigns, customer types
– we’ll have spent time brainstorming and understanding how to brainstorm content ideas
– you’ll understand the various promotional options and how to target the right people on Facebook ads, Linkedin (free and ads)
I hope this is all helpful and gives you more of an idea how you’ll want to go about actually marketing your business online. It’s more than just doing some SEO – many of the above things (sorting out your local listings, building some links etc, writing great content for your target audience, installing and using the Yoast plug in for WordPress) will have a big impact on your search performance, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to growing your business online.