How to Make the SEO Case to Small Businesses – Whiteboard Friday
Belief in the process can be the make-or-break factor when it comes to convincing small businesses they need SEO. Overcoming skepticism can be daunting, but there are strategic ways to go about pitching your case to potential clients that will smooth the way for you. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers a 5-step process to making the SEO case to those small and medium businesses that need a little extra push to help you help them.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about how to make the SEO case to small businesses, small business owners, small business CEOs, maybe even some medium businesses as well.
I want to start by saying that this is a challenge for a lot of us, but it’s a challenge for both types of SEO folks. For in-house folks, you might be the marketing person at your company. Maybe there’s only a handful of you, you’re a relatively small business, and you’re trying to make the case, “Hey, boss, team, we should invest in SEO.” Likewise, for a lot of consultants who are serving small and medium businesses or very small local businesses, making this case to potential clients can be really tough too. That’s what we’re here to talk about.
Step 1: Show search queries with OBVIOUS intent
The thing that I recommend starting with always is show search queries with obvious purchase intent, obvious visitor intent, where it’s essentially just a no-brainer to imagine that 7 out of 10 people who are searching for this particular query are going to be looking to make a transaction with your business or with a business just like yours.
So, for example, if I’m a dentist, I’m not sure that I would go in and I would pitch them, “Hey, there are a lot of searches for teeth hygiene tips. We could do some great content marketing, build some great brand awareness.” You can imagine the head of a dental practice saying, “You know, I’m not sure that’s going to convert into business for us, at least not directly.”
Maybe you can make that tougher case around content marketing and secondary branding and all that kind of stuff. But if you say, “Hey, guess what? There are people searching for Milwaukee dentists,” well, if I’m a dentist in Milwaukee, it’s pretty hard for me to argue, “I don’t think they’re looking for us.”
And you can get even more specific. So I could go long tail or longer tail and I can say, “Hey, they’re looking in our neighborhood, in our specific region, or they’re looking for particular features that we have or particular services that we uniquely offer.” All of those things can help to narrow that, make that very, very obvious intent.
Step 2: Highlight search volume and competition
The second thing is you’re going to want to highlight, probably with a slide or a presentation, showing this off in a reason simple fashion. There are people searching for these types of terms, things like “Milwaukee dentist” or “Brewers Hill dentist,” Brewers Hill being a neighborhood in Milwaukee, “Milwaukee dentists that accept Badger Care,” a particular kind of insurance or dental discount, “Milwaukee pediatric dentists” serving kids. Makes sense.
You want to show off the volume. This isn’t like keyword research that SEOs would do. The keyword research that we would do would include different types of metrics, but you want to show them volume because you’re trying to illustrate how many people are looking for these things each month, and then you want to show: Are you or are we ranking for this already, and are the people we think of as our top competitors in the market, the three dental practices right around us, are they ranking?
If it’s the case that they are, yes, yes, yes, no, no, yes a little, no. Aha, this is a phenomenal way to convince folks, even folks who are not necessarily motivated by the, “Hey, people are searching for us,” they are often motivated by the, “People are going to our competitors instead of us because we haven’t invested in this channel or in this practice.” That can be a great case to make.
Step 3: Start with AdWords, and show the cost->clicks comparison
A lot of times you need to really prove it with small business owners, especially the skeptical ones. So starting with AdWords is a great way to go, especially because you can then show the cost to clicks comparison. So, for example, let’s say we’re going to run a 90-day ad campaign. We don’t have to run it for all 90 days. We could run a campaign for a week, maybe even just three days, and if we get enough data, we can use that to extrapolate out.
We can say, “Okay, we know that a 90-day ad campaign with Google, to get us into these sorts of average positions and get this much traffic, will cost us approximately $3,000. We think it will bring us about 450 clicks based on what we’ve observed so far. That translates to about 10 leads, because we get about 1 per 40 to 50 visits, and we close about half the leads that come to us through search.” All right. That’s a 200% ROI, assuming that the average customer is spending $500 with us on their first visit, whatever it is. There’s your ROI number.
Now, what would happen if we ran a 90-day SEO campaign? Well, it turns out that’s going to cost us $6,000. Maybe that’s three months of half of this person’s salary, or it is three months of using this particular consultant or that kind of thing. What do we expect? Well, we expect that search visits, versus the 90 days prior to the campaign, for the 90 days after the campaign, not during the campaign because you’ll be slowly ramping up. So you’ve got sort of that before period where you’re here, the during period where you’re ramping up, and the after period where you’re sort of at that higher new medium.
After that, we’re going to expect that we’re going to get 900 new visitors from search. We think we can get 25 leads from that. We think we can close 12, approximately half of those, and we think the ROI will be 250%. So now we can start to do those ROI comparisons, and you can see, aha, SEO is, it appears, a better investment, generally speaking. Plus you make this investment and then if you can explain to the folks, “Hey, guess what? After traffic goes up, it stays up. We don’t have to keep paying for it every time. Not every click costs us money.” You run that campaign, it goes on ad infinitum.
Step 4: Transparently show the process and examples of your results
You want to transparently show your process, preferably speaking with as similar examples as you possibly can, but not directly competitive. So what I mean here is: “Hey, we talked to Rita’s Bake Shop last year. We did some work for her. Rita was nowhere in Google. She wasn’t showing up at all. We verified her local listings. Let me show you what a local listing is. We built her some links. Let me show you some of the links that we acquired. Some of them were from press. Some of them were from getting her included in local listing services, and we did some keyword research and targeting. So we changed up some of her pages, and I’ll show you some examples of that in my slide pitch deck.”
“In six months, you can see from her Google Analytics, traffic grew 500%.” You don’t have to show off the actual traffic. You can scrub the axis on the side there so that the numbers don’t appear, and you can simply show the growth. And search is now her number two source of new customers behind only referring customers, which is terrific.
You want to illustrate this process so that it doesn’t seem mysterious. It doesn’t seem like, “Oh, you couldn’t do this yourself.” It’s just… it’s challenging. There’s a lot of work to do. You have to know the ins and outs of it. Someone has to actually go and do these things.
A lot of skepticism is not always in the small business world because of ROI or lack of belief that it might do something, but lack of understanding about the process and a lack of communication between SEO professionals or marketing professionals and the end customer or the client or the team, the boss, the manager.
Step 5: Listen to objections and concerns with empathy
You should be willing to listen. Absolutely, you have to listen to objections and concerns with empathy. If you’re a potential person who’s complaining like, “Hey, we had these problems in the past. This is why I don’t invest. This is why I prefer just to run some Facebook ads, or why I prefer not to get involved with the Internet at all. We have this other service that say they do SEO for us, why would we need to go with you as well?”
Even though you’re listening and you’re obviously going to be answering those objections, hopefully with data and information as well as with empathetic concern, you should be willing to walk away from poor matches, and there are going to be a lot of them.
Every consultant I’ve talked to and many, many in-house, unfortunately, marketing folks who do SEO have said, “Yeah, there were a lot of times where we had to do a ton of work to convince our potential client or a team or a boss to invest in us. Then once we got rolling, there was just impediment after impediment because the belief wasn’t really there. The trust wasn’t there, and the willingness to invest wasn’t there.” If those things are lacking, this process is just going to be way harder than going out and pitching someone else. So I might urge you to do that.
All right, everyone, look forward to hearing some of your tips in the comments for how you’ve convinced small and medium business owners to invest in SEO, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.