Selling SEO as a Service (10/7/2020)

In this week’s Office Hours, we started in one place but ended up talking about how to sell SEO as a service.

Sometimes conversations get slow starts. We started this week’s Office Hours by discussing email solicitations for SEO services. We then followed-up on a couple of previous conversations we had (FAQ schema, one-page website SEO).

Eventually we got to the main topic of how to sell SEO. It can be challenging to sell SEO as a service. Some customers don’t understand it. Sometimes people don’t know they need it. Some customers assume it. How do you charge for this? These are all difficult questions but there’s one important thing to remember: SEO pays for itself. It takes time and money but it will eventually generate revenue for the website that attempts an SEO campaign.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask at the next Office Hours? Join The Colony and you can bring your questions, too.


Welcome to office hours. It’s October 7th, 2020, and we’re here to talk about SEO. And we got started with our conversation before we started to record. Now we got to regroup and refer back to all the cool things we were talking about.

One of the questions was about solicitations about services through your website. 

I asked if it is common or have you had people email you about your website and say that they can help you with your SEO and charge them like and you do the same thing they’re referring to.

Yeah, I get those all the time. The sample website I use for curious ants gets those solicitations all the time. My website receives those solicitations all the time. I joke with my clients that that’s the first step you know that people are finding you that once you start a website, it’s usually dead silent for a little bit as Google figures out who you are and whether it’s going to serve you in search results. So it’s crickets. Then the first step of success is that people are finding you and soliciting you.

So although it’s frustrating to get these solicitations and these solicitations are usually junk, I would never pay anybody that emailed me for a service like that. But the other side of this, the good news is that people are finding it how are they finding you, search engine so great. Congratulations, it’s your first sign of success.

Even companies that had been around for a long time get these solicitations. I have a client this last week. They’ve been in business for over ten years. I’ve worked with them for seven. They received this finely worded email saying if you want to show up on the internet, you need to pay your bill, here’s how you pay your bill, send a check to this address or give us your credit card number, and we’ll bill it for you.

The client sent it to me, and he’s like do I need to pay this bill, and I’m like no don’t pay that bill, and you know he’s are you sure and he sent me the bill, and it was worded so trickily it was like, “we’re glad you’re a customer of ours, and we’d like to continue to show you up and show you on the internet, so if you’d like to continue, just pay this bill you know it’s a modest amount of money it’s not too much and but you know it’s enough to make you think like it’s accomplishing something and just pay the bill” 

And he was going to pay for it. I wonder how many companies pay this bill and don’t realize it’s not doing anything for them.

So congratulations if you’re getting those solicitations. 

Tell us, Ali, how the FAQ schema is going for you.

It’s going great since we updated it. We got five hits just to that page as the landing page on our website this week, which was an improvement from zero before a little more. We’re also taking a little bit of a strategy with our social media. We’re going to highlight specific questions of the FAQ and kind of share it that way and turn it into a little bit something more engaging rather than, oh, here are some frequently asked questions.

Have any of those visitors become customers?

Not yet, but we did have a good week of contact us where I believe 75 of the people who made it to our contact us page went through and did sign an inquiry.

Great! are you guys doing phone call tracking?

We are not. The majority of our customers come through the website and the contact us page, so that is the thing that we are tracking the most.

Do you have your phone number on your website? 

Yes, but I think very, very limited because we want to direct most of those inquiries online and then follow up with them Via phone. 

So you might look at a system like CallRail because you might be getting more customers, and you realize from the website, but they’re calling right rather than filling out the form sometimes people want to call.

So of the 75 who are filling out your contact form, what if the remaining 25 call you? And it might be nice to know that, but then again, it could be, you know, existing customers calling you for appointments or follow-up too.

A call tracking system would allow you to know that it might be worth I like the system, CallRail. It’s an easy setup. In your case, since you deal with a little more sensitive material, you can turn off recordings, so it doesn’t even record the call. Then you know your clients are protected against you know people hearing the phone call it’s nobody’s business you want to see that they called you, but yeah, that’s excellent news.

Thank you.

Lavonya, you had asked a while back about one-page websites. How is that coming?

Good, but I was trying to figure out how to market it to the people that are coming to me for a one-page website, like how I can tie in SEO to help them on the web with just a one-page website,

It’s tough to do SEO on a one-page website because it’s limited, but someone can still find it in the search engines. You have to make sure you’re doing all the things necessary: making sure that the phrases people are searching for are included in the content (which means you’ve done the keyword research to make sure you see how people are looking for you); you have the content on the page that’s a critical mass enough to be able to be picked up by the search engines; other websites need to be linking to that website for Google to find it (let alone consider it credible). That’s hard to do when there’s only one page at play. It’s not impossible to still provide a service for a one-page website, but it might be an excellent opportunity to sell the customer, saying, you know we can fight the battle with one hand tied behind your back. It’s just going to take longer. If we did a complete website where we’re blogging and we’re promoting ourselves and talking about ourselves, that makes everything work a little bit better. We can still have one website page selling the service but having the other pages on the website where the blog posts or other service pages will make your life a lot easier.

I hope that helps. 

Something else I’ve been playing around with this week. I’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks with the StoryBrand process. I found it super cool.

I started doing it even for a networking group that I work with and tried to redesign their home page based on this guideline. I found it to be super helpful, mainly because it helps you ask the right questions about the company so for instance, I use the storyboard process for my

A group called the group up to which I belong is called the b2b solutions group, and we have a hard time describing ourselves. What are we? We’re a networking group, we’re a lead sharing group, but we’re kind of not who is our target audience well. One of the things I found out, as I followed the process, was to ask the question, “are we b2b solutions providers, or are we a group that targets b2b other b2b solution providers?” I like this process because it helps us better understand our audience, so by better understanding our audience, we end up better marketing to them and better connecting with them. So I just really have been thrilled with this.

I keep promising to add this process to curious ants. I haven’t yet, so I’m sorry, but maybe I’ll be able to do that with them soon and share it all with you anyway. That’s my thoughts, at least.

Anything else we would like to talk about today?

With this SEO, as far as Google, when you are working with clients, you pretty much help them find keywords to put on their site and interesting topics to help them rank on Google.

Yeah, the keyword research process outlined in curious ants should help you be able to do both. As you’re doing the research, understand how people are looking for your customers, you should identify the phrases that we call high intent phrases (meaning something that someone’s looking for because they want to pay someone for service). Those are the great ones to make sure you put non-landing pages or your homepage and stuff like that. While you’re doing that process, you will find different phrases for a good blog post like we can kind of share a little bit of a process here. Let me go to Google quick, and let’s share the screen. I’ll show you an abbreviated version of how this works.

Cause the reason I ask is that I’m going to have to include this in my packaging if I have to like if I’m creating a website and I have to help them come up with um keywords and everything, so it sounds

like I’m going to have to add that in there. SEO needs to have a focus. Unless we’re connecting with something someone’s looking for, SEO doesn’t help bring people in . we have to figure out the things people are looking for relating to our business.

I was looking at it being separate. If you want me to help you with SEO (or something like that), we can move over there. I can include maybe some of the basics first, and when they want to go deeper into it, that’s a whole another separate package possible.

Yeah, so some people will when they do website development.

We’ll offer the website, and if you want to pay more, we’ll provide SEO services for that website. That is a common way to provide web development services, or maybe they’ll have a partner say go

to this person, they’ll do the SEO for you. 

I like to argue that you will provide a better product to your customers.

If you include essential SEO elements with the website, what that means is that when we’re giving someone something that gets them a head start, they might not even know what SEO is. They might not even know that it’s going to help them. But if we give them a website that is set up to connect with the people looking for them, that website’s more valuable. The problem is people sometimes don’t see the value of paying for it. The worst case is that they build a website, you’ve completed your obligation to them, “Here’s the website,” and they call you two months to legislate no one’s visiting my website.

Well, of course not because we’ve not done any marketing. Why would anybody find your website but sometimes people don’t know? That’s a separate issue. So to be able to bring it up early in the process is a good thing. I was listening to a talk, I think it was at WordCamp Greenville a few couple years ago, and they talked about whenever you offer a product to a client, you should always provide three options and let them pick from the three options: 

  1. One option is the cheap option that’s the bare minimum. They could pay the minimum price they get something for that it’s worth the price. 
  2. The second option is the option you want them to take. That’s the option where they get something a little bit more, but it benefits them a lot more. Of course, they have to pay a little bit more for it.
  3. The third option is the option of this is the dream. If you want to knock it out of the park, this is what you have to pay. You price it accordingly. You make a good amount of money from that one because you know you never want to offer something you’ll never make money for. Right, but option three is the dream option, knowing that most of them will never take the dream option to make option two look good.

It’s the same reason Wendy’s offers three burgers: the single, the double, and the triple. Very few people order the triples. Having a triple makes the double not seem so big, and then when you look at the price, you’re like, “wow, for just a little bit more I could get double that’s got to be better than a single .” what ends up happening at wendy’s is they sell more doubles because they offer a single or offer a triple. So whenever you price out your web development, you could do three stages:

  1. Number one is here’s a website.
  2. Number two is a website and some SEO foundations pay a little more to get that. 
  3. Three here’s a website with a significant amount of SEO and a ton of content and a bunch of social media strategy, and for this, you’ve got to pay a whole lot of money.

People might not be interested in option three that might be too expensive. It might be more than they need, but suddenly, option two looks a lot better. It’s not just, “here’s a website.” You might be able to phrase your product offerings in options one, two, and three, not only providing them a better service because now they don’t just have a website. That “well good luck you gotta promote it now- it’s all up to you” you’ve established from day one. “Oh, that’s right, I forgot I have to market this website to do anything for my business.” By offering them option two, which is marketing and a website, you’ve set the expectation that you can have a website or you can have a website that people can find.

Okay, but I’ve seen many companies only offer websites. I’ve seen many of those clients say, “well, no one’s visiting,” and they feel short-changed because no one told them, “if you build it, they’ll come.” Well, no, it doesn’t work that way.

I think this is what these people are coming to me, “you need just a landing page; here’s the person that can do it for you.”

When you let customers determine their strategy, they blame you for their choice even if they made a wrong choice. The example was what if you have all these a la carte services, “I’m going to offer a service like you can buy my email service, you can buy my social media service, you can buy my content service, you can buy my SEO service, you can buy my TikTok service.” Okay, you call this choice. The customer says, “I want TikTok because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days.” You say, “Okay.” You take their money. You give them a service, and if that fails, they’re not going to blame themselves. They’re going to blame you. It’s better to say, “I offer marketing services. Here are five services I offer. What I’m going to do is take from those five services and pick the best one for you because you don’t know what the best one is. I am experienced, so trust me. You’re paying for my experience to guide you in the rest right direction.” What ends up happening is you are more valuable because you are selling your expertise rather than a commodity and competing with everyone else offering a TikTok service or an email marketing service. You’re just a commodity. You’re merely another email service. If you take whatever they give you, you’re not valuing yourself for what you’re worth. I get it when you’re starting. It’s scary because you’re like, “Oh no, I got you to know I got to take everything.” Where’s the next check coming from? I’ve known you for a few years. I’m impressed continuously about how eager, hard-working, how much you like learning, and how hard you work. These attributes set you apart from the person on Fiverr or someone in India who can build a website for ten bucks. You are much more than that. You can price yourself accordingly and remind people what they’re getting from that, “You know I love troubleshooting problems, and I work to figure them out, and that’s what you’re paying for.” If they’re not willing to pay it (well, it’s easy for me to say), they might not be worth it as a client if they value you so little. A client who values you more will be able to and be willing to pay you more in the long term. Someone who thinks of you as just another commodity can hire anybody to build this because nobody can do it well. That’s not going to be very valuable to them, but you have a lot to offer. 

I hope this cheers you into upselling more services because you’ve got a lot to offer them.

That’s my problem. I’m scared to scare a customer away if I price too high, but I don’t want to price too low.

Well, that’s what I like about the three price option: you can give them a low price but make sure they understand that low price in the context of like price the lowest price is a bare minimum and that should be the bare minimum that you need to do the project to make it worth your time.

Right now, they’re willing to pay the bare minimum. You’re willing to do it. Price two is more than the bare minimum, but they’re getting a lot more. Price three doesn’t have to be a million dollars, but it’s a significant amount. Every once in a while, someone’s going to pay that tier three pricing.

When I started doing this kind of three-tier pricing, I called tier three the “go-away price.” I don’t expect you to pay me that, but if you do, great. I remember the first time someone took that option, and I was like, “okay, you want to pay that I will take that amount of money.” It was great. Not everybody does it. Most people take the two and buy the Wendy’s double because they know this Wendy’s single is not as great when they see all they’re getting for the price of the double.

With your instructions but curious ants, I thought I wasn’t doing something right. Now I see I am getting people coming to my site and then also people emailing me soliciting. So, I guess I am doing something right. When I saw that email, I felt what I was doing wrong or emailed me to give me pointers.

They have no interest in you. They didn’t come to your website. They have a crawler going out there finding and submitting your form.

After you get these solicitations, the second stage is that people start listening to you and say, “Hey, I want to write on your blog.”

Okay, the same kind of thing, right? They don’t read my blog. They see that my website’s got a certain domain authority, and they’re like, “I want to write for your blog because you have a domain authority of whatever arbitrary number I’ve chosen.” I take it as a shot of compliment that people are finding you. The next goal is that potential customers find you.

I wrote the process for the curious ants very specifically. I know that we like to talk about all the different things related to SEO, but I did write it in order. So it does work if you do it step by step. As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I signed a new client at the beginning of September and started with step one. Then I went to step two. And I went to step three. I worked through it. I have to force myself not to skip steps because I want to get to this, or the client says, “oh, we haven’t done this yet.” I have to remind myself, “no, there’s a process. That’s not the step we’re ready for yet.” It’s too early to tell the client, “I made a million dollars over the last month.” I got the monthly report set up, so guess what? Next month the monthly report will be easy to do, and by then, it’ll be two months in, and we’ll be able to have some stuff to show them.

We started the keyword research, which was difficult for this client because they offer such a particular thing, but it’s helpful to understand what the client provides. I’m learning so much about what the client does. That’s why that hired me. Their former SEO company didn’t take the time to understand what they were doing. So the former SEO company would pick these weird words to try to rank for it. The clients said, “but that’s not what we do.” They were frustrated that the former company never took the time to understand their business.

I just figured it out. Like what you just said, what I could do is you know the list that you gave us the following order and if they become like one of my ongoing clients like I maintain their website.

Yeah, I was thinking about that with this SEO about if I’m offering it separately, like how I’m going to break it up and price it.

Another way of doing it is not hourly, but take every step and say, “I would like to do this for you.” We don’t call it step one. Maybe we say, “I’ll set up your Google Analytics. Here’s what you’re going to get out of that, and I can do it for this amount of money.” When they say, “that’s worth it,” you charge them for that you could charge by the project and almost do each step as a new project.

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