191 - Does My SEO Need To Have Niche Experience In My Industry To Be Successful 600x900

The Role of Industry Knowledge in Local SEO Success

Jesse and Sue explore the crucial question of whether industry-specific knowledge is a decisive factor for success when choosing an SEO provider. They dive into the importance of understanding the language, audience, and search intent of your target market. They also share their insights on the advantages and disadvantages of having experience in a niche when it comes to local SEO strategy. They provide valuable advice and tips for choosing an SEO provider, whether they have niche experience or not.

What You'll Learn

  • How a broad understanding of SEO best practices can be more important than industry-specific knowledge.
  • Why too much familiarity with a particular industry can sometimes lead to assumptions and biases in local SEO strategies.
  • When it's beneficial to work with an SEO provider who has niche experience in your industry, and when it's not a crucial factor for success.

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Jesse Dolan: If it's a very high-end business that has a ton of research and consumers really need to be enlightened and informed about your business over the long haul, not over the course of minutes or even hours, then maybe that makes more sense. That being said, I don't think being a niche expert in a certain field is a requisite to be a good SEO.

Welcome back to Lo Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan here today with Sue Ginsburg. How you doing, Sue?

Sue Ginsburg: Hi. Really good, really good. Today we are talking about SEO being industry agnostic. And the question is couple... A couple of questions put together here. Is it better to have someone with SEO experience in your industry do your SEO? How can SEO possibly be industry agnostic? Is it more effective in some industries than in others? And do some industries need it more than others do? We get this a lot from our clients, from our prospects. Most recently, business owner of Northwoods Botanicals, I got into a discussion with him about this. And just it's a good question, and it doesn't make intuitive sense when you think about it. So I thought that'd be a good one that other business owners would like to hear about today too. The quote of the day to go along with that, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." That's a quote by Mark Twain.

So to set this up, I get asked this question a lot, when business owners are looking for an SEO provider, who will do the best job possible for their business. It makes sense, since so much of the time having industry experience, or experience working in your geography, makes you better equipped to do a better job. If you have a foreign car, then you may look for a car mechanic who has experience working on other foreign cars, or more specifically working on your kind of foreign car. I have a hybrid car, and now that I'm in Austin, I'm looking for an auto shop who has experience working on hybrids. I know even for an oil change, it's different what's under the hood for hybrid than just for a regular car running on gasoline. And I'll say shout out to anybody who knows somebody good in Austin who works on hybrid cars.

It's the same thing with geography. If you need a CPA to do your taxes, you may want someone who has experience doing taxes in your state, so you're confident that they know your state's tax laws and tax issues. And when there are differences in the way things are done, makes sense to want someone with experience working on your business. What about when there aren't differences in the way things are done? When you're looking for a flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco, does it matter that the airline and/or the pilot have experienced flying to San Francisco? Or when you're looking for someone to rake your leaves or mow your lawn, do you need someone who has experienced using your rakes, your brand lawnmower, or has experience doing it on your block? If the process is the same, no matter what kind of rake, lawnmower, or whatever your equipment is, then does it matter?

You can see that sometimes specific experiences matter to the job that you want done and sometimes it doesn't. The key is knowing when it matters and when it doesn't. For SEO, that will impact your website and business in a positive way, let's ask Jesse, the expert on SEO, whether it matters or not. So Jesse, what do you have to tell us about this topic?

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I think first disclaimer here, Sue, is that everything following is purely opinion-based here. Right? There is no right or wrong to the core answer in this of, "If I'm hiring somebody to do my SEO, do they have to be an expert in my industry or whatever or not?" There's pros and cons to all sides of this. So just to be clear with everybody, make your own decision. Hopefully, we can share some information here and talk through some things that maybe help you ponder it or think about it. But the end of the day, it's wherever you have the most confidence, wherever you think you're going to get the ROI. And we're talking about your business and the livelihood of everybody in that business to boot.

So SEO is not an expense. SEO is an investment. We talk about that all the time. We talk about that with our clients, prospects, nurturing people along. Whatever you're going to be spending on your SEO, you should be getting that back multiple times over with new business. So it's a bit of a risk, bit of a gamble, like Bob, who's not on here today, says a lot of time, "As business owners, your risk managers, not risk takers." And so that's what it is here. If you're deciding between going with somebody to do SEO, that's an industry expert, a niche expert, somebody who's just very well-versed in your field to do SEO versus somebody who's not as well versed in your field, but is also an equally competent SEO, you're going to have to weigh those decisions, which way do you want to go on that. So like I said, I'm going to walk through some pros and cons. We've been doing this for decades now, and I think we've developed some opinions that are pretty good, rooted in a lot of fact and a lot of experience. So we'll share this and hopefully help some people out.

Where I want to start off is kind of where you were at, Sue. I think it does depend on the business we're talking about here, and if they do need somebody with that specific niche experience or that knowledge base. And your example of auto repair maybe, or things like that, I think are really on point, because, for SEO, if your firm you're looking to hire to do the SEO for you, if they are not an expert in your business, in your area, but they are of course for SEO, how hard will it be for them to learn the expertise needed to help market your business? If you are a college or any field or service area, that there's a lot of information around it, you have to be very educated making those decisions. If somebody's coming to your website, and they're going to be making a decision on patronizing you, and it's not a quick decision... It's not, "Do they have coffee? Can they fix my phone? Can they fix my vehicle?"

If it's more about, "Do I trust them with $100,000? Do I trust them with my child for four years to educate them?", or whatever, the higher the stakes in that, that means the more information that's going to be on your website, and that may lean you towards needing more of an expert in that field to do the SEO. I don't think that's a blanket case, but that would be where I would tend to lean towards an expert in your field of business, I should say, is important for for SEO, because there's such a knowledge base there. Because what we always say to clients, Sue, is, "We can learn any business. We can do the keyword research. We can find out what needs to be optimized and how to put it out there. You as the business owner are going to help create that content, so we don't need to be an expert in your business, because you are. We're an expert in getting your business found." But that would be the spot where I would tolerate a little disconnect in that, is the way I would phrase it.

If it's a very high-end business that has a ton of research, and consumers really need to be enlightened and informed about your business over the long haul, not over the course of minutes or even hours, then maybe that makes more sense. That being said, I don't think being a niche expert in a certain field is a requisite to be a good SEO. There's a lot of places out there. You take dentist offices, healthcare, plumbing, home services. There's a ton of people out there in the marketing and SEO space that niche down to the, "We just do SEO for plumbers. We just do do SEO for lawyers," things like that. And they're really, really good. And I think that can make sense in a lot of ways. They take an organization, Intrycks, where we don't focus on a specific vertical or a particular niche industry. We can still crush it in SEO. We just have to work more with that client about learning what their business is and what's important. And for us, that's part of how we need to handle every business anyways. It doesn't matter. So we're not deterred by it.

Now, within this, let's just take the SEO firm that is an expert in your business. What are some of the advantages? Well, they would already have the knowledge base about your business. You don't have to explain as much to them. They're going to be up to speed on the popular keywords, kind of what you're targeting. You're going to be talking the same talk. You're going to understand them real quick. They can also show you maybe some comparable performance of other businesses that they've worked with in that industry to get results. They have dashboards, again, that talk the same talk, have the same keywords and metrics, and that can be good.

Hey, Jesse with Local SEO Tactics, joined here by Kyle Roof. Kyle's going to be coming on in a few weeks to do another episode. It's been about two years, since Kyle was on for his last interview. And this time we're going to be doing a site teardown.

Kyle Roof: The purpose of this is almost to demystify and to say, "It's not fairy dust. It's not magic. It's actual concrete things that you can go in and do and better with your SEO." I know guys like yourselves and myself, that's all we're trying to do. That's the whole message. Right?

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Kyle Roof: It's just like, "Let's make this accessible. And let's make this doable. And it doesn't have to be magical. Let's get some SEO done. And let's just do better in our SEO and do better sites. Let's go make money."

Jesse Dolan: If you want to submit your site to get in the running for Kyle to give it a review, tear it down and share some tips, go to localseotactics.com/kyle, it's K-Y-L-E, and submit your site.

So those are some quick reasons why it'd be advantageous to go with somebody who has a lot of experience, right? Now, I think there's an inverse side to that, and this is something Sue, we talk about with clients a lot to ease their minds, and I guess selfishly to promote ourselves as well as a good option, which we have full confidence in. So where it can be, I think, a benefit that somebody can already be up to speed on your keywords, already be up to speed on the knowledge base for your business and everything else, I feel like sometimes maybe that firm isn't as receptive to your business. There can be 20 dentists in your metro area, and not all dentists are going to be the same. So if I'm going to work with an SEO that is experienced in working with other dentists, that's great. And for me, it sounds attractive, like, "Great, this can go quick. They already know what to market for me. Let's go."

I would have concern on, "Well, will I get the same marketing that the other dentist is getting? I mean, is this just an echo chamber for the same content, for the same keywords, for the same stuff? How creative is this? How unique is this? I'm a unique dentist compared to the other dentists on the shop. Are my features and benefits or what I think is different about me going to be heard by this SEO team, who thinks they already have the solution for dentists?" I think there's some danger in that, when you do go with somebody who is an industry expert, a niche expert, that maybe your brand, your voice, your uniqueness in that market may not be heard, because they have a paint-by-numbers solution on how they're going to do SEO for dentists, in this case.

Likewise, how much exposure are they having to outside ideas, outside tactics, new techniques versus kind of the tried and the true, the same thing they've been doing for the other dentists over and over? There can be some danger in that. Another spot that's always important to explore if you're considering somebody who's an expert in that niche, are they working with anybody else in your local market? If this is a company that's really good with dentists, really good with lawyers, whatever it is, are they serving anybody else in your market? And if they aren't now, will they be later? Are you going to get exclusivity in that market? Are they going to serve two masters? Are they going to try to rank two different businesses in the same area for the same keyword in Google? I would have concerns on that. Make sure there's some protection against that too.

Obviously, if you're going with a company who has not specialized in that, the odds of that happening are going to be crazy low. NB, they're always, like us, going to be exclusive to any given market, because they never want to infringe like that. So yeah, I think avoiding the echo chamber, avoiding getting locked into products and services that everybody gets to market, not having the same also-ran content and strategies and images and everything else as your competitors is definitely an advantage to go with somebody who is a good SEO firm, but maybe not the premier expert for dentists. Those some things to watch out for.

The other thing that we say a lot, Sue, and that I think for me at least is a very strong opinion here is you don't have to be an expert in any given field to rank a client. You have to be an expert in SEO, and that is what we are. And that is what a lot of people out there that are agnostic to any given industry are. Look at the track record. It doesn't matter if they can rank dentists in Google or they're ranking their clients in Google. And for me, I think it presents as a stronger organization to say, "Look, we have dozens of clients, all in their own industries, and we ranked them all," versus, "Yeah, look, I've got a dozen dentists, and I've ranked them all." I think it says more to be able to rank all these different types of businesses with all their uniqueness, all the different knowledge bases, than it is to do the same thing over and over. It's a little different model there.

Sue Ginsburg: And I think also what I always say is the workflow and the systems are the same. You're just applying it and customizing it to whatever the product, service, the business is, like you are with anything. Knowing the different steps to take is really the foundation of how we do SEO.

Jesse Dolan: In that sense, you're not using the crutch of being a industry expert, in my opinion. You really have to be good at SEO, good at digital marketing, things like that. So I personally prefer if we can get rid of that business niche, the industry niche out of the conversation, and just talk about ranking and SEO and practices and techniques. It shouldn't matter what the business is. A good SEO is still going to be able to rank. It doesn't matter if they're an expert in your field, if they have history in your field or not. You want to look at their book of business and their client base. And are they good at what they do regardless of the business type? So like I said here, and you're on the same page, Sue, I know if people were to ask us straight up, we staunchly say, "No, you don't have to be an expert." And I think we have good arguments where we try to avoid those experts.

That being said, I can't sit here and say that somebody's going to be done wrong, if they go with an SEO that's an expert in any particular business niche or category, as long as they're good at SEO, right? Just because you're an expert dentist SEO doesn't make you a good SEO, just for that fact. Look at the firm, look at the agency. What's their track record? Are they doing good stuff? If the main thing they tout is just that they're really good for dentist's SEO, you know, don't be mystified by that. Don't have stars in your eyes. Make sure you're still crosschecking everything, just as if they weren't experts in dentists. Business owners, and I know especially if anybody of you out there, if you're a business owner, I'm saying this. I should be seeing you nod your head.

It's hard to engage in consultation or other services, because you're always worried that they're not going to know your business. Your business is so unique, your niche is so unique, and it is, because in your area, you're the one that does this. And when we have somebody providing services or consultation that knows our business, is an intimate with our business, there's such an attraction there for us, because we feel like it's going to be easier. We feel like they can just get up to speed quicker, "In my job, as the owner of the manager will be so much easier, because I don't have to relay all this stuff to this person on the other side of the table." I think that's a danger, because we can then make a decision, because it seems like it's easier for us, but we're not making a decision on, "How good is that company? How good are these people? And what are their results going to be?"

So like I said, hopefully, you don't get mystified and kind of stars in your eyes when you're talking to an industry expert in that field of business for SEO. Just make sure you're really focused on, "Do they have good results? What's their track record? Are they ranking people? And can they help you out?" And then for me, again, if we're talking that kind of talk, definitely explore some non-industry specific SEOs, like Intrycks as an example, to compare against because now we're talking apples to apples. So yeah, Sue tried to be a little bit middle of the road there. Like I said, it's very much opinionated, but I think there's spots where it makes sense, but there's a ton of arguments where it doesn't really matter, in our opinion, at the end of the day.

Sue Ginsburg: I'll share something that just validates one of the things you said about an industry expert on SEO, who works with competitors. This has happened a number of times, but most recently working with the client, who was working with another SEO firm, who had said they were industry experts. And as we started doing competitive research, we started seeing the same blog posts, some of the same content with just the name of the business changed. And that is not going to help anyone who has that. It's not unique.

Jesse Dolan: That's where, like I said earlier, that starts to be a crutch for the business itself. It's easy for them to produce content, do the paint-by-numbers. And where that seems good right off the bat, it's not going to be in the long haul, so.

Sue Ginsburg: Yeah. Good question. And I do think it's counterintuitive, because a lot of times... If you're getting your tonsils out, you want somebody who's done a lot of tonsillectomies. It doesn't matter if they've done a lot of other types of surgeries. You want somebody who has experience doing what they're going to be doing.

Jesse Dolan: So everybody knows too, if somebody were to sign up with us... You know all this, Sue, obviously. But the first thing we start with is a technical SEO audit. The client signs up. We have to look what's happening right now with their website, with our hosting, with all the technical stuff. We do competitive research. We do keyword research. We spend a lot of time and energy making sure that we understand their business, that we understand their website. We understand what needs to be done, where we all want to go with it. And then we develop that strategy to implement it. And I just think about a scenario where, if we were not piloting the organization that we have now, but instead something that was a specific business focus, would we have that same rigor on the front side? Would we glaze over some of that, because we feel it doesn't matter, because we're doing the same thing for everybody? It's a kind of boilerplate template here. I think you'd lose some of that.

And again, if it's a business that's going through their rigor to learn you, to understand you, to audit you, and then implement a solution, I don't think it matters how intimate they are with your field before that process happens, if we're going to go through that level of rigor, to really be an expert in your field. So maybe not everybody operates that way, but that's our MO obviously. So that's what you should be looking for.

Sue Ginsburg: And I think also what we find more important is to become knowledgeable about their business. I mean, yes, you are learning about the industry too, but more specifically about the client's business.

Jesse Dolan: Client is going to be an expert, better than we could be, better than an SEO team who's focused on that niche. The client is going to be the premier expert in their business.

Sue Ginsburg: As they should be.

Jesse Dolan: What else you got? Any other closing thoughts?

Sue Ginsburg: I will say, if you remember one thing and one thing only, remember this. The way we work, and I can only speak for how we as an SEO firm works, we use the same processes and workflows for every business we work on. We know what works, and that's what we do in. As you mentioned, Jesse, in the extensive keyword research that we do very early on, we dive deep into the business and to the competitors and to the industry to learn what we need to do and what we need to know to make the SEO impactful for that business. We know our winning formula is that, when we are the SEO experts, and just like you just said, when the business owner is the expert on that business, and that's what brings us success over and over again. So for SEO, at least we believe, it's the workflow and the process that makes it work. And that works across all industries, all businesses, at least the way we do it. And that's the way our SEO works. And it will work for any industry that a business can be in. So that that's the way we do it, and it works. That's the way it works for us.

So again, quote of the day: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know that for sure just ain't so." And I thought that was appropriate,, because I do think this is a bit counterintuitive because we're all so used to looking for experienced whatever it is, practitioners or service providers, in exactly what it is that we want them to do. So thank you, Mark Twain, for that quote. And Jesse, thanks to you for presenting both sides of it.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. If everybody listening or watching likes that, we'd love to get a review from you. Go onto localseotactics.com. Scroll down to the bottom. Click the link for reviews. You can read our recent reviews. You can also click a button to leave us a review on Apple Podcast, Facebook, Google Podcast, wherever you want. We'd love to get those from you, and let's us know we're doing a good job on the show. Let's us know that you like what we're doing. And it's just great feedback. And we'll read those on the show as we get them. Likewise, if you like the topics you brought up, if you have a topic you're thinking of, maybe a question, maybe you want us to expand on this, whatever it is, whatever's on your mind, somebody else out there in the audience, in the community, is also thinking it.

Let's help each other out. Go to localseotactics.com. Scroll down to the bottom. Click the button to submit a question. You can type it in on our form, or you can call it in. If you type it in, we'll at least give you a T-shirt. If you call it in. We're going to send you off one of these awesome Local SEO Tactics stainless steel water bottles, high quality too, by the way. It's like this is not some cheap $3 bottle. You're really going to like these. We want to make sure you get something for your effort. And yeah, we'll play the audio on here. Give a shout-out to your company, whatever you want to do. Love to have it. Go to localseotactics.com. Thanks for tuning into this episode. Hopefully you got some value out it.

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