How Do You Outrank Your Competition Without Spending an Arm and a Leg

How Do You Outrank Your Competition Without Spending An Arm And A Leg

Sue and Jesse join you with another listener question about how to get the most out of your marketing investment towards SEO. The pair discuss the importance of identifying your own strengths and capabilities to know what you can effectively do yourself, and to know what to invest in handing over to someone else. SEO can be a lot like investing in home improvement, in that sometimes a task that seems small and easy to do yourself can turn out to be overwhelming, time consuming, and costly if done wrong! 

Questions for the team? Visit us online at! Chances are if you’re wondering about something, other listeners are too, and we’d love to help provide insights and tips for everyone. 

Thanks for listening, and enjoy the program!

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What you’ll learn

  • What we mean when we say there are no shortcuts to SEO, but there’s also no set recipe either.
  • Why it’s important to understand that SEO will take an investment, be it money or time.
  • How to identify your priorities by looking at your strengths and passions, and know where you can save by doing some parts of it yourself!

Transcript For How Do You Outrank Your Competition Without Spending An Arm And A Leg -112;

Caleb Baumgartner: Welcome to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I am your producer, Caleb Baumgartner. And in this episode, Jesse and Sue tackle our listener question about where to save on your SEO investment. If you’re looking to outrank your competitors without spending an arm and a leg, Sue and Jesse will help you learn how to identify options to do the work yourself and save over hiring a third party. Got a question, visit us at and let us know. Thanks for listening and enjoy the show.

Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan here again with Sue Ginsburg.

Sue Ginsburg: Hi.

Jesse Dolan: Another one, Sue, just you and I, while Bob is out. I don’t know if he’s in Mexico or Vegas or doing some actual work, one of those three. Maybe we can guess which one it is. No, he’s out tending to a client need right now. So we’re going to record this one without him, which is completely fine. I’ll start off always asking your virtual background, like spoiler alert for everybody. You’re not Carmen Sandiego traveling around all the place. But what is that? Where are we looking at here today? Where are we?

Sue Ginsburg: How about virtual Carmen Sandiego? I like that.

Jesse Dolan: Virtual Carmen Sandiego.

Sue Ginsburg: For all those who may not get that segue, that really popular and fun… Was it a video game or was it a computer game, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, for me it was a cartoon that I’d watch when at home.

Sue Ginsburg: Oh, wow. All of the above. All of the above.

Jesse Dolan: Great.

Sue Ginsburg: Yes. Coming to you today with Carmen Sandiego from Minneapolis, showing the downtown lakes with some sailboats on it, a glorious summer day.

Jesse Dolan: Nice. Very nice.

Sue Ginsburg: So today’s question came from a webinar that Jesse and I recently gave to a largely Minneapolis audience. The question was, how do you outrank your competition without paying an arm and a leg? And I think whether more people ask this, everybody thinks it because that’s what we all want. We all want to know how we can beat our competition and with the least marketing investment possible. And that’s what we try and help our clients do. So I thought this is a really, really good question. And the quote for today is a quote from Steve Martin, actually, “Be so good that they cannot ignore you.” I like that.

Jesse Dolan: That is cool.

Sue Ginsburg: What’s saying, imitation is the highest form of flattery or something like that. Right?

Jesse Dolan: Yep.

Sue Ginsburg: So anyway, yeah. Thank you, Steve Martin, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Okay. So our real-life story about this today is we have a client who was doing her own SEO, really smart and good at that. Listening to our podcast, learning on her own, doing okay. And then she hit a wall. She got busy with her own work, which is a good thing. No longer had the time for interest to dedicate to SEO, ranking high, figuring it out, learning, keeping up with it and figuring it out on her own. So she talked to us and in one of the first conversations, I remember she asked this very same question, which again, whether or not business owners voice it in these terms, every person out there is thinking about it because nobody wants to spend money if they don’t have to. So really good question. I think it’s on everybody’s mind and a good one for us to be helping our listeners and business owners with today.

So today with this question, purpose and the intent to help business owners know how to beat your competition online I’m saying, because this really is for online presence and your online sales channel and lead generator. Cost effectively, that’s how I’m going to rephrase that. Business owners are busy being experts in their own business, running their business. And they aren’t most of the time interested or have the time to learn how to be an expert in SEO. They want it to happen. They want to beat their competition on every platform. They just don’t have the time or interest to get to be the expert. And it is a science and an art. And for you, Jesse, you’ve been even as a business owner doing this and then diving into this to become the expert that you are. You know this and understand it better than most of us.

Jesse Dolan: True.

Sue Ginsburg: And we can learn from you. So we’ll listen to you, learn any tips and tricks you have to beat competition online and help us all get a little smarter with SEO and learn how we can be cost efficient in our own businesses with SEO and any other ways you can suggest to our competition online.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. And I think this one, ironically, would be one where I know Bob would have some good insight because he still has one foot firmly planted in brick and mortar, local business. We’ve talked about that extensively over the whatever, 110 episodes we’ve done here. I think everybody knows that by now. That being said, he’s not here. So I might kind of paraphrase some things that I kind of know where he’d lean towards this.

First thing to kind of frame up and we’ve said it before, Sue, is basically you have to do the things for SEO, right? There’s no shortcuts here. So as a business owner, we’ve talked about it before, Sue, I mean, basically have a time or money. If it’s your own time, maybe the time of your staff or even the money you’re paying your staff for time or money that you’re going to pay to a third party or to some tool that you’re going to use for this online. You’re going to have a budget of both. And if you’re going to be trying to do those without breaking the bank, for me, that kind of infers you’re leaning towards paying the least amount of money to get these results, which means you’re probably going to have to put in a little bit of the time, yourself, a little bit of elbow grease to get this done.

It’s a couple of things. For sure, again, the spirit and the overall topic, how do you all rank your competition without spending an arm and a leg? You got to cover your basis first. We’ve talked extensively you got to get yourself a Google My Business listing. If you don’t have that yet, and if you’re asking this question yourself, how do I outrank people without breaking my budget here, go out and get a GMB listing. It’s free. You got to put some time into it. Check out our early episodes, like episodes somewhere in the first five. I forget them off the top of my head, but we’ve got two or three episodes about how to get a GMB, how to do some basic optimization and get up and running.

And then of course you have to have a website. A website’s a little bit more of an investment than a GMB. It doesn’t need to be complex, but you got to start with those two tools in your toolbox. You got to have a website and you got to have a GMB. Now, how can you go further beyond that without breaking the bank? Within this context, I’m also going to making the assumptions too, that you’re spending some kind of money on a third party, right? Whether it be Intrycks or somebody else. I think what you need to do is identify your capabilities. We were talking about our client who was capable of doing a lot of her own SEO. She just got too busy to allocate her time. And so then she wanted to start spending money on it, but was cognizant of the amount.

So I think what you have to do is, maybe if you take a piece of paper, take a whiteboard, whatever it is, start listing things that you want to do and that you’re capable of doing. And then things that you don’t know, start to divide that up. And you’re going to come up with some kind of a plan to approach an SEO firm or an SEO professional for. Decide what areas they’re going to be better at. If you’re going to spend money on something, it should be money on something that you can’t do or money on something that you don’t want to do. Don’t spend money on something that you’re passionate about that you can do, and you can do a good job on. I’ve seen that happen when we work with clients on this. That’s where clients are going to be more keen to jump in. Even if you’re paying somebody, you’re still jumping in to modify it or perfect it or to be the editor-in-chief and things like that. And now you’re spending your money and your time, right?

So again, if you’re doing this, this is the context of trying to do it as cheap as possible, mind you. Right? If this was just, how do you do it the right way, I’d be much more like hands-off premium type deal. But if you’re straddling this concept of spending the least amount of money, pay somebody to do the things that you’re not good at, or that you don’t want to do, and then stay out of it, right? And focus your time or your team’s time on the things that you are good at and that you can do. Usually this is going to mean developing content. You are the business owner or the marketing manager, or somebody employed at this company. You’re an expert in your company, in your services and your products. Whoever’s helping you with the SEO to whatever degree they’re doing the work, they’re going to be an expert in SEO, optimizing the content. Right?

So usually that’s kind of a clear line, right there, is… And you know, Sue, when we work with a client, budget’s a concern, we don’t just like, let’s discount the price. It’s more about, okay, how can we trim down the services to fit the budget? And this kind of happens in the same vein like, okay, what are the critical things that we’re good at that you’re not? Okay, let’s make sure that those are key things and it’s X dollars. And then you start getting into that middle ground of things we could both do, but which one seems most efficient? And then you have that other end of the paper, if you will, what are the things that the client or the business owner is going to do, period, that there’s no sense in paying anybody else for? And it really comes down to creating content and optimizing content, at least in my experience.

And so I would develop a strategy like that as a business owner, what keywords am I trying to rank for? If we’re not ranking for those keywords, we’re going to have to develop content, right? And then my SEO person, or my SEO firm is going to help me put that content online and get that content optimized and then rank it. So just to kind of reset, we’re talking about grab yourself, your GMB, it’s free. We’re talking about, make sure you have some kind of basic form of a website and then start making a list on things that you want to do or things that you’re good at. And then a list of things that you’re not good at and things you don’t want to do. And then I would start talking to agencies about helping you out.

Now this can be as simple as maybe you just need a coach for an hour or two per month to hold your hand and provide a strategy and a punch list of things to do, or it can be all the other way in the spectrum where you just want somebody to execute all of this for you. Again, this question here, Sue, how do you, without spending an arm and a leg, which I’m going to paraphrase that as staying within my budget, that budget number is unknown to us in this conversation. And so depending on where you’re at and listening, if you’re putting yourself in these shoes, that’s the part where there’s going to be some wiggle room into some decision-making, but hopefully you can take those core concepts in that process. Sit down, map it out a little bit. And again, inherently with the question that we were framing it up, you’re going to hire somebody for something.

So make sure it’s, again, the things that you don’t want to do or that you’re bad at. You’re going to find that you’re going to stay out of the way on those things. You’re going to find that you’re going to be very happy with the results because somebody else is doing it for you. And it’s a painful thing. Like my wife and I, you can ask her, this kind of a sourced topic, but we’ve been remodeling our basement for some time. There are some things that I’m capable of. I just hardly ever do them. So I’m not good at it. Like, as far as inefficiency and the time goes. The end product may look good, but it might take me for forever to do it.

So there’s some areas where I have bit the bullet on that saying, “Yeah, that’s fine. We’ve got the time. And let’s go and invest into this.” There’s some other areas where it’s like, I’m not going to be able to do that. Right? Like, no matter how much time I had, it’s just not going to look good when I’m done. Well, that’s the spot that you invest into somebody else then. If you don’t, the whole thing is going to get frustrating. If you’re just trying to do this on the cheap and not spend any money, you’re just not going to see it through. If you’re questioning, should I spend money or not, the answer is probably yes. And then it’s just being strategic about where you’re going to spend it because if you’re not an expert in some of these areas, remodeling your basement or SEO for your website and your brand, there is a point where you need some talent and some skill to move some things forward.

As a business owner, you should be able to sit down and really put some thought and prioritize on what those areas are and be the general contractor, if you will, on the project to get it all done. Some of that’s a little ambiguous, I know, and maybe a little meandering, Sue, but at the end of the day, I think that if I was a business owner, that’s how you have to sit down and look at this. It’s not going to be all me. It’s not going to be all the SEO firm. It’s going to be a mix of both. And I think you have to clearly define what those roles are.

Sue Ginsburg: Jesse, your story reminds me of an experience that I had exactly like you’re talking about a couple of years ago. Something was wrong with my kitchen disposal and I was trying for hours. I’m Googling it. I’m YouTube-ing it. I’m trying to see what can I do? Call a friend of mine who this is his expertise. He comes over and he’s trying to guide me and keeps saying, “Want me to do it?” I’m like, “No, no, no. Just let me do it.” He finally stands back and says, “How long are you going to be so stubborn and do the thing that is painful to you before you say to me, ‘Okay, fine. Would you please help me?'” It took him like two and a half minutes. I couldn’t believe how much time I wasted trying to do it myself. So yes, lesson learned there.

And Jesse, we had a perfect example of this yesterday with a client who we were reviewing and sharing the findings from the comprehensive SEO audit report. And some of it’s technical, some of it is copy related and a little bit easier to do on the front facing. And you straight out said to them, “Okay. I don’t know who your team is or what their technical expertise is, but this one part, the schema is going to be something that not your average person working in anybody’s business, but SEO is going to know. So I would recommend, this is something that you have us do. And then on these other things, check your resources, see if anyone in your team can and likes doing those things. And we are here to help you with the things that you don’t have the expertise on.”

Jesse Dolan: Yep. And I think if you’re out there looking to hire somebody, this is one of those qualifying areas of, do you have the right firm? There should be some kind of customization into what you need. First of all, there is no set recipe for SEO that just works on every project, across the board, period. Right? Every firm, every professional’s got your own recipe, your own methodology, every client’s a little bit different, right? So just inherently SEO is customize project by project. If whoever you’re talking to, isn’t willing to figure this out and come up with a price that works for your programming, your application, for me, that’d be a red flag.

I know there’s plenty of SEO firms out there that are like, if you’re going to hire us, here’s what we do. You’re not a part of it. We’re revamping this. We’re taking it, we’re going to run with it. Boom. And I just don’t agree with that inherently. I can be convinced otherwise, but I do think there’s always that balance of working within what you have as a business already for your expertise. Again, especially we talk about the content creating and the expertise of you and your industry and your business. You just can’t turn everything over to some outside firm and expect to have longterm, good, sustainable results without that interaction of both.

And if you’re going to have the interaction of both, there has to be some kind of tweaking and customization here, like you’re saying with that client. Here’s the audit. Here’s all the findings. Now how do we move forward? It’s parallel to what we’re saying here. You have a great example you’re bringing up. We’ll do some of this. Here’s the things you’re saying clearly you’re going to do. Now here’s a bunch of stuff in the middle that you’re not sure of. Let’s make some decisions in those areas that’s going to impact the budget in the monthly fee or the one-time fee or whatever. It’s also going to impact the amount of time that they’re going to be spending to implement it. Right?

Sue Ginsburg: And it’ll impact your business, and that’s what you want.

Jesse Dolan: 100%.

Sue Ginsburg: And you want it done right.

Jesse Dolan: I would like to take this opportunity on this topic to emphasize something that goes missed quite a bit. Whenever this opportunity comes up, I always try to make sure to take advantage of it. SEO is not an expense, right? We’re talking about spending money. We’re talking about staying within budget, not spending an arm and a leg. This is an investment. If you’re going to spend $100, $1,000, $10,000 on SEO, you should be getting that back. This should grow your business, right? This isn’t just like painting a wall or some expense that you’re chalking it up and never getting an ROI. You should be getting money back out if you’re doing SEO and if you’re doing things the right way. It might not be next month or next quarter, hopefully by the end of the year, right? Or maybe longer, it depends on the scenario, but do not view this as an expense. View this as an investment. Just like if you’re going to hire a sales person, that’s not an expense. They’re going to be generating more than they’re costing you. The same should be true of your SEO efforts here too.

Sue Ginsburg: Great point. Great point. Okay. Today, if you remember one thing, actually, if you remember two things, first is outranking your competition online is continual tweak… Sorry. Continual tweaking. Ooh, can’t say that. Like most marketing there’s no finish line. It needs to keep happening. And the second thing is SEO is not random. It is an art and a science, and there is a method to the madness that SEO experts know. And anyone working on SEO for their business needs to become familiar with. Be intentional. SEO is not something that you wing or try and do haphazardly if you actually want it to work.
Jesse Dolan: I like that point, Sue. If anybody listening ever engages with us and deals with our team, you can ask them to a person, we say the same thing.

There’s a ton of tools out there that we use to help give us guidance and analysis and analytics on what’s wrong or what’s right with a website and what directions to take, but we always say, it comes down to you having the craft of SEO, right? You have to interpret all these dashboards, all these analytics, all these gauges, and then decide what to do with it. And like you said, there’s some art and some craftsmanship to it and there’s some science. And again, for me, I think that emphasizes going back to there’s no, like just this boiler plate solution that works for SEO. That’s just lazy, my opinion, right? There has to be some craft and some art and some decision-making on a case-by-case basis when it comes to SEO and how to implement this stuff. You can’t just paint by numbers, like you’re saying. So, great point to bring up.

Sue Ginsburg: Great point. Okay. Going back to the quote of the day, “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” if we apply that to SEO, well, your competition will notice when you’re beginning to outrank them. And now you’re showing up in the number one spot and they’re not. So take it as a compliment that they’re not ignoring you, but also know that they will be counterpointing that because they want to get back into the position that you just took. So yeah, that’s how that works. And again, shout out to our great client, Long Island in New York, Lizzie. Thanks for asking the question, Lizzie. I’m sure you’re not the only one who has had this on their mind.

Jesse Dolan: Right on. On that note, if you listening, have a question, whether it’s a small tangental question off of this, or if it’s a completely different topic that you’ve been wondering about for a while, or even like in Sue’s scenario, if you’re trying to fiddle with something and you got an hour into it and you know it should have been a five minute thing, anything that’s a question, we’d love to hear it and we’d love to answer it on the show. Go to, scroll to the bottom, click on the button for questions. You can type in your question and send it to us. We’ll read it on the show and use it.

And if you’d like to call in your question, we’d love to hear that as well. It’s basically just leaving a voicemail into our system, ask your question that way, we’ll play it on the air. Definitely looking for more of that. We mentioned in the previous episode too, Sue, we haven’t had a ton of those. We’ve got a few of them. I’d like to pump those numbers up, guys and gals. If you’re out there and if you’re feeling bold enough, call in and leave your question on the voicemail. We’ll play it and give you a shout out and we’ll send you a free Intrycks T-shirt in the mail promptly, thereafter. So go onto, down the bottom hit the button that says questions, and we’d love to hear them from you.

All right. Thanks for the good topics, Sue, and the good conversation. I think that helped some people out there and hopefully more helpful than confusing, I hope. All right. Thanks for tuning in everybody. Catch you on the next episode.

Sue Ginsburg: Bye.

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