196 - How to Spot Gimmicks & Scams - Interview with SEO Expert Pete Kleninjan

Insights from the Experts on Spotting and Avoiding Deceptive Marketing Tactics

In this episode, Jesse sits down with a SEO professional, Pete Kleinjan who runs his own agency, as they dive into the world of SEO gimmicks and scams. Together, they unveil valuable insights on how to discern deceptive tactics used in proposals, emails, and other marketing approaches. Gain expert advice on how to ensure the legitimacy of your marketing agency and safeguard your business from falling prey to questionable SEO practices.

What You'll Learn

  • What to look for to identify SEO scams and deceptive tactics in proposals, emails, and marketing communications.
  • Why it's crucial to distinguish between legitimate SEO practices and questionable approaches.
  • How to safeguard your business and make informed decisions when choosing SEO services.

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Jesse Dolan: All right everybody. We got a great episode here with Pete Kleinjan from Tiger29 out of South Dakota, coming on today to talk to all of you about what to look for so you don't get scammed, so you don't get taken advantage of, and so you can understand if you're working with an agency that maybe is pulling the wool over your eyes, how to spot that and what to look for and discern the difference. So take some notes, pay attention, and I think we can get some good stuff here today.

Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan, here with a special guest today, Pete Kleinjan. How you doing, Pete?

Pete Kleinjan: Doing well, thanks Jesse.

Jesse Dolan: Everybody doesn't know, but that was the second go around on the introduction because I completely butchered the first one. Pete, we got to meet each other a number of weeks, probably a month or so ago now, at SEO spring training in Arizona, which was awesome. For us, a bit of an awesome break to get out of the Midwest weather, right? I'm Minnesota, you're South Dakota, and hang out in the desert in Arizona for a little bit, but had some good conversations, started talking, we thought it'd be great to get you on to talk about SEO, so thanks for jumping on here today.

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah, happy to be here.

Jesse Dolan: How is it going with you in South Dakota in your guys' neck of the woods?

Pete Kleinjan: Things are going well, especially now that we're getting out of winter. Business is okay, staff is great, things are pretty good.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, it's not June quite yet. What is it? May 23rd or 22nd here, so we're not totally out of the woods for possible winter, I always say, right until we hit June. So it's looking good though. So Pete is on everybody. Pete's an SEO expert. You've been doing this for a while, Pete. You have your own firm, your own agency, Tiger29. You know what you're talking about for SEO. I thought you were pretty impressive with some of the knowledge, just in conversation. We were talking about your history, you've spoken at events in the past as well, so hopefully we're going to drop some nuggets for everybody here today and teach everybody a few things that they may not know about SEO for all you business owners, marketing managers out there. Pay attention, this should be some good stuff for you.

Particularly we're going to talk about, Pete, maybe ought to recognize some of the either under underhanded tactics, some of the spammy stuff, some of the scammy stuff, things like that. The first thing maybe we can start, or the first area we can start on that is, I think everybody, nowadays, we were just talking about this before we record, is still getting blasted with cold outreach, whether it be telemarketing, not as much, but for sure emails or Facebook messaging, different digital communications, to try to cold outreach to you for pitch an SEO what you need, what you don't need, but they say you need. Anyways, let's talk about that for a little bit and just start right there at the beginning of that sales process. Even us agency owners, our SEOs, get pitched SEO all the time on our own sites through contact forms, things like that. Why don't you kick us off there with some business owner and marketing manager intelligence on what to look for, what to avoid, how to identify it. What's legit, what's not?

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah, well, I think probably the first thing I do when I get a contact form fill or an email outreach from somebody that's pitching SEO, whether it's link building or onsite SEO or any of those things, is I just look at it through a lens of, does this seem legitimate? What email address did it come from? Is it from a business name.com email address? Is it from a Gmail address? Is it from ProtonMail? Where is this thing coming from? Typically, real businesses have real email addresses, and they care about their brand, and so they don't send out offers that they can't fulfill. So that's thing. Another one is once you get a few of them, you get an idea of the approach of the gimmicky sellers where you can tell from their language, spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, that kind of stuff is a real dead giveaway most of the time.

And then you didn't mention it, but something that we see a decent amount of is for those listeners who are familiar with Google Business Profile, the spammers and the sellers have gotten pretty clever about, they send messages through Google Business Profiles now, where they'll say, "Hey, we'll provide you with reviews. We'll give you reviews on your Google Business Profile," or, "We can optimize your Google Business Profile, it's roofing season. Why don't we go through your profile and optimize that?" We generally tell people just ignore those messages or, if anything, reply back, "No, thanks." They're probably automated, and it's kind of the new way that we're seeing people reach out with those gimmicky sales tactics.

Jesse Dolan: Oh, you're right. We've seen a few of those come across, so you're absolutely right about that. Any place that cold outreach can be done, they're going to do it. And I think maybe just for everybody listening, we have a little bit of inside knowledge being that we're in marketing, but maybe some of the owners and managers don't realize, there's tools that can just effectively, call it, scrape the internet, looking for GMBs, looking for contact forms that can push an email through. If you're getting something that looks, like you said, templated, or just straight up and cold outreach, I think that's just a red flag to begin with. How many of your clients or people you've talked with, Pete, over the years have ever gotten on board with somebody through that method and it's worked out? Just avoid it.

Pete Kleinjan: I can't say if anybody has. Like a client, I can't say that it's worked out for them. We've got a couple nightmare scenarios where people have given control of their Google Business Profile over to one of these people who has done cold outreach, and it used to be the phone calls that you would get and they'd say, "Hey, you haven't claimed your Google Business Profile. We'll do that for you. Here's the button. Pay $150. We'll take care of it." And then they've lost their Google Business Profile. They don't have control of it anymore, and that's a real nightmare situation for a business owner that relies on that channel to generate phone calls.

Jesse Dolan: I think if people, again, just take this with a grain of salt, man. If you're getting cold outreached, spamming your email, spamming your phone, spamming your GMB messages, whatever it is, you didn't ask for it, and I'd venture to say that most of these people/firms that are outreaching you, their intention is not to actually serve you with good SEO and increase your rankings. Just like any other, the Prince of Nigeria wants you to hold $2 million for him, these are just scams, really, at the end of the day, you agree?

Pete Kleinjan: I'd say a lot of them are. And there may be a potential that somebody that hasn't done any optimization whatsoever, and you don't have a Google Business Profile, if you're that person that somehow got that spam and they put one out there for you, as long as it's got your phone number on it, you might find yourself in a better place than you were before. That seems like such an outlier situation that, generally speaking, the best answer is just ignore.

Jesse Dolan: Not even say, if people are listening, if they've gotten any of these types of messages, especially if it looks canned or systematic or templated, to your earlier points, Pete. If you're not the only one, if this wasn't really custom crafted for you, they found you, they're like, "Boy, I can really help Pete, or I can really help Jesse. Let me send him a message." If it doesn't have that vibe, if it looks like just a program, that they've been doing this to everybody, odds are you're not going to have success.

Pete Kleinjan: Another thing I might mention as kind of a red flag, and it is a sales tactic, so it's not always a red flag, but if that message, you read that message and it's creating fear, unrest and doubt, you get anxious and you're like, "Oh my gosh, we didn't do something that was supposed to be done? What's my SEO company doing? What's my agency doing? What's my web developer doing?" That's what they're trying to do, is they're trying to drive that wedge in there and make you feel like something isn't being done properly and you go, "Oh my gosh, what the heck am I paying my people for? They're not taking care of things." Chances are good that if you're working with a legitimate agency, they are taking care of things and there's a reason for them doing or not doing things that those spammers reach out about.

Jesse Dolan: I think you're bringing up a good point. I'm going to take it in a slightly different angle here, but if you're getting that cold outreach, if you're getting this information, a lot of these fear tactics, as you're saying, if you are working with somebody, bring it to them, show them, go ahead and relay that. But then also the inverses, if you don't have somebody, maybe don't latch onto this person that cold outreached you. Again, especially if it has these connotations, but maybe go search for somebody local in your area, or if you're listening to this show, reach out to Pete, reach out to us, whatever it is, find an expert that you can trust to some degree, and relay this information to them, don't latch onto this potentially scammy type of cold outreach.

But if it is something that's very personal, somebody locally, not in a different country or across the world, there could be some credence to it. So I guess just, Pete, we shouldn't completely put everybody in the same bucket, but 99.99% of them probably can go into that bucket. So before we move on, I got another question I want to throw at you. Did you have anything else you want to relay to people about how to identify this stuff on the front side, when you're getting outreached to begin with?

Pete Kleinjan: No, I don't think so. I think just be smart. Just like you would if somebody was asking for bank information or anything like that. Just be smart

Jesse Dolan: And should back up a little bit. I'd be remiss if I didn't ask a few questions to help set the stage on why I'm even asking you these things and bringing you on here to be an expert. So let's roll back the clock a little bit. Let's talk about Pete, the entrepreneur, the expert, the business owner, the business partner, the SEO nerd, right? Ultimately, at the end of the day, where you ended up here. Let's go back. Starting in high school, first of all, doing our research for this interview, we found some pretty sweet pictures of you playing basketball in South Dakota. So I want to ask you about the, was it the 97, 98 or 98, 99, I forget off the top of my head season. You guys had a little bit of a lot of winning going on there, right?

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah. And this might even tie into the conversation we're having on SEO is, I remember specifically going into that year, the senior class, which I was a part of, sat down with the coach and they wanted to set goals. And one of our goals was we wanted to win 17 games that year, which was a tall mountain to climb. We had never been a great team at the school, maybe like 13, 14 wins, and the seniors kind of sat down and said, "If we want to make the state tournament, we need to win 17 games." That's what we had in our head that we needed to do. And we got down to the end of the year, or maybe it was 18 games. I don't know. We came up one game short, is essentially the moral of that story, but we knew what we wanted to accomplish and why we wanted to accomplish it, and I think that ties into the SEO work that we do today is we have objectives that we want to accomplish and we try to make those objectives meaningful to the business owner in some different ways, and we can talk about that later too.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I think that's a great message too because, so your goal, let's say was 17 games, right? You fall one short of that. So did you hit your goal? No. But I bet you guys had a heck of a run, right? Really energized the school, the community. Was it the title town they were calling it, right? Did I see that phrase? That sound familiar? Maybe you haven't heard that in a while.

Pete Kleinjan: They call tile tile own because we had a tile gym floor at that time.

Jesse Dolan: Oh, there you go. Nice. But just short of that goal, but you still had success. So you had a plan, you had some intent and you shot for it, and you came damn close. I think everybody still has a pretty good feeling about how that season and that whole process went. But I digress, right? We're not here recanting our glory days of high school athletics. But I did want to start there because that's where all of us, our professional career, our direction of life starts to take off. You're stuck in South Dakota, went to school. Maybe just give us the quick nickel tour on how you went from basketball star, not getting drafted in the NBA, but instead turning out to be an SEO expert. How did you get there?

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah, it is a long story, so I'll try to shorten it down. So when I got out of college, my college degree is elementary education, so I went to college to be a school teacher, and getting a job and teaching in the town that we wanted to live in was really tough at that time so I took a job doing credit card collections, which was awful, as you can imagine. It was great training, good first job out of college, all that stuff, but I just hated it. Every day driving to work, I had this pit in my stomach, I wanted to go anywhere else in the world except that place. And I left there, I got a sales job working for a company that sold a, I guess you'd call it specialty automotive. They sold a product that retailed from anywhere between 50 to $80,000.

I was just a sales guy, and I shouldn't say just a sales guy. I was a sales guy. I wanted to sell more stuff. I knew that the best way and the easiest way to sell more stuff was to get more leads, and I knew that we were getting leads off of our website. So I went to the owner of the company and I said, "Hey, can I do anything to help our website get more people to it so I can get more leads?" He said, "Yep, go talk to the web people." They started me down a path of changing title tags and optimizing images and alt texts and all that stuff, which really started my SEO journey.

Jesse Dolan: What was that year wise? What era were we in?

Pete Kleinjan: Oh, yeah. So that was probably 2004 ish, and I started Tiger29 in 2009, so I was in that role in sales for a couple of years, and then I really transitioned to full-time marketing. We became the number one dealer in the country for one of the manufacturers and the number two dealer in the country for the other manufacturer, out of little old South Dakota. And we went to a dealer conference and literally got booed off the stage because every other dealer in the country hated our guts because we were selling so much stuff. [inaudible 00:14:36].

Jesse Dolan: We'll take the booze if that's the case.

Pete Kleinjan: But it was a good learning experience too. My boss, the owner of the company, you go to a conference and there's happy hours and dinners and that kind of stuff. He kept a smile on his face. He didn't burn any bridges. He didn't puff out his chest. He was just, "Hey, we're just doing business." And eventually what ended up happening is we signed some dealer agreements where we weren't able to sell all across the country anymore. We started doing marketing for one of those manufacturers and all those other dealers that booed us off the stage, because there weren't bridges burned and those doors were left open, they started coming to us and asking for us to do their internet marketing for them. So really, it was just a great learning experience for me as I was starting out my career.

2009, I started my own company doing SEO. My wife and I were having our first child at the time. I went to the owner of the company again and said, "Hey, I've always talked to you. I'm an entrepreneurial spirit. I want to start my own business." We had talked about potentially becoming an owner in that business. I said, "Hey, what if I went and started an SEO agency and you were my cornerstone flagship client?" And he was okay with that. And I'm thankful to this day that he was such a great boss and great business owner that he was willing to let me do that. And that company was a client of mine from 2009 until 2020 when he sold that business to private equity. And so it was really just a great, great learning experience as a young person in a career.

Jesse Dolan: And I'm sure you are a big part in helping him get to whatever point he sold at. So probably very grateful for that. I like your story, Pete, because I just always like SEOs and people in digital marketing where they came at it from the real business side, be it a business owner, sales, hitting the street. You've known what it takes. Even in your credit card collections, although that's not a sales job, it is a sales job in a sense. You're making a ton of calls, you're getting a ton of rejection trying to make something happen.

And I think there's so much value in SEO as a method of marketing, but that people sometimes don't really understand how big that value and what the ROI can be compared to other forms of marketing. Some people just feel like you have to do this type of marketing or that type of campaign because we've always done it and this is what happens, we have salespeople. But if you get your website rocking and rolling and that inbound marketing comes in, you can kind of figure out what you need to be showing up for in Google. When that starts happening, it really can transform business. And not that it goes on autopilot, but it provides this funnel of leads and of sales that would just be hard to replicate otherwise, especially for the same price at the end of the day. So being that you have that kind of a background, that kind of a foundation, like I said, that just always speaks to me as a true expert, because you're not just talking analytics and spreadsheet stuff and crunching numbers on the SEO side, it's about, how did a business make money? How did they sell stuff? How did you make something happen by showing up online? Yeah, that's awesome.

So for your firm right now, are you guys focused mainly in the regional area? Nationwide? Tell us a little bit about what you got going on right now.

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah. We have clients all over the country. One in Georgia, one in California, up in Virginia. They're all over the place. Like a lot of businesses nowadays, you can work remotely, you can work anywhere. In fact, we have two other staff besides myself. One of them is in California, one of them is moving to Colorado at the end of the month, and they're great staff and so we're happy to let them live their life the way that they want to, and that just enables a lot of things. It makes them happy, it makes our clients get better results because our employees are happy. It's just a great situation.

And this might catch you a little bit off guard, Jesse, because while we do work on WordPress sites, we love to work on Squarespace sites. And the biggest reason in this... Yeah, I caught you, didn't I? So the biggest reason, really, so like I mentioned, I went to college for elementary education, and I know a thing or two about computers and websites and hosting and all that stuff. But we love Squarespace because we don't have to worry about hosting, we don't have to worry about servers, we don't have to worry about updates. Squarespace takes care of all that stuff. All we're doing when we work on a Squarespace site is optimization, which is what we love to do. And so we work on Wix and Weebly too, and we love those platforms for the same reason, but we've been able to get great results on Squarespace and so we're happy to do that for people.

And if I go on a bit of a tangent here, and this maybe falls into the category or the discussion we were having earlier, I always get a kick out of people who do SEO and go to a business owner and they say, "Hey, Mr. Or Mrs. Business owner, we want to do SEO for you. The very first thing we need to do is build you a new website." And I always made an analogy that that'd be like taking your car to the mechanic and saying, "Hey, my car's making a funny noise. I want it to run better." And the mechanic goes, "Yep, we fix cars all day long. That's all we do here. But the first thing we need to do before we fix your car is sell you a new car." And you're kind of like, "Well, wait a minute. I don't want a new car. My car is fine. It just makes a funny noise. Can you fix it?"

And so that's another thing that we're pretty aware, and we work with small businesses, privately owned mom-and-pop type companies typically have restricted budgets, they don't want to go out and spend a whole bunch of money on a new website a lot of times hoping that it's going to work better than their old website. There have been times where we've done optimizations and we hit a wall and we say it might be time to think about making a switch, but for the most part we're able to get results on any of those platforms.

Jesse Dolan: Your comments on that are kind of timely. We just had an internal meeting last week, our sales and marketing meeting, pricing our services and packages, we were literally just talking about the same thing. We were focused on Wix though, who you also mentioned, and just saying that we need to be clear with our clients that the platform itself is way better. It's getting better all the time, and Squarespace is too. There's definitely some limitations. If you can get your hands on a straight-up HTML or WordPress site, you can do some things you couldn't otherwise, but it's not like you can't do SEO on these things. And we're very much in the same mindset as you, Pete, where even if we are working on SEO for somebody, even if we do tell them, "Let's get a new WordPress website up and running," and we don't want to mess with hosting, the least amount we can do from your provider, we're SEOs, we want to stay in that vein. We don't have to want to learn about hosting and some other stuff. So if Wix and Squarespace have this down, let them do what they do. They've got a great product. Yeah, maybe some limitations, but that's going to also maybe keep the overall cost down, right? Because you can only focus on this.

And another interesting part that I think a lot of people in that same discussion of, "You need a new website right before we can do anything." We tell people a lot too, if we're coming in, we're going to optimize the site, we're making changes to the site, the website's going to look different in the coming weeks and months, once we get our hands on it. And maybe, because there's a big spectrum of, "I need a new site, what does that mean?" Well, maybe some updated colors, maybe your logo presented differently. Business owners can maybe think they need a whole redo and just a few tweaks as we go through optimizing and rearranging their homepage effectively may look like a new site to them.

So yeah, I definitely respect and appreciate your angle there, especially when it gets onto the main street mom-and-pop businesses because, boy, some of the prices that can get thrown out there for a new website, even before you start optimizing and getting them found in Google, can be a lot of money. And we do always talk internally here about enjoying our job and our career because we get to help businesses, we get to help them grow and succeed, and impact their personal life, but you don't want to risk their finances too at the end of the day, so I think that's pretty good approach to have with everybody, the way you guys are thinking about it there, agree with that ourselves too.

So I do want to pull up one more stat from the research here. This is not basketball related, but it's pretty cool and I'd like to hear a little bit of story about it. I think this was from either your Instagram or the company's, I forget Pete, I didn't know which one, but yet a stat on there in the year 2021 that you guys generated over 10,500 inbound phone calls from your marketing. That's a lot. We do a ton of marketing too, and so I appreciate that number. What's the story behind that, you guys? Is that a lot of lead gen type stuff or just with your clients, what you've been able to do, maybe you track or log their phone calls? Unpack that for us.

Pete Kleinjan: And it goes into, so one of the things that we do, and it goes back to my foundation in sales, and by the way, if anybody listening ever talks to me, they're going to hear that same story about me being a salesperson and getting booed off the stage and all that stuff, and I think it's important because the reason that I started doing SEO is why most business owners want SEO. They want SEO so they can get better rankings, so that they can get more traffic, so that they can get more leads. Well, what if we figure out how many leads you're getting coming from organic search? And this might shock you too, Jesse, we've had situations where traffic has gone down to a website, but leads have gone up, and because you start ranking for emergency plumber instead of just plumber, and somebody that's searching for emergency plumber is making a phone call in the next five minutes, and if you can show up for those searches, you're going to generate leads.

And so that's kind of our philosophy and we call them high value actions, and basically a high value action is something that a person does that's demonstrating intent. And so let's say you have a user searching for auto repair, and they come to your website and they go to the contact page. Now, that's not a great high value action, but there is some level of intent there. Nobody goes to the contact page thinking, "I want to leave this site as soon as I can." You're taking a step down the road of generating revenue off of that site visitor. They fill out a contact form, if they click a call button, that kind of stuff. Those are all high value actions. Those are what we're measuring for our clients, essentially. And we're taking the website high value actions, we're taking the Google Business Profile high value actions.

And I can't imagine somebody would be listening to this if they don't know what Google Business Profile is. If you don't and you own a business, figure it out or call Jesse or call me or somebody because it's insane the number of phone calls that you can generate with those if you get visibility. We had an income tax prepared here in Sioux Falls who generated 407 phone calls from Google Business Profile in April alone. And so for the tax season, they generated like 1500 phone calls, and every one of those phone calls has an opportunity to close business on, and chances are, if they pick up the phone, if you handle that call properly, that person is going to walk through your door, have you help them with their income tax return, write you a check, swipe the credit card, however you pay. That's what being in business is all about, helping people and earning revenue.

Jesse Dolan: Your angle there, again, which I really appreciate, really resonates, that same approach, right? Because it is, we always joke, our job is to make your phone ring and your email ding. It's not to get you ranked or even to push traffic. At the end of the day, this is what makes a difference for business, and you get that. I do, like I said before, man, just always, I think it's so important for somebody who's providing your SEO, or even just your marketing, broadly speaking, to understand that point, really to bring it all back down, because we've gone through so many client proposals where they're so stuffed, and I guess we'll probably transition into talking about some of this stuff again, back to our regularly scheduled program here. So stuff with some of the stats and analytics that just look good and maybe explain away what's really happening and it's like, oh wait, so you had a 0.01% lift in your actual leads, right?

Okay, so all that traffic, all that stuff doesn't matter. And we talk to people all the time too about, you've probably had plenty of clients or discussions where people say, "I'm plenty busy. No, I'm good. I don't need to invest, maybe into my SEO." But your point about that emergency plumber, so that's great, you can serve, let's say serve 10 clients a day, and if you're doing 10 estimates or low level tire kicking type clients per day versus 10 emergency plumber clients per day, what's your dollar per hour charge? What's your profit going to be? Maybe you're plenty busy and you're okay as a business owner, but what if you could really curate that exact type of client, that would be your best client? Let's target that. And we'll keep you that same level of 'busyness', but with your ideal client and that's going to transform your business too, so don't sleep on that.

All right, Pete, let's transition. So we talked earlier about, on the very front side, if people are getting outreached or spammed in their inbox, people trying to push SEO, things like that. Let's go a little further down the funnel. Maybe somebody's engaged with a vendor already, maybe they're trying to renew their contract or maybe they've bit on some offer and they're looking at a proposal or that next stage. What are some things that people should be on the lookout for to sniff out scams or shady tactics, or somebody that's not going to provide results and get them an ROI? Anything coming to mind?

Pete Kleinjan: So I think the biggest thing for business owners to look out for is what are the metrics that that agency is providing for performance? If their performance metric is you're paying for 10 hours and we're working for 10 hours, you're going to get delivered 10 hours. If their performance metric is rankings, they're going to show you rankings. If your performance metric is traffic, they're going to show you traffic. What I like, and how we do it, is our reporting that we provide to clients each month, we have one screenshot from Google Analytics showing traffic year over year, and we have one screenshot showing... What's the other screenshot? I think maybe two screenshots from Google Analytics, year over year traffic and then traffic sources.

And then we have a slide and we tell them, because I don't know if people look at reports anyways when they come in there, I don't look at a lot of reports that come in my email, I look at maybe the metric that I think is important. We tell them, "Look at that first slide. It's got your high value actions and your cost per action." And the cost per action is really where the rubber meets the road. Where if you're running an auto repair shop and you're spending $1000 a month with us, and we generate 100 phone calls, your cost per action is $10 per phone call. And then it's really just a math equation. Can we make money at that level? Well, if it's an oil change, probably not. If it's a transmission repair, we'll take those all day long. And we love when our cost per action comes in lower than the cost per click on an organic campaign because then we get to tell clients, "We're generating actions for less than you would pay Google for a click that you hope turns into a high value action."

And so that's, when you're looking at proposals and when you're talking to companies, how well do your objectives align with each other? Does this company want you to get phone calls? I mean really want you to get phone calls? Or do they really want to sell you AdWords? Or do they really want to sell you a TV ad? Or do they really want to sell you a new website? What is it that they actually want to sell you and want to do for you? And does that align with your objectives?

Jesse Dolan: I think that's stellar and goes in line, you mentioned something earlier about the fear tactics. If you're down the sales pipeline with them and their proposal is about what's wrong or what's broken and what's it going to take to fix what's happening, and it's not the things you're speaking to right now, that tells you who you're dealing with too. You're being sold something, or they're here to help you out and grow your business together. With that, they should be talking or giving you examples to your point of the reports and the metrics and what's going to be important going forward? Not just, the sky's falling, throw us some money, we'll fix these horrible problems on your website now. Just like a different tactic. Fear based versus value based, however you want to say it. So very interesting point to suss out there.

Pete Kleinjan: And we really try to avoid terminology of fixing with our clients and prospects. We don't really look at it as we're fixing something that's broken, we're trying to optimize, which is really a continual process of improvement. And yeah, there are some things that are clearly broken that need to be fixed typically, but beyond that, it's not about fixing, it's about demonstrating to Google that you are worthy of those positions on search.

Jesse Dolan: And we always say too, optimizing, using that word. That's such a granular word. It's not a broad brush, it's the little knobs, the little levers. It's really that granular process, and there's so much going on with your website with Google, with the public in general. Yeah, SEO's ongoing, always changing. Sometimes it feels like whack-a-mole, where you're having success somewhere and something happens, you're like, "What the hell? That was fine." But that is the nature of it. That is just how it is. If it wasn't, everybody would be crushing it in their marketing.

Pete Kleinjan: Well, and that's what we love about the high value actions and cost per actions, is we get away from those conversations of, "Well, it seems like... It feels like... There wasn't a Google algorithm update last month." It's like, this is how it's performing. You got either got phone calls or you didn't. You got enough phone calls to make it make sense or it doesn't. And we've told clients before, and it sounds crazy as an agency owner, "This is just not working for you. We're doing the stuff, we're not getting the results that we should. We can keep going, but as of right now, your cost per action does not justify the work that we're doing for you."

Jesse Dolan: I like the way you're breaking it down too, with your transmission repair versus oil changes for auto repair shop, because it isn't just how many phone calls, even further. And I think it's always impressive to be working with a client when you can have those conversations. They have to cooperate too, they have to tell you what's happening in the business and give you this two-way conversation. And if that's happening, if that's kind of dialogue that you're getting from a client, there should be a pretty good relationship there.

And actually, quick sidebar, again, to all the owners managers listening, this collaboration is necessary for your SEO agency as well. It shouldn't just be couple emails or something completely detached. It shouldn't be an easy button where they can just do everything without your feedback or input. That's just silly. Using Pete's example, they're going to push a ton of oil changes to you then, and they're not going to know that you want the transmission repairs. Which, literally getting our transmission repaired and my wife's replaced, I should say, my wife's truck right now, and yeah, that's a high value action. All right? I'll just say that. So I can respect that right there personally right now.

All right, so what other things or is there something else, Pete, that you want to underline for people? Again, maybe they're in that stage of getting proposals from some firms. What are the things that are smelling fishy or things that we can suss out and help them get their radar up when they're in this process?

Pete Kleinjan: Well, I think some kind of a timeline of and objectives of like, "Hey, here's the things we're going to be doing in month one. Here's the things we're going to be doing in month two. Here's the things we're going to be doing in month three." And that's going to be different for every agency. Even if you got an auto repair shop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota versus an auto repair shop in Houston, you might see some differences. And it's all related to budget, you can't do 12 months worth of work on one month of budget. But to have some sort of a roadmap. This is the roadmap, and as things come up, we may address them within the budget. We may might come back to you and say, "Hey, we noticed a thing, we'd like to make some adjustments, but it's not in that strategic roadmap that we have."

And if you're not getting that kind of feedback from an agency, that in and of itself could be a red flag, where they're not actually caring about doing the things that are going to get performance, they're caring about doing the things that are going to get them a paycheck. And so really, that strategy, strategic thinking, the closer you can get to that strategic thinking, the better off your business will be, on any kind of marketing. Really, whether it's your relationship with your banker or anything, the closer you can get to strategy, the better your results are going to be.

Jesse Dolan: Do you have any pointers you can give everybody listening or watching? What does a strategy look like? Not your strategy, not maybe any secrets, but if I'm looking at PDF A versus PDF B, one of them having strategy layered into it, if you will, things like that. Is there some things we can esoterically just pick up on that you can help us look for?

Pete Kleinjan: Well, I think to have a conversation with the agency, and if they can provide that roadmap, go through it with them point by point, or maybe one out of every three points and say, "Explain this to me," and can they explain it well? And can they explain not only what the thing is, but what they hope to accomplish with that thing? And I was just thinking about this the other day with schema, is a good example of that, and that's probably one of those advanced things that business owners might not want to look into too much. It makes my head spin once in a while.

And I think you'd probably agree, Jesse, there's schema and then there's schema, where you could... Like any WordPress site, I think just about anymore, has some schema markup inside of it. Is it good? I think you'd probably get answers across the spectrum on that, or you can work with an agency that's going to do schema for you and it's going to be nested, it's going to be thorough, it's going to be page by page work that they do to actually get results. And then ideally, they would have some type of a case study that says, "We've done this before and here's what happened." Then that's probably another great one is, have you done this before? And I also get wound up by people who say, "We only work with lawyers," or, "We only work with auto repair shops." We work with a lot of different kinds of businesses and we learn things when we're working with all those different businesses and that I think all of our clients benefit from that work.

Jesse Dolan: I think everybody listening and has probably heard me say this before, because we talked about that topic a number of times, the whole specialize in a certain niche or industry. I think there's a little bit there too of if a firmer agency is really working, let's just say on auto repair, that's all they do is SEO for auto repair shops, that there's a tendency then to feel like you have the playbook in the system and you start to not, again, engage with the business owner, and the business itself, to let them be the expert in what their business is versus all the other auto repair shops. It almost becomes too cookie cutter, too vanilla, one size fits all, and even though they may kick butt, I'm not hating on anybody who focuses on that or agency, but I think if there is a specialist like that coming at you, you really need to see them asking you questions. And it's not just a, "Get out of my way, we know what we're doing with auto repair shops. We got this." It could be very true, but they still got to engage with you. They're still going to know, like you're saying, these high value actions. How am I going to make sure I'm getting train repairs and not oil changes, with your expertise here? I think there's a lot to be said for that, and you're absolutely right.

Pete Kleinjan: And every business has nuance too, where you might have an auto repair shop that says, "You know what? We don't want to work on imports. We just want to work on domestic cars." Or they say, "We don't want to work on four wheel drive, we only want to work on street cars," that kind of stuff. Or they might say, "You know what? We've got a bay that will accommodate semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and those are big dollar items. We'd love to have that work." Well, if you're only working in auto repair and you think every auto repair shop is the same, you can miss that nuance and really miss out on opportunities for the business owner. If you're really trying to help them accomplish what they want to accomplish, you want to understand what's going on in the business.

Jesse Dolan: No, I think that's spot on. So just krecapping a few things for everybody. Again, how to spot scammy stuff, spammy stuff, things that are probably just going to waste your money, SEO's an investment. That's the whole point. This is not a cheap thing to begin with, so how do you avoid mistakes? Sue Ginsburg, who's on a lot of the shows here with us at Intrycks, talks all the time about clients that we end up working with that got burned because they had some of this bad experiences already. So just resetting the stage on things that Pete's sharing that we're hopefully helping everybody to, again, suss out, peel back the layers here.

Number one, if you're getting cold outreached, start there. That should be a red flag. Like "Okay, do I really need to spend my time energy going through this, and is this company legit or not?" Which there's a small chance it can be. Now we're talking here about if you're engaging with an agency, maybe it's somebody you've worked with for a while, maybe it's somebody that you're coming through this outreach, and they're proposing and bidding on stuff, what to look for, what to avoid, things like that.

The last stage would be maybe, Pete, if we can talk about if you're working with somebody, maybe you feel like you're getting scammed, getting taken advantage of, maybe they're on autopilot, disengaged, I don't know, but you're downstream even further now, in this bad scenario. What are some tips, some tactics, some things to be visible or make people aware of here, if they're in that situation, maybe they didn't know it. Can you speak to that for a little bit?

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah, I think it probably starts with transparency. Do you have access to your own Google Analytics account? Do you have access to your own Google Business Profile? Can you go in and look at those things? Google Search Console? Are you ranking for the kinds of keywords that you want to rank for? Is that stuff showing up in there? And you might have to do a little bit of research to understand how those tools work, but that's no different than researching how mortgages work the first time you bought your house or whatever. Because if it's important and you're spending money on it, it's worth having at least a decent level of understanding about it so that you can ask intelligent questions, have intelligent conversations, let that agency know that, "Hey, I'm keeping an eye on this thing." Even sometimes just that alone will help agencies perform better because they know like, "Oh, I'm going to have to talk to this guy next month and I'm going to have to answer questions. I better take a look at this before we get on the call, or maybe two weeks before we get on the call so we can make some adjustments before then." Well, that helps.

And then I would say it goes back to, why are you engaging in the marketing campaign and are you getting answers that satisfy your questions as far as are you accomplishing what you want to accomplish? Are you getting phone calls? Does the agency say you got 1000 phone calls and you're like, "No, phones have been dead. What's going on here?" And then figuring out, is there a wire that's not connected somewhere where those calls aren't getting through? Or, is it just completely not working? And I think probably a great thing to do as a business owner is try to get away from thinking to yourself or having conversations with the agency or with your staff of, "Well, it seems like it's working, it feels like things are getting better," and get more towards a fact-based understanding of what's actually happening, whether that's ranking positions, traffic, phone calls coming through Google Business Profile, whatever it is, identify the thing that you want to watch and then watch it and see if it changes. And if it doesn't change, then it might not be working. If it's changing and it's trending in a positive direction, that's a solid sign that you're working with somebody that knows what they're doing.

And you know as well as I do, Jesse, that things don't always go in a positive direction. And I think that's a conversation to have with the agency too, of like, "Hey, traffic's been flat for three months in a row, or traffic's been going down for three months in a row," and we see it, and I'm sure you do too, in different industries where almost every business has some seasonality to it, whether they realize it or not. And so a real estate agent in Sioux Falls or in Minneapolis, they expect things to slow down from September through February, March, and a good agency would know that. They would say, "Hey, high value actions are on a downtrend here. We expect that to turn around, come February, we got to keep doing these optimizations so our positions are as good as possible. Once that time comes, here's your high value actions that you're getting in the meantime, here's how things are performing in the meantime. Let's wait until March and see how those things come in." And typically, if an agency is doing a good job, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And a good agency with a good background and good experience is able to sometimes predict the future and say, "Here's what we're going to see in two months," and then it happens, that's how you know you got a good agency.

Jesse Dolan: Well, I think all that boils down to the beautiful part about the type of marketing we do, the digital side, is almost all of it is trackable and quantifiable, versus a radio ad or a TV ad. Even in more advanced techniques today, that digital hybrid, still, that's just praying and spraying, to an extent. Where this stuff, we know what's happening. I think an example of one of the only loopholes that we commonly come across is if somebody just drives to your business, somebody maybe saw it somewhere on somebody else's phone and just never interacted with you and just drove. Okay, that'll happen. You'll get that kind of leak. But everything else virtually is somehow quantifiable or measurable or for the stats, to know what's working, what's not. And you can't run from that as an agency, you got to be transparent yourself. Because if it's not good for the client on a meeting or on a report, you need to see that too, because that's going to identify where a problem is.

Pete Kleinjan: I would maybe throw in there on the driving directions, Jesse, that for some of our clients, that is a high value action that we track. Imagine a jewelry store. If somebody's asking Google for direction requests, number one, it means they haven't been to that location before, and number two, you've piqued their interest enough that they want to look where you are. Now, can I guarantee that they drove to your store and opened the door and talked to one of your sales staff? No. But if you're doubling driving directions year over year, that's a good indicator that things are working.

Jesse Dolan: Absolutely. We think driving directions are extremely important, and even further, try to encourage people to use Google driving directions somehow, maybe a link in your website. Because not only is it a high value action, we also want to trigger that as a user generated signal to Google, saying, "Hey, this person needed to drive here. Come on. That's super important." Anything else, Pete, that you want to throw out there for everybody to maybe, what's gimmicky? What are some tricks that we're aware of that maybe sound sexy or cool to everybody, but that's just smoke and mirrors? Anything else coming to mind or you think we're ending up in a good spot for everyone?

Pete Kleinjan: Well, I think one thing that I would maybe say, Jesse, is that for a business owner, if you're out there doing some research on this stuff, and maybe this is getting too technical for the crowd, but you start going to websites and doing some research, you are going to get funneled on Facebook and you're going to get funneled on YouTube, and they're going to say, "We've got this great new technique. In 15 minutes, we'll get your site ranking number one," and that kind of stuff. So just be prepared for that, and you're going to see a lot of that stuff. Ideally, and frankly anymore, every state and just about every decent sized town in every state has somebody in that town that knows what they're doing. And if you just start asking around, you can find somebody that is either local or somewhat local, or that somebody else has worked with and they've had a great experience with. You don't need to bite on the cold call phone calls or spam emails and that kind of stuff, you can find somebody that's probably pretty dang good just by asking around.

Jesse Dolan: Quite frankly, we have a joke, if you're searching on Google for an SEO and if you find an SEO local in your area, it's probably a pretty good SEO because it doesn't get much more competitive than SEOs trying to get ranked for SEO. So great advice there. Any other than any other nuggets, Pete, you want to drop with everybody to share?

Pete Kleinjan: I don't think so. Google Business Profile, if you're not on Google Business Profile, you got to get on there as a business owner and it's super, super important. If you're not on Google Business Profile, you're probably missing out on 75% of your prospects.

Jesse Dolan: And I'd say, just shameless plug, everybody can go back, I think, I don't know, four out of our first 10 episodes. I know the first ones literally were like, Google My Business at that point, now Google Business Profile, and just underlining what Pete's talking about. And this is free. It's right directly in Google. It shows you your stars, your rating, drivings, all this stuff. Man, if you're not in the mat pack, if you're not in the Google Business Profile right now, check out some of the earlier episodes, get listed, whatever you got to do, you got to be in that. You got to be in it to win it right there.

So, all right, Pete, it's a lot of great information. If people want to reach out to you, we'll link all this in the show notes too, by the way, for everybody, I'm going to ask Pete to drop his contact information, share how to get ahold of him, but if you can't write that down and you're driving or whatever, just go to local seotactics.com. This episode, when it launches, will be right on the front page. Otherwise, check our recent episodes. Just search for Pete and you'll find it in there. How can we get ahold of you, Pete, if people want to connect with your [inaudible 00:50:32]?

Pete Kleinjan: Yeah, so really the easiest way is just go to our website, tiger29.com. We've got a contact page with a form, just like everybody else, that's a great way to reach out to us. We do have a free scanning tool on there that people can use as well to see how their listings are showing up across the internet, on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all that stuff. I don't know the handles off the top of my head, but they're also listed in the footer of our website. So it all starts with the website, tiger29.com

Jesse Dolan: 29, not the word twenty-nine, but tiger29.com. Perfect. All right, Pete, well appreciate you jumping out here, hanging out, dropping some knowledge to everybody, and we'll have to do this again, this was good. Good topic, I think a lot of people got a lot of good advice here, so appreciate it.

Pete Kleinjan: Cool. Thanks for having me.

Jesse Dolan: All right, well catch you guys on the next one. Take care everyone.

All right, I hope you all enjoyed that episode with Pete. We got in a few different conversation nodes there about the overall topic of not getting scammed and watching out for gimmicks, but I think it was really good and I'm looking forward to having Pete on again in the future to talk more about SEO. Super smart dude. Glad I got to meet him. If you thought that was a good episode and if you're enjoying the content that we put out, if you're liking what we're doing here on the show, whether we're talking about some how-to stuff, bringing on experts like Pete to talk, or answering your questions with Sue, whatever it is, if you're liking what we're doing, we'd love to get a review from you. Helps us know we're doing a good job, helps our exposure, helps our visibility.

That's kind of a trade. We're going to keep giving you this content if we can get a good review from you. That's what we're asking for right here. So going out to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the button for reviews. We've got links for Facebook, for Apple Podcasts, for wherever you want to leave your review. Make it real easy for you. I got a great five star review here I want to read from Jeff G. Jeff says, "Very informative. I like that the show creator," that's me, "Shares his knowledge and gives free tips and advice on how to improve your local search visibility. I'm a realtor and have used some of the tips to optimize my GMB and website, and its working." Thank you, Jeff. Thank you, Jeff, for the great review. Everybody else, like I said, we'd love to hear from you. Go onto to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the link for reviews, and we'll be sure to read them on the show.

All right. That's all for today. Take care everyone. Appreciate it. Bye.

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