Jesse Dolan: Another thing here, there’s no guarantee you can get back on top if you get knocked off. If you slow or stop your SEO, you’re just opening the door for your competition. We, Bob and Sue, we talk to people all the time about ongoing SEO, and people are always like, “Oh, I got to get up, and then I’m done.” It’s like, no, it’s a continual battle.
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, joined this episode with Bob Brennan-
Bob Brennan: Hi.
Jesse Dolan: And Sue Ginsburg.
Sue Ginsburg: Hi.
Jesse Dolan: How are you both doing today?
Bob Brennan: Good, good.
Sue Ginsburg: Just great.
Bob Brennan: Waiting for spring.
Jesse Dolan: Good enough. Waiting for spring? Yeah. Sue’s down in Texas. I sent her a video yesterday morning, Bob, of the giant snow globe flakes we had bouncing around and stuff. I’m like, “You’re not missing much here. It’s just an April snow.”
Bob Brennan: Yeah. What’s the temperature-
Jesse Dolan: A little taste of home.
Bob Brennan: Down there, Sue? Terrorize us with your temperature.
Jesse Dolan: Yes.
Sue Ginsburg: 75, and it’s gorgeous.
Bob Brennan: Yeah. Okay.
Sue Ginsburg: It is.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. That sounds about right. Sounds about right.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s today.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, it’s 68 and sunny here. Right, Bob?
Bob Brennan: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That’s why I have this pasty-white look.
Sue Ginsburg: At least the sun is out. Be glad about that.
Jesse Dolan: Yes. Could be snowing again.
Bob Brennan: That’s right.
Jesse Dolan: What kind of topics are we going to cover on the episode here today, Sue? I know it’s not just about the weather. We’re from the Midwest, but it’s not all about the weather. What else we got?
Sue Ginsburg: It actually is kind of related to the weather in a certain way. This listener question came up. Somebody, I think he might’ve called it in, Jesse. Was it a call-in or an email? I can’t remember. Anyway, he asked, “Why should I continue SEO during my slow season if no one is looking for my services then? Isn’t it better to stop SEO for three months and save the money?” This came from a roof construction and repair business in the Twin Cities metro area, smart business owner. We’ve had some good conversations with him, and I definitely think he is not the only one who has this question, for anybody who has big difference in seasonality in their business. So, I thought this would be a good one to discuss today. Quote of the day for this episode, if you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done. That’s Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers.
Jesse Dolan: Nice.
Sue Ginsburg: I think he has a pretty good idea of getting something that you’ve never had. This question came in initially about working with an SEO firm, and the listener shared that they did not have metrics for the last two years. They’ve been working with their firm, and while this business owner knew that SEO relied heavily on new content being added to the website, he hadn’t seen any content added in months, even years, and was asking us if there were things that can be done with SEO that he possibly wasn’t seeing, that were behind the scenes on the website or that were for Google backend purposes, and naked to his eyes and other visitors’ eyes.
In looking at the website, there were things that we could see that were not being done, like adding content to optimize each service, but we could not see what was being done behind the scenes, of course. We asked the most important question of all, “What impact are you seeing in the real world, the most important metrics of all?” This business owner said he was still on the seventh page and not seeing his ranking increase, and this was after two years of working with this SEO firm, this other SEO firm. He asked me if that’s a red flag, and we looked into what our approach would be in order to increase rank in searches and attract more leads to his business, move him up from the seventh page to the fifth, to the third, to the first, and even up to the top of the first page.
When we shared our approach to increase visibility and attract more leads, this business owner shared that his current SEO firm always turned off SEO for the slow winter months, and asked if we would do the same thing in the same way. Discussing this with Jesse, his first reaction was to say that that may be exactly the reason this business was still on page seven, after working with this firm for more than two years. Turning off SEO for three months is like getting in shape for the summer and then stopping your workouts during the winter months when you’re not being seen in your bathing suit or whatever, and expecting that when it comes around to be summer again, you will be in the same good shape that you were when you left summer and your workouts then.
Anyone who’s ever worked out well knows that it takes a long time to reach the place you want to be, and a short time to lose that good place. Same thing with SEO. It takes months of doing the right things to get you to rank high in searches and show up in searches for your services, let Google know that these are the people you serve, these are the searches that you should show up in, et cetera, and then you get there. It’s a great moment. To stay there requires ongoing work, so both Google in your prospects continue to see you ranked high in searches for your services. If you stop SEO for three months, your competitors who continue doing SEO will overtake you, and when you start again, you now need to make up for lost ground. It’s harder to get back to your strong rank than it is to get there in the first place because you’ve been sending Google mixed messages.
For this business owner, which is the chicken and which is the egg? Does your rank stay on the seventh page because SEO is not being done continually and effectively, or because your SEO was effective for nine months, and then stopping it for three months tanked your search results? Which is it? Did the strategy to stop SEO for three slow months perpetually keep you down because it took you twice as long to get back up, and the nine months following that when it was your good season wasn’t enough to get you showing up again? Chicken and the egg goes round and round here, so I’d love to know from the experts, what do you think about this? Is it a good idea to turn off SEO for a few months in your slow period, save some money, or will this hurt your rank in searches for your services? Jesse and Bob, what do you think?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. I’ve definitely got some two cents on it. Bob, if you want to share any thoughts off the cuff that you have first, please go ahead.
Bob Brennan: Yeah. Hopefully, I don’t steal any of your thunder. First of all-
Jesse Dolan: No, go ahead.
Bob Brennan: The stopping the SEO for three months, I don’t know who’s making that the decision. If the business owner’s making that decision, that’s an honest mistake. I’m a business owner, and I watch my expenses as much as I can, and on the surface it would make sense to kill your SEO for three or four months. If they’re here in Minnesota, there’s probably a solid three months that they can’t really do roofing. I get that, but if the SEO people are telling you that, “Oh, yeah. You can kill it during these three months,” run, don’t walk, away from them. Get away as fast as you can.
Here’s what I know about roofing. I don’t know, I think the average job is 25,000, maybe 30, with costs of everything going up, and I know the GP is pretty good there. I mean, I would think you’re walking away with anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 in your pocket. So, it’s going to be a competitive SEO, very competitive, and seventh page isn’t even going to come close to getting anything. So, getting back to my favorite quote, Ricky Bobby, if you ain’t first, you’re last. So, you need to find somebody that can get you in that top three. In fact, I’d even say go so far as guarantee it within a certain period of time, and if they can’t, then move on until you can find somebody that will give you some kind of guarantee for your money.
Then one would ask, “If I paid $5,000 a month and I could get in the top three, guaranteed, would I do it?” That’s just my two cents. Even if it’s $10,000, to get me in the top, you know and I know one job’s going to pay for that, and you’d probably be getting 10, 20, 30 calls a month, and if you close 30% of those, that’s a no-brainer. So, that’s how I look at it, and are those things achievable? I think they are. It may not happen overnight, and you may have to figure out different constraints, and of course, you want to measure how many calls you’re getting right now, but if you’re truly on the seventh page, if you’re not really showing up on the first page or on the GMB, you can measure your calls, whatever you’re getting, I guarantee you, you get in that first page or whatever, top of the first page, your numbers are going to go through the roof.
I mean, you can measure your metrics, but my suspicion is your metrics are pretty low. Any calls you’re getting are through your own efforts, your own door knocking, your own radio ads, or whatever it is you might be doing, but I can’t believe any of them would be from people finding you on the internet. So, those are my two cents. So, definitely run it year round. Here in Minnesota, I know it’s slow, but you’re going to need to be there because there’s also ice damage stuff. So, you could do SEO stuff for ice dams and some other things that can augment your construction business during the summer. So, you just maybe switch gears a little bit and just say, “Okay, focus on ice dams,” or whatever, but I would just do them all.
The key is to plant the seed, for instance, for ice dams now. It’s spring here in Minnesota. You need to start doing all that stuff now, and by the time nine months goes by, lo and behold, you’re at the top for ice dams and stuff, the kind of work you want to do. So, that’s the beauty of websites and SEO. You can get the market going now so by the time winter comes, you’ve got a form of income. But yeah, I hope you’re not paying a lot for SEO with these people because seventh page isn’t going to get it. My kid could get you on the first page, I think.
Sue Ginsburg: Jesse, before you answer-
Jesse Dolan: Well, I think there’s a little…
Sue Ginsburg: Bob, I just wanted to say pawn noted. You said that you guarantee that their results would go through the roof and they would be on the first page, so-
Bob Brennan: There you go.
Sue Ginsburg: Noted there, and I also wanted just to mention that the numbers that Bob was sharing, we’re not suggesting that you would be paying us 5,000 to 10,000 that is not what we charge to get you on the front page.
Bob Brennan: No, no, no. We don’t charge you, but-
Sue Ginsburg: Some do, but not us. Yes.
Bob Brennan: No, but as a businessperson, look, you’re going to pay a salesperson that. Right?
Sue Ginsburg: Right.
Bob Brennan: They may get you a handful of jobs. I would think you would get, again, those numbers, 20, 30 leads, and then-
Sue Ginsburg: With conversions.
Bob Brennan: If you close a third of those or even 20% of them, it’s going to be laughable, the ROI.
Sue Ginsburg: Yeah.
Jesse Dolan: I think this is definitely one of these, like you said, the chicken or the egg type deals where, like you said, Sue, are you getting this advice, or is this okay because you have a low-end SEO that’s not producing results, because I think for me, when people ask us, “Should I stop and start seasonal?” yada, yada, yada, I guess I come at it with the assumption that if you’re doing SEO, especially with us, you’re at the top. So, my context is if I’m stopping SEO, then you’re dropping. You know what I’m saying?
Bob Brennan: Right.
Jesse Dolan: That’s the mindset I’m in. In this case here, if you’ve never even got to the top, like you were saying about run away from that SEO, you’re not at the top, and it’s a start-and-stop type deal, you’re never going to get anywhere, for sure. So, for sure for me, I always say don’t. Don’t do seasonal. Don’t start and stop SEO. You’re going to throw good money after bad. Your example, Sue, of getting into shape seasonally, things like that, come on, we all know how hard it is. If anybody’s ever gotten in shape and stayed in shape, you know it’s easier to keep that… Yeah, there you go. It’s Bob. Listening and didn’t see it, he’s the one that’s in shape. He’s touting that.
Bob Brennan: No, no. No, I’m not. Don’t look at my swimsuit deal from my cruise that I just went on.
Jesse Dolan: Follow him on Instagram for a proper photo.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jesse Dolan: The goal of getting in shape is something that we all have, but then to truly stay in shape, there’s some discipline and some effort, but you’ve done all the hard work. Now you just got to stay there, and I think that’s a great example there for SEO in the same way. Nothing happens overnight. Sometimes we get lucky with some breakthroughs in certain keywords, but you can still… It’s definitely always a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t not have that viewpoint, and now if you’re starting and stopping on top of it… I’m going to go through just some bullet points here of where this just is a bad idea, but again, in general, I can’t stress enough the context here is that if you’re doing SEO, you should be at the top if this is an ongoing thing for you.
So, the fear and the danger of stopping or pausing your SEO is that you will drop. It’s not about will you slow your rise. I think that’s a whole different context that I’m… That’s not where my head is, at least, here. So, number one, you kind of touch on it, Bob, a little bit, but the off season, if there is, quote, an off season for you, it’s a great time to do SEO in my opinion. This is when you create the marketing. You’re not out there on the roof pushing your teams around and doing stuff. This is when you can create content and work with your SEO. So, for me, that is totally against the grain. That’s when we’d want to be engaged with that client, like, “Okay, hey. You’re finally not busy, so we can have conversations and work with you to get the content we need from you as the expert in your business for your website.”
So, that’s something right there I think is just ridiculous, why you would not take advantage of your off season, because those kinds of businesses, when you have an on and an off season, and Bob, in a past life you did landscaping, so you kind of know this, when it’s in season, you’re hitting it. You’re not working six to eight hours a day. You are hitting it because it’s the season. So, usually, you’re not going to have time to work on your business, quote-unquote, in some of those areas like you might in the off season, just to frame it up for everybody. Another one here is, is there truly an off season? Again-
Sue Ginsburg: Interesting.
Jesse Dolan: Maybe in general, you’re busy, again, Minnesota for roofing-
Sue Ginsburg: Interesting.
Jesse Dolan: You’re busy for those seven, eight, nine months of the year when there’s no snow on the roof, but is nobody ever calling in February to line up their job for May or June? Especially if it’s a larger job, I would feel like there’s opportunities that are coming at you in the off season, getting scheduled and booked and prepared for the on season. So, I would want to still be ranking in those areas. I would still want to be ranking in the middle of January for roof repair, roof replacement, whatever it is in Minneapolis. Somebody’s going to look and make a phone call at some point, and you still want to capture that.
Do you want to rank for those keywords all season long, not just seasonally? I should say, is there a reason you wouldn’t want to, I guess is my challenge for everybody. Why would you not want to rank for those keywords all year round? If for some reason you just shut down, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to rank because then people will call me and I’m not in business,” whatever, there’s lots of things you can do on your website to temporarily close, back in April, check us out then, whatever. So, I just think, again, the concept of stopping or slowing your SEO in the off season is not a good SEO strategy. It’s not a good growth strategy. What it is is a potential money-saving strategy.
That’s how it appears on the surface, but again, just like working out and exercising, if I wanted to lose 30 pounds right now, I’m going to have to bust my butt to lose 30 pounds. If I just wanted to stay at that spot, having lost those 30 pounds, I’m not going to spend that much money, that much energy getting there. Same thing here. When you do start back up again, if you’re starting when your busy season starts, if you’re starting your SEO again when your busy season starts, you’re having to invest all that weight loss, all that ranking improvements type things all over again. So, you need a month or two into your busy season before you’re going to take hold, and it’s just the whole cycle for me just doesn’t make any sense.
Another thing here, there’s no guarantee you can get back on top if you get knocked off. If you slow or stop your SEO, you’re just opening the door for your competition. We, Bob and Sue, we talk to people all the time about ongoing SEO, and people are always like, “Oh, I got to get up, and then I’m done.” It’s like, no, it’s a continual battle because something that will definitely happen is if you were on… Well, if you weren’t in the top spot, and then now you are, guess what? Somebody else was there, you knocked them off, they’re going to notice the lack of phone calls and the lack of emails and the lack of walk-in business that they enjoyed when they were in the top spot.
If you give them a crack or open the door and allow them to get back on top and bump you back down, there’s no guarantee you can get back up there. Maybe they’ve figured out the formula or did something to just remain dominant. Why would you want to relinquish that spot? If you spend money and energy getting there, there’s no guarantee you can get back, and just stay on top. Don’t give your competition a chance.
So, I’ll shift gears a little bit here. There are a few things, I think, if you needed to bring the cost down a little, but not completely stop. What phase are you in for SEO? Are you generating a lot of content? Are you modifying existing content? Are you doing deep dives for analytics? SEO is definitely a recipe. It’s not like a one thing. If you needed to scale back from a budgetary standpoint, I would say you could probably do less things for SEO. If you took three months off and you’re just completely not engaged, well yeah, then you can’t provide any insight for content, but your SEO people should still be monitoring the performance. Are you holding your rankings? If not, what do they got to adjust?
I don’t have a number, if it’s 10% you could slow down on, or 50%. My advice will always be to never slow down on any of it. I think the whole concept is just not a good one, but I would give space for somebody. Yeah. If you wanted to peel back a little bit, scale back a little bit during the, quote, off season, I think you could, but… I know you were throwing out just rough numbers, Bob, for some of the roofing and the gross profit and stuff. For your business, whatever it is you’re going to pay for SEO, if one or two potential bookings come through in that off season, if that pays for all the SEO to keep you on top, just challenge yourself for things like that, and don’t look at this from a cost savings standpoint. But I will give you some space saying that. Within SEO, there’s probably some things you can do to reduce it a little bit, but again, you’re nickel and diming there, and if you’re really trying to stay on top for SEO, that’s going to come back to bite you.
The last part here is if you’re in a business… We’re making an assumption here. Roofing, Minnesota, your off season is a small number of months compared to the on season. Bob, this is decades ago. You and I did some research and collaboration with a guy when we first started getting into internet marketing that sold artificial Christmas trees, doing paid ads. I don’t know if you remember this. I’m pulling way back from the archives here, but this is one of the-
Bob Brennan: Right, right. No, I do remember.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. This is one of the things that really got us started in SEO and paid ads, which is where I’m going with this. If you’re in something that’s highly seasonal like selling artificial Christmas trees, you got like a month of the year that you’re selling them. You know?
Bob Brennan: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense.
Jesse Dolan: Well, it makes sense, but then also, maybe even SEO isn’t your primary. Maybe it’s paid ads. Right?
Bob Brennan: Right.
Jesse Dolan: I would just throw that out to people, is I think SEO is something you do all the time. It’s organic. It makes sure you stay ranked. But if you have a busy season that is very small and finite instead of your off season being smaller, then I would tell you to maybe look at paid ads or other on-demand type marketing where you can just throw a ton of money at it, get some kind of expected ROI, and then shut it off and be done and turn your back. In that case, paid ads are a good solution because you get back on top just by paying more money again. It’s a very direct process. You had Google a bunch of money, they give you some leads and some prospects. If you’re good at it, it works. If you’re not good at it, it can work, but it’s going to be expensive as heck.
So, that’s something you could start and stop, is the paid ads, and depending on the nature of your business, maybe that’s something to consider. But coming all the way back to SEO and being found organically and maintaining your rankings, moral of the story is never stop SEO. Get up on top, stay up on top, and reap the rewards all year round. Maybe it transforms your business. Sue, the example we’re talking about here with the business owner having his SEO stopped during his off season, it would be interesting if over the course of, let’s say, the next two years, we engaged, we crushed it. How busy would they be? What does their off season look like now? You know what I mean? I think this goes back to your chicken and the egg example here.
People that are questioning and wanting to do seasonal SEO or slow things down, I think it’s more of a sign of how healthy is your business. Are you trying to save money? It’s not an SEO strategy and a marketing strategy question. It’s more of a cost-saving operation. You know what I mean? The type of questions where this comes from, because from an SEO and marketing standpoint, don’t stop. It would be something bad you could do, or would not be a good thing. God, that was horrible English. It would be something bad you could do. Really on top of my English game there today. Yeah.
Moral of the story, don’t cancel your SEO, don’t slow down your SEO, don’t pause your SEO in the off season, keep pushing through, and flip it around. Take advantage of what you can do in the off season that you couldn’t have done otherwise to make sure if tomorrow your busy season starts, that you start at number one, you’re getting the phone calls, you’re getting the leads, and reaping the rewards of that to go crush the business. You worked on it in your slow season. Now you can work in it when you need it, when it’s busy. So, there you go.
Sue Ginsburg: I think one of the good points that you bring up is, how do you know… Define when your busy season starts. Is it when people start calling you and booking, or is it the day that your crews are going out and working on it? They’re probably two different things, and having some lead time and showing up in ranking highs during the time people are looking and making decisions, you don’t get that from not doing SEO. So, that’s great, really good. I also think that he is not the only one that is thinking this question because from a business owner’s standpoint that is not familiar with SEO, “Hey, this is my slow time. How can I save money?”
You’re looking at all your expenses, all your investments and saying, “Is there anything that I can cut back on?” Now people know that this is not one of them. I think business owners always find it the most difficult that the time you need marketing most is your slow season or when your sales are down, because the tendency is, “I’m just going to invest in marketing when things are going high,” and then you also think, “Why would I do that when my sales are high?” Again-
Jesse Dolan: I think to the point Bob made earlier and that I ran with a little too is I think people make that statement or have that assumption, Sue, when they haven’t been reaping the rewards-
Sue Ginsburg: Yeah, could be, could be.
Jesse Dolan: To be on top in search. Once you’re there, you know what it can do. You don’t want to give that up.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, and as a business owner, I monitor it daily, and the minute I see it slipping, I rattle Jesse’s cage and I’m like, “What’s going on?” because it’s the difference between being profitable and not in many cases.
Jesse Dolan: Sure.
Bob Brennan: Yeah. Any service like this, I can’t stress enough during… Anytime, I know it’s going to get nuts here for roofing, where when this is being recorded, it’s the first week or so in April, so I don’t know when it comes out, but it’s going to get nuts. So, during the off season, you need to eat, drink, and sleep this stuff if you’re going to take it on yourself, or you need to spend your time researching the different organizations that could potentially help you and figure out how they can maybe guarantee results, and it’s well spent, because I know door knockers, when we have a hailstorm that comes through… I’ve had my roof replaced three times in my neighborhood.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Bob Brennan: I’ve lived in it since 2004, so whatever that is. So, we’ve had door knockers that come in, three or four different door knockers knocking on your door saying, “Hey, I know a hailstorm came here. Can we look at your roof for you?” blah, blah, blah. Those people get paid commission, and they get paid well. They get paid about $1,500 to $15,000, depending on the roof.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Bob Brennan: I know that because a buddy of mine used to do it-
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Bob Brennan: And he lived… I mean, he made well over $100,000 a year doing that.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Bob Brennan: So, the point is they’re paid out well to do that.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Bob Brennan: It’s worth paying an agency that can talk about getting you into the top, and then subsequently, again, going back to your GDP and GMB and getting that in there, and then getting the reviews, and you will make all that money back, and then some. I guarantee it. It’s just as important as your staff that are going out there, knocking on doors, trying to get you those jobs. It’s more important, in my opinion.
Jesse Dolan: Yep. If the SEO is working, it’s never going to be an expense that you’re concerned about. It’s going to be the best marketing you ever do.
Bob Brennan: Right, and it really… Quite honestly, if you’re not on the upper part of the first page, stop sending money. Within 90 to 120 days, stop. Move on and find somebody that can get you at the top, and maybe works in that industry would be a good example.
Sue Ginsburg: Good points, and I think we all learned something from what you guys had to say. I think that’s great.
Jesse Dolan: Good.
Sue Ginsburg: Anything else, Jesse?
Jesse Dolan: No.
Sue Ginsburg: Sounds good.
Jesse Dolan: Keep your SEO going.
Sue Ginsburg: If you remember one thing and one thing only, remember this. It is much harder to regain your rank in searches than to get there in the first place. SEO is a continuous investment if you want to show up high online. The quote of the day, again, appropriate for what we’re talking about, if you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done, whether that’s SEO, going on a new kind of a diet program, or whatever it is, and we have Thomas Jefferson to thank for that great quote.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Simple, but also really eye opening too if you parse it out. It makes a lot of sense. You don’t get nothing unless you’re going for it. Thanks for the question and the good insight as always, Sue. Bob, likewise from the business owner standpoint, mixed with the marketing expertise. I think everybody definitely got some nuggets out of what you were sharing today, and hopefully we turned some people on to some good ideas, some good strategies, maybe challenged them a little bit. If anybody listening has a question on this topic, on another topic related to digital marketing, particularly SEO, web design, getting found on Google, things like that, reach out to us.
Go to localseotactics.com, go down to the bottom of the page, click the button to submit a question. You can send it in through the form there, type it out, or you can call in on the phone number. If you call in, give yourself a shout out to your business. Present your question. We’ll use the audio on the show, and we’ll send you out a free Intrycks t-shirt for putting yourself out there. We appreciate that. Thanks for checking us out, everybody. Hope you got some good stuff here, and we’ll catch you on the next episode.