Jesse Dolan: Hey everyone. We've got a great episode lined up for you here today. This is an interview with Michael Rayburn. Michael is an SEO expert, somebody I've personally learned from myself. He's going to drop some great knowledge. We talk about Google business profile, some user-generated signals. We also dive into some tidbits about SEO for your website, pipeline building, general SEO concepts, a little bit of Google bashing. You'll get a little bit of sentiment from Michael here about where he does and does not Google and some other practices.
Just a ton of great information. A little bit longer in this episode. Probably about an hour for total play here, so you might have to break this into chunks if you're commuting or whatever it is. But definitely worth a listen. We're going to have Michael on again in the future for sure, and dive into some deeper topics and revisit some of the things we touched on here today. But check this out. I know you're going to love this episode. Here we go with Michael Rayburn. Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan, got a great episode here today interviewing Michael Rayburn. Thanks for jumping on, Michael. How you doing?
Michael Rayburn: I'm doing great. I appreciate you having me.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I've been looking forward to this for a while. We were just chatting before we started recording here. We bumped in each other a few times, got to connect and spend some extended time together, not just talking SEO at SEO spring training in Arizona gosh, over a month and change ago now at this point. That was cool.
Michael Rayburn: It was.
Jesse Dolan: I got to see you. A great presentation. Some of the things we're going to talk about hopefully in today's episode about Google's business profile, things like that. But before we dive into that, let me just tell everybody who you are, why it's important that you're on today, and how they can expect to learn from you. Michael is here with us from Domination Simplified, a white label SEO agency. I'll let you talk about that a little bit more in depth here in a second, Michael. But first I did want to ask, we did a little bit of prep for this, so I've got a note here that I'd love to get you to expand on a little bit.
Michael Rayburn: Okay.
Jesse Dolan: You got paid before you did SEO, you got paid to jump out of planes. What are we talking about there? Doing important work or just for fun? What's going on there?
Michael Rayburn: Well, I think defending the nation is important.
Jesse Dolan: Not as important as it gets.
Michael Rayburn: Pretty much. I was a soldier. I was in special operations. It's true, I was airborne. My idea of being a soldier when I was young was jumping out of airplanes and in foreign countries and blowing up stuff and shooting bad guys. I told the recruiter if I didn't get an airborne option, then he could find somebody else. I looked at the Marines and the Marines were like, "Well, we can't promise you anything." I said to the Army and they're like, "We have a couple airborne slots available."
Jesse Dolan: That's all you needed to hear at that point?
Michael Rayburn: That was all I needed to hear. They were like, "You want to jump out of the airplanes all the time, or you just want to try to go to school?" I was like, "All the time." The thing nobody tells you though is the Air Force's aircraft breaks down like 50% of the time. Where they'll scratch a jump due to weather or aircraft failure. That doesn't mean you're in the air and it stops flying. It just means that the doors or the tailgate, whichever you're jumping out of at the time, gets stuck.
Jesse Dolan: Then you can't.
Michael Rayburn: Then you can't jump. Kind of sucks.
Jesse Dolan: Tell me about, I'm curious. Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you. I'm curious though, about your first jump. Is it something where you're just wet behind the ears, don't even have time to think, and suddenly you're falling to the ground? Or were you up there like, oh my God, maybe I made the worst decision in my life. I want to turn back now.
Michael Rayburn: No, that was a basic training thought. Basic training, I was there after a little while. Then after week two, I'm like, what did I get myself into? I only get to sleep for six hours a night. Everybody screams at me every time I turn around. Is this what the next four years is going to be like? Because I'm only week two and the days are long. The Army did a good job of putting us through training where you just focus on what you're supposed to do next.
Then as you move forward, then you just end up falling out. Because to be honest with you, gravity does almost all of the work for you up until the point you've actually hit the ground. But you just have to go out the aircraft. In training, you go out the doors and you put your hands on your reserve shoot so nothing grabs the lever and pulls it for you by accident. You fold over a little bit and the rest is history. But it is scary when you're up on the aircraft, the first jump. Because when you're in training, half the people never shut up. When you're in the aircraft, especially for those first five jumps, everybody's quiet.
Jesse Dolan: All in their own heads at that point.
Michael Rayburn: All you hear is the aircraft and then the doors open up and then. You now when you're in your car, if you have four doors and you roll the back windows down, you feel that... Like that. When you open the doors, that's what the pressure feels like inside of there. But when you jump out, it feels like you're in a great big video game. Like when we see in movies where you see in the camera and it looks fake on the underside, that's exactly what it looks like when you're up there. It looks like you're just jumping into a great big video game.
Jesse Dolan: After you were out of the military, did you do that recreationally? You liked it. Had to get that rush still, or is that something you left behind?
Michael Rayburn: No, I left that behind. I would like to go do that again. That would be the ultimate thing for me. Later, I ended up breaking my back. I've always been a little hesitant because even with free fall, even though those civilian shoots so much softer landing, you could get the wrong gust. I have fused vertebrae and titanium rods. Once you get a injury like that, you don't bounce back quite as fast. It makes me a little hesitant. But I sure would love to go skydiving, I have to admit.
I've done the, they call it the tunnel, but it's just a big cylinder that you're in that's got a huge fan underneath that blows and it blows you up. I've done that, and that's been cool. I did that in a special operations unit. My wife was also active duty. This one guy that basically took over command realized where I came from, and he's like, "Oh my God, you got to come. This will be fun. We'll get you in the tunnel and then you'll have a great time." He was right. I had a great time.
Jesse Dolan: That's got to be fun but also, okay, this isn't quite the same. This is close but hard to replicate, I have to imagine.
Michael Rayburn: Yeah, you're still floating like you would. But anyways, yeah, it's a lot of fun. It's a little frustrating in a way because I can't, well, I probably could. But I'm telling you, I've hit the ground hard before and I just don't want to do that again, a little bit older.
Jesse Dolan: Hey, you are no less of the man in my book by saying I'm a little apprehensive about jumping out of an airplane again because I have titanium and fused vertebrae in my back. That's a good enough reason, man. Don't worry.
Michael Rayburn: Yeah, I would like to though. I don't know. Maybe I go have a shot of whiskey or two and then go.
Jesse Dolan: Now it sounds like a good plan. Now I'm on board.
Michael Rayburn: Loosen up a little.
Jesse Dolan: Let me. I'm just starting at the beginning there. I want to get to tell everybody how you got to SEO. Why you got to SEO.
Michael Rayburn: Okay.
Jesse Dolan: We're not going to go through every single job, everything else you had, but I think it's important to highlight a few things. You fast-forward a little bit, you owned a jewelry store. There's a transition there. That's when you started to really get a mindset for marketing and what it takes and why it's important.
Michael Rayburn: I was actually was a power seller on eBay.
Jesse Dolan: Okay.
Michael Rayburn: Then I decided from that that I actually wanted to have a jewelry store. I was going to New York City and buying loose gemstones from other companies that bought out wholesale companies. I was paying 15 or 20 cents on the wholesale dollar for gemstones and then reselling them on eBay and doing really well with it for quite a while. I would notice that my auctions, I would see them in the searches later, but after they were already done.
But learning how to market on eBay and stuff is what actually got me into really about marketing and how does that work and everything. Then later, when I had a [inaudible 00:10:07]. Yeah, it is, it's like Amazon, how it has its own algorithm and stuff. Then also it's real business because then you have to learn, okay, I got to market this because this is a hot product, but I got to pay extra for that. Then to cut down cost other places, I have to have a storefront so when people buy from there.
Then I have to have a normal amount of regular auctions and then pay the auction fees. You still learn all that type of business stuff in there. But like I said, I decided I wanted to actually make custom jewelry and things. We opened up a jewelry store a little while later. After some of your ads wore off and stuff, and traffic starts to slow down, you're like, okay, now how do I get more traffic in the door? Then I was looking at Google obviously.
Then I started asking questions like, okay, well, how do I rank a page? Then I was able to rank a page on my website that got like, I don't know, about a hundred thousand people a year to my website. It sounds really stupid, but in the Indian culture, there's a thing called Shiva Linga. It's a rock. They, a lot of times wear copper rings and it's for metaphysical purposes. A copper Shiva Linga ring, which is generally associated to people who are wanting to have more children, a lot of times they would go buy this.
We sold quite a few of those. But then locally, I was like, I need more foot traffic. I'm understanding now the website stuff, but I need more foot traffic. I started asking questions of, well in Google, why does this one outrank that one? Because from a user perspective, they all look the same. Then I started to win. It took me six or nine months, but then I started to win. Then other people started to see more people coming to my business.
Then the other local businesses started asking me why. They went from there. Then with my back injuries, I mentioned before, I could only sit at the bench for so long before my back was like, you're done for the day. Then I realized how valuable that this was and how much that actual quality SEO was needed in this space even today. Because not all SEOs created the same. When somebody said, "Hey, can you do mine?"
I was like, "Well, you're a friend, sure." Then they said, "Hey, can you do my friends?" I was like, "No." They said, "I'll pay you." I said, "I don't care. I already have a job." They said, "Well, they'll pay you." Because a lot of times when someone says they'll pay you. It's like, here's a hundred bucks. Then they were like, "No, she really needs help." Finally, I was like, "Fine." At the time, it cost about 300 bucks a month. I was like, "Just give me $300." I was like, "But don't tell anybody. I don't want to do this for anybody else." Of course-
Jesse Dolan: Don't want to be an SEO.
Michael Rayburn: What's the first thing they do when you say that? I wasn't even thinking about it. I was actually thinking about quite literally, don't tell anybody. I'm good. I get to play with pretty things all day long. Then they gave me the $300, and then I remember going, well, that was stupid, I should have asked for more. Then the next thing I thought about was, I could actually do this as a business because it's seriously needed. Honestly, I didn't cash that check for two weeks because I wanted to roll that around in my brain.
Then I decided that with my back the way it was, and being hunched over like this soldering and setting stones and having the glasses on all day long. Working at things like this close to your face, it wasn't in my health's best interest and that this was probably going to be something great for us. That's the story of how I got started with it. But yeah-
Jesse Dolan: I like that.
Michael Rayburn: Business owners.
Jesse Dolan: I always have, I don't want to say more respect for people that have the journey like you did. But I think there's something to be said about if you're engaging with somebody, whether it be directly or white label as you do a lot of. Somebody who knows what the impact is for a business owner and not just somebody who just designs websites or generates traffic, whatever. I just think there's such more of a direct connection there for results because you understand. Not just trying to rank some irrelevant keyword. It's how do I get people in the door? How do we get you to win? Which means making more money as a business order to transform their lives. There's just a different, I think, approach and mentality that you have when you come from that end of it.
Michael Rayburn: As SEOs, we always go, how do we rank a business? As a prior business owner, I'm like, yeah, that's great. I want to do that. But what I want to know is how do I get more calls from the client? The simple answer to that is, you just rank a crap ton of keywords for them. I'm right outside of DC and I guarantee if you type in S-E-O-D-C, there's probably three to 500 searches a month. Of which I would be absolutely astonished if that equated the 50 phone calls in total a month.
Of those 50 phone calls, most of them go to whoever's most branded in the area. Those people fighting for the leftover 15 phone calls, It's crazy. But now if I were to say, okay, that's 15 phone calls. But if I say SEO services, SEO services near me, SEO near me, SEO DC, SEO Washington DC, SEO services, Washington DC and I just start stacking all of these on top of each other. We end up with 30, 40 keywords. Let's say of which I could be in the three pack for 75%, my phone's going to ring.
Jesse Dolan: Yep. It's not always just the one big sexy keyword that everybody else like you said, has in mind. You do a little bit of due diligence, you dig up those long tail keywords, whatever you want to call it, can have a lot of victories, a lot of victories with that recipe. Hey everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on localSEOtactics.com, and we'll get right back to the show. If you haven't taken advantage of it yet, go on out to localseotactics.com/freeseoaudit or look for the yellow button up in the top right corner, click that.
It's going to take just a couple seconds, you enter in the page that you want to optimize, what you're looking for the audit to score against. Enter in that page, enter in the keyword you're looking to get optimized for and enter in your email address. Click the button and it's going to take a few seconds. Then it's going to send you off a PDF report via email. It's a great report. It's going to give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page and for your website at large.
Even though it's auditing this page, that's going to tell you some of the good things that are happening, some of the bad things that are happening too, and give you basically a checklist of some things that you need to shore up and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page, for that keyword that you're auditing. Now, you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page.
You can even use this to check against your competitors. If you want to do a little reverse engineering, see how they're scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing good that you're not, and some things to improve there. Lots of different ways to use it, completely free. Again, go on at the localseotactics.com/freeseoaudit or look for the yellow button in the top right corner of the website.
It's like I was saying, Michael, and I think I'd like to get to the next point, but for everybody listening and watching, I just have a lot of respect for people that come into the SEO world through that. I had a similar journey myself, had a printer copier business, same story. We did this good. People started asking, "Can you get this done for us too?" Reluctantly, "Sure." Then fast-forward, you got your own agency and white label agency and multiple agencies at that.
Yeah, if anybody listening is just wondering, does Michael have the wherewithal and the knowledge base to do this? Or is he just coming on as a talking head? I think that was important to point out for everybody to set the stage. Within that Michael, we'd like to get into some GBP related discussions here. Can you maybe walk us through some of your early victories were on websites, but then maybe starting to play with Google My Business. Seeing maybe what the differences are and why you have a propensity to really dig into the GBP side for local businesses, why that matters to everybody.
Michael Rayburn: Websites are a no-brainer, everybody over complicates them, to be honest with you. I don't want to go too in depth about link building and everything else. But link building is something that's key to almost any website. A lot of local sites don't really need tons of links. But if you want to speed it up, you should understand link building so that way you can expedite the results. Think of them as votes just to keep things simple and try to target things.
One of the coolest things about websites that nobody talks about in link building, is if you build a few naked URL links, you can watch the keywords expand. It's because you're forcing Google to basically figure out what your keywords are. It's like making the spider crawl harder almost. That's actually really cool. Link building gets talked about so much. But most of the time it's poor quality and presentation, truthfully.
When people go try it, they're like, oh, I didn't get the results. We get people, other SEO agencies that come to us and say, "Hey, I want you to rank our website for us for SEO terms nationally." It's real competition. We've worked with cannabis. I've worked in adult industry. I've worked in, well, I didn't work in, but I've worked with, big difference there. Those are some tough niches. We work with some CBD companies, and that's a tough niche. We work in personal injury, that's really tough.
I've tried all kinds of things. I've done everything on websites from dropping a thousand blogs in 40 days to just trying to optimize it to the best of ability and dropping links. When it comes to websites, it's that. Then the GBP or GMB, depending on how old school you are, we have a lot. I think I've probably in total played with, I don't know, 1500, 2000 of them at this point across the board. People tell me all the time about if they're agencies and they'll appreciate this, that general niche agencies is a hard route to go. They'll talk about how difficult it is, and it's really not difficult. You have to learn the fundamentals, learn what moves the needle, and then after that, take the time to understand why. Then from there everything's better. But go ahead.
Jesse Dolan: You go back a little bit. I wrote a note down. I'd like you to just expand on it real quick. Everybody listening or watching may not know what you meant. You said using the naked URLs. Then how you can watch your keywords grow. A, would you explain to everybody real quick what you mean when you say naked URLs? Then describe what you mean by how to watch the keywords grow. Tangibly as a business owner or marketing manager that's not an SEO expert, what does that mean for everybody?
Michael Rayburn: Normally I would use about 25 to 50 Google News approved websites. That just means that I took the time to take a blog site, run it through Google to get it approved as a certified news site to Google. It doesn't mean that it's an actual real news site, it just means that that's what it is. I do that because it's one more ounce of trust from Google, since that's who we're all trying to make happy. Then we'll put between 25 and 50 articles and then whatever the URL is.
If it was localseotactics.com as an example, it would be that is what's known as an anchor or what the hyperlink is attached to the words. Then we would hyperlink that itself to itself. It'd be, again, localseotactics.com. By doing that, it doesn't give Google any information about that link whatsoever at all and forces it to crawl the site to figure out what the keywords are. I always argue about with other SEOs, with their anchors because they like to use terms like website, click here, this site, this company.
Those are trash. They're wasted. Honestly, they're wasted. You don't need them. If you take the time to understand what your keywords are and expand them out as long tail as possible and as short tail as possible, most companies will end up with over a hundred keywords. If you work diligently in documenting, you can never over-optimize that.
Jesse Dolan: Nice. Quite literally, when you're saying watch the keywords grow, you're talking about what you're ranking for and getting traffic and exposure for, right?
Michael Rayburn: Sure. What I mean by watch the keywords grow is if we were to use for the non-agency people listening, if you're using SEO software like Semrush or Ahrefs or something similar, there's a million of them out there now, but I use Ahrefs. What you'll see is if we go over to keywords, we click the button, go over to keywords, and then we put it in order by date, newest date first. You'll see where it'll be lots of movement, and then it'll be like new, new, new as in the keywords over here. Then you'll see lots of movement, which means both up and down and they'll say new. Honestly, it's not uncommon on a page of 50 to see 12 to 15 new keywords going back a couple pages like that after two weeks.
Jesse Dolan: Now, what's your opinion on those links in general? Do you like to have some be naked or do you also mix in some with like you mentioned, an anchor text for everybody? The example, if you just linked it as localseotactics.com naked, or if you said localseotacticsshow, and that was the word that would link back to the website, that's the anchor text. Do you mix both together? For you, is there a strategy?
Michael Rayburn: A lot of times my strategy is this. When I'm starting with a new website, obviously we're going to work with the on page, that's a given. We're going to make sure the content's optimized. We're going to make sure that the website from top to bottom. That way it's ADA compliant, so that way they don't get sued. I don't need to go into the deep steps here. We'll do all that. But then I always do a batch of links initially, even though I'm doing my own keyword research for a brand and a naked URL.
I always do a batch right away. Sometimes I'll do that while I'm in the middle of doing my on page. The reason for that is I want to see what Google's going to give me versus what I want to rank for. Then it gives me the opportunity to like what happens if I'm doing keyword research and I miss the keyword? Because we're human. We're going to miss things and then Google gives it to you. Well, Google just made my job easier. Exactly. Honestly, if it's the Google News syndications, they're not super strong links as a whole.
I'm not going to worry about metrics here, but it's not. But once I start pinging away with my high metric sites that I go and I either build or I find ones that other people don't want because they don't know how to look at what's there. You'll see the websites grow in metrics and Ahrefs, and I'm not trying to go too deep, but to point something out. Once the website hits what's called a domain rating of 50, you cross where you're in the top 2 million websites ish.
I'm just going to say ish, because with the amount of websites coming up every day it changes. For a local guy, that's pretty significant. If I use my strong links and I drop that on a company, usually by the time I do 30 or 40 of those, you'll watch the domain rating go from five to 50 in 30 days. They're strong links. They are strong links. But the other thing you see is, it's not long after that and you see the keywords go up and you see everything else just follows.
Jesse Dolan: Now you're getting that attention. It broke through to the cool crowd, the circle of trust, whatever you want to think about it. Now they're starting to really explore you and see what you're all about. I think that was a good dive and hopefully everybody listened that shed some light on it. Sometimes I know all of us, yeah, we can throw stuff out and dive super deep. I know a lot of times people listening that aren't experts are going, what the hell are you guys talking about? How can I do something with this? I appreciate the-
Michael Rayburn: I teach it. I teach a bunch of SEOs too. I just blew their mind today when I started dissecting links, search links and talking to them about, you'll love this. I don't know if you realize it, but we work in search. We actually work in three different algorithms simultaneously. You can always tell that because when we go to google.com, everybody knows that one, it's just search, just organic search. But what they don't understand is map shows up in that.
With the most recent update with Google placing local services into the maps permanently now, when you click on see more places, you'll see it change from search to local services. Now maps are being included in that. Then you have google.com/maps also. To illustrate a point of how little that Google allows you to see into things, in the newer platform that we manage our Google business profile in, when we click on to see what's been going on as far as traffic and everything on it. We click on that top line there and we scroll up, it still only shows, even though we're working all three, it still only shows maps and search.
Jesse Dolan: Which mentally, if you were to ask me real quick, what are we seeing on the SERP? I would give you two, search and maps. Interesting. That's today's version.
Michael Rayburn: A friend, his wife works for Google and he sent me an update because they were privied with, hey, this is rolling out here in the next couple of months. Search, Google's going to kill itself because it's coming out with so many ads. Along the sides and everything else. It's going to turn into, I guarantee in the next few years, a 1990s ad farm website. Where it's ads across the top, the sides, the bottom, and a little bit of stuff in the middle.
Jesse Dolan: No, I'm shuttering just remembering building and looking at those. Imprinted, I know what you're talking about. That's where I don't know not to go too far down that road, but if Google does do that, people are still going to search somewhere. If we start to not like Google and as SEOs, we got to pivot. Still got to get found.
Michael Rayburn: Yeah, and you know what? Bing is coming around. A lot of people are tired of Google. I'm not going to say that it's better than Google because it's not. But it's coming around. The ads, if people are paying for ads are cheaper and there's enough traffic that you can still get conversions for less. Yeah, don't underestimate.
Jesse Dolan: Search engine optimization or search marketing, that's what we do broadly. Google's 80% of it right now, but that changes next year. We're still getting people found online. Let's talk a little deeper on the GBP side, Michael. To your point for your website, there's a ton of stuff you can do on your website. You're definitely highlighting the links as something to break through or at least get into that circle of trust. There's a whole recipe what to do to your website. But for everybody listening, let's talk about some things, not super basic GBP. Claim it, set your categories. But I'd love to hear some more advanced trickery or strategies people don't realize for in that same thing, breaking through the circle of trust in the GBP sense. That you're a legitimate business, getting more exposure. Drop some knowledge on us there.
Michael Rayburn: Okay, well we could talk about a little bit of setup and then what's moving the needle right now. The setup, if you use chat GBT, so you have your category, your selected category. Do not change your category today. Please know I'm not going to tell you to do that because that's like a recipe for disaster. But if your profile's not set up the right way, if you have tons of reviews, then at that point in your legit business, not a lead gen and you're at that address, I'm going to use the word could, okay?
In quotes "could" change it. But you would want to basically get ready for a video verification process again because you're going to have to re-verify. Go ahead and get your paperwork out that you're going to need because it's going to suspend. Gets a tax document. Get a business license. Get a power bill. If you get your lease agreement or if you're buying the property, then get that. Put all that together first so that way you can get your profile back up and running in a few days. But make sure that that category is matching up with the other top three. That's probably one of the biggest things.
Jesse Dolan: You said the top three. To interrupt you real quick. You're talking, other people that are ranking right now, what is their category? If it's not the same as yours, then you need to change yours following your advice beforehand.
Michael Rayburn: Right. That's why I gave all that advice on the front end so that way somebody doesn't run and go change it and then like, oh, I don't have all that. There's that. Then the next thing is Google's doing a thing right now, and I only know this because I've been verifying profiles here recently, that it wants a brand, it doesn't want these keywords in there. For example, there was a company that's a pressure washing company and pressure was in their business name.
I said, "Fine, you can have it, but it needs to be email verification." We all know that once we do email verification, it's going to come back a day later, a full 24 hours and say video. Sure enough, that's what it did. I changed it to their abbreviated, which is whatever, LLC. It was three words. It became three letters, LLC, even though it was in the same niche and everything and it went straight through. I actually didn't even have to put in a phone number or website and it took it.
Then later I put in both and then it's fine. It's been fine ever since. Did the same thing for an attorney. He lost his profile. Except this one it let me keyword spam and I think it's because it wasn't personal injury, it was a different attorney. I think in that one it was fine because it was a lawyer and they don't want to be sued. But for the rest of us it has to be very sterile. But if you have a keyword in there, it's going to help.
It's definitely going to help still. Don't be surprised if they try to edit it or you get flagged or suspended along the way because those are coming. Then everything else needs to be filled out basically as much as possible. The one thing that I would say is I think if you want to post like a boss, you create. This is where like SEO becomes fun in my opinion. What you want to do is you want to make an offer and then it'd be like whatever your keyword is, dash free estimate would be your offer thing.
Your keyword stuffing on purpose. Let's argumentatively say that this was a pressure washing company in Miami. Which it wasn't, but we'll just say it was. Then I would be like pressure washing Miami dash free estimate. Then underneath it I would drop a link to the website in the link area, not anywhere else because Google's really finicky. Don't put your phone number in, all that type of stuff because Google just sucks that way.
Then put a description in there. You want at least a 300 word description, well 300 characters as a minimum. Because I think it's what, 3000 characters. There's 3000 characters in that. You want to try to use up all the time as much as you can. At least a third in characters. Which probably only equates to 50, 75 words, something like that. It's not a lot. That's something that's actually really cool. I do see a difference with that.
The other thing I would always say is, always post as many pictures as you possibly can. Because that does make a difference. In the old profiles, which they gave us more information to be able to look at and analyze. I personally would see when somebody would put about 30% more photos than the rest of the people in their field, everything would go up. Literally. The views of the photos, the link clicks as far as clicking on the profile, everything would go up.
That was always really beneficial. Then reviews. What happens with reviews is that when you're doing the reviews, it works really well. Because if you coach the end person and you say, hey, it means a lot for the reviews, we work really hard for these five star reviews if we could get them. Like eventually, I know a lot of people say yes and they don't do them. But if they will do them and if I could just be a little bit pushy and just say, if you could say that you were happy that you hired us.
Or that we create some type of positive sentiment in there and just a little bit more just please, please, please mention the service you did. Then the rest is all you. You want to write a book, write a book. If you want to write just that, just write just that. What happens is, a friend of mine just did a test on reviews and it has that whole two week period of where you don't see anything. Like the review sticks and then nothing happens.
Then about two weeks later you see a spike in rankings. The reason that this happens, so everybody understands and why this is so important, is Google's used to marketers saying this, this, this, this and the business owner going, I should rank for this. But what's happening with a review is it's the end user. It's the idea of why click-through rate works so well. Is it's the end user deciding what was important for that business.
The end user said if it was a roofing, they put a new roof on my home and my house looks great now. Before the roof was all faded and it was starting to leak. Thankfully they came in and gave me a good deal. I would recommend them to anybody. I'm so happy with my new roof. That review, even in bigger cities, will help the ranking drastically over a couple of weeks because I added in the word roof and new roof and installation. If we Google roof installation and then if I really want to knock it out of the park, I mentioned the city, it's like gold. Yeah, that's huge.
Jesse Dolan: It makes sense if you think about it, just if we all pretend we're Google for a second. There's human beings that are at Google making decisions and so they sit there, what levers can we pull and what things can we look at to see who's a marketer trying to really game our system? What signals are important to be legit this point of the client, the customer. The human being patronizing, their communication is so valuable.
Michael Rayburn: Absolutely. Yeah. The hardest part about all of this though, is that there's so many legion people in all these fields that Google is always trying to punish them, but they keep hurting real businesses along the way. What I'm waiting for truthfully is a class action to come out on Google for all the people that have legitimate businesses that they've suspended in the profile. They wouldn't allow the profiles to come back. Because that's coming.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, that's interesting.
Michael Rayburn: It's because they're so big. Think about it, this is why that stuff is coming. Is Google is so big right now, if Google decided just to close the doors, it would be a major market disruption. Not just in the United States, but in the world.
Jesse Dolan: Oh, yeah. Imagine if they just got rid of the maps, the maps feature. How many businesses are ranking in there that have crap for a website that would never get anything? But they're just in the map pack?
Michael Rayburn: That's what I'm saying. When it's not a government body that's actually governed, that is that powerful, it actually becomes a point where it's a little scary. Truthfully, there needs to be a little bit more of a equal playing field because they meet every definition of monopoly. Not to go down that direction, but we have to be cognitive of that as marketers and business owners to say, hey, how can I diversify my pipeline? How can I diversify what's coming in? Yes, I know that 80% of that stuff is probably going to be from Google, whether it's local services, ads or whatever. GBP website rankings, all of that. But we have to not be so reliant on it that if something were to happen... What would happen if Google got a virus and for just two days it went down. What are you going to do? Just two days, what are you going to do?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, there's plenty of businesses that need that for their revenue goals for today, for people to just walk in that not knowing about them.
Michael Rayburn: For my agency for example, one of the ways that we diversify is we run Facebook ads. Just as an example. I think that everybody should start focusing on that. You could be like, okay, cool, I'm going to go into Bing then and I'm going to start doing Bing marketing too. That's a great idea.
Jesse Dolan: I think something that... I hope everybody can pull this out of this, at least I am, is the user generated signals. To your point of somebody leaving a review, throwing in these keywords, not even to mention if they attach a photo to the review.
Michael Rayburn: That too.
Jesse Dolan: But whether it's Facebook or Instagram or Bing or even freaking Yelp, as much as we love to hate Yelp. The more you can get your customers giving those user generated signals to whatever the online marketing portal is, I think everybody understanding that's important.
Michael Rayburn: Yeah. That's what directories are. Everybody's like, oh, directories this, directories that. There's still marketing companies out there blowing smoke up people's behind saying that your business has a comma in it and Google's not smart enough to understand that it's the same business. If you don't fix it, that's why you're not ranking. You're like, well that's funny because I'm looking at my rankings right now in a grid, not by myself, but in a grid.
We're ones for the next 10 miles around me, so can you explain to me what is not ranking? They'll be like, oh, well your business. That's great, but what? Give me a term I want to look. The bottom line is, that crap hasn't mattered in almost five years at this point. But they're still out there slinging that garbage just because they're slimy businesses. What we have to do as marketers and business owners is try to understand what's happening.
It's very difficult. Especially, let's be honest, if you're a carpet cleaner, a plumber, a roofer, gutters, it doesn't really matter. A lawyer, an auto mechanic, it's really hard to stay up on that stuff. But find somebody that you feel like you can connect with that will at least take the time to explain to you what these things are, what they do and does it matter. Yes, but no. But how and why? For example, a citation is a business they mentioned, and it's a back link. That's all it is. I can turn around and create three different phone numbers for the same business, create name variations, and if my website and address are the same, Google puts it all together and it counts all the same. Maybe not quite 100% the same, but still honestly 99.8%.
Jesse Dolan: Well I think maybe some of that can matter granularly for some specific use cases. But I really like broadly the thing you're pointing out, just how important really, I guess I keep using the word user generated signals, but that can trump everything. If you have typos. If you have disjointed information between Bing and Google and everything else. But if you're getting 15 reviews a day and people are just loving you to death, Google's going to hug you all day long. It doesn't matter.
Michael Rayburn: This is what I try to tell everybody. This is why CTR, honestly, I could rank a business in any niche, in any location in America. I don't care if it's New York City, if I want to be unscrupulous and just drop reviews on it all day long and run CTR to it, which just means that it's clicked through. It's a bot that does a search on Google, that sees that, that maybe clicks on something before, backs out and then clicks on my website. I can make any business that way. It doesn't matter. You can say, well, I'm running CTR too. Well that's great. I'll keep turning it up until I win. Your CTR cannot compete with my reviews.
Jesse Dolan: CTR to be clear to everybody what you're talking and that mimics a user behavior. You're talking about an artificial way to push traffic, but we're making it look like real humans, which is why it's so powerful.
Michael Rayburn: Exactly. It's the end user again. The end user signals just dominate. But what really crushes business today, truthfully, is when you have the end user signals match up all of your foundational work. But yeah, user generated signals are just super trusted because again, it's the end user. It's what Google's trying to appease. The feedback that it gets from it makes just the biggest difference. Because Google feels like it's not really tapped.
But what I had mentioned before about and why I had said that Google does things and it hurts real businesses, is that I'm not a big person on doing fake reviews as a whole. I'm not going to say that sometimes we can apply that. Because sometimes it happens. But it's always for businesses where they get attacked by a former employee or something and they leave a bunch of bad reviews and we can't get the reviews off.
To be completely transparent, Google doesn't give a crap about that. Basically it's just to get it back to where it was and then we say, okay, you're on your own. We coach them how to respond to the review. But I think it's poor form to leave reviews like that on businesses. Unless it's a testing profile and you're doing it for testing purposes and then later you remove them. But with all that being said, Google does enough damage to these as it is, and it's their own babies, in order to punish these people who do lead generation.
The last two reviews that we had, one being two weeks ago. One of the things that they did is they removed reviews. My clients that are on that click through thing that we talked about are CTR. They're all bounced back from where they were at before. Because we don't put fake reviews on, that means that all my clients lost real reviews. I have clients call me and they're so angry and they're like, "I know it's not you because I know you and I've tried to get you to do this and you won't. But Google's really pissing me off and I don't care how much I have to pay you. I want 30 reviews a week from now on." I'm like, "You're talking to the wrong cat, because it's not what we do. That's not how I build business." It works.
Jesse Dolan: It's good to know the tricks and to know that these things are capable so you're not naive. But having a boundary to-
Michael Rayburn: Yeah, but these real reviews. These are real reviews. I saw somebody lose between the last one and this time, 20% of the reviews that they had at their highest point and they were legit real people. It does. Nobody's there from Google to answer for that.
Jesse Dolan: But yet to your point, you get one that's disgruntled employee or some Karen or something that is completely irrelevant or manipulating it and you're talking to nobody at Google that cares about it. We actually, I think yesterday on our team, we had one removed from that situation, a disgruntled employee that just blew it up. It took a ton of us going in to have the same opinion to Google to try to force it from the public standpoint. I don't know when the last time we got one removed, this one did. We were just virtually high-fiving each other, awesome. We don't see that every day. It works.
Michael Rayburn: Think about how much effort you have to go through because Google won't do its job. When it comes to the things that I see, I am a little angsty towards Google. It's not that I don't think that it's a decent search engine as a whole, but I just see some things where the local businesses get hurt and I get protective. I love my job, I love watching businesses grow. I love teaching people about building pipelines and how does that translate? Because let's be honest, as marketers, I end up teaching sales as much as I teach anything else to these people. I'm okay with it, I get it. It's just part of the job. When I see something come along and destroy something that somebody else has built, it makes me upset.
Jesse Dolan: Well, I think your point earlier about when we talked about this on the show and all of our clients as well, coaching to get reviews. You can't just do the back of the receipt like Walgreens. Do a survey, give a review when you get a chance. No, you have to ask for it, coach them on what to say, and A, to put yourself out there and go through that. Because that's painful for businesses to do that when they're not used to it. That's not exactly telemarketing, but you're in that same vein of uncomfortable sales asking and then to have those wiped away six months later. Both all the work you put into it, your customers complying and helping you out and doing you a favor, poof gone, super frustrating.
Michael Rayburn: It has something to do with trust, obviously. Not just the trust of the profile that left it, but also the profile. I'm never one that rushes that to try to name a Google update. The big publications almost two years ago wanted to name an proximity update. Well, the proximity didn't change. The only thing that changed was the weight factors. You lost proximity. It really wasn't a proximity update. It wasn't like, what was it in 2015 I think it was. 2014, whatever it was, one of those. Where Google literally cut your proximity. That was a legit proximity update. You could rank for 50, 60 miles. They were like, yep, no more. You got to buy ads if you want that. That was a real proximity update. This last one wasn't. They just reweighed everything.
Jesse Dolan: I'm compromising a lot of your time. We should probably wrap it up here pretty quick. But before we do, I'd love to know if you've got a few other tips or tricks you can share with the audience in the same user generated signals realm. We talked about getting reviews from your clients, that's super strong. I think I mentioned either before we're recording or previous episodes, getting people to use Google driving directions, things that. You're telling Google directly, people care about, you're engaged.
Michael Rayburn: Yeah, that works. That works really cool. What I suggest people do honestly, is especially business owners, go buy 50 emails, change the passwords in them. Sign them up for things like Twitter and things. Patch, things that's going to get them email coming in. I don't care if you never checked that email, just have it coming in. Click it every once in a while. Maybe not 50, but get at least 30. Every day that you go into work, that you actually drive to a location.
This doesn't work for SABs, but every day that you drive to a location, I don't care if it's from your house, it's four miles. Log into a new email on your phone. Do a hard restart on your phone. You can actually go into your options and wipe your history of your internet. Log back into the internet in Google with that new profile and make that drive. That's huge. Yeah, you're cheating the system a little bit. But let's be honest, you got to drive to work anyways. You're probably going to run that GPS because you don't want to get caught in traffic. Don't use Ways, use Google Maps and then...
Jesse Dolan: All's fair in love and marketing, I think. Any business owner listening, Michael is going, I could do that and go to sleep at night just fine. That's not outside of my ethics.
Michael Rayburn: We do things like we ask. We have people, friends ask questions about your business. Just go in and ask it. It doesn't rank it, but what it does do is it's a user generated signal. They're asking a question and then you answer it. Make sure you use keywords in that. Then from home and with those profiles, on your phone, go to that business, make sure you're not connected on your personal wifi. Make sure you're on mobile. Then upload a couple photos that you snapped with your phone earlier that day at the location.
That's cool too. You get exit data, you don't get geotag and I'm not going to go in depth what the difference is, but there is a difference. You just upload the photo, which, because it geotags where it was at and yeah, Google strips it out I know. But let's be honest, they're big data so they're going to look. It's going to tell things like where the phone, what kind of phone and the location and things like that. Those type of things make a difference. I think as long as you're not a roofer in the middle of San Antonio because that's hailstorm all over the place, roof damage for things like that. Or you're not a personal injury attorney or locksmith in a big city or the spammy niches. If you are, reach out to somebody like Jesse or myself and we can show you some things that'll either move the needle or do it for you.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I think the moral of the story, a good summary for everybody to take away is, if you can just look, experiment or even just think about it, what are the ways that your clients prospects or the general public can interact, particularly with your GBP? If you can either coach them or entice them to do that. Or where you can maybe have different personas for yourself or different logins for yourself. Also participate, just the Joe Q Public, these are signals sending to Google that are super valuable.
Michael Rayburn: Yeah, I think the other thing is that, you got to come up with email systems where if your clients won't ask their clients for testimonials or reviews, then you have to do it. It's important because it's got to get done. Whether you set it up and go high level and you do a mass email from that or whatever, drip feed it out so you don't get too many at one time. Which truthfully, everybody thinks it matters. It doesn't. Like you could get 50 reviews in one day and then nothing for three days and then get two and nothing's going to happen.
Jesse Dolan: Okay, you think it's just getting reviews, good quantity? You're not worried about dripping them out at all.
Michael Rayburn: Keyword and sentiment. Keyword and sentiment.
Jesse Dolan: Okay.
Michael Rayburn: I challenge everybody to go look in the searches and pull up a business. When you're in the map section and you click on it, you scroll up a little bit and they do a snippet at three reviews. Sometimes it's one bad one or two bad or three good ones. But whatever it is, if you look at it, each one of those reviews that they show has a sentiment in it. Whether they're happy or they're thankful or you shared to anybody, anything like that, they all have that.
Jesse Dolan: Which makes sense. Again, if you're Google deciding, how do we put up the algorithm to give some weight to certain reviews or things like this? Yeah, these are the things we're going to choose as programmers. I think that that's a ton of knowledge for everybody listening. Michael, is there anything else you wanted to add to this though for other tips, tricks, or anything else to wrap it up?
Michael Rayburn: The only thing I would say for the marketers, that only scratch is the tip of the iceberg. I think for regular business owners that, let's be honest, this is a full-time job all in itself. I would say definitely if you can afford it, find somebody that's good that you can trust. It doesn't have to be me because I'll say pardon my language for a minute. But I'm easy to get along with, but there's always that one person that goes, Michael, I don't like you, so I don't want to work with you.
It is what it is. Not everybody gets along and that's cool. I know when I interviewed a roofer that wanted me to help him. He started bashing everybody that he's worked with before. The first thing my flags went up and I was like, I don't know if I want to work with this guy. Then as things unfolded, it's just he's been burned a lot of times. Some of the times I guarantee he didn't get burned, he just didn't understand what was going on it.
It's just a situation. But like I said, it doesn't necessarily have to be me. It could be you, it could be the next guy down the street. But just make sure that they're very knowledgeable. They can offer you some type of case study that they've actually done the work. Let them do the work. Because you'll be much happier. You'll get better results faster than you will trying to do stuff yourself if you're a business owner. Again, that's not me trying to pull more traffic to me, but it's just what reality is. I wouldn't go redo my own roof, just to be honest with you. I'd go pay a roofer to do it. Because it would take me a very long time to go do my roof and I don't want to climb up on top of it, nor do I want to understand what the codes are and go pull permits and everything else.
Jesse Dolan: A business owner, if you did that. Or if a business owner listening is doing their own SEO and that's not something they're a true expert in. Your time is better served doing something else that you're actually productive in and contracting out that work that somebody who is better at can do. That just makes a lot of sense right there. If you wouldn't mind, Michael, share your details if people do want to reach out to you. We'll link to all this in the show notes for this episode too, for everybody listening and if you don't write this down or capture it, just check out the show page and we'll link it all. But Michael, where can they find you, whether it be LinkedIn, your websites, how do you want to get people, have them get ahold of you?
Michael Rayburn: I'll share my Facebook profile with you to the crowd. Because I'm on Facebook all the time. Because most people communicate with me on there, so I'm there. I'll share my email. It's just Michael, M-I-C-H-A-E-L at SEO, like search engine optimization, dc.net. Not.com, but.net. You can email me. Do know I only check my email probably twice a day. I do that on purpose. I'm not like most people that are just waiting for bated breath with their emails, I have too much work to do. Then those are probably the best ways to reach me honestly. It doesn't matter if it's another marketing company or something. Let's say they get a profile stuck and they need a second set of eyes, I'm always happy to help.
Jesse Dolan: Somebody's interested in your white label. What's the best website for them to learn more about that service?
Michael Rayburn: We have dominationsimplified.com. We have two packages. One package is that they need help. We actually help other agencies build seven figure agencies. Total transparency, that's 2,500 down and then it's 250 a month. You get mentorship, you get weekly classes, you get additional time with me. I help you set up ads. I help you set up landing pages. I show you why a website will convert. Why it won't convert. I'll show you how to set up Facebook ads in a way where people message you on Facebook.
Even if you're waiting for your website to be built out, doesn't make any difference. They're going to message you there. A lot of times we get our ad costs down for under $10 pretty easily. Not for white label, that's much more expensive, but for just the client stuff, it gets under $10 pretty easily. If you listen to me, you'll close a decent amount, so you'll close one. Even if it was bad, say it was $10 each and it took you 15 people to come in and you closed one, it's $150 acquisition cost. Come on, that's a no-brainer. I do that all day long. Even for retail. I would do, truthfully, I would spend up to $450 per acquisition cost in the fields that I work in and not blink twice. I would literally say, how much of a check do I need to write you today?
Jesse Dolan: That when you're getting that too, you're talking qualified leads and such too. I think sometimes gets lost in that the price for client acquisition metrics. How many crap phone calls did you go through on those cheaper? If it was cheaper, wasting your time?
Michael Rayburn: To put it in comparison, in a scenario like that. If you were to go through a company like bark.com, a lot of, I know SEOs use that. They sell that off to five other people. Most of those leads sell from anywhere from 15 to $25 a piece. A, you have to be the cheapest, and B, you have to be the first to contact them. Which sucks. Oh, by the way, and half the time they're just thinking about SEO. Even though they mark like asap, they're thinking about it.
They're not even sure. Truthfully, Facebook, you do have to filter. It does take time. But if you take time to filter and you learn sales, selling SEO is not complicated. Everybody always says it sucks, it's because they're not good at what they do when it comes to the sales part of it. When you have people reaching out to you because they're interested in that type of service, it's a very easy sell.
Jesse Dolan: Inbound marketing, which is what we do as search marketers for our clients. Is we want people attracted to you so you don't have to reach out to them and remind them on why they should patronize you next time. Same thing.
Michael Rayburn: Truthfully, for that amount of time that I'm giving people, it's pennies. I do it because I love to do it and I love to give back. I want to see quality SEOs out there instead of, I ask a company, have you ever worked with an SEO before? They try to go on a 20-minute rant. I got to cut them off at 30 seconds. Be like, "Dude, I don't have time. If I'm being a dick right now, I apologize. It's a yes or no. I get that you've been burned before.
I apologize for that." It's one of the things I hate about our industries, it's smoke and mirrors. With that being said, this is one of those places that we talk about quality SEO stuff, and we talk about everything from, well, in this space we talk about everything SEO related from an agency space. But if they wanted to reach out to me and be like, hey, look, I was thinking about doing this affiliate site. What do you think? I can help you with that. Because I play in that space. I play in national ranking, eCommerce and all that because I find it enjoyable.
Jesse Dolan: I'd challenge anybody listening. If you're thinking about it, check out Michael. Find his information. If you're going to a conference and he's speaking, definitely check him out. I've been lucky enough to meet him a few times, hear him speak, talk to him in person. Michael, be on here today. Very smart, very trustworthy. Can have a lot of confidence. If nothing else, you're going to learn something in a brief conversation. Not the least-
Michael Rayburn: Not trying to cut you off, but come on.
Jesse Dolan: No, I was just about to tell everybody, if they can't think of anything to talk about, just ask Michael about how to make an old-fashioned and just sit back and listen to it. He might even run over and have the bartender get a lesson from him on how to make one.
Michael Rayburn: What type of variation do you want or do you feel? Absolutely.
Jesse Dolan: You'll be better off afterwards too. You'll be better off.
Michael Rayburn: Tell me that whole didn't get better after I had him fix it though.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, that's a lot of truth right there. I would've downed another one or two either way, but way better after little Michael Rayburn coaching with the bartender there. Anything else you want to drop, Michael, before we wrap it up for everybody?
Michael Rayburn: No, I think that's it. I'll get you those links though, like to the website and to my profile if somebody just wants to reach out. Even if they just want to do a friend request and ask me some questions along the way, I'm around.
Jesse Dolan: Awesome. You're the best. Appreciate your time on Michael. Everybody, I hope if you're listening or watching you learned some stuff. We'll have all Michael's information if you want to reach out to him. Appreciate you all checking this episode out. We'll catch you in the next one. Thanks, Michael.
Michael Rayburn: Thank you.
Jesse Dolan: All right everyone, thanks for sticking with that episode. Like I said, a little bit longer, but I hope you are happy you stuck with it and listened to the entire episode. I'm sure you got some information, some knowledge bombs from Michael and hopefully inspired you to take some action and do some work on your website and improve things for your business. I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you like this and what we're doing here on the show, Local SEO Tactics, we'd love to get a review from you.
Go out to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the button for reviews. We make it easy. You can link right there to Apple Podcasts, Google Business Profile, Google Podcasts, Facebook, wherever you want to leave a review. We're happy to get it. That's how we know we're doing a good job for this show and close that feedback loop. If you do leave one, we're going to read it. Just like I'm going to read right here today from Theresa LPC.
Says this. Five exclamation marks. I don't know how to say that. This, I am beyond excited to have come across this podcast as a tech challenged counseling practice owner. This podcast is easy to listen to and gives actionable advice. Well done. Thank you very much. That is, like I say all the time on these reviews because they really echo what we're trying to do, which is a great reinforcement. This right here, we're trying to give actionable advice. I know there's some actionable advice in what we just talked with Michael and in future episodes. Thank you very much, Theresa, for your review. Everybody else, we'd love to hear from you, localseotactics.com, scroll down, click the button for reviews, and we'll appreciate that. Thanks everyone. Catch you on the next episode.