Chapter 2 — Heritage Home Woodworking: Even the small can have mighty SEO
The most difficult part of implementing an SEO campaign has nothing to do with the campaign itself and everything to do with pitching it. SEO is not like a TV advertisement or a billboard, it has no physical form in any real sense. There are pieces of content like written offsite articles, blog posts, social media entries and optimized pictures, but there is very little to show the client. Therefore, other than revealing every secret in your arsenal, there is a lot of trust that goes on between the SEO specialist and the client. Especially because SEO is relatively new compared to traditional marketing techniques, many clients are apprehensive to employ it using large portions of their budget. This is even more apparent with smaller businesses. We’re here to tell you that even a small SEO campaign can have a mighty impact on the total traffic to a website which will yield a greater online presence. A goal of this series of articles is to prove to those on the fence that not only can you employ your own SEO, but it is worth the time, effort and money.
We started our own company with the idea that some of the biggest SEO companies were using pretty ineffective small campaigns for their largest clients. Budgets with $1K or more were being squandered on so much overhead that the remaining amounts were laughable. We spend the majority of our allotted budget for SEO on actual work and writing. There is very little of the money spent on SEO simply going right into our pockets without any work. It was assumed we could compete with large SEO companies simply by spending our money better and encouraging our clients to assume some SEO responsibility themselves to help alleviate budget deficits. To break it down, most of the budget goes into, keyword research, article writing, optimization of the website, social media posts, meta data creation and media additions. There rarely is extra budget left over after a month of content creation.
Our company was able to create a system where a $700/mo budget was competing with $1500/mo budgets from our competitors. This blog series reveals some of our tactics without giving away the entire recipe, otherwise we would be out of work. Importantly, this shoestring budget relies on the clients handling some of the monthly processes. We will often ask the expert of their field to craft their own on-site blogs. In a future entry to this series we will go over exactly what we ask for in these blogs, but it saves us a lot of time and energy having these written by someone more knowledgeable. We simply review them for errors, add a bit of content if needed to reach 300+ words and ensure keywords are mentioned. We will then add meta data and optimization techniques to each before publishing. But our point is: if the client is strapped for cash when it comes to a very intangible marketing technique like SEO, we are not discouraged and often still urge them to put some money into it. There are many ways to cut corners without losing too much effectiveness.
BUT WHAT ABOUT GOOGLE ADS?!
Well if your budget is limited to less than $700 a month, it is very unlikely you will find a company willing to invest that into ads without taking a percentage off the top thus reducing the total actually going into the ads themselves very ineffective. If you set up the account and manage it in-house, $500 is a fair budget and may achieve quite a lot. This is only recommended after several months or longer of a dedicated SEO campaign. Why start with SEO? This answer can be broken down into many pieces:
- Ads do not mean instant conversions. Remember, ads will put your brand in front of more people, but it does not lead to actual calls or purchases. It will lead to more traffic, though this type of traffic is less quality than organic search traffic.
- Ads will not boost your website rankings. Website ranking are affected by a great number of things like reviews, content, social media presence and SEO. Ads does not contribute to this in a meaningful way other than “playing Google’s game” which is to say that by paying them and having an account with them, they tend to pay attention to you more.
- Ads do not build online presence quickly. If your business only exists as a single website, with no other wider presence such as offsite articles, blogs, content, social media or an active Google Business page, ads will appear desperate to potential customers. Your business will appear less legitimate and somewhat feeble compared to competitors that already invested in building their presence.
- Cold or warm leads are not nearly as effective as hot leads. When a customer clicks a link in an ad, they are a much different demographic than one who found you organically and made the decision to look at your website on their own. Just like the movie Inception, SEO tricks them into thinking your high-ranked link was a result of their fruitful efforts; like it was entirely their idea. Ads are you directly pushing it in front of them and they will consider than when reviewing your brand/webpages.
- Ads are clearly marked as ads and therefore they are seen as less trustworthy. Following up on the previous point, some people may not even click an ad and will actively avoid them entirely. These are potentially customers that are being turned away because they don’t like being sold to. SEO and organic marketing techniques avoid this problem entirely.
If you start with SEO, for several months or even a full year, then Google Ads are terrific because all of the above problems are avoided. A solid web presence will back up a strong ad campaign and if the potential customer decides to research your company, they will find legitimacy proving their initial inclination to use your services/product. Warm, cold and hot leads will all be mixed together while the traffic alone increases rankings. This will create a nice cascade where both SEO and Ads work hand in hand to build a customer base.
Heritage Home Woodworks
Now onto Heritage Home Woodworks, our latest SEO client and a brilliant custom cabinet and custom furniture maker in Camarillo CA. They came to us complaining about the unnecessarily high budget requirements of local SEO and web development companies in California. We worked around their limited budget and saved them money on the website development side of things as well. The only reason we were able to accomplish this was due to how we handle each customer differently. No one client is set into a cookie-cutter proposal. Please note, the bigger the SEO company the more likely…
A. you will be treated like a number more than a client, because you are one of hundreds and are therefore not important to them.
B. their overhead will cause your buck to be worth less than a company with much less overhead.
C. they will likely not allow you to control or manage portions of your own SEO to reduce dependence on them and lower your required budget.
So who is Heritage Home Woodworks? They are a Camarillo California based business which focuses on general carpentry. This can be in the form of bathroom remodels or kitchen remodels (though this company only handles the wood parts not the plumbing or electrical.) Heritage Home Woodworks builds, restores and repairs custom furniture using the suggestions of their clients as guidance to turn client ideas into reality. Finally, the company will embark on custom carpentry projects like a new front door or built-in entertainment center. As you can imagine, getting these specific services in front of potential customers is more difficult than one would expect. Do you go after remodeling, carpentry or custom furniture keywords? Well because of how generalized yet unique these are, we chose to go after them all and see what stuck.
We told Heritage Home Woodworks that they would be writing their own blogs while we handled every other aspect of their SEO, saving them potentially hundreds of dollars over several months of the campaign. Blogging is a huge part of SEO and if left to us, it includes a lot of research to ensure we roughly know what we’re writing about. Furthermore, we did this because Steve Howard, their owner, has been doing this for decades and there’s no way hours of marketing research would ever match his experience on this subject matter. That saves many hours which would eat away his smaller budget. Keep that in mind for your own SEO campaigns. If you are an expert, start writing about your services or products or experience in word documents, these can be future blogs, actively working towards building a stronger web presence for your website. Even if they aren’t being posted all at once, taking time to sit down and write these blogs will allow for some cushion down the line as work piles up. This will not only save money, but it is a good way to start SEO without hiring anyone.
BLOG BLOG BLOG
We aren’t exactly blowing everyone’s mind when we say start blogging for yourself. This is the easiest way to build SEO for yourself. We mentioned in the last blog to think of common phrases people would search for and then use them in your website and in articles. Heritage Home Woodworks is very unique because many people do not think of carpentry as a common search phrase and that is because it isn’t. We mostly had Steve focus on things like Custom Cabinetry, Custom Furniture and Remodeling projects when he sat down to write. It is much easier for him to simply recall past projects, write about them in detail where the keywords are naturally mentioned. This way, his blogs will come up for those searching in or around Camarillo California but they won’t feel like they landed on a marketing article and instead an insight into his business. Then, we asked Steve to review his writings with super basic keywords in mind and then edit them into his writings if they were lacking. From finishes to paints, he just ran with it, churning out blog after blog. The more general the keywords, the easier it is to use them when writing, but also the more likely they will be searched for. In short — if your website lacks a blog… get one.
What are your goals for a smaller campaign?
For Steve, he wants his website to be an investment that returns him profit. After COVID-19 we’re all looking to gain an edge through the internet. With woodworking in particular, it makes little sense to have a storefront, costing him unnecessary overhead. His website becomes the sole representation of his services on the internet and beyond. Because of this, SEO goes further than being a marketing tool and instead is mainly a web presence campaign. This means that the goal isn’t just to gain visitors, but to reach a wide audience and appear bigger than they are. Carpentry in these custom projects is not a huge industry in Camarillo and Ventura County. By spreading content out with blogs, social media posts, Google Business posts and offsite articles, Heritage Home Woodworks getting bigger in a sense because it’s easier to find. We of course want increased conversions over the lifetime of the campaign, but it’s secondary because it won’t be the final step for us.
Once 2–3 months of dedicated SEO is complete, we will divert most of his budget into Google Ads. We did a lot of research and determined that his geographic area is untouched by Ads for general woodworking and custom cabinetry services. This means that once we’re happy with his blogging, offsite content and overall web presence, we will switch 90% of his budget into Ads. We believe that enough SEO will have taken place by that point to allow for some legitimacy when potential customers click the ads. He will have a modest budget, but it should break even with only one new client per month. If one new client per month signs up, follow-up or repeat business will make the SEO pay for itself as well.
If you are looking to follow in our footsteps, you can do the same. Start with a blog, and blog often using the general keywords you know to be important to your customers. Then optimize your website with the help of an SEO team if need be. Ensure your social media is active and your Google business is up to date. Get as many positive Google reviews as possible on your Google business page. Finally, look into Google Ads for your area. We will explain setting up and account with Google Ads in a future article, but it helps to research a bit and find out for yourself if your business can compete with a smaller budget in Advertising. Remember, it doesn’t take a huge budget to build a substantial SEO campaign entirely on your own. Then use the profits to invest in more SEO or Ads. If you have any questions, feel free to visit us: https://www.eso-exo.dev/. Also if you want to look into our efforts with Heritage Home Woodworks and their SEO campaign for carpentry services, you can find them here: https://www.hhomewoodworks.com/.