Here we are! Part 2 of our mini-series on Selling SEO.
In the previous episode (203) we talked about if SEO as a service is right for you and how to practically make it a service. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to make it a recurring service?
Well, in this episode, co-founder of Pathfinder SEO Lindsay Halsey joins us to share the ins and outs of how to sell SEO as a recurring revenue stream and how to scale up to monthly retainers that are billed at several thousand dollars per month.
I feel this is the perfect follow-up to the previous episode because once you have the foundation of your SEO services in place, you’ll find out just how easy it is to make it into a recurring service.
And as Lindsay states in this episode, you’re likely already doing way more SEO work than you think, you’re just not charging for it.
I can’t wait to hear how this one helps open your mind to the possibilities of offering SEO month after month after month and how it can help move you into bigger projects and more client results.
P.S. Did you like this “mini series” grouping of podcast episodes? Want more episodes in the future with several episodes/viewpoints in a series?
Leave a comment at joshhall.co/204. I might just include some more moving forward 🙂
In this episode:
00:00 – Introduction
03:31 – Greeting to Lindsay
06:13 – Perfect world start
09:45 – Know the scenario
10:33 – Helping designers sell
14:43 – Packaging
15:59 – Audit or Assessment
18:38 – SEO foundation
22:33 – When to add-on
26:26 – Freedom of SEO
31:18 – Amount of depth to go
34:55 – How to price
37:28 – Changing prices
43:59 – Plan differentiator
47:36 – Industry roles
53:45 – Publishing for clients
56:44 – SEO Maintenance
1:01:31 – Getting results
1:06:49 – Resources to start
Connect with Lindsay:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #204 Full Transcription
[00:00:00] Josh: And welcome friends back to the podcast. This is episode 2 0 4. This is the second part of a little mini two part series on selling S E O search engine optimization services.
[00:00:14] Josh: The last episode in 2 0 3, we talked about whether SEO is right for you in your web design services in this episode, if it is right for you, or if you’re just very terribly curious, like a lot of people are, cuz I get this question all the time. We’re gonna dive into how to sell SEO as a recurring revenue service.
[00:00:34] Josh: I am so excited about this. I, again, if you missed the last episode, I’m doing this little mini selling SEO series because these two interviews, I felt just paired so well together with the last one being, if this is right for you and now how to practically. Offer it as a recurring revenue service in particular.
[00:00:52] Josh: Now what you’ll learn in this episode with Lindsay from Pathfinder SEO is that you can add SEO services as one time services. Definitely the trick is though how to do it recurring and how to get results. And what I think you’re probably most excited and curious about is how do you do it at a premium or rate?
[00:01:10] Josh: Like when you hear about web designers, making contracts for clients at $2,000 a month or $3,000 a month, what are they doing well more often than not, it’s SEO related. If you can get big SEO, SEO results for clients, you can charge more. And that’s how you get a lot of these, uh, really more high end type projects and, and clients.
[00:01:30] Josh: So, uh, Pathfinder SEO is at a really incredible program. I stand behind it. They have all sorts of programs to take actually selling SEO to the next level. So after this interview with Lindsay, who was so awesome and my goodness, was she a smart cookie? She was super knowledgeable and really transparent about what has worked for her that she’s found with clients.
[00:01:52] Josh: And then also what is just working now, especially in 2022 with SEO and beyond, um, man, she was great. And I really, really recommend looking into their programs if this is gonna be a nice fit for you. So you can go to actually, I have a special link you can go to, if you go to Josh hall.co/. Pathfinder, you can check out their programs and, uh, they have some stuff where you can actually go into a program to learn building this like step for step as a recurring service.
[00:02:19] Josh: I highly recommend it. And as I mentioned in the last episode, if you’re just, if SEO is just beyond you right now, I want to make sure, you know, I have a, an SEO for web designers course, and it is a lot of students I think will tell you, they will tell you if you watch the testimonials on that page. It is a full fledged foundational SEO course for web designers to help, you know, the basics of SEO, the most important things, and to help you feel confident with offering SEO as a service and in this episode and the programs they have at Pathfinder SEO will be the best next step.
[00:02:56] Josh: So if it were me, I would go through my SEO course. You can go to Josh hall, doco slash SEO for. and then once you feel good about SEO, feel good about how to offer as a one time service Lindsay and her programs at Pathfinder SEO will be the next best step. That way you can build a recurring services outta SEO, but you don’t need to recreate the wheel.
[00:03:15] Josh: So there we go. I’m so excited. Here’s part two, selling SEO. Here’s Lindsay from Pathfinder SEO. Let’s have some fun
[00:03:26] Josh: Lindsay, welcome to the podcast. It’s such a pleasure to have you on. Thanks for taking some time.
[00:03:31] Lindsay: Thanks Josh. Thanks for having me here.
[00:03:34] Josh: Selling SEO as a service. Uh, count me in, I have so many questions. I was super excited to get to learn a little bit more about your company, about you with Pathfinder SEO, and, um, when, when your proposal came through and this I, cuz we’ve talked about SEO a lot on the podcast and we’re gonna continue.
[00:03:55] Josh: But what we really have not talked about too in depth on is how to sell it. And I feel like web design services, there’s so many different ways to sell web design. SEO may be like the, I personally think it’s one of the most complex things to figure out how to sell because there’s so many variables. I had my own way of selling it.
[00:04:15] Josh: A lot of my students have their own ways of selling it. So yeah. Needless to say, I’m so excited to spend some time and pick your brain on this. Um, before we dive in, do you wanna let everybody know maybe, uh, first off where you’re based out of, and then yeah. Tell us about your role, your, your role as co-founder of Pathfinder SEO, right?
[00:04:31] Lindsay: That’s correct. Uh, I’m based in basalt, Colorado, which is a, a small mountain town near Aspen. And I, uh, I have two different businesses and, and work sort of in two different roles each day. I am, uh, an agency partner at web shine where we actually deliver SEO and Google a services. And, um, I’ve been doing that for over 10 years and, and that was really the impetus to then segue into Pathfinder SEO.
[00:04:56] Lindsay: Which is, uh, where I’m a co-founder and we offer a guided SEO solution for site owners, freelancers and agencies, and in the freelance space, what I really do is coach people and give them the resources and the tools that they need to package price and sell SEO services, um, as sort of an add-on offering to web design, or sometimes social media marketing and things like that.
[00:05:18] Lindsay: So, um, I really kinda take those, those 10 years of experience at the agency side. And we’ve packaged that all together at Pathfinder to give people the resources, tools, and then coaching that they need, um, to do this and integrate this into their own business.
[00:05:32] Josh: Something about a decade of experience that leads to like teaching it that’s same for me. I, I built websites for literally 10 years and grew my agency and, you know, now teaches. So there’s something behind that, like a decade of experience, you should learn enough to be able to start giving back. So I, I love your heart with that. And I love what you guys are up to. You already kind of gave me an awesome segue, which is to this first question, like when do you sell SEO services?
[00:05:56] Josh: Is it, this is like a, a question I get all the time. Should it be an add-on like after a website’s live or should it be baked in, in the process be baked in when you’re building the site? Does it depend on the client? What are your thoughts on either add-on or, you know, baked in initially?
[00:06:13] Lindsay: So in a perfect world, it’s baked in and an SEO project moves in parallel with a web design project. And the reason is just like building a house when we can get the wiring, right. For SEO, as we’re building it, it’s more effective and less costly. That being said, if you move into the house and you decide you wanna put a TV on a wall that doesn’t have the wires for it, there’s nothing stopping you from getting started there.
[00:06:36] Lindsay: It just means there might be a couple of things that feel like small redos, not like you’re rebuilding the house, but just some small tweaks that would’ve been a little more efficient had you had you taken it on at the same time. And so when it comes to the sales process and how I coach people, um, is all about knowing your prospect and making sure they understand sort of the value of moving in parallel with a web design project versus the, Hey, I can’t think about two things at once approach and I wanna do web design and then I wanna circle back on SEO and, um, and kind of making sure they understand that dynamic.
[00:07:12] Lindsay: And so whenever I have a sales call with somebody that’s coming to me and they say, Hey, I’m gonna launch a new website. Um, you know, we’re just starting the process. We’re gonna try to launch, you know, 3, 4, 5 months from now. And I’m just starting to think about SEO. I’ll probably not make a decision on this until after the site goes live. And I say, okay, that’s, that’s totally fine. We can certainly come in and, and join your efforts at that point.
[00:07:34] Lindsay: But let me talk about some of the things that we’ll get value out of. That’ll be kind of exponential value if we get started and we kind of start collaborating today. If you are the one, then you’re doing web design and SEO at the same time. So you’re offering both services. Um, then you have another value add, which is you can come in and say, okay, customer, you may not be able to move in parallel with these two things, but that’s why you’re hiring me.
[00:07:57] Lindsay: I can do that. I can be thinking about web design and sort of the SEO, nuts and bolts. I can move in parallel with these two entities at the same time. And, um, and you won’t really necessarily experience a difference in our workflow. Um, instead what you’ll just under you’ll experience is a different in the output, which is a really smooth transition to the new site in Google and, and results that start the uptick after launch versus what will happen if you do no SEO, which is typically a drop.
[00:08:25] Josh: Yeah, especially, I mean, there’s a big difference between building a site from the ground up and then revamping a site. And then suddenly I remember very, oh, so vividly like nightmare experiences where I would get the proposal and I would get the job for redoing the site. And then as I was designing, I was like, oh no, I didn’t even think about SEO.
[00:08:44] Josh: Like I even, and then when I didn’t know too much about SEO, it became a big problem. Then eventually anytime we would talk about site redesigns, SEO was like the number one, most important thing we talked about. Cause I’m like, I don’t want to blow up your Google rankings. Uh, so there’s definitely I, yeah, you’re right.
[00:09:00] Josh: There’s I guess probably less number one is there’s a big difference for SEO when you design a site from scratch versus, you know, revamping a site, cuz you’re taking someone’s established presence, whether good or bad, and it’s gonna see changes, right.
[00:09:15] Lindsay: Exactly. And so this is another sort of sales technique is knowing which scenario you’re selling to the website redesign or a brand new, um, build for a, you know, a new business. And so when you’re in the sales process for that brand new, or for that website redesign, if we kind of start there, um, there’s a couple of things to kind of note one is that a lot of the people that are interviewing you, um, to build or design this new site have heard horror stories from others about losing traffic.
[00:09:42] Lindsay: So they’re coming in, in a place of fear and you being able to address that right in the beginning is gonna be a big plus one, because you’re saying I’m on this, like I understand web design and I understand SEO and you don’t have to go and hire a third party out there, um, to kind of come into the part project. So I can, I can think this through entirely for you. And that’s part of my process. So that’s a big. Add on when the person comes from a place of fear.
[00:10:10] Josh: Yeah, that’s great. And I was just curious for those who are starting out and are just dipping their toe into SEO, but they still get a job for redesign. What’s your recommendation? Do you recommend that they partner up with somebody who feels comfortable with that? I mean, I have a web design community. That’s one reason that’s there for people is to like partner up with people who do the things. Sure. So you don’t have to do it. What, do you have any other tips for those just starting out and just aren’t comfortable with actually handling the SEO.
[00:10:33] Lindsay: Yeah, so that’s great. So that’s gonna be where a lot of us fall, right. Is, Hey, I’m a web designer. I’m not an SEO. So I don’t, I don’t wanna go and sell something that I, I don’t feel confident in doing. And that’s really part of why we built Pathfinder SEO. So, um, at Pathfinder, we actually give freelancers the resources they need to move through kind of our, our packaging dynamic of how we recommend kind of structuring your SEO services.
[00:10:58] Lindsay: So we give you not only the business resource, we actually give you the, how. The lessons on how do I handle 3 0 1 redirects for a new site launch, or how do I, you know, transition a website and, and not lose traffic. Um, and we give it to you in sort of a step by step course framework dynamic. So if you have the interest, um, and you want to not necessarily learn SEO, but learn it as you go kind of learn on the job. Pathfinder is there to, to support that and we even have coaching for you.
[00:11:26] Josh: Mm that’s cool.
[00:11:26] Lindsay: So that’s one avenue is to say, okay, I can learn new. And, um, and I’m interested in this. So in my next project, I’m gonna take it on and, and I’m gonna know that the coach is at Pathfinder and, and the process is all there for me to follow. On the other hand, we have people that say, okay, still. Yep. Even with kind of that guided approach, um, this isn’t for me, in that case, you really wanna find a great SEO partner and ideally one that doesn’t have overlapping services, because sometimes we do see that somebody, you have an SEO partner and they offer SEO, but they also offer web design or something like that.
[00:11:58] Josh: Right.
[00:11:58] Lindsay: And so you’re, you are sort of looking for, you know, um, and that can be hard to find, but. Trustworthy, um, accountable, responsive, and, uh, and then also kind of complimentary services rather than a competition. And that can be a great way to go is, is find another freelancer, um, offering SEO services that you can, um, you know, essentially integrate and, and bring into the project.
[00:12:20] Lindsay: And we actually work with a lot of, um, agencies and freelancers in that capacity at our agency, because that’s all we do at web shine. And that was actually one of our tools to growing our agency was that we didn’t do web design and development. So we are not a competitive, um, you know, not a competitor. Um, and, uh, and so, yeah, there’s a lot of different, uh, options out there and it really kind of just, just depends on how hands on do you wanna get?
[00:12:45] Josh: Yeah. There’s also a big difference. I, I like that on, on your Pathfinder’s site, it’s, it’s very intentional that it’s guided SEO, so it’s not like I’m gonna hire this SEO company. Fingers crossed good luck. There’s definitely a balance there. I know in my situation, when I didn’t know anything about SEO, I had an SEO partner. He, he did web design, but God bless him. He’ll be there first admit design was not his strong suit.
[00:13:08] Josh: So we were actually a pretty good pair because I did all the design and he did the SEO, but he was pretty intentional with like showing me what. What he’s doing and it really helped me. It, it, it got me learned. It got me learned in the SEO world when I got my feet started. So I’m ever grateful for that,
[00:13:23] Josh: But yeah, I think either way that’s I wanted to bring that up early on because folks early on are probably like, I would, I don’t wanna pass up on a, a website redesign, but I also, I don’t know anything about SEO yet. Um, so obviously the basics of SEO, we’ve talked about that on the podcast before anyone listening could just search the podcast for SEO. And, uh, a lot of episodes will come up.
[00:13:43] Josh: I’m curious so for selling it, Lindsay here, um, initially I always did very basic SEO on every project and by basic I meant like site title. Uh, basic meta description and some really basic things, mainly on the homepage and then the top services pages. But then I always had, and I, I don’t know my exact conversion rates on this, but I had what I called SEO boost, which was just a one time SEO boost that kind of, we just focused on like up to five keywords and O usually optimize either top blog posts or service pages.
[00:14:19] Josh: Um, and most of my clients went for that. I usually did 4 99 for that. And then eventually we did 79, 7 99 for a while. Um, what are your thoughts on that with like, should we have at least the basics covered and should we have, and add-on like that that most clients will go for, but then of course, as you know, I’m sure you teach on this sEO can be a massive thing ongoing, what are your thoughts on that?
[00:14:43] Lindsay: Yeah. So we have sort of a framework that, and, and when we work with freelancers, we always start with packaging. So how are we gonna package our services? And then how you package your services and align them with your other offering is gonna get sort of custom, but we give you the big picture framework so you can start to think about it.
[00:14:59] Lindsay: And, and we recommend sort of a three part, uh, a three part series to the packaging. The first piece of packaging is what we call an SEO assessment. And this is not an audit. It’s like a 360 degree view. It’s typically priced in the 500 to thousand dollars one time project range.
[00:15:17] Lindsay: And it’s a project you can complete in five to six hours. Um, and it’s really meant to be an OnRamp in near SEO services for people who want to understand what are my strengths and weaknesses with SEO? How does SEO work? How do I get started? What is the game plan? And it just helps you, um, provide sort of an on ramp for those that might need a little bit of trust building when it comes to SEO and they’re just getting started.
[00:15:41] Josh: Gotcha.
[00:15:41] Lindsay: And, um, and so that’s sort of step one. Is this assessment. Um, step two in the,
[00:15:47] Josh: can I ask you?
[00:15:47] Lindsay: Yes.
[00:15:48] Josh: Sorry, Lindsay, real quick. I’m just so curious before we, before we move this, um, before we move on assessment versus audit, why, why? It seemed like you’re really careful about the terminology. What’s your thoughts behind that?
[00:15:59] Lindsay: So when I think of an SEO audit, I think of a $5,000 project that comes through every errand warning on a, a website, it goes deep, it goes wide it, and it creates like what I’d consider a laundry list.
[00:16:12] Josh: Okay.
[00:16:12] Lindsay: And so you come out with this huge punch list of things and opportunities. They’re not always waited, so you don’t always know. Well, if I have two hours to invest in SEO, or if I have a thousand dollars to invest in SEO, what would you do first? Um, it’s super comprehensive and, and super detailed.
[00:16:28] Lindsay: Whenever I’ve done SEO audits for customers, which I’ve done for businesses, small or large. I never close any more business from the project. They take the audit and they get paralyzed. Um, gotcha. And they don’t take action. Maybe they sometimes take it in house and they actually work on the tasks. But most of the time when I check back in six months, a year later, a I’m not still engaged in the project and B I don’t see any measurable differences.
[00:16:52] Lindsay: I don’t see anything on their website that signals, they took that work and they turned it into something. And, um, and so I’ve moved away from that. Uh, and, and I’ve moved to this assessment, which, um, by the way, as we moved through the packaging, not every client starts with the assessment. It’s an on-ramp for people moving a little slower to get on the, onto the freeway, but some people are ready to acceler.
[00:17:12] Lindsay: Okay. And, uh, and, and sometimes it’s for people that have a problem, like they come to us and they say, I launched a new website a year ago, and my traffic’s really declining. I don’t know what’s going on here. And I don’t know what’s going on either. I don’t know if it’s the new website. I don’t know if it’s the economy.
[00:17:26] Lindsay: I don’t know if it’s rankings. I don’t know if it’s internal, external, you know, many things. And so instead of me giving away that consulting for free, um, to bring them on board, I just try to pause myself in that sales process and say, Nope, this is the time to sell that small, um, project and bring them on board.
[00:17:45] Lindsay: Another time I sell that is when people have been burned by EO in the past, but they still have a problem. I still can’t find my website in Google and I’ve spent X or I worked with this company and I don’t know what they did. Um, when you have that situation, you have to rebuild the trust. Unfortunately it falls on your shoulders.
[00:18:02] Lindsay: And the SEO assessment is a low risk cuz it’s one time and it’s affordable. And at the end of it, Your customer understands not only SEO, they also understand their own website and how it’s performing and why and what they can do. And they also understand that you communicate, you deliver you, you do the things that it’s gonna take to create a successful partnership. So it becomes a trust building exercise.
[00:18:26] Josh: Okay.
[00:18:26] Lindsay: So this assessment kind of falls in, um, for different scenarios in the sales process, in my mind’s eye. And, and it is quite different than the audit.
[00:18:34] Josh: Okay. That’s interesting. Yeah. I was just kinda curious what the big difference there was.
[00:18:38] Lindsay: Uh, yeah. And so once the assessment is complete or for those that are ready to just, you know, fly, we dive into what we call an SEO setup, and this is a one time project. And it’s often done in conjunction with a website redesign or relaunch, although it could be layered in at a later date. And this is all about building that SEO foundation. So this is, uh, where we go through when we follow a step by step process to make sure we’ve dotted our eyes and crossed our Ts.
[00:19:05] Lindsay: Some of the tasks you mentioned are included in that SEO setup. Um, so things like dialing in title tags and meta descriptions, or maybe configuring the yo SEO plugin or rank math or whatever plugin you might use. Um, those types of tasks are included in there along with some really concrete strategy work around creating sort of a content strategy, a link building strategy etc.
[00:19:28] Lindsay: So we, we go and build that foundation and, and the amount of time it can take or cost, um, involved for that project varies sometimes based on, um, the size and scale of the project. So for a local business, uh, at client, at our agency, we charge for about 12 to 15 hours of our agency’s time, um, to complete this SEO setup because it’s a pretty small website. The keyword research is pretty cut and dry, and we can move pretty quickly through the project.
[00:19:56] Lindsay: For websites that serve a national audience. We move up and we start to charge somewhere in the 15 to 25 hour range as this kinda one time project, because we know we’re gonna have to take a deeper dive.
[00:20:07] Josh: Gotcha.
[00:20:08] Lindsay: So in this project, um, we get actionable, which means now you get to start to see some result from the work SEO assessment, no results, just learning and education and awareness. SEO set up you’re actually driving and moving the needle. And, um, and that can be phased in time wise, depending on where, how the client wants to move.
[00:20:28] Josh: And real quick, going back to the audit versus assessment, it sounds like what you just said there, the assessment is more educational and almost like consultative. It sounds like mm-hmm, empowering versus an audit, which is like, here’s everything that’s wrong. Here’s your to-do list. Is, is that fair to say, like, I guess the moral of the story is, and the, in the beginning to build that trust factor, you want to educate them and shed some light on, you know, what is maybe potentially wrong and how, how things could be better versus just, Hey, here’s everything that’s wrong. Uh, make them feel bad about their project and then overwhelm them with a massive to-do list. And they’re like, I, what do I do with this?
[00:21:02] Lindsay: Exactly the deer in the headlight feeling, um, like, okay, great. I don’t know what to do. And, and a lot of times in that situation, they don’t even wanna tell you, they don’t know what to do. Um, because they’re like, oh, this is a lot and I should be following along. Right. It’s like when your doctor talks to you about something, you don’t understand it and you nod your head because you’re like, I should be getting this, but really I have a lot of questions and I feel uncertain here.
[00:21:24] Lindsay: Um, with the assessment. The big difference is, um, you are comforting and kind of coming alongside their effort. You’re providing. That training, uh, around how SEO works and, and how their site works and maybe why they’re not ranking as well as their competitor, whatever, some of their core problems and fears are. And at the end of it, you’re segueing them right into action.
[00:21:44] Lindsay: So you’re like now I’ve, I’ve got the roadmap, I’ve got the plan, we’re ready to hit the ground RO rolling. And your client just moves right into the setup. Um, so usually when I get off the phone from delivering that SEO assessment, I’ve already closed the deal on the next project.
[00:21:58] Josh: And I’m curious, uh, the assessment, I imagine that could be like a lead generator tool, cuz somebody could purchase the assessment for 500 bucks, a thousand bucks and then be convinced like, alright Lindsay and her team, they’re the ones let’s do it.
[00:22:11] Josh: But is this just from SEO, like the SEO perspective or is this also in conjunction with the website designed. Per se like, I guess the question would be like, when do you sell the assessment? I’m Def I wanna dive deeper into the setup, like when you actually implement. But yeah, like I guess when and where do you sell the assessment? Can that be an add on, is it a precursor? What, what do you think about that?
[00:22:33] Lindsay: Exactly. So I would say that if your, um, primary focus in your agency is, um, is all about web design and SEO’s coming on as sort of a secondary service, maybe alongside something like email marketing or social media. Yeah. Then you, you might wanna have kind of different packaging. And so maybe you have an assessment which is a segue into your design and SEO services.
[00:22:56] Lindsay: So you’re actually doing a more comprehensive assessment and you’re looking. The design and development and the build. Plus you’re looking at these core, um, SEO elements, and you’re using this as a segue into all of your services, and you’re showing them in this assessment phase, um, as they’re coming on into your agency, that you’re showing them, um, that you can think about design, you can think about development. You can think about SEO all at once and, and share some really big insights there.
[00:23:23] Lindsay: So the other, you know, piece of the puzzle is sometimes you’ll have somebody that is an existing website that comes to you. And, um, and maybe they say, you know, I really want to, um, I really wanna just focus on SEO, maybe a website down the line, a new website, but right now my focus is SEO.
[00:23:39] Lindsay: Then, you know, you could have an offering that is an SEO assessment only. At our agency because we only do SEO and Google ads. We don’t have to deal with that dynamic of thinking big picture, but I think you’re spot on, um, in, if you’re already, if your primary focus is design, I would layer this in as like one of the components of a broader assessment that looks at design development, usability. What other, other, whatever other factors you wanna look. You’ll find there’s a lot of overlap with SEO anyways. Cause those things matter.
[00:24:08] Josh: Right, right. Yeah. That totally makes sense. And as far as the setup, this phase where, okay, they’re moving forward. It’s implementation time. Of course. I imagine the packages could vary drastically depending on the site, depending on what they’re interested in, what the needs are.
[00:24:21] Josh: I am curious. So I have to ask you this, have you ever had clients that said, oh, I don’t need SEO. I just want like a brochure site that I could send people to. I imagine I saw that your look, the look you just gave me. I’m sure you’ve heard that. What’s your rebuttal to that? Like how do you convince people that you at least need basic SEO in place?
[00:24:40] Lindsay: So I’m not a very aggressive salesperson. And, um, and typically, uh, when people say, you know, I don’t need to get found on Google. Um, I give them my phone number and say, give me a call in a year and see if you’re still saying the same thing. Yeah. Um, because at the end, end of the day, you know, and, and so yes, you can go out and try to more aggressively sell SEO.
[00:25:00] Lindsay: But there are so many prospects out there that already have the pain. I find it’s just easier to focus in the area where people are actually, they already understand the pain. Yeah. So it’s easy for me to, to sell.
[00:25:12] Josh: And I should say too, web shine. I’m looking at your guys’ website. It’s pretty clear that you are an ads and SEO agency. So it might be a little bit different than my setup, which was more about building websites. So exactly it brought in a different type of customer. I think.
[00:25:25] Lindsay: It does. And so if you bring in a customer that you feel strongly, they need to engage in SEO and all they wanna do is design. You’re like, great. That’s, that’s what I do. I’m excited to bring you on. Um, you need to use some predictive stories to start to trigger some pain. So if you feel strongly that they need to engage in some kind of an SEO setup or a project in conjunction with their new, their website relaunch, because they’re gonna lose traffic.
[00:25:50] Lindsay: And they say, well, it’s really just a brochure site. So you need to tell a, a predictive story of some other customer that did this and sort of what happened and how it was much harder to get the traffic back. Um, and then you might need to log into Google analytics, um, and show them how much traffic they’re getting today, for instance, from organic search and why you, you don’t wanna lose this traffic and why you’re, why you’re field.
[00:26:11] Lindsay: Like, what would it, how, what kind of impact could that have on their business? Um, so you may need to sell a little more and, and those are my like two primary kind of means of, um, getting out there and really being more in pitch mode of, Hey, you need this. Even if you don’t know you do.
[00:26:26] Josh: That’s good. And what’s interesting about this is again, I think you and I were, were paralleled in so many areas with, with what, you know, what we do and what I did as an agency owner. However, the big difference is that you’re so SEO first and like, that’s like your thing. Whereas SEO for me was more of an add-on. So for me personally, and this is, what’s kind of cool about this industry is like, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There’s a bunch of different ways you can do it.
[00:26:51] Josh: I always liked nailing down the website and the website redesign and getting hosting and maintenance going. And then if the conversation naturally led early on SEO, we could go right there. But more often than not, it was like a phase two. So you kind of mentioned this earlier, like it, I guess we do have some freedom, right. To implement this immediately or less pressure version. If we don’t do that much, SEO is added on later as we go.
[00:27:16] Josh: Cause like you said, you can’t always add that outlet in the main room, as we’re talking about the house situation. Like that’s, what’s kind of, I guess, freeing about this.
[00:27:25] Lindsay: It is really freeing. And I think, um, when you think about your current customer base, most of the freelancers we work with, they have, uh, essentially they design and build websites and they have some kind of a monthly maintenance or hosting plan.
[00:27:38] Lindsay: So they have some recurring revenue, but they’re still in sort of like an 80, 20 dynamic, 80% of their business is new projects and 20% is existing relationships. One of the things I found in just being just an SEO company is that our dynamic is, was flipped from day one. We’re 80% recurring revenue and less than 20% in the, the one time projects.
[00:27:59] Lindsay: And so what we found there is, is that that’s, um, a really great business model because, um, we have, you know, predictability and we can go and hire people to join our team because we know we have the, the recruiting revenue base to support them, even if I’m light on sales, cuz I took a vacation last month.
[00:28:15] Lindsay: Yeah. And um, and so when I think about this freeing nature of, okay, I’m a designer. And I’m not sure I wanna pitch this customer SEO at the same time as a, a website redesign or even at the same time as my, my ongoing existing service around maintenance and hosting. Um, what happens is, is as you check in with a business, six months later after their website launch, If you’re proactive there, you get to get kind of in sales mode.
[00:28:40] Lindsay: And that customer can say, I love my website and I hear great things, um, when people get there, but I’m still just not getting enough leads or I’m still not getting, you know, enough sales. Um, and, and that’s your segue to come in and say, great, we’ve got this great foundation. We have an amazing place to drive people to.
[00:28:57] Lindsay: We need to, we need to increase the effort we’re putting into actually driving traffic into our website. And SEO is a great place to go and I offer the service and, and segue into the pitch that way. So, yeah, that’s a great way to, to get started with launching SEO services. Um, too, because it’s, it’s sort of like you already know around the corner where this customer’s gonna be six months a year down the line.
[00:29:20] Lindsay: Um, but you’re just taking them step by step. You’re not overwhelming ’em and saying, okay, you need a new website. You need SEO, you need Google ads, you need email marketing, you need to be on five social channels. You need this. And then they’re like, no, I can’t. Um, but you can, you can go in the right order for the right customer with your services and just kind of keep building on that relationship.
[00:29:39] Josh: Uh, yeah, I, that’s such a great point. And you, you hit the nail on the head there, Lindsay, which is saying that really the bulk of like the like keeping good clients over and over and having these like 10,000, $20,000 a year clients or whatever they are keeping them coming back is usually always gonna be SEO related because when you build a website, it’s usually a one time deal.
[00:29:58] Josh: Even if it’s a subscription model, there’s, you know, you’re gonna have generally like a project star in launch. Same thing with copywriting too. I mean, copywriting is often, I mean, yeah, you could change things once a year, but SEO is like the only thing aside from hosting and maintenance, but you’re not gonna ma like you can do that at scale.
[00:30:16] Josh: That’s how I built up a lot of my recurring income, but it wasn’t until I was doing SEO stuff that I started getting like 4 99, 5 99, a thousand and more every month from clients. That’s when you know, it really did create like more like a higher end of recurring income now. That does come with needing to know SEO well, and to scale that out, which I know that’s why you guys have your, your Pathfinder SEO program out there.
[00:30:41] Josh: but it that’s I’m, I’m glad you said that. Cuz there is a big distinction there, um, with the type of recurring income that’s common in web design. And I, one question I had on that was when you were talked about setup, we’re kind of in that setup phase right now, there’s the SEO foundation, which you could do keyword research for all the things we talked about. Page titles, metadata, all that stuff. You could do that for three pages 30 pages.
[00:31:04] Josh: But my question would be like to get the recurring accounts for clients and get those results. Is it more about content marketing and strategy or are you re, are you tweaking SEO a lot in those? What does that look like?
[00:31:18] Lindsay: Great question. So when you think about this setup, you have this dynamic of there’s a certain amount of depth we could go into through the website, right? So if you have an e-commerce website with a thousand products and 25 product categories, or a blog with a thousand posts and 25 categories, and you’re in this setup, you instantly think, well, this is gonna be a hundred thousand dollars project because to go do this work manually on all these pages and to do the depth of the foundation building, I’m gonna be at this forever.
[00:31:47] Lindsay: Um, and so what we recommend instead is sort of with the, the foundation, you’re trying to go wide across the site. And you’re trying to use some automations to handle things at scale, like using the settings in Yos to set title tags and meta descriptions for all blog posts or for all product pages. And then doing a lot of the custom work at the higher level, like services, pages, collections, um, category type pages, um, really a lot of the pages in the main navigation.
[00:32:14] Lindsay: And so in the setup, we only go so deep and I don’t necessarily outline the depth. I go in the setup based on number of keywords or even number of pages. I describe it more as we go across the top of your website. Um, and then we use automation below. And then it’s in our monthly work that one of the things that we can do is to come back in and, um, and to do more hands on work, deeper into a website, so, and work on a really big website.
[00:32:41] Lindsay: And I decide, I do want custom something on, on certain pages or I do. New content on all of the, whatever I can go in and I can go and do that work as part of my monthly retainer, I can always go deeper. Um, I,
[00:32:54] Josh: I love that too, that I feel like that should make everyone feel lighter when it comes to selling SEO. Because from what I got from that is no matter the size of the project, whether it’s a 10 page, local business brochure style site, or whether it’s in a thousand page online store, you’re still gonna look at the main things and do it by, you know, main pages categories. And then you can always go further and go more in depth. I like how you phrase that, that, that makes me feel a lot better with, with offering N CEO.
[00:33:21] Lindsay: Yeah. And, and so really at our agency, we have two packages for the setup, local business, national audience, like that’s our differentiator. I don’t sit there and re-estimate out the hours for this e-commerce site versus this blog or whatever I say, okay, you’re over here.
[00:33:35] Josh: Gotcha.
[00:33:35] Lindsay: You’re over here. And, um, I know that I’m gonna, I’m gonna approach the project. I’ll follow the same process. I’ll go through a comparable amount of depth. And in my task list, I’ll win some and lose some, a little over the way. I might go a little deeper on keyword research on one and a little lighter in something else, but it ends up evening out over time, over, over the course of the project.
[00:33:55] Lindsay: Um, and so I don’t have to spend, you know, a ton of time and energy in the sales process, creating custom proposals and custom estimates because it’s more about audience, um, than it is about size and scale of the website.
[00:34:07] Josh: Gotcha. Gotcha. That makes total sense. Yeah. And I, so I’m really curious, I’m sure everyone’s dying to know. Pricing. How do you price this out? I, I mean, this is why you guys have your, your, your Pathfinder SEO guided materials, but I’m curious, could you give us like the, maybe even just a high level of like, averages of like what some of these plans look like, because I’m sure there is a big difference between one time type of work that you might reevaluate annually or something versus like a monthly content strategy, which I have so many questions about how you offer that.
[00:34:38] Lindsay: Sure.
[00:34:39] Josh: But yeah. How, how do the prices work alongside the packages? And is it pretty rigid? Like you funnel clients into these type of packages or are you comfortable with getting a little more custom? Um, that’s like three questions in one, but what are your thoughts on pricing?
[00:34:55] Lindsay: So when it comes to pricing and you think about just getting started, offering a new service, I like to look at the hourly dynamic to begin with and multiply estimated hours by hourly rate to come up with a project based cost.
[00:35:07] Lindsay: So don’t tell the client, I’m gonna go spend 10 hours on this, and I’m gonna charge you $1,500. If, if my hourly rate’s 150. Um, but when I’m putting together those initial packages and pricing, that is how I’m breaking it down. I’m, I’m looking at the scope of service of what’s included. Um, I’m thinking about how much time it will take me to do each task and adding it up.
[00:35:28] Lindsay: And then I’m, I’m basing my pro my pricing in that direction, because at the end of the day, even if you’re new to SEO, I don’t want you charging $50 an hour for it because you’d be better. Trying to go and build your business somewhere else. So you wanna maintain whatever it is, sort of that you may have defined in your freelance business as kind of your desired hourly rate, um, while you’re launching this new service.
[00:35:50] Lindsay: And, and so that’s sort of phase one is estimate hours multiply by, you know, and that’s your first round of pricing. Then you need to engage in time tracking. Let’s say you go and sell three of these projects. Um, If you engage in time tracking, you can actually go back and over time you expect to get a little faster as you get better at the delivery.
[00:36:08] Lindsay: So sure. Over the first couple of months, now you’ve got your time logs. You can go back in and look at a couple projects and say, okay, was my initial estimate around time accurate. Um, and, and if so, you know, keep the pricing similar, if not go back and readjust your pricing. So you’re not fixed in stone from whatever first price you put on all your packages.
[00:36:29] Lindsay: You can point go back and, and readjust these for new incoming business. And we recommend kind of reevaluating this every three months. Cuz what you don’t wanna do is get a year in and maybe onboard 10 new clients. And you’re like, none of my monthly rates are high enough. That’s way harder than three months in. And you’re like, you know, I gotta add an extra a hundred or $200 a month to my monthly recurring plans because I can’t do the work I can’t deliver value in in the time. And, and this isn’t working.
[00:36:56] Josh: How, I’m really curious on that. If you raise your rates, which we talk about almost every episode here on the show.
[00:37:02] Lindsay: Sure.
[00:37:02] Josh: It is so funny because I always like was I had a mental barrier barrier on raising my rates because I thought that current clients would get mad. But in most cases, if it was a one time project, they’re never gonna know it’s about future clients. However, this is a different situation with those recurring clients. Do you like grandfather them in with a discount with their old rate? Uh, before we move on to more pricing, what do you do with those current clients?
[00:37:28] Lindsay: That’s great. It’s really easy to raise rates on the new incoming business cuz nobody else will ever know. Right. And even if they do once someone like, oh my friend that referred me, they it’s like, well, right but my rates have changed. Okay. Move on. We we’re. End of story. Um, when it comes to those existing customers, the best part of that monthly maintenance or that monthly SEO contract you have going, is that it’s monthly.
[00:37:48] Lindsay: The hard part is that you feel fixed in time and space. You can’t really circle back around on those folks three months in and say, I need a new rate, um, for exactly what I’m doing, you might have to wait the year or something and then say, okay, at the end of the year, it’s been great working with you. I’m really excited about these results. Next year, I’m raising my rates. Your plan goes up by a hundred dollars a month or whatever. Um,
[00:38:10] Lindsay: That’s one dynamic you can use is wait till you hit a nice amount of time, like a year, and then say in 2023, you know, my rates are as follows. And I look forward to continuing to work with you. That being said, there’s one other dynamic you can use to move people across your monthly plans. And that is to offer three different tiers of monthly service. So. When it comes to the assessment and the setup, there’s not a lot of choice. It is. You’re a local business. You get this plan, you’re a local business.
[00:38:39] Lindsay: You get this, you know, a national business. You get that. When it comes to my monthly offering, I start to offer three tiers of service think good, better, best. Um, we call ours awareness. Action and acceler and, um, people picked the plan that’s right for them. And different things differ within them. Like how much content, what kind of a role we play in content marketing, for instance, shifts, as you move through them, if you have a client that comes in and they’re say on your awareness or your, your good level plan, which is your lowest, it’s sort of your SEO maintenance type plan.
[00:39:11] Lindsay: And all of a sudden you’re like, this is the wrong plan for them. I’m not being compensated well. They’re asking more of me, or I know I need to do more to drive the type of results they want. All you have to do is go back to them and remind them of the fact that this next level plan exists.
[00:39:26] Josh: That’s awesome.
[00:39:26] Lindsay: And you can, you can move them up. And so this may not be the best business advice, but our monthly plans are just month to month and I’m still working with the same clients 10 years later. And that is because it’s sort of, I want it to be this partnership relationship. And I want my business to E like I wanna be kind of in their court and I want them to be able to hire and fire me and, and vice versa.
[00:39:49] Lindsay: And one of the things that that, um, does is, is we just simply request like a 30 day change of, of service is makes it more nimble to move somebody from good to better or better to best, and also makes it easier to move people down. So sometimes in the sales process, I’ll. You have a lot of moving parts right now, you really need our team at this mid-level monthly, you know, plan because you need us to be focused on X, Y, and Z.
[00:40:13] Lindsay: I could see that potentially six months from now. We may be in a position to, to decrease your monthly retainer with us to move you to this good plan. Let’s reevaluate that as we get here. Um, but let’s start here. So that those three tiers of service. Really help when it comes to needing to move a client that may not be in the right fit in terms of pricing.
[00:40:33] Josh: I love that’s such gold. I absolutely love that. Particularly when it comes to changing pricing on people, because what you, what I always say, depending on what the service is, is if you are going to change the pricing on somebody, definitely your current clients are their best. You wanna keep them around grandfather them. If, if you can, if it’s still profitable or offer them a really good discount.
[00:40:53] Josh: Or the better thing you can do, like you just said is offer. They can keep their current plan, but if they’re really happy with you, they’ll probably do more. So you could say like, well now we have three tiers. You’re at the, you know, the first tier, but our middle tier is what you’re probably gonna be best suited for, or for some of those who are like really killing it and you wanna get really good results.
[00:41:11] Josh: Now we have this third tier, this accelerator tier or accelerated, I think you called it. Um, you can go there. That’s such gold. And then they could always, they could try that for a few months and downgrade if they wanted to that. Gosh, the good, better, best three tier pricing model is something I’ve just fall in love with over the years.
[00:41:28] Josh: And I just, I can’t recommend enough. So I love that you said that and I am kind of curious. I wanna talk about strategy and content marketing in this. From your perspective, Lindsay, with what you’ve seen with a lot of your students through Pathfinder and what your agency has done. What’s like just some basic pricing, like average for these type of tiers.
[00:41:47] Josh: I mean, are they, so, you know, we’re mid 22, 20 22 right now are SEO plans going from like 1 99 a month, all the way to, you know, 29 99 a month. What are some of those averages for those tiers? If you could just gimme a ballpark range?
[00:42:01] Lindsay: Sure. So what we’re seeing sort of in our agency, but then even broader with, with Pathfinder, with the other freelancers and agencies that we work with, um, if we go kind of good, better, best, we usually see good plans that start in the $500 range.
[00:42:16] Lindsay: And maybe go up to a thousand, if you’re working with a big business that just wants SEO, maintenance, um, and then kind of a mid-tier plan, that’s gonna be somewhere around the thousand dollars mark and, and your high, your better level plan, 1500 and up.
[00:42:30] Josh: gotcha.
[00:42:30] Lindsay: I, you know, currently kind of when I’m in selling, you know, our monthly services, again, we do that tiered pricing at our agency. So you can imagine, um, we have a table and you have good, better, best, um, across the top and then you’ve got local and national. our local customers I’m still onboarding, um, projects in the four to $500 a month range for, um, for just that low level, that good level plan that doesn’t involve me writing content because content takes a lot of time.
[00:42:59] Lindsay: Right. Um, but it does involve us, you know, doing monthly reporting, continuing to communicate, doing ongoing SEO, maintenance, um, and supporting their, their growth long term. Um, so that’s kind of at the bottom end of the spectrum. At our high end of the spectrum so go accelerative for sort of national level so like bottom right of this imaginary table, um, you know, you can get into the three to $4,000, monthly retainer style accounts at the high end.
[00:43:26] Lindsay: What I’ve found above that is that people, uh, businesses get large enough that they’re gonna hire in house. So once you’re over a retainer of three or four or $5,000, you’re looking at an employee level rate, um, you may then step back. And when that happens, I, again, to step back with those larger organizations and say, okay, now I go back down to that good plan. You bring on your SEO. And I, I continue to play a role as sort of a consultant. Um, and, and I stay engaged. Um, but that’s like the big spectrum.
[00:43:57] Josh: Yeah, that’s perfect.
[00:43:59] Lindsay: The biggest differentiator between these offerings is content marketing and, um, and copywriting. And that is because the number one thing I can do to drive growth for my customers in any industry space, long term, with an SEO, after I build that foundation is making sure that their content evolves and evolves in a way that is strategic and helps them meet their audience.
[00:44:24] Lindsay: And so it’s not always about blogging. It might be about expanding services pages, or, um, even improving a homepage or something like that. But it’s that steady dedication to content development and, and doing so strategically that that really moves the needle with SEO long term.
[00:44:40] Lindsay: And so in our good plans, we are a strategist, um, maybe a publisher, but not an author in our middle plan. We’re strategy. One of the authors for like one piece of content a month and then, um, publishers, and then in our better level plan, maybe it’s two, you know, two new pieces of content or revising old content, like touching two things each month.
[00:45:04] Lindsay: And so that can be one of the big differentiators, um, across your plans. And, um, and it’s also one of the things I love about content marketing, being such a foundation of, of my monthly services is if you are a freelancer, you might be saying, I just don’t have time for all of this. Um, what if I go and I sell and I have 10 blog posts a month, I need to go write, I don’t have the time for that.
[00:45:26] Lindsay: Well, it turns out there’s great freelance copywriters out there. Um, and there are ways to, that is a really easy thing to sort of white label where you determine what needs to get done and written, but you have somebody else actually doing the heavy lifting. Um, so it’s really.
[00:45:42] Josh: I love that you made a distinction. I’ve never heard a phrase like this between strategist, author, and publisher. That’s genius. That is something I’m going to say nonstop moving forward when it comes to like content marketing, because it’s true. And whether we realize it or not, if you have your own website and you’re posting blogs, you are doing all three of those.
[00:46:03] Josh: You’re figuring out the strategy with how often should I post? What type of content am I gonna write? How many categories do I want my site? Where’s all this gonna lead to and go. I always have, uh, I’ve talked a lot about my, I have an SEO course for SEO, for web designers, which is just basically a basic SEO course.
[00:46:20] Josh: One analogy I like to talk about is what I call the SEO tree, which is where like your trunk is your. your main page. And then the big branches are your main services pages, and then all other categories stem off from there. And you gotta kind of figure out what goes to this branch, what goes to that branch and it all interconnects, um, I don’t know if you like that or if that sense in the, okay, cool.
[00:46:40] Josh: That’s good to hear. Good to hear. So I’m not preaching anything that’s incorrect in the EO world. Um, but the, the thing that I never really thought about is the three roles that you have when you do a blog or any sort of content marketing. I absolutely love that strategist, author and publisher, which like you just said, the author is what takes the most time ongoing.
[00:47:00] Josh: So you gave me a perfect segue into what you sell in content marketing. So I think you kind of already, you really already said light on this with how you do different things, but, um, are, are we able, like if somebody is just not comfortable with copywriting, but then there are people who are comfortable with writing, but that gets tricky.
[00:47:19] Josh: Cuz you gotta learn the industry, you gotta learn your client and all that stuff. Um, I have a lot of questions in like that phase. I guess the question would be, how far do we go in the SEO world, if we’re gonna offer this as copy, like as copywriters versus just hiring it out? What, what are your thoughts on that?
[00:47:36] Lindsay: So I love playing the role of strategist cuz it’s like the flashy piece. Um, and, and it’s, you know, you, I see it relatively quickly now that I’ve worked with content strategy for a lot of customers. Um, and then I, I’m not a great writer, so I like having other people do the writing. Um, and so when I think about integrating copywriting services, when we talk about strategy, um, and we think about SEO, there’s a couple of like different levers that I’m thinking about in terms of being the strategy crafter.
[00:48:06] Lindsay: I do this initial strategy work in the SEO setup. Okay. So in the setup I determine like where will I have impact if I start writing in this website, Does this website need, you know, to use the keywords on the homepage. It could be as simple as that and in their services pages. And so that’s gonna be step one in our ongoing effort is tackling keyword integration into existing copy.
[00:48:30] Lindsay: Um, maybe, you know, I’ve come across, I’ve worked with a client who was blogging forever and driving good traffic from their blog, but getting no conversions. And it’s because their blog topics, they were a conference company, you know, a conference like center resort on a lake and all of their blogs were about like activities on the lake.
[00:48:47] Lindsay: Um, but they were trying to get in front of meeting planners. And so they were getting all these like vacationers just coming and staying in a neighboring hotel. To find out how to fish on this lake or whatever it might be or hike or bike, but they weren’t getting traffic for how to plan a meeting or 10 best, you know, meeting locations and whatever.
[00:49:06] Lindsay: And so we said, great, well, keep doing a little bit of this other content, but let’s go and try to get like right in front of the audience, the people you care about. So strategy has to do with determining kind of how do we meet our prospective customers on this website at the right place, at the right time, with the right type of content and laying out a kind of a roadmap of first, I wanna go write this content, then this, then that, and, and dialing that in.
[00:49:30] Lindsay: Then it’s in monthly that we start to tick that off. And if a customer is in a highly specialized field, um, I’m thinking lawyers, accountants, et cetera. There are spaces where our agency doesn’t really want to go there. Um, if the content is really specific to their services page, If we’re gonna go there, we’re gonna need their collaboration.
[00:49:51] Lindsay: So we need to get our writer to be able to meet with their tax attorney or whoever it is to ask good questions. And, and it’s gonna be a heavier lift and very collaborative, even if we’re doing some of the writing. On the other hand, when you work with clients that are in like the restaurant industry or something like that, you may be able to very easily sort of be the ghost writer behind their blog or behind some of their content because, um, the field doesn’t have as high of regulation.
[00:50:15] Lindsay: It’s not, doesn’t require as much research. Um, at the end of the day, a good copywriter though goes, goes a long way. And so right, having that freelance copywriter, um, you know, makes it so you can be the strategist and maybe the person that asks the questions to get the information you need from the client to be successful and then passes the writing brief to somebody that can turn it around and, and make it look polished.
[00:50:37] Josh: And, uh, I do have some thoughts and questions about the publishing side of things. Before we get to that, though, I’ve been in this industry, the wider web design industry for 12 years. Now, at this point, I have not met that many copywriters. I find them hard to find. So do you have any freelance copywriter, uh, resources?
[00:50:55] Lindsay: Yeah. So, um, go WP is a great, uh, resource for freelance copywriters. They have, what’s called a dedicated copywriter who will come and start to work for your freelance business, like two hours, four hours or eight hours a day, depending on sort of how much you need. So you have that dedicated relationship.
[00:51:11] Lindsay: Um, and if you have the business, you can kind of keep them, uh, keep them on board. I think they also have some on demand services. Like if you just need one off blog posts and things like that. So go WP is a great writing resource. Um, for some blogs over the years, I’ve also, um, I’ve also relied on platforms like, um, crowd content and sort of, um, freelancer, you know, they connect you with a group of freelancers and you submit a writing order.
[00:51:38] Lindsay: It doesn’t work great for page copy, but it works pretty well for blog posts. Um, and, uh, and so those would be two kind of recommendations on ways to get started with the idea of outsourcing some copywriting.
[00:51:50] Josh: Perfect. Yeah. I’ve got those listed out right now. Yeah. Have you seen me typing by the way, I’m just writing some notes and jotting all this down for the, for the show notes page, cuz those are, those are great go WP and crowd content. Um, I thi I think I had heard of go WP before. I love the idea of, of these options in case we need to get there.
[00:52:09] Josh: As far as publishing though, this is the other piece of the puzzle when it comes to blogging, especially, and that is like how to format these posts. And sometimes this comes into play with design. It’s like somebody may have a nice strategy and they may have a copywriter. They might really write really good posts, but maybe like, I’ve seen this with a lot of my clients they’ll have like blog posts, but there’s no call to action.
[00:52:30] Josh: So there’s like, there’s really nothing to generate sales or to move people forward depending on the site design. So. As far as like publishing, like you mentioned, that’s probably something I would imagine that you could do in house. If you, if you have a junior designer who can post the actual WordPress posts and, and has a, you know, you got some sort of SOP like a standard operating procedure that has all the main things.
[00:52:51] Josh: I know when I, I became a blog author for elegant themes years ago. That’s kind of how I got my start as a, an influencer in this world. And one of the best things they did is there was this like elegant themes, standard operating procedure was called a handbook that I went through and they took care of the strategy. All I did was the writing and the publishing, but they had it all laid out.
[00:53:12] Josh: Like I knew exactly what tags to add and exactly, you know, like how to input, um, all, all texts on certain images and classes that we would use and formatting options. And we were good to go. Um, so yeah. How far do you go with, with publishing and then also, do you train clients to do that?
[00:53:28] Josh: Like, I’m sure you get clients who are like, I want to post my blogs, but you’re like, oh good Lordy. They’re not gonna do all tags. They’re gonna, you know, they’re not gonna do proper HTML structure in headings. Like I guess my next question is, um, how do you do the publishing end of things, and what do you empower your clients to do?
[00:53:45] Lindsay: So, um, call me crazy, but we don’t really empower our clients to do anything when it comes to publishing. If they’re,
[00:53:51] Josh: I actually would call you the opposite. I’d say that’s the most sane way
[00:53:53] Lindsay: on a monthly plan with us. Right. So if they’re on a monthly plan with us, um, I’d rather be the one to just go and do the, the initial, um, publishing and, um, and of blog posts that we’re writing. Obviously I’m not trying to hold them back from like making other edits to their website. But if it it’s a post that we, we wrote or whatever, then we, we grab it back. So we share it with them in the Google doc, they approve it, we send it live. We send ’em the link where it lives. And, and, um, that’s what our process looks like.
[00:54:19] Lindsay: Um, when I do have clients that are involved in publishing, maybe it’s cuz they’re writing their own content. Maybe they aren’t on a monthly plan with us or they’re on like a really low level plan or maybe they’re frequent publishers. I mean, we work with some websites that publish 10 posts a day or whatever it might be like large websites
[00:54:36] Lindsay: When that happens. Um, I really do a lot of training and I try to put that SOP together for them specifically in their use case so that they’re following a standard operating procedure. And, and so I, I. My strategy time, or some of this monthly effort is training them up.
[00:54:51] Lindsay: And then like every three months, like kind of any good trainer does I go back and I look at some of their work. I think I actually have an email in my inbox right now just published. You know, I ask them to send me just publish this. You know, I give a lot of high fives along the way. And then every, you know, two or three months, I’ll actually in one of our monthly calls, I’ll just pull up some of the last blogs and I’ll give a couple pointers.
[00:55:11] Lindsay: Like this looks really great. I love this. I just wanna give you a friendly reminder that, you know, when you add a header here, it’d be better if this was an H two than bold. Gotcha. Whatever. So you can, you can take that kind of trainer approach too. If your client is, is pretty savvy and, and really hands on and still add a lot of value, um, and help them sort of stay in the box when it comes to publishing best practices.
[00:55:34] Josh: Gotcha. Yeah, but I agree. It’s like, especially if they’re gonna be paying you on a, on a top tier type program, just, it’s almost easier just to do the work and have them send it to you and then have your own SOP and have a junior taking care of stuff. Um, just because yeah, training clients is awesome. Uh, sometimes, but I’ve found that a very small percent of my clients were actually doing the work, um, Constantly continuously and were really good.
[00:56:00] Josh: Or in some cases, I like I had one, a photography studio, one time, awesome gal was doing all the content. She was really sad with WordPress and then she left. So I had to train this new person. She just wrecked it all bless her heart. She just, she should not have been editing the website. So, uh, that’s another big aspect of this where it’s like, I, you might be able to train, empower some people charge for it, but if you can take more on, then you can charge for it too.
[00:56:25] Josh: I love that. And I’m curious before you mentioned a term like SEO maintenance, is that what you would consider, like going back and fixing things and tweaking things, adding alt texts on images, is that kind of what you would group and that, which I imagine that would be standard in all your plans, right? Like some sort of just basic upkeep with sEO.
[00:56:44] Lindsay: Exactly. So when I think about, um, SEO, I think of things that just sort of maintain, just like keeping plugins up to date and, and, you know, paying hosting company and making sure the framework, you know, everything is up to date. There’s similar tasks within SEO that fall under maintenance in my mind’s eye.
[00:57:00] Lindsay: Um, and, and some of those things are technical, like logging into the Google search console and, um, looking to see what kind of feedback and errors you’re getting from Google. Do you have any page, not founders, um, looking for broken links, kind of fixing some of that technical, um, you know, those, those technical pieces.
[00:57:17] Lindsay: I also find, um, you know, we do things like we scan a website, we look at all of their title tags and meta descriptions and we reevaluate and, and iterate on them because what we wrote a year ago, we may come back and be like, you know, this keyword was a little off where I don’t know why I wrote that. Um, I don’t love this, or I see opportunity by changing this to this new thing.
[00:57:38] Lindsay: And so when we think about SEO maintenance, um, and, and what, how do we manage that within. A monthly count for a small little medium sized package. I can’t do all of the things all of the months. Right. I have to move through the maintenance tasks in sort of an orderly fashion and, and rotate through. Um, and so that’s where it’s helpful when you’re making your monthly packages.
[00:58:00] Lindsay: If you have sort of a defined number of hours, let’s go simple. This is my five, 10 and 15 hour plan. And so in my five hour plan, I have to do a report and I have to talk to the customer. That’s probably two hours a time. And now I have like three hours of time. Essentially. I can invest to SEO into tasks, into doing things.
[00:58:20] Lindsay: Some of those are gonna be maintenance oriented, just upkeep. And then some of those might be more, um, there’s a shiny new thing to go focus on, or I saw a great result from another client. I kinda wanna go apply that same concept over here. And so you’re, you’re defining these action items, um, each month.
[00:58:38] Lindsay: And, and I like to have a roadmap that kind of goes out, you know, at least three to six months, sometimes a little bit longer of what I think these action items will be. And they’re in my project management tool, but I’m moving them around based on, um, factors that are sort of like client calls me and says they have a new service that they wanna launch and they need a new webpage.
[00:58:57] Lindsay: Well, there’s some SEO involved. I need to go do some keyword research. I need to do some copywriting. I need to write a title tag and meta description. Um, and so as I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna push maybe some of these other things, um, you know, a couple months out and I’m gonna reprioritize those action items.
[00:59:13] Josh: Gotcha.
[00:59:14] Lindsay: You deal with the new shiny fun things. And then you also have like kind of a backlog and the backlog of, of these maintenance tasks is great because if your client goes a bit radio silence, as all of our clients do as the seasonality of their business roles. Um, and you’ve got a couple months where you just need to like stay independently valuable, you have these other things you can be doing.
[00:59:35] Lindsay: Um, to stay, not just to stay busy, but to, to keep at it and to keep making progress. And then when things pick up on this other front, you can be like, okay, great. We’re in a great sh great shape on sort of maintenance. Now we’re gonna go work on something, something new.
[00:59:48] Josh: Yeah. That makes total sense. It’s also one reason I, I really harp on separating hosting and like basic maintenance versus SEO and content maintenance, because some people will scale up scale down and turn off their SEO stuff. And you don’t want. LinkedIn, at least I feel you do not want that LinkedIn. And I learned the hard way with hosting and just, you know, keeping plugins updated because you, you don’t want clients to think that, oh, I could just turn off you turn on and off, off this kind of stuff. Whereas you can’t turn off your hosting, your site’s gonna go down,
[01:00:21] Lindsay: literally gone.
[01:00:21] Josh: So that, that’s definitely what I learned is have this as those tiers that are the add-ons that can go on top of basic hosting and maintenance.
[01:00:29] Lindsay: Um, yeah, it’s like a, a pyramid of needs, you know, and separating out your monthly services so that they understand if times get tight, um, where they can pull back effectively and where, where they can’t, um, without just pausing everything, you know, hitting the panic button and, and pausing it. And finding their website’s not live.
[01:00:48] Josh: Yeah, right? Yeah. No. Yeah. Some people will, will always adjust their monthly plans, but they won’t turn their website off unless they’re outta business. So, yeah. It’s a great rule of thumb. Um, Lindsay, this has been awesome. We’ve covered a lot, like we’ve covered packaging, the different options. I mean, we could talk for 10 hours I think on this, but that’s why you guys have your Pathfinder program.
[01:01:06] Josh: So we talk packaging. I love the idea of this assessment versus audit and what, whether that’s a lead in tool or something you should or shouldn’t offer optional. I love that set up, setting up that foundation, basic strategy, but then that is ongoing services. Like we’ve been diving into. I do have to ask as we wrap this up about results, um, how have you found best to measure SEO results?
[01:01:31] Lindsay: So you have to go back to what your client really wants and needs in the sales process. And usually when they come to you, they want more sales, more leads, more of the big business stuff. They’re not fixated on a ranking. They’re not fixated on a specific number of sessions they need each month. They want the phone to ring more. They want more dollars coming in.
[01:01:49] Lindsay: And so, um, I like to focus results, um, at the top when I can so on conversions and lead generation and, and the big stuff, and to look at, um, results every month, but then to kind of come back every six months and look at the, the bigger picture. So. Every month we’re sending our clients, um, a monthly SEO report and it’s looking at things like rankings and traffic. Um, and then every time I get on a phone call with a, with a client, our customer, I ask them how’s business like what’s going on.
[01:02:18] Lindsay: And, um, and then we dig into kind of their big picture goals and, and how, what our work is aligning with that. Um, and, and try to do these kind of deeper dive assessments into results. Um, every six months where we’re really looking at the top line, most important metrics. And so it’s kind of like a funnel. Um, first you need more visibility on Google because you need more traffic, so your rankings need to improve.
[01:02:41] Lindsay: Then as rankings improve, you’re gonna hopefully see an increase of traffic. Assuming that the industry space you’re in is still like stable or growing. So the demand is there and then you get more traffic and you wanna get more leads. And when you don’t see that flow happening, you might see a breakdown.
[01:02:55] Lindsay: Let’s see, I see more traffic, but without leads. Maybe I need to pause a minute and next month for my SEO services, I need to go back and go back into some old blog posts and add more calls to action. Right? So I have five posts that are driving, like all the traffic to the site, but people aren’t then booking the free call or downloading the ebook or whatever it might be.
[01:03:15] Lindsay: I might need to pause, you know, on something and go focus on wherever, kind of in this growth. Um, this growth structure, things are, are falling apart.
[01:03:24] Josh: Gotcha.
[01:03:24] Lindsay: And, uh, and so yeah, when it comes to results, when, and you’re selling SEO, The first set of questions you’ll face are, do I have a results guarantee? Can I be number one for this? What will this do for my business? How do you set goals, et cetera? And I always say, I can’t guarantee a fixed set of results. I can’t say you’ll be number one for a keyword. I can’t say you’ll get 10 new leads a month. What I can control. And what I can guarantee is I will communicate, I will work on it.
[01:03:50] Lindsay: I will report, and I’ll be transparent. I’ll tell you what I’m seeing with an SEO so that you can make informed business decisions. If we’re not meeting your goals, maybe we need to move up to a bigger plan. Um, if, if you know this is happening then that so i, I guarantee on the like delivery piece of the service.
[01:04:08] Josh: Gotcha.
[01:04:09] Lindsay: And how we’ll approach it. I can’t guarantee on the results piece. And then I also assure them that we will set goals. Um, we will set goals, you know, quarterly or, or, or annually or whatever the time period makes sense for that customer. And what we’ll do is we’ll track against those goals. And if we knock it out of the park, we’ll raise the bar after we celebrate.
[01:04:28] Lindsay: If we’re just hitting the goals, we’ll celebrate and, and then set new goals. And if we’re not meeting those goals, we’ll talk about the why and what needs to be done to change it because. SEO, you know, especially in this day and age, when we think about being, having been in this pandemic, um, you know, businesses and demand for services change. So clients could be ranking higher than ever and getting less traffic and less business. And that I don’t really put on my shoulders.
[01:04:52] Josh: That’s, that’s a good point.
[01:04:52] Lindsay: Differentiate the results across rankings than a little above its traffic and then above that is sales. And I like to have those goals and discussions along the way. And then I, I change the goals over time based on the current climate that we’re in.
[01:05:08] Josh: That’s a good point. Sometimes it’s not an algorithm change that affects services. It’s the economy or different industries popping up or moving in or whatever it is. So, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of that, that, I mean, I’m just really now thinking about, so of course clients have no idea.
[01:05:23] Josh: They just, I wanna be the first on Google. It’s always the first question they get, they, they ask. So, yeah, I was just kinda curious how. Kind of sell those results and make, and, and measure those. One of I had the owner of converta.org. Uh, no, sorry. Hold on a sec. I gotta look this up to make sure I get it right.
[01:05:41] Josh: It’s Verica. Hold on a sec. Let me look this up. I’ll put in the show notes companies called converta. They do conversion based design in, in strategy. And I asked him, how do, how do they actually sell results for that? His big thing is we always generally get at least 50 to 80% increase. So we just say our guarantee is at least 20%.
[01:06:00] Josh: If you don’t get 20%. Money back, but we always get 20%. So, uh, that’s, that’s a, I, that was a great way to sell these type of services that are a little harder to measure results. Whereas when I sold websites before and after here’s your new website, that’s it, here’s your result. And, and the other results will come after that.
[01:06:17] Josh: So, um, yeah, I love that. That’s that’s really cool. Lindsay, this has been awesome. My gosh, I’ve we might need to have a round two and go even more in depth on some of this stuff, because this was fascinating. It really kinda shed some light on, um, a lot what a lot of my students have asked about and what I went through when, when attempting to sell SEO and some things that went pretty well and didn’t go so well, but I think we’ve really covered a lot of awesome stuff here.
[01:06:41] Josh: So for those who are ready for more, we talked about it. Most of the audience listening are freelancers or very small agencies. Is there an ideal resource? They should go.
[01:06:49] Lindsay: yeah, a couple of resources you can go to on our, on our website. Um, if you go over to our blog, we have a lot of resources about packaging, pricing and selling. We also have a free one hour course, if you wanna start at the beginning. Um, as I know we’ve moved through things, um, quite quickly, you’ll find our free one hour course under resources on our website too. And those are just great places to get started. No commitment, no, no financial, uh, transactions needed to keep kind of assessing is SEO, right?
[01:07:17] Lindsay: Is SEO the right service to add onto your business. At the end of the day, we all need to take a little pause button there to really make sure this is where we wanna invest. Um, and, and those two resources will help you get started.
[01:07:28] Josh: Perfect. Perfect. Yep. We’ll make sure we have those linked in the show notes. I was correct. The converta site was converta.org. If anyone wants to look at that guarantee as a, as a, a good kind of example of how you can, you know, put some sort of guarantee with results that are, uh, more often than not good, but probably tricky sometimes. So, uh, Lindsay, this is awesome. Thank you so much for your time and for really shedding some light on your guys’ process and we’ll have your agency linked as well.
[01:07:53] Josh: Um, I’m really excited to see how this helps some folks out and, and continue to help grow. I guess, really the, the more of the story with this is I feel like we hopefully given some people more confidence to offer SEO. Is, is that any final thoughts on offering SEO?
[01:08:07] Lindsay: That’s really it. We wanna know that we’re here to come alongside your efforts. Um, and I think from a confidence standpoint, my one tip is you’re probably already offering SEO services and not getting paid for it. You’re probably already doing 75% of the things, um, that kind of fall under SEO service. You just don’t have formalized packages and pricing and you don’t quite have the confidence out there to, to kind of round it out and get up to the, the a hundred percent range.
[01:08:33] Lindsay: And so, um, yeah, I, I hope this gives you that confidence that’s needed, um, to give you the boost to go get paid for what, what you’re already probably doing quite a bit of
[01:08:42] Josh: that is well said, well said what a perfect way to end this conversation off Lindsay, thank you for your time. I’m excited to keep in touch and hopefully talking in here soon.
[01:08:49] Lindsay: Thanks so much, Josh.