Monday, May 4, 2009

Leveraging SEO to Find New Clients - Research Phase

Using Rock Star SEO to get More Clients
After the interview with Jun Loayza for Awesome Bloggers a few days ago, I have received a few emails on how to best use SEO to get new clients. In the interview Jun asked how I was able to land clients like Miller Lite, Coca-Cola, Disney and others at such a young age. My answer was through organic traffic to my blog. SEO was one of the first things I learned in Internet Marketing and is still my number one outlet for client work, general knowledge and traffic.

I am no SEO Super Ninja, but a few Rock Star SEO moves and you can increase your visibility in the SERPS (search engine results pages) quite rapidly. I hope this helps and please keep the questions and comments coming. The Rock Star Course we are designing is geared towards helping you guys out and knowing what you want to know is only going to make the course better and you stronger. Here is part 1:

Research and Niche Grabbing

This is everyone's favorite part of the process. I hear the moaning and groaning as I am typing this. When do we get to the fun part? When do the clients start calling my cell phone? The thing is they will never call your phone if you do not position yourself to be seen by the people doing the looking. I like to breakdown the research phase into 3 parts:
  • What are you good at?
  • Are people looking for that?
  • What is the competition like?

What are you good at?

When I started out I wanted to be the young marketing guy that had ideas, thoughts and vision that my peers and even other ad agencies and marketing firms didn't have. I got involved in some Gen-Y circles (Brazen Careerist, YPulse, MobileYouth, YPBlogs, etc). I was also working as a Social Media Specialist way before that job was cool for 20something's that wanted to get paid to blog and Twitter.

Were people looking for this?

So at this point I needed to know if people were actually searching for a young marketer. They weren't. Instead of being disappointed I looked for offshoots of this to find keywords that agencies and brands were looking for. After a not so formal process, my website was titled" Gen-Y, Youth Culture and Social Media Marketing by Greg Rollett." Wow, that sounds boring as hell, but do you know what?

Google #4 - Gen-Y Marketing Blog
Google #3, 4 and 8 for Youth Culture Marketing
Google #7 for Gen-Y Social Media
Google #9 for Youth Social Media

(note - these results may vary - Google likes to do that and I also just changed the theme of this blog to reflect the new Rock Star Life angle so I will lose some Googleness but have now positioned myself for my next move to get customers instead of clients!)

Next thing to note. These are not heavily searched terms. How do I know this? Google tells me. By using their free Adwords Keyword Tool you can get some awesome data (*NOT 100% accurate*) that can tell you how many times a keyphrase is searched every month, give you different variations of that term (the Long Tail) and some other key stats depending how in depth you want to get.

Here is a screenshot for the term "youth culture marketing"
(Click image to enlarge)

What is the competition like?

The last thing I look for when choosing my keywords and niches is the competition in the field. There are obvious terms like "marketing" that no matter how good of an SEO Rock Star you are, you are going to need a great deal of outside factors and a good time line to break into those pages. So we need to break the terms down further (again, the Long Tail) to lower the competition. How do you know the competition?

Google tells us!

Do a search for the keyphrase that you are considering, for this example I will again use "youth culture marketing." Google tells me that there are 1,980,000 web pages that are indexed for that term. That is a heck of a lot of competition, but not nearly as much as "marketing" which would pit you up against 608,000,000. I'll take my chances on the 2 million. You find this number on the top right side of the where Google says:

Results 1 - 10 of about 773,000 for youth culture marketing. (0.21 seconds)

Putting this together:

Now that I am working in more than 1 niche here is what I look for when expanding into a new one using the 3 principles above:
  1. I have to know something awesome about the niche that others do not or at least have a quality that makes me better than everyone else
  2. Multiple long tail keyphrases that have at least 500 searches per month
  3. Competition of less than 500,000

Why did you choose that?

Knowing something about your niche gives you something to care about when you are working on it. I have tried many sites and failed due to not knowing anything about the product or industry. I have had eCommerce sites that sold bird feeders and when customers asked a question, I had to Google it and get the same content as the people asking the questions were getting. If you are trying to package in design offerings to your text message marketing campaign, you better be prepared to talk about design and not rely on a partner. This is imperative when picking your site topics and keywords - just because it gets traffic, DOES NOT mean its the right traffic for you!

The second point should be obvious. You need to know that real people are searching for your keyterm and they do so consistently. 500 is just a number that I like to use however its just a benchmark for me. Locally we have clients that rank well for terms that get 10-20 searches a month, yet the return on a lead is so massive it makes sense in their business. Do what makes sense to know and know how many visitors it takes to find the one that is going to convert.

The last one is something that I have been refining and keep refining and different folks will tell you different things. Here is my theory - the less competition the more opportunity. The more content you produce for those specific keywords the more visible you become. Big fish, small pond concept. With 500,000 or less competitive web pages I know that I can write some great copy, titles, get a few links, write a few guest posts and throw up some videos and get close in a very short period of time. In some niches with less than 100,000 pages, I have seen results on page 1 in Google in 24 hours.


I hope this helps in selecting your niche and doing some research, but to make it even easier, here is a link to a Google Spreadsheet Doc with a worksheet to get started in the research phase. This is what I use in my business and for my clients and WILL get you better search results.

-Greg Rollett


Jun Loayza May 5, 2009 at 9:23 AM  

This is a sick nasty step-by-step guide. You really do a great job at breaking the whole process down.

Great posts like this are why I included you in our ranking of Top Ten Gen Y Marketing Blogs. Hope it drives some good traffic to your site.

- Jun Loayza

Anonymous May 5, 2009 at 1:24 PM  

Great info, Greg! Keep it coming!

Greg Rollett May 5, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

Damn Jun - that was an awesome comment and thanks for the Top Gen-Y Marketing Bloggers nod.

@anonymous - I'd love to know who you are so I can shout you out and say thanks! There's always next time.

Jay May 5, 2009 at 8:14 PM  

Great info,

I attended the Party like a Search Engine Rockstar in 2007, and it rocked! Invaluable for the SEO knowledge I gained. Will there be another one this year? If so, I'm in! NO one does it like SEO Pubcon.

SEO Rockstar May 6, 2009 at 7:33 PM  

These are great tips, Greg. You really break it down. A guide that everyone can use.

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