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Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Smarketing Talk podcast. I'm your host, Chris Heiler. Thanks for joining me today. This is episode six. I actually skipped the podcast in the month of March, so getting back to it in the month of April. And it's spring. Finally. So I hope you're having a great spring so far. I hope your seasons are getting off to an awesome start. And it's quarter two already. I can't believe that we finished up the first quarter. It's crazy. And actually today it's April 15th. It's tax day. So that's always a fun day, right. Send Uncle Sam some of your hard-earned money.
So March, I totally skipped out on the podcast in March. It was a crazy month. I'll kind of catch you guys up on what I've been up to. Some of you know I'm from Michigan. I grew up and lived in Michigan my whole life. Now I'm in Austin, Texas. Been here for about four years. So I went back to Michigan for it had to be two weeks during March to see my folks because my family is still up there, friends and everybody are still up in Michigan. So I went back there for a couple of week and I still got quite a bit of work done, but I spend a little personal time up there too. But I also had a really cool opportunity in March. I was invited to HubSpot to their corporate headquarters in Boston, well, actually in Cambridge. And if you guys know, HubSpot is a software company, a really cool software company, and we use the software ourselves and then we also use it with all of our clients and it's just a huge part of what we do and we're a partner agency with HubSpot.
So anyway, they invited me to come out there and speak with their entire company. There's over 800 employees and they have an Australia office and a Dublin office. So they have these quarterly employee meetings where everybody gets together, so 800 some employees. And now they're starting this thing where during each meeting they're going to invite a customer in and have the customer kind of share their story about how they got started with HubSpot and how they use it and all that stuff. And we're actually one of the first customers they invited to come speak and address the company. So I mean I was totally blown away by that request. It was pretty awesome. So they flew me out there, I sat in on their quarterly meeting which is really cool because they're a public company now, so they talk about all the financial stuff which is really cool to hear about. And then I was interviewed for about 20 minutes by the CEO, Brian Halligan, who is a really cool guy and just got to tell my story about how I evolved from being a landscape designer, which many of you know that's my background, so how I became a landscape designer into Landscape Leadership which is now a full-service marketing agency for green industry companies and how we became this HubSpot partner.
So it was really cool to be able to share that story with HubSpot because they're such an integral part to what we're doing today and really HubSpot and some of the people at HubSpot who really pointed me in the right direction because I really didn't know where I needed to go professionally and with my business and it was really HubSpot who sent me down the right path. So it was really cool for me to be invited out there, share my story with all of them, and really show them how they've impacted me personally and impacted our business. So it was really, really awesome and I was really blessed to be able to go out there and address everybody.
So I did that and then after I came back from Michigan, flew back to Austin, I immediately went down to San Antonio because we had our annual employee retreat, our team retreat. So many of you know, at Landscape Leadership we all work remotely. We're a completely distributed workforce. So I'm here in Austin and then we have three full-time employees right now. So Paige is in Chicago, Pete is in Cleveland, and Pamela is way up in Toronto. So I tried to get everybody together and we try to go to different places each year. So this year I flew everybody down to San Antonio and I just made the easy drive down there. So we met up down there for a couple of days, did a little bit of work, but mostly just hung out, had some fun, got to know each other even more, because that's one of the problems when you work remote, you just don't get the face time, that personal time with each other, so it's really important that we're able to do this kind of thing. So we go out to dinner, go out to lunch, have drinks together, laugh together, that's what's it's really about. So that was great to be able to do that and see everybody.
And after that I was invited to address peer group, one of our industry peer groups here in Austin. Many of you guys probably know Bruce Wilson. He leads a lot of peer groups around the country with some of the biggest and best landscape contractors being a part of these groups. So I was able to come to one of his groups in Austin and there were six or seven businesses in there, the business owners, and I got to talk to those guys about marketing and sales and kind of where I see companies struggling a little bit and where I think things are going and what they need to be aware of. So it was a really cool intimate discussion that I was able to have with these really innovative companies from around the country. So that was really cool. So I was really fortunate to be invited to that was well.
So I've been up to some cool stuff this past month. That's why I skipped out on the podcast, but now I'm back at it. And so today I want to talk about SEO, search engine optimization, because maybe two weeks ago now I was invited to participate in a Landscape Chat on Twitter. I don't know if any of you guys have ever participated in those, in a Twitter chat, but there's one that's called Landscape Chat that's done every single week. And so I was invited to participate in that. It's run by Corona Tools and then Lawn & Landscape also plays a part in that as well. So I was invited to be the guest a couple of weeks ago on the Landscape Chat and the topic was SEO and we got into some technical SEO stuff. We didn't get into the content side as much as I would've liked. We were very much talking about the technical stuff like title tags and meta descriptions and how to optimize pictures and things like that which is fine, but it's a very in-depth conversation, right, SEO, and you can't cover it all in a Twitter chat. So what I wanted to do today is kind of follow-up on that Twitter chat and address a few of the comments and questions that I got during the chat and then provide a little more perspective or context around the whole topic of SEO and how it impacts companies like you guys, like landscapers, lawn care companies, gardening centers, manufacturers, folks like that.
Okay. So I have four tweets here that I want to comment on and I am going to share these on the show notes below. Maybe I'll embed these or at least I'll add a link or include a link to the actual tweet chat so you can see what we talked about and maybe I'll embed some of these tweets in there so you can see these. Anyway, so the first comment from Corona Tools, Chris at Corona Tools. Talking about SEO, he said, "It's hard to always keep up with Google. They're always changing the game and don't want you to win." So let's talk about that last comment there. "They're always changing the game and don't want you to win." We all know Google. They're always changing their algorithm, trying to get it better and better and better. And Chris says, "They don't want you to win," meaning businesses, they don't want you to win. They don't want businesses to win at this game.
That's a pretty valid point that he's making. First of all, yes, Google is constantly changing things. They're always trying to improve their algorithm, their search algorithm, to improve the user experience. Now, when it comes to them not wanting us to win, like businesses, that's absolutely correct. They don't care. They don't give a crap about us as businesses. They don't. Google is in it for the user, the searcher, not for us, the business. So if you think about it, what is Google's biggest fear? Well, Google's biggest fear is that you are not going to find the answer that you are searching for on their search engine. And if you don't find that answer, their biggest fear is that you are going to then use a different search engine like Bing or Yahoo. That's their biggest fear.
So every update that Google makes, they have to ensure that they're constantly improving their algorithm and the results that they give their users. So It's not about us. They don't care about how easy it is for us businesses or how difficult it is for us to rank in the results. That's not what it's about for them. It's all about who is doing the search. That was really annoying. That was the alarm on my computer going off. Yeah, that was annoying. Anyway, focus. So like I said, the biggest fear for Google is that you're going to use another search engine, so they have to constantly improve the search results for the users and they just don't care what that means to us as businesses. So Chris had a really valid point when he said that.
Okay, the second one I wanted to touch on. This is from Giovanna, this tweet. She says, "The problem with paying someone to do something you don't understand is trying to figure out if they did it or not." Let me repeat that. What she's talking about is hiring like an SEO company to help you out. So the problem with paying someone to do something you don't understand is trying to figure out if they did it or not. Another good point, very valid point, and we see this all the time with companies in the green industry, landscapers, lawn care companies. A lot of these companies, they don't understand search engine optimization. They just don't understand the basics of it. And there's all of these companies out there, let's call them SEO companies, that want to offer you services, 500 bucks a month, 300 bucks a month, 1000 a month, whatever it may be. There's all of these companies out there claiming that they can boost your rankings in the search results. You just have to open your wallet and pay them a bit of money. So there's tons of companies out there trying to take your money and do this stuff and you just don't understand it.
So she's saying, "Well, we hire these companies, but we don't really understand what they're trying to do for us." And that's exactly right. Whenever we start working with a new client, I would say 80% of the clients that we start working with, they have in the recent past worked with an SEO agency or SEO company providing services. And when I asked them like, "Okay, how much do you pay?" "Well, we pay $500 a month," or, "We pay $1000 a month." And then my next question is, "Okay, what are you getting for that? What are you paying for specifically?" And, "Chris, you know, I don't know, you know? We get a report every month." I'm like, "Oh, so for $500 or $1000 a month you get a report?" Or they say something like, "We're getting ranked. They're doing our keywords for us." They're always talking about keywords, "Ah, they're doing our keywords," or, "They're ranking us for these different keywords." And I say, "Okay, well, that's great. What keywords? What keywords are they focused on? What keywords are they getting you ranked for?" And again it's, "Aw, man, Chris. I don't know. I don't know that. I just send them a check every month for $500 or $1000. I don't know what they're doing."
And so when we have these conversations it always becomes really apparent to the company that, "You know what? They don't know what the hell they're getting." And when that's the case it's probably not worth it. It's just probably not worth it. And here's the thing today. Let's say you're paying $500 a month to an SEO company. If they're not creating content, like original unique content specifically for you like a certain number of blog posts each month or creating some kind of content then what are you getting for your $500? Or if they're not doing pay-per-click advertising, Google AdWords, if they're not doing Google AdWords or pay-per-click or creating unique content, what are they doing for you for $500 a month or $1000 a month?
I would say they're doing nothing. They're basically taking your money is what they're doing and they might guarantee they're getting you higher rankings, but that's crap, that's total crap. So you need to be aware of this. And as my good friend at The Sales Lion, Marcus Sheridan, some of you probably know him, as he says, "90% of SEO companies are shady." 90%, he says. I tend to agree with that. I totally agree with that. And I like his thought. He says that these companies should be put in, what does he call it, digital prison for the way they screw over companies, especially how they screw over small businesses. So anyway, went off on a little tangent there, but seriously, look at what you're doing. If you're working with a SEO company and you're spending 500 bucks a month or 1000 a month or any amount under $1000, if they are not creating unique content for you or they are not running a PPC campaign, what are they doing for that money? My guess is that they doing nothing but putting it in their bank account.
All right. Third one here. This comment comes from Monique. Another good point, "I always feel like there's already so much information. How do I make it unique and Google-worthy?" I like that, Google-worthy. So "I always feel like there's already so much information. How do I make it unique and Google-worthy?" To give you some context here, we were talking about content. So there's already so much content online, how do we stand out is basically the question. And she's right. There is tons of content online. There's a ridiculous amount of content online. Now, here's the flipside of that. The good part of this is when it comes to our industry and what we do, there's not really that much content out there compared to some other industries. There's not that much competition. So if you kick ass on the content marketing side right now you have an opportunity to really surpass what your competitors are going to do down the line. So there's still a really big opportunity for us in the green industry when it comes to content marketing. There's less competition compared to some other industries is what I'm saying.
That said, there is still a lot of information out there. You do need to make it unique and Google-worthy as she says and I think there's different ways to do that. I think you have to be better today at creating content. So let me explain that. So a few years ago, three, four, five years ago when there wasn't as much content online, not as many people were blogging, a company could get away with writing kind of a thin piece of content, a 300 or 400 word blog post and maybe that would rank for them and pull in some visitors. But I think that's changed. I think Google is now is looking for more in-depth content, more comprehensive content, so you have to up your game. You have to create better, more helpful, more valuable content if you want it to be found. That's what Google is looking for, that in-depth content. So the 400-word blog posts aren't going to cut it. You've got to get to the 800 words, the 900 words, the 1200 words type blog posts, really going in-depth into specific topics. That's how you're going to rank.
Is that easy to do? Hell no. No, it's very difficult. It's very difficult to create that content, but that's where this is going and if you want to stand out in the search rankings that's where you've got to take this, is creating that in-depth content. So that's part of this. So how to make it unique and Google-worthy? Another thing I think you need to do to stand out, I think you need to put more personality into it. If you're blogging you really need to make sure your personality comes through. You can't sound like everybody else. You have to be yourself of course and really let your personality shine through. That's really another way that you're going to stand out. But to answer her question I think you need to go more in-depth with your content.
All right. The last one I want to touch on here. Oh, this comment was from Monique too, this tweet. Great question. So, "If you only have a small budget what's the best way to boost your website?" Meaning if you only have a small budget, you don't have a whole lot of money to spend on SEO, what's the best way to improve your rankings? Okay. Well, it's not by paying an SEO company $500 a month. I think I already made that clear. That's not a good way to do it. So if you don't have a lot of money for SEO, what do you do? What's the best way to improve your rankings? It's a great question and it's really not an easy answer. It's not an easy thing to do, but you have to do this in-house. You absolutely have to do this in-house. You as a business owner or a marketing director, someone internally, someone in your business needs to the learn the basics of search engine optimization and the basics of content marketing and how these things impact your search rankings and how those rankings impact your business. Someone within your company has to learn that. It's required now.
There's so many business owners I've talked to, "Oh, this stuff is way beyond me. I don't understand it. I don't care to understand it. I'm not a tech person. I'm not a web guy." Fine, that's great. Guess what? If you want your business to succeed and grow, you or someone else within your company better learn how to do this stuff, better learn the basics of it. That's why companies are getting ripped off $500 or $1000 a month by these SEO companies, because they don't understand it and they just kind of shrug it off. So if you don't have a big budget, but you want to improve your rankings, you've got to do this stuff internally, so you have to learn the basics of it. I mean that's the only way to do it and really it's all about the content, creating really good content like I talked about, the in-depth content. So you need to do that in-house. You need to get someone in-house, whether it's the owner or a marketing director or your salespeople or a combination of all of them to start blogging and creating content on a regular basis. That's the only way you're going to be able to do this on a small budget.
And I know it's hard work. It's extremely hard work. I do this for Landscape Leadership, folks. I do this podcast myself. I do all the blogging myself. I have one writer that I outsource some of the articles too, but that took me a long time to get to that point. So I know it's difficult, but the payoff is there. I see it all the time. Since I've been blogging and creating this content the traffic to our website is way up. I mean it's growing like 15% every single month. The leads that we have coming in is growing dramatically. Our rankings are just on the rise, again, dramatically and it's all because I've put the time and effort into creating this content that I think is going to be valuable to our audience and that's exactly what you guys have to do. So it's not about the budget. It's really not about the budget. It's about finding the time and putting the effort into creating great content that will resonate with your specific audience.
All right. That felt good to talk about that stuff. So I want to stop there. I wanted to cover those four. Hopefully some of that was insightful for you guys. As always, I appreciate you guys listening to the podcast. There's many ways you can subscribe it. Feel free to do that. Share it. If you think some of your colleagues or your peers would get a lot out of this, please forward them the link. Let them subscribe to it or listen to it. I'd really appreciate that. So until next time, thanks for listening and I'll catch up with you guys probably in another month. Take care.