This guide is for anyone who’s trying to build a new local service or grow their company.
You could be a marketer/owner working for a dev shop, UX agency, or a web design shop. Or even someone who runs a marketing agency consulting. By the end of this article, we want you to take away an actionable strategy from this and use it to grow your business.
A couple of years back, organic strategy meetings commonly used to discuss things like, “Hey, this keyword is easy - let’s grow our traffic here” and “Hey, this keyword has no competition, let’s target it”.
Fast forward to 2019 when you have to fight for each keyword and do almost everything you can to rank. It seems like we don’t have low competition anymore. And building a scalable business based on SEO isn’t possible unless you wait a year with almost zero returns.
The good news is that you can still be a growing business despite heavy competition. What most marketers look at is surface-level competition. But we’ll go a level down and you’ll see there are gaps everywhere still to be filled.
Some of these gaps can be used to build multi-million dollar business.
Why this $1 million SEO strategy?
Because this is extremely effective, and yet one of the most underrated strategies in the service landscape. There are businesses that capitalize on these simple strategies and spend less than $10,000 to make $3 million or more each year.
The idea is plain and simple. You dominate and leverage how Google thinks.
Specifically, we would focus on the following:
For your SEO strategy, keep in mind:
Niche sites rank faster than broad targeted sites
Niche sites rank while keeping capital costs low
Related: In addition to focusing on niche sites, don't forget about niche marketing!
When service providers build their organic strategies, they end up making common mistakes like:
Organic strategies that focuses on vague metrics to rank for keywords (like domain rating)
Picking up wrong keywords, like best marketing company, or best software development company, and realizing that the competition is too high
Focusing on keywords that requires significantly higher capital than what was projected
Blurred timelines of rank vs. lead generation goals
When uncertainties in SEO chime in, it gets difficult to get past beyond budgets and rationale. How much capital and time should you invest? For how long should you invest?
For someone trying to generate $1 million in less than a year at minimum, you just can’t waste your first five months getting no leads and no business. In most of the service-based business landscape you get the full payment after 2-3 months of starting the work. And if you aren’t going to generate business in less than five months, you won’t be able to generate anything for a minimum of 6-7 months.
That’s not good for you as a marketer or as a business owner.
To sum up, hence this $1 million SEO strategy not only starts kicking from the second month, but you get to ROI within the five month period!
Let’s now jump into the strategy.
Don’t go global, go local first
So let’s say you work for a software services business. And I am assuming that you just launched a site, or have a site with minimal work done in it.
The challenge with global (or national level SEO)
When you check competition for the keywords that rank at the national level (US), you see something like this.
Notice the top 10 listings. Do you think a brand new site, or a low authority site, can outrank those in the coming few months?
SERP position ranking graph confirms that keyword volatility in the top 10 is almost zero.
Now note that these businesses are most likely large businesses being operated from last 10+ years, they have domain age, authority, content, ton of mentions, social signals, PR, and more, to show Google that they deserve this place.
A quick look at their web footprints shows the following:
Clearly, competing against these types of sites would take you months to generate content, trust and backlinks. While most marketing teams build less than two quality backlinks per week, approximately 1-2 content pieces per week - that’s not going to help you scale either.
That way, it’ll take you more than eight months to even come closer. All this while your competitors are investing heavily in SEO with new entrants competing against you.
It will take you more than $100,000+ worth of organic investment to compete. And imagine, spending those money from now and being stuck to a 20-something position.
Let’s quickly jump into an alternative solution instead.
Generating $1 million with local SEO
Let’s pick-up a random city, let’s say Chicago.
Our buyer keyword is: custom software development Chicago. Let’s explore what the SERP results, difficulty metrics look like here.
Search volume is low, CPC is good, the metric shows less competition, too. The keyword does show a high degree of volatility - which is a good sign.
Let’s see who ranks in the top 10 here:
If you ignore those directories, you’ll be left with websites that have less 1,000 backlinks, roughly 150 pages per domain and are more or less targeting more keywords. The opportunity gets even more clearer when you realize that those are broad level domains, targeting over 20 topics.
Crafting a domain that pushes entire link equity towards 1-2 keywords vs sites that dilute link equity on over 20 topics is going to make it even more appealing for you. Once you go through all of these competitors, estimate their site structures, content and backlinks - you’ll notice competition is actually low if you direct your SEO focus on a few keywords. The search volumes are going to be a bit lower, but this will help you build the revenue numbers that you’re looking to hit.
On an average, you’ll get a 10-20 quality leads, of which 2-3 will sign you. That’s 2-3 x $50,000 = $100,000-150,000 per month, which leads to more than $1 million. Even at the bottom line, you pick projects at $30,000, and you still break $100,000 per month. This type of growth makes an impressive marketing resume for you, doesn’t it?
Now, to make a quick estimate in terms of a timeline, you can see that ranking locally for Chicago would take approximately 2-3 months after you are past Google’s Sandbox.
What would be the cost of building such a site?
The total cost of building such a site and growing it to be rankable is less than $10,000. Which also heavily depends on what parts of SEO you can handle internally and what you can comfortably outsource.
Typically such websites would require the following expertise:
Landing pages and case studies
The cost of outsourcing local SEO related work is often around $1,000-3,000. Whereas content should cost you somewhere around $1,000 for 10 pages.
Now, you grow your business further. Expand nationally, but while keeping the same approach.
You grow your business in a city, and then you move on to acquire a couple more. That way you grow in an MVP phase and you scale acquisition only when you’ve perfectly learned how to do it for a specific city.
SEO has never been safer, quicker and faster for service companies. This is what an empire of local service sites would look like:
Interested in learning more about SEO? For starters, check out SEO vs SEM and the best SEO software on the market.