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In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser interviewed Dexter Stevens, the Founder and Managing Director of Social Media Time. Matt and Dexter discussed several effective strategies for using SEO and Google Ads to increase the visibility of your website. Watch the episode now!
Make sure if you’re on this journey, you need to have goals and you need to be disciplined. Obviously, you’d face a lot of hurdles but if you stay focused you’ll make it.
That’s very much for having me.
In high school, I’d say I was a bit of a nuisance. Didn’t take school that seriously. I went to a private school. So, it’s quite lucky and fortunate to be able and it wasn’t till later in my academic year that I started to take it a bit more seriously. And yeah, I was again lucky enough to do my A-levels and then go on to university while I studied law. But I’d say in high school I was a bit of a jokie character. I was always looking at ways to sort of make money as well.
Yeah. Because even though obviously, from the background we come from, I was always having to go out to work to get my money for sure.
Always the little side hustles going on.
Yeah, potentially. I think so, too. Yeah. As just mentioned, it was my father and my mum, so they wouldn’t just give me money to make me work for it. I think that was a sort of determination and it’s required to start my business because it was pretty risky the way I did start my business. It was just like quitting my job last minute and yeah, I think I have that mindset from what I developed at school.
For sure. So yeah, again, going back to what I started to do, I was sort of pushed into doing a law degree because of my parents. They love the fact that one of their children at university got a law degree.
So I sort of went with that. I didn’t really enjoy it. I don’t think it really set my personality. I just went with it, did it, and got the results. And then obviously after I got the results, the next stage would be to get a training contract, which I didn’t go ahead with. I then joined up with the talent agency. So, they basically look after those celebrities and stuff and then on the back in the background again, I didn’t really see myself being in that. So, I started to then help my father’s business generate more business online and then over the course, we sort of how to the course of now is pretty much going from one man band to five vans on the road. And then the strategies that we were using were SEO and Google ads to generate leads for him in his local area.
Then I thought, this is what I need to be doing. That’s when I decided to quit my job and start the agency.
Yeah, they obviously had a little bit of a floater, but I had my father’s back. Then again, I got quite lucky of the background because well, I think one of my first clients that we signed was a retainer of £1,500 a month, which is for an SEO package. And I was like, wow, this is going to be easy. But then soon after that, it wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be because not everyone’s monthly, especially for a local service, but yeah. So, the client that we did sign wasn’t the usual client that would work with. It was more of a big client.
Yeah. They had business in the US and also the UK.
Just out of networking really. So, obviously, they were on a network and when I first started to reach out to people that you know, family, friends or anyone. Just reached out to them. They got me in there and I think they trusted the process because they knew me.
I think it’s like what you see when you first start out. You’re doing everything I see you doing the fulfillment, you’re doing the sales and I think what I found with that is, each of those types of jobs is a job in itself. And so you start to, you know, be able to hire people and put people in those roles and build out processes. Then you need to overcome those hurdles. And obviously, when you first start out, everyone’s going to be a client and you do get a lot of rejection. The thing obviously as well as where people sort of quit and I think if you just keep going and going and believing in yourself and again, I think it all starts with a mindset. Mindset for me has been quite important in developing the agents and growing over the four years at what we haven’t.
Yeah, very important. I was quite lucky from a young age. My mom’s very much on the mindset journey as well. So, I got to see people like Tony Robbins. From that I’ve sort of used personal development, reading books, and learning stuff on how to start your day. I think sleep is very important, how to optimize your sleep cycle and so I’m trying to then optimize my sleep, which obviously then optimizes your performance.
All that contributes to your overall well-being. How you want to be, not just the business goals but even as personal development goals and all those types of things that, that attribute to them. And I think if you optimize all those and you’re consistent and you’re disciplined in doing that, then you’re going to be able to get to where you’re going in your journey effectively.
There are a couple of people that I look up to as mentors. So obviously got Josh Nelson, who’s a massive agency owner, he is very detailed on goal setting. Brian Tracy.
Brian Tracy is the person I look up to in terms of goal setting and writing out what your goals are, having an end goal as well. Like when you’re going to hear that call, putting yourself on a date.
And then, of course, you need to identify how you are going to get to those goals. Like, you know, what you need to do on a daily basis for example, if you’re trying to grow your business, how often are you going to be doing prospecting? How do you need to hire, and who do you need to hire to do that? If we identify that in the journey, in some ways it gets easier but otherwise it’s going to be tough.
Yeah, fairly new to that at the moment. And we’ve got two hires here, in the UK at the moment. So, I read a book called Traction.
Reading books like that, the process and finding areas where you can be replaced because effectively, I’m doing the moment that probably I shouldn’t be doing. As resources now probably are able to hire in these spaces and get me out where I can. What it was as the business owner, effectively.
Yeah, it’s having a massive impact. So, before I was pretty much doing the whole fulfillment, the whole SAAS process. But over this year we’ve managed to hire 20 people now. We did obviously work with subcontractors. But I think it’s important for an agency to have it all which is UK based. Have given people here the opportunity to work. Which is very important to help those who I guess were in my position, coming out of university, looking for jobs in the marketing world. You know, it’s not going to be going anywhere. It’s always going to be here, isn’t it? I think it’s a very good skill set to develop.
Yeah, plumbing and heating. So, the general plumbing and then you got heating as in the UK, it’s very cold. I think it’s just sort of a day for me to get out, get them results, see them happy.
You know, when you get any website that you are working on, on the first page you Google and it starts getting leads, it’s fulfilling for us. When you get customers leave reviews, I find it very satisfying because you’re pretty much changing their lives.
I get pretty much because of that because obviously, you’re changing someone’s life for the good. Anyone, if you like testing stuff out from an SEO perspective and then as soon as it goes to the first page it’s like, wow. You take the client and then they’re like buzzing from that because I think the SEO wise there’s a lot of people that say they’re going to get great results, but then it just never happened.
Yeah. When I started, I was sort of getting anything from a retainer point of view. But then I realized, I’m actually working quite long hours and I’m probably getting paid a pound an hour. That’s the reality of it. I was losing money. But I sought to get five on board and you getting that on the first page or you get an up section or when you’re doing the ads, you’re getting them good results. Then you’ve then got five case studies to show whoever you walk into. How I used to work is that obviously, I did well for my father’s business so I could just reach out to, you know, other plumbing in each and businesses in other cities where it’s not there’s no competition.
I think once you get I want to call and show them the results, it builds up the trust with the client. At an advantage, not because, you know, everyone’s used to zoom calls and everyone’s used to like on a call like this or sharing your screen.
And I think where people go wrong, they’ll send a PDF document over with all these results on it.
So, what I do is I show the results like, this is the ads account, these are the conversions we’re getting, this is something that I’ve just put together.
Yeah, that’s correct.
And I think there’s a scope for him to franchise into those days. They’ve got a really good brand name and brand color.
Yes, they said not really because obviously when we first started out with these clients, we would’ve been certified PPC or SEO. But I think once we start to generate leads for that, we then start to sort of make money back through offering them website design. So, we’ve started to buy more in general and do more marketing for them. So, I just do blogs on the site saying, they kept those clients who were with us for four years.
Got an ongoing basis as. What’s been fascinating is that out of the 40 clients that we have seen, 25 of them have been with us for over 2-3 years now.
We’ve obviously lost clients in the way it’s always going to happen. But yeah, a lot of them are still with us, when I first started the agency, they’re still with us. We’re still doing a lot with them, which is pretty inspiring.
Yeah. So, was trying to manage that by taking on 4 to 5 clients a month. And so, it’s manageable. But I think like what we’re doing at the moment is we’re going to a niche. Social media time is going to be growth for trade. So that’s just going to be the home improvement sector. So, I think it’s easier to scale that way.
Cutting out that research stage for that because obviously if you’re taking on generic clients you know, you’re always having to do that testing stages with the ads in it. So, what I’ve done to control that is only taking 4-5 clients pretty much a month. And then hire when I need to hire. I don’t get subcontractors into work when I don’t need it.
Yeah, sure. So obviously, to any SEO company, it’s important to do keyword analysis. The keyword you are looking to run for and the websites are very important.
There’s no point in getting good SEO for a website, that’s not going to convert the traffic. So yeah, what we do now is we all only want clients where we’re taking full control of the website.
We designed it for usability, and we make sure it’s going to provide the service, we’re adding all the customer reviews, and building trust for the website. If we think about SEO, we know people who land on that website. If they’ve come from Google, they don’t care how many times you’ve mentioned Plumbers London on that website.
So. SEO is a formula, it’s about getting the travel to the site, and then I think the marketing behind the website is also very important because you really want to be converting that traffic into as many leads as possible for the client. That’s what we look to focus on and obviously, if you’re generating clients for the business, then they can stay with you and everyone for sure. And going back to the SEO side, I think I wouldn’t say SEO is dead, but I think you just having SEO alone now is probably not going to be enough. I think you need to be doing Google ads as well and having that on the search engine. Before people used to think the ads were quite spammy or, you know, don’t click on that and now that we’re 20 years into Google ads. People are more familiar with them, and they trust them. If you have got a listing in the ad section, and the map section and also, they all kind of rank from the first page, you’re going to get an abundance of leads. And sometimes we’re generating anywhere between, sometimes 40 to 100.
Yeah. So, we have a company in London that generates anywhere between 60 to 100, and that’s just from organic.
Yeah, 100%. So, I think whether as a business, if you’re starting, maybe Google ads is a good starting point because you can get leads straight away, right?
And obviously, the SEO sometimes takes a little bit longer, too.
So having said that, local businesses will find that, if you say, oh, we’re going to get your leads in six months, that’s probably a bit too long.
So if you can do the Ads, whether they’re getting a return on investment that generates revenue, and then you can start to invest it into SEO, if you’ve got both, then like I said, you’re going to get that digital dominance.
It’s a golden ticket, for sure.
It’s just another form of sort of exposure, having that.
It makes sense because it looks good on mobile. A lot of people use mobile devices. And I think obviously for that industry as well, you know, if you’re in the local business, then it makes sense to do the local service ads, right?
You’re going to get leads from.
And yeah, not ranking. I think it’s probably one of the most important parts of the search, and it comes above the local search engine. Well, I think obviously the advantage if you’re collecting reviews, actually, in a click-through rate, it sounds appealing. to the audience like. Yeah. For example, if you typed in a keyword now and you looked at the map section, and there’s a company in that with over 100 reviews and the others have, you know, ten or nine reviews, you’re choosing that company with a hundred reviews. Again, that’s what we do with our clients. Like we educate them on that process, and We try to let them know or give them techniques or ways on how they can increase their reviews. Because the more reviews you get, the more likely you will get conversions on the site. And then we can put those conversions on the site itself because sometimes they’re not going to see my business. So, they’ll be on your website, which helps with the increase in them and get a return on their investment for sure.
So, I guess the initial stage is doing the family and friends technique, which is a quick gain. I think obviously like that, you know, when you’re going to customer’s houses, you know, having the QR codes on the business card, offering some form of incentives like a voucher or a Starbucks voucher. In other incentives like maybe a percentage of their next service with them. But I think it’s also important to have some because while in your emails, something on the website they can link to them as obviously if what you don’t want you don’t get so if you’re not asking customers for these they are not going to review. If you’ve satisfied them and done a really good job, why not ask for a review? And I think they would know, they would be more than happy if you’ve given great service. What the businesses can also do is they could give incentives to the engineers. So, if they do get reviews, they get rewarded. So then, yeah, they’re going to actually get you to know, they’re going to provide a better job for the business, and it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
In terms of getting. Reviews?
In terms of software with Google my business, I think people get kept off of it. You need a Gmail account, right? So yeah, but then there are others, especially in the home improvements, as you’ve got the Trustpilot, Yahoo.com, and even Facebook.
No, I’ve not.
I guess how it comes down to how quickly you want results, obviously, due to link building, is going to take a little bit longer for you to get together is effectively going to be waiting for people to find you, your content and then you know, get links back. I think if you’ve got a good PR though in terms of how big your social media is, how big are your audiences on that? Then you could potentially get some good natural links back.
For example, if you’ve got a blogger, you can pump out a 1 million email list or followers. Then that link-building is going to work.
I’d say around the thousand.
I mean, businesses in London may be exempt, but they’ve come to a step where we have not. Email, but he’s the guy who has been on TV. So, he’s got that exposure.
Well, if we focus on the local natural link building, it will take a little bit longer because of that. Who is going to be linking back to those local service businesses? Not just because it’s not stuff that people are searching for, but it’s not like searching for a blog to link up to some good content, and I think that’s not their job is. Their job is obviously to provide value, and it does help if you provide value with your blog content. But there’s only a certain amount of stuff that you could be doing people are going to be searching for. I think this is what was a trusted history recently where there are 124 million pages added on the indexed-on Google every 24 hours, and then 90% of those websites don’t even see traffic.
Yeah, the local citations are a very good source. They get traffic from those people, they’re looking for those, and they get a lot of marketing agencies just looking for companies that can outreach to them. That’s, again how you know, Google my business rankings. If your name, number and phone number are consistent for other directories, then it’s getting good signals to Google. And I think what you could do and obviously what we do is that we all sort of interlink with all the sites we work with. So, say we’re working with a locksmith, and we’ve got a home security expert that we work with as well. We can share blog content then. I think that’s how it works.
Yeah, that’s what we do. And often helps because it looks natural, and you’re probably not going to get penalized for any activity. It’s adding value to the marketplace.
There are the local service-based ads and the dynamic ads, I think it’s all about testing. What I found is that, you know what would work for some companies won’t work for others and it’s all about testing and being able to identify what works and what doesn’t. I think you have more control over the search term match rather than the dynamic ads. As we’ve seen, some campaigns go well with those dynamic ads, and some ads not performing. From an art perspective, you just need to have a very good structure and make sure you optimize. The negative key was massive.
Yeah. Especially if this is a broad match at the start.
Once we set up a campaign, we’ll make sure there’s a list of negative keywords we initially set up. Again, because we work with local service-based businesses, I don’t like to bid for competitor’s keywords.
Yeah. How I get around it is that I use something like D7 lead finder, and I will put in plumbers, London. And then, with that, it brings up all the websites ranking for that keyword. Then I just go through and add all the branded keywords to the campaign. So, the campaign’s not going to come up for those because from a local level. If you’re looking for a plumber or a specific plumber, you’re not going to use a different plumber then because you’ve already found them for a reason.
It’s just going to be a waste of cost. So, what we try to do is avoid as much waste of cost as possible, which starts from the negative keyword list for sure.
Which is okay. It’s good for optimizing. Done through analytics.
Yeah, the structure, the keywords at groups.
That I think quality scores are very important. Again, you know there is click-through rate and ad relevance, and again, you have to see if you’ve got hold of the website, and you’ve to be able to make the relevant changes to improve the quality scores. Then again, it puts you at an advantage. Before, when we used to work, I’d say, when we would work with a client, we’re doing their ads, we don’t hold the domain or the websites. So, it’s like quickly to start changing stuff. But then we see the website guy, which would then build into the client. This is like we don’t want to pay that.
So obviously, the ad copy is very important
Yeah, the offer is very broad. But I think we found that it comes with compliances, especially with the free quote aspect, especially the way naming contracts is because what people are then busy is that they’re going to come to your house and do it for free. But, if you’ve got like, you know, breakdown, you’re not going to go to diagnose it for free because you’re not going to get a free quote. But then people think that they’re going to be given three. So obviously, there are, but then you get complications with variety and apply that.
Yeah. So, it’s not a free quote because it is for boiler installation where you can go out, and you can have tools on the landing page that facilitate the free quote. So, they type in some questions and then it spits out an estimation of that.
Yeah, obviously the problem aspect of the copies, people are looking for a solution if you identify that problem on the ad copy and then click through on it. So yeah, there’s all those aspects that we looked into that for sure. But again, it’s all about going back to test different types of copies.
Because obviously, you know, if something’s working really well.
I’d say starting, probably about £500.
This is off the back of that. You’re probably going to get anywhere to 150 clicks on it potentially, which is quite good and especially if you’re just bidding for the phrase match keywords or the intent is that. If you’ve got a very good landing page, you can sometimes get 20 to 25 leads from that potentially.
Yeah. So obviously, again, it goes down to who you sort of work with. If they’ve got a bigger budget, then there are opportunities to do more testing.
You know, someone who’s just starting out maybe two buttons on the road rather than five, then they can focus their budget more, on generating as much business as they can, whereas if you’ll work and also it depends on what types of services you have. It’s like, having obviously a higher cost per click and then how would we treat an ad campaign? We don’t have an idea of how much ad budget they have. Then we do keyword research to sort of identify what sort of budget they need for the cost-per-click aspect of that, it’s just all estimated. Then we run with that and if we’ve got a budget we can test and we will test it, but if we haven’t got a budget we are going to test, and we’ll make sure that we get a client or an investment return on the investment plans. Then we sort of have more room to play with going forward.
With a search and on PPC, you need to make your landing pages relevant to the keywords you’re trying to bid for. And also having all the right calls to action in the right place. The copies are also very important to say. Going back to what solutions you provide to the problem. Case studies or real reviews from real people, video reviews, that sort of thing. Call to action, page speed’s all that’s attributes it, making sure it’s as easy as possible for the user to contact you. Obviously, if you’re optimizing your website from your phone, make sure that your call to action is to the phone and have the opportunity to do whatsapp. Also having the chat on the websites sort of increased converged chat.
And I think looking at the millennials now, they don’t really want to speak to people.
Yeah, potentially, even if we would create a specific landing page for the campaign or if the website support, because effectively the way we would create a website anyways that is it’s supported for PPC and SEO.
Yeah. So obviously we use stuff like Duda, for the landing page. Have you heard of Duda before?
Maybe it’s not the way I pronounce it.
This Duda is really good for website building.
Pretty much build landing pages from that. And of course, it’s easy to just do a quick split test. You can change around by the copy.
So we do both.
I just think it’s very easy to use. Yeah, obviously it’s got that template that we can use as well. It’s got the dynamic feature so you can pretty much go in and type in order in a spreadsheet, a separate Excel sheet and go in the title tags and create all these location pages that we like to do for the SEO.
Yeah. And then it’s all done. It saves us a lot of time and I think that makes our services a little bit more affordable.
Again, this puts us at an advantage.
I mean obviously, as we’re looking to scale, we can get people trained on Duda, whereas WordPress needs to be trained on the element.
And I mean, yeah, I guess it depends on what budget you pay.
It depends on what’s your markup on your products. All that’s factored into it. But generally, if you can get an ad to the top of the page for good landing pages and you can start to generate business within a few hours.
Realistically, sometimes you can set up an ad in 3 hours, and you’re at the top of Google depending on the industries and how you’ve set up, I think. And again, that goes back to if you’re working with the same industries and you use focus, you can identify what works and what doesn’t. Sort of use similar copy or similar ads in different areas for different businesses and have pretty much the same landing page. But just changing the brand name because if it’s going to work for that then it’s pretty much going to work for it.
There’s a new Google algorithm update. That’s going to be.
No. not for Ads copy. I do that manually. If you can’t write 30- 90 words for a headline then you’re pretty lazy here.
But no one knows what’s going to happen. All of those just big blogs are just going to vanish themselves. So, I think what people do, they all they’re using Jasper, and they’re using Surfer SEO. The 100 out of 100 scores. The content for it doesn’t even make sense.
I just think, I mean, the businesses we’re working with, I don’t find a lot of it happening. Probably not going to be a lot of click frauds going on. I think if you’re working with the larger company, I mean as…
You just exclude where their office is.
From an agency level or personal level?
I think. Yeah. I mean, the only tip I can give is to make sure that if you’re on this journey, then you need to make your goals, you need to stay disciplined and stay focused, I think the number of hurdles we’re faced with. I mean, you only have to look at the news, and there’s just stuff going on and if you can sort of come away from that and just focus on yourself. Then you’re going to be able to get to where you want to go. I think it starts with a mindset, even if you used to go to the gym because you get out there for your mind. There are so many times when your subconscious mind is telling you, you don’t want to begin, and it’s the same when you do business. How you’d work on your body from a gym perspective, you need to work on your mind, and if you have achieved it, will you be able to do whatever you want to do in life.
So you can find me on LinkedIn. You can send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
And yeah, feel free to message me or contact me on LinkedIn. Would love to connect with you.
No, thank you very much. It’s been very enjoyable. Thanks very much for having me.
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