Local SEO Consultant Lessons Learned

What I’ve Learned After 7+ Years as a Successful SEO Consultant (Not What You Think)

I’ve been fortunate enough make a living in the local SEO/consulting game for over 7 years now. And though I’ve hit bottom a few times, nothing has ever kept me down. I felt compelled to write down some realizations that I’ve had over the last few months…

1) Quality content will always reign (and rank)

Stop worrying so much about # of backlinks and pay attention to the quality of your clients content. And by quality content I mean a killer website layout, clean meta tags, engaging content, and a clear journey from entry to goal completion.

Guess what?

When people stumble upon content that actually helps them, they will tell other people… They will opt-in, fill out forms, pick up their phones, and share with excitement…

Google will love you…

And your clients will love you!

I don’t know how else to put it. If your content kicks butt (and is tastefully optimized top to bottom) you will rank accordingly. Put the quality of your website and on page content at the top of the list, and everything else will fall into place.

Trust me on this one… Quality wins every time.

2) It’s not always about high-value leads

Though it’s great to try and land those clients with high-value leads (dentist, doctor, plastic surgeon), longevity in local SEO is more about the TYPE of client you choose to take on. On a business level as well as personal.

One particular client of mine comes to mind…

A few years ago he had an idea, so we sat down over dinner and discussed the market and his options. I built him a website and ranked it… And in the blink of an eye he went on to become a Groupon category top seller, hire his first employees, and outgrow 2 locations in just under 3 years… All while we dominated the serps.

When I’m asked what I do for a living.. I usually respond with “People hire me to market their business online”.. but the truth is, it’s much more than that. As marketers, we help people realize their potential and in the process lives are changed.

Helping a business go from zero to five figures a month… there’s this bond that forms between client and consultant. It’s something real special and deep rooted… Very few people will ever care about that business more than the two of you..

“Care” being the key word here.

When you have a relationship this strong with your client, you will NEVER have to:

  • Hunt them down for a check
  • Sell them on the value of what you do
  • Worry about them jumping ship

When your clients are secure, so is your business.

3) Regularly do extra things “off the clock”

Success in this game is all about being a step ahead of your clients. Keep an eye out at all times. What I mean by this is try to regularly email or text your clients with little tidbits, links or things you implemented that will help them.

An example:

Hey… there’s this new video streaming platform that was released and it’s going to be fu***** huge.. So I took the liberty last night of creating an account to secure your brand name, as well as set up your basic profile – check it out when you get a minute. Gets us a juicy backlink too.

Always keep an eye out for opportunities to expand your clients reach. Seize the opportunities and report back to them with the unexpected (and proactive) good news.

Even if you had to fix something on their website that was unscheduled or off the clock, tell them about the update and position it in a positive way, emphasizing the time you took to ensure it was corrected and won’t happen again.

If you’ve read a great article that supports something you recently discussed, email it to them with a few takeaways… You get what I’m trying to say here?

It’s about providing value, not squeezing every last time out of your client. Anything you do for free, do it in the name of Karma. It will always come back to you in the end ten fold.

4) Webmastering skills are not optional

I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve gotten an email at 10:30pm from a client who’s panicking because their website is offline, or their email is down. Even if you don’t normally manage their website, as a consultant, you’re the one they’ll likely call first.

No matter how much you try and avoid it, server-side crisis is bound to happen at minimum 2 or 3 times per year. If you don’t know your way around their CMS, FTP, cPanel, then you are useless to your clients…

If you care about success as a marketing consultant, take the time to learn the ins and outs of webmastering, backing up and restoring websites, content management systems, how to troubleshoot page errors, how to edit an MX record etc.

I know it sounds like a lot for some of you, but trust me when I say that if I can learn to edit an SQL database using phpMyAdmin, so can you!


Knowing your way around CSS and HTML is a huge bonus, and will save your butt more times than you realize. You don’t have to learn to write a web page from scratch, but if you can beef up your “inspect element” skills and write a clean header, you’ll be in good form.

5) Sometimes you have to let your clients make their own mistakes

This can take some time to develop as a skill, but if you ever feel strongly about something your client is proposing to do, and no matter what you say they keep kicking back, you might be better off letting them go ahead with it.

For example, your client has had this great epiphany (likely based on another website they saw) and they want to increase the font size of the site menu and change the links to #FFFF00 aka bright yellow.

You tell them this is the stupidest idea you’ve heard and that it will drive customers away from their website, likely causing an increase in bounce rate… But your client is set on the new yellow menu and no matter how you try to explain yourself, they want it done… So what do you do?

Make the menu yellow.

Then sit back and watch as their analytics back up your theory. They may even lose a position or two in the serps, and that’s okay too. When they call you up a few weeks later to nonchalantly request the change to be reversed, you’ll do exactly that, without an ounce of “I told you so”.

Business owners are a unique breed.

They often need to muck up on their own, make their own mistakes, and reach their own conclusions. Sometimes your job is about knowing when to let them run free, ensuring you’ll be there to catch them when they’ve had their fix.

You will gain a whole new level of respect the day your client comes to you and says “you were right, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Mmmmm… leverage.

I hope this helps you guys in some way, or at least sparks a deeper conversation on what it takes to have longevity as a rockstar SEO consultant. Without the Warrior Forum I wouldn’t be where I am today, so consider this my first of many attempts to give back.



Photo Credit: Kalexanderson cc

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