This is a guest post by Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents, a personal finance blog and hub for Jeff’s CFP business in Illinois. Jeff is a great friend of mine and a long time SPI reader and supporter (we became friends through the blog), and it’s been great to watch his progress online over the last few years. We met in person for the first time at the Financial Blogger Conference this past October and he’s just as genuine and nice offline as he is online.
This particular post is about his experience with taking action, diving right in and making things happen even when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. He also shares his success with an “old school” strategy that still works in order to get more traffic and better SEO rankings, and ultimately in his clase, more clients.
My November monthly income report will go live this coming Monday, but in the meantime, please enjoy this post by Jeff.
“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” -Napoleon Hill
When I launched my blog in 2008, I had a mission.
The mission of the blog was marketing myself online, gaining more exposure and reaching potential new clients.
When it came to the technical aspects of blogging: SEO, keywords, backlinks, I was clueless. (Pat’s blog had just launched about the same time so I didn’t have his epic backlinking post to lean on). In the beginning I wrote a few articles a week and waited for the new clients to come in.
Unfortunately, they didn’t.
It finally dawned on me what I needed to do.
I had to make it easy for people to find me – duh!
The strategy that I needed to implement was to be found when someone in need of financial planning services Googled “financial planner Illinois”.
While the statement sounds simple, as I mentioned there was one slight problem – I was clueless.
I had recently joined a forum and I started asking other personal finance bloggers how to do it. I was quickly educated on how to build a landing page, how to get back links and how Google works. While it sounded easy enough, I had a feeling there may be complications.
Shortly after posting my thread in the forum I received a direct message from a supposed SEO expert. His message read,
“Jeff, I noticed your thread in the forum and I just wanted to let you know that ranking for those terms is nearly impossible. With you being a one man shop and one website, you will never be able to compete with all the bigger investment firms located in the Chicago area. Sorry for the disappointing news.”
My translation: Give up. You don’t have a chance.
Tell Me I Can’t. I Double Dog Dare You.
Now the story could have ended there.
I could have given up and accepted from the expert that there was no hope, that I would be forced to buy Adwords and pay for clicks that could cost me hundreds per month with no conversions.
But see, there was one HUGE thing that the SEO expert didn’t know about me – I had a strong desire. I wanted to grow my business, I wanted to build my brand and I wanted to reach more people.
When I started blogging I knew that I would do everything that it took to make it happen. Not to mention, I feed off pessimism. I love it when somebody tells me I can’t do something.
”Really?”, I thought. ”We’ll see about that!”
Now I wish I could tell you how I did massive keyword research to truly see how competitive my keyword was, and that by using the Google AdWords Keyword tool or Market Samurai I was able to truly understand what I was up against.At the time, however, Market Samurai wasn’t even in my vocabulary. And the Google Adwords tool? Well, I tried to understand what I was looking at, but I’m pretty sure I would have had a better chance memorizing the periodic table.
As frustrating as it all was, I knew that there had to be a way to figure it out. Thankfully, I had a good contact.
In SPI Podcast #26, Pat talks about the importance forming online relationships in building your business.
He told me to build a separate landing page targeting my keywords in the URL. I chose:
…also adding “Certified” and “IL” to help out with Google searches.
Building the landing page was fairly simple since I already purchased the premium WordPress theme Thesis (the same one that Pat uses for SPI), which makes it super easy to create a page with no sidebars.I made sure to optimize the page for my keywords inserting it in the text and headings, and also using the <alt> tags of the pictures on the page. The only thing I’m (still) missing is a video which would have sealed the deal.
While I know this is basic for many of you, and thankfully it is for me now, at the time this was gold.
A quick note on your landing page:
Think really hard about about what (and who) you are targeting. I did good about adding the two additional words, but had I done some more research, it would have been wise to add “Independent” and “Advisor” or “Adviser” in the URL, as well. A tool like Market Samurai could have helped eliminate some of these mistakes.
“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.” -Napoleon Hill
Okay – now that the landing page was set, it was time to get some links.
At the time I had already made some good connections in the personal finance blogosphere so it was easy contacting them for potential guest posts.
The only hurdle was finding the time to write.
Remember that thing called desire I mentioned before? It was time to get to it.
Most of my writing was either done late at night or on the weekends. It was brutal finding the extra time, but I knew it would pay off.
Here’s most of the guest posts that I did over a few month time period.
- 4 Ways to Not Get Stuck in the Sandwich Generation (Cash Money Life)
- Managing Money While Deployed (The Military Wallet)
- 5 Things You Don’t Want to Hear From Your Financial Planner (Moolanomy)
- Easiest Shrimp Pasta Recipe You’ll Ever Make (Gen X Finance)
- 8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Financial Planner (Get Rich Slowly)
- Busy Man’s Health Shake (Get Fit Slowly)
- How to Recover From a Stock Market Crash (Five Cent Nickel)
- Greed or No Greed (Lazy Man and Money)
- Want My Job? How and Why to Become a Financial Advisor (Art of Manliness)
- Helping Your Parents With Their Finances (Consumerism Commentary)
- When Should I Buy Life Insurance? (Bible Money Matters)
- Why Naming Beneficiaries is So Important (Bargaineering)
- Financial Advice For College Graduates (Studenomics)
- 5 Ways to Save for College (PT Money)
- Applying for and Landing an Internship (Finance for a Freelance Life)
- Life Insurance, Term or Permanent (Debt Free Adventure)
- Interview With Good Financial Cents (Your Roth IRA)
In addition to guest posts, anytime somebody interviewed me for their site, I would always ask if they would link to my landing page. Most everyone was nice enough to oblige.
Here’s a sample byline that I used for most of my guest posts:
Show Me Some Results
I think back to what the SEO expert told me that I would never rank for that search. That I was basically wasting my time.
When I think about that I laugh when after less than two months, sure enough, there it was: Financial Planner Illinois, when Googled, returned my landing page.
After the cracking the top 10 I also worked on getting links to my business site JeffRoseFinancial.com and also filmed a welcome video for my blog optimized for those keywords that I uploaded to YouTube.
According to a recent search in Scroogle, I have 3 of the top 10 results. That’s what we call a Trifecta!
While that was definitely a victory, landing in the top 10 is all for nothing unless the desired result is obtained. I needed to get some clients.
Sometime had passed since cracking the coveted top 10 and I received the following email (I’ve cut some out to protect the identity):
For my contact form on my site I have the Yoast Enhanced WordPress Contact Form Plugin installed so that I can see what the person actually typed to find my site. (and an added feature is that it shows what other pages they visited).
As you can see, the keyword that they typed was “Financial Planner Illinois”.
Wait, It Get’s Better
I exchanged emails with the person and we ended up scheduling an appointment for the following Friday not realizing it was Good Friday and our office was closed. It was okay because they needed help and I was happy to assist.
When they laid their financials in front of me, it was all I could do to not left my eyes pop out of my head. Being my first online prospect, I didn’t expect much. Heck, just having somebody in the office was an accomplishment.
This person ended up becoming my largest client to date (and still is) generating over $30,000 a year in fees to my firm. And added bonus is that we are now friends on Facebook. 🙂
That was the best Good Friday I’ve ever had!
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” -Napoleon Hill
My blog officially launched July in 2008 and other than some impressive media mentions and Adsense revenue, I didn’t get my first client until April 2009.
It seemed like an eternity, but I had desire and faith that it would eventually work out.
Sure enough it did.
Jeff Rose, is an Illinois Certified Financial Planner who authors the blogsGood Financial Cents and Soldier of Finance. He is a father of 3 awesome boys, husband to the coolest chick on the planet, In-N-Out Burger junkie and Crossfit addict.