In this video, Minnesota attorney Aaron Hall speaks with Travis Van Slooten. Travis’ company, TVS Internet Marketing, provides local SEO services to small businesses.
Aaron Hall: I’m Aaron Hall, attorney at Minneapolis. I’m here with Travis Van Slooten. He provides local SEO (search engine optimization) to small businesses throughout the country. Travis, can you tell us a little more in what you do?
Travis Van Slooten: Yes. I provide local SEO services to small businesses throughout the United States, and what entails is getting small businesses visibility and most importantly, sales via the Internet. We do that through a number of things I do with businesses.
Aaron Hall: What is the most common problem that a client has which brings that client to you?
Travis Van Slooten: Well, the most common problem I have is…the businesses I work with typically don’t have a website, or they have a website but it’s poorly designed, and it’s nowhere to be found. I’m working with businesses that are really at that kind of entry level in terms of the Internet marketing.
Aaron Hall: How do you help them once they start working with you? What’s the process?
Travis Van Slooten: The main thing I do is I always ask the small business, “What are you goals?” because everybody’s going to have different goals as to what they want to accomplish with their website or their Internet marketing. The first thing I always ask them is, “What are the goals?” and of course, the inevitable answer is “We want to make money, and we want to make it through the Internet.” That’s a little too broad. We want to be more specific so a lot of times, it’s sitting down with them and drilling into what it is they do. Are there certain aspects of their business they want to concentrate on more in terms of gaining sales and leads from the Internet? An example of that is I was working with a construction company down at Florida, and he does remodelling. He builds homes. Does a number of things. After talking to him, we discovered for him, he wanted to concentrate on his remodelling services, his remodelling business. Once we have the goal in mind, then from there, we can construct a strategy to achieve that goal.
Aaron Hall: Are there any common misunderstandings that new clients have when starting to work with you?
Travis Van Slooten: Yeah. The biggest thing is this misconception that SEO is inexpensive and easy to do. It always surprises me. I work with a small business, and a small business owner will spend thousands of dollars a years in print ads, radio ads, billboards without batting an eye because it’s traditional. They know but when you start talking to them about SEO and the difficulties of SEO with the recent updates that Google came out, SEO is becoming increasingly harder to do, and it’s becoming more expensive as a result. The misconception is that SEO is cheap and when you start talking prices about SEO even though it’s in line with radio, billboard advertising, and things that they’re comfortable with, they’re shocked that it would cost “that much.” That’s the biggest challenge I have. Educating small business owners on what SEO is, what it takes, and what it costs to do effectively.
Aaron Hall: It’s interesting that in the early 2000’s, late 90’s, you could put up a website and it would just start getting traffic but these days, the businesses online are so competitive. Your client’s competitors are spending a lot of money in SEO, and I imagine that ups the ante for what is required for them and the competitiveness and the strategy that they need to use.
Travis Van Slooten: It’s that and as I’ve just briefly mentioned, it’s Google is really making it more difficult for the small business owner to do SEO on their own. With the recent updates, the penguin updates, the panda updates, most small business owners have no idea what that is but suffice it to say, SEO’s requiring almost a full-time job, and small business owners just simply don’t have the time to deal with it. It’s the competition that increasing and it’s also Google making things a little bit more difficult so all of that together is becoming increasingly difficult. It’s actually coming to a point now where a small business owner either has to get an in-house SEO person or outsource it. It’s almost impossible on their own now.
Aaron Hall: We talk about the small business. Can you give me some examples of small businesses you’ve worked with as far as what type of businesses are they?
Travis Van Slooten: I concentrate exclusively on the service based businesses. We’re talking about the roofers. I have a gutter contractor down at Florida. Construction companies, fencing companies, dentists, chiropractors, and even some law firms.
Aaron Hall: Interesting. I know that services provide a unique challenge from a website standpoint because it’s not ecommerce. It’s not just selling a product that you can just describe. You’re talking about the individuals and what services they provide. I understand a lot more what goes behind the scenes in planning that out.
Travis Van Slooten: Yes. Definitely, there’s that. When you’re selling a product, the product a lot of times sells itself because people know the product. When you’re selling a service based business, you have to sell that customer on that person a lot of times because I’m dealing typically with a lot of business owners. When somebody comes to the website, you have to sell them on that person so that means providing them testimonials, the better business accreditation badges, and things like that. Also, pointing them to other outside resources as social proof that this guy is good and is an honest, ethical business person and that type of thing. Those are the things you don’t have to do when you’re selling a product because typically like I said, people know it. Sells itself.