My friend, Tommy, takes me to dinner in Scottsdale, Arizona, to celebrate his company going from $50,000 in credit card debt to $200 million a year in revenue.
He drives a pickup truck and lives in a normal-looking house. But if you live in one of the 24 states he operates in, you probably see his trucks and billboards all over the place. He was completely broke 16 years ago but worked hard to optimize his Google My Business listings in one city, expanding nationwide over time.
This guy grew his empire via SEO—- not using the typical “locksmith SEO spam” technique, as you probably remember, but something which you and I could probably do every day.
Let me tell you his “secret” to local SEO.
When he first started his business, A1 Garage, in Phoenix, he answered the phones himself and installed the garage doors himself. He would flash his big smile and tell the customer that the “garage door is the smile of your house”. Right there, on the spot, he would ask the customer if they would mind leaving a review. “If you give me your phone, ” he’d say, “I’ll show you how.” And nearly every time, they’d hand over the phone.
Tens of thousands of reviews later, he has hundreds of technicians that are sourcing reviews on the job sites. And now they’re using their cell phones to collect short video stories. He pays a bonus to his employees for every review they collect, which is totally within Google’s standards–since you’re not allowed to incentivize the customer. Rewarding your staff is okay.
Last weekend, Tommy Mello put on a charity event called “shop with a cop”, where Santa came in on a helicopter and 180 kids fulfilled their Christmas wishes with an officer from the Phoenix Police Department.
While community involvement is a good thing in and of itself, there is also an SEO angle. Search engines are looking for votes of trust and relevancy. The Domain Rating of phoenix.gov/police is a DR80. For SEO geeks, this is super high. Plus any links from this site will also signal relevancy to people in Phoenix.
Imagine you’re the search engine for a moment. The amount of spam out there is so mind-boggling high that you have to assume 99% of what you see is garbage intended to manipulate you. So the signals of trust you’re looking for to determine which sites are legit will be “votes” from the highest authority sites. Because why would the Phoenix PD link to a gambling or porn site? And why would they link to an organization that wasn’t related to the city of Phoenix?
The more Tommy gives and the more he honors his customers, the stronger his SEO becomes.
Google is looking beyond just links. So Tommy has a podcast called Home Services Millionaire, where he interviews experts in the home services arena and beyond– even me. These podcast episodes get distributed to YouTube, his website, social media, and elsewhere. In these episodes, instead of talking about his success, he’s honoring these industry figureheads.
And when he publishes content honoring those people– guess what they do?
Reciprocate and share with their audiences, which creates more signals that the search engines look at. Google sees how much traffic comes to the website and whether people stay on the site– which are strong signals for SEO.
Darryl Isaacs, who had a similar trajectory over the last 30 years. Except he did this as a personal injury attorney— a different industry, but winning for the same reasons.
Like Tommy, his marketing efforts are not about technical SEO wizardry to try to trick Google. Instead, he’s sponsoring events, going out to personally meet people at the hospital who got injured, and buying toys for kids with cancer. His nickname is “The Hammer”, which is in all billboards, Super Bowl ads, and radio.
We were at Green District, a salad chain in Kentucky, where they unveiled the Hammer Time salad. For anyone who ordered this particular salad, 20% of the proceeds get donated to WiggleWow, a charity that employs adults with special needs.
Green District and Darryl teamed up to promote this cause – leveraging their marketing teams, social channels, and ad budgets to promote. This doesn’t drive more personal injury cases for Darryl directly. But what it does do is create more goodwill in the community, which eventually makes its way into social and blog posts in the community.
Google notices these signals rank Darryl’s law firm higher in search results within Kentucky. The geographical signal is strong since Google looks at the clusters of sites that link to each other, determining what they have in common.
If you’ve made it this far with me, wading through SEO terminology, congratulations!
Because now you see that when you get your clients and community to speak well of you – initially through social media, you’re creating raw assets that can be repurposed to your website and the websites of your partners. Google picks up on this and sees the number of “signals” you’re generating, which is likely far more than your competition.
This UGC (user-generated content) approach is far more powerful and scalable than trying to make your own content, all by yourself– or trying to hire an agency. Consider how this puts you at the top of social as well as search.
Are you ready to use gratitude as your secret SEO weapon in 2023?