A month ago, Sarah, the lady next door, opened up a restaurant a few blocks away from her house in Minnesota. The first week, everyone in the neighborhood came to support her — the place was packed, the tables were full.
The second week was the same since her menu was really good and everyone liked it. It’s safe to say that her dishes were all well-praised by the community. In the third week, the customers started to decrease — you can’t expect the same people in her neighborhood to visit the same restaurant every week, right? By the fourth week, things started to look gloomy.
She asked herself what went wrong. She tried to research online for some tips and advice on how she could bring back customers to her business, or rather, how she could find new customers that would keep her business going. A few helpful pieces of advice came up, but what surprised her the most is that a few towns away from her, a restaurant just like hers — similar dishes and setting— had tons of customer reviews on Google. They are famous!
This piqued her curiosity, so she tried to search her restaurant online. Nothing came up.
She was not one to back down, though, so she did what most people would do in this type of situation: she researched, day and night. She also asked for help.
The Power of SEO
Being in her 40’s and not having a strong background in technology, Sarah wasn’t familiar with the finer points of how things work online. The word “SEO” often came up, but she couldn’t wrap her head around it. So she asked Chris, her nephew, who works in a company that markets businesses, to help her. She wasn’t sure what Chris did for work, but she knew that he was into business strategies.
Luckily for Sarah, Chris was able to help Sarah develop a plan to market her restaurant online. First, he explained to her the most important factor in online marketing — SEO.
When a customer wants to purchase a certain product or service, they will research it first. Gone are the days when people used the Yellow Pages to search for services. They will not wait for TV commercials nor read paper cuttings for the ads page anymore. When customers want something, they search for it online — the products they want to buy, the services they want to use, and good restaurants they can go to within their area.
To do this, customers often use Google — the most-used search engine in the world. People usually click on the link on the top-most part of the results page, the one with the highest ranking. Since it’s #1, the customers will have the impression that it is the most credible listing of all the other search results.
How do you achieve that #1 ranking position? By having a great SEO strategy. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Following SEO best practices allows businesses to be visible online by appearing in the results for specific consumer searches.
Sarah quickly realized that if she wanted to get customers to her business, she might need to start using SEO to her advantage.
But first, she needed a website.
The Importance of SEO for Local Businesses
Still being a bit skeptical about this, Sarah suggested they just stick to traditional marketing like brochures, pamphlets, and flyers. That sounded cheaper to her, and she could do it herself.
While traditional marketing is still an option, data shows that digital marketing is 23 times more cost-effective for promoting a business. Being on the first page of search engines is a guaranteed way to increase visits to a website and gain potential customers. SEO is the key to traffic (both in-person and online). The internet levels the playing field, promoting and advertising local businesses more effectively because of its widened reach.
Not only will SEO help advertise Sarah’s business, but it will also give her an edge over her competition all over Minneapolis. If her restaurant gets more online recognition, it’s more likely customers will patronize hers instead of the other restaurants with absolutely no online presence. She could draw in customers from outside her neighborhood, creating unlimited growth potential.
An increase in online visibility also means more chances of being hyped up on social media. If a restaurant shows up on local searches, it’s more likely customers will want to try it out, post it on their social media accounts and add reviews about it on Google and Yelp. In addition to being promoted through SEO, the business is also backed by social proof through customer feedback and testimonials — word of mouth. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
Chris recommended hiring a Minneapolis SEO expert to make things more convenient for Sarah since local SEO is becoming increasingly competitive.
SEO is very technical, and it takes up a lot of work and time, so hiring an SEO consultant is often the best thing a business owner can do. It's a cost-effective way to advertise a business both online and locally.
Sarah still had a lot of questions, but the first thing she asked was —
What Is an SEO Consultant?
SEO consultants help give a business Google presence based on organic searches. Their primary job is to increase a business’s visibility through organic traffic and get it mapped in a specific location. Getting a business to show up first in search results is not easy, making the help of an SEO expert invaluable in today’s digitally-focused world.
Hiring a local agency is a great move to increase the chances of success. They know the competitors in the area and the regional terms that can promote a specific business.
Not all SEO strategies are created equal, though, and a bad strategy can harm a business instead of helping it. So, for Sarah, it’s equally important to choose the right Minneapolis SEO expert, as they will make or break her business.
SEO Agency vs. a Marketing Coordinator
After some consideration, Sarah’s convinced that hiring an expert can help put her on the map and bring online visibility to her restaurant. However, as much as she wanted to proceed with it, the initial cost greatly concerns her. To put it bluntly, she fears that it’s more than what she can pay for. Should she just look for a marketing coordinator or ask for services from an agency? How much should she spend on everything? Will the upfront cost make up for the initial investment?
To give her an idea of how this works, Chris showed her some references. He compared how much hiring a Minneapolis SEO expert will cost compared to a marketing coordinator.
Based on Glassdoor, the average salary of a marketing coordinator in Minneapolis is $47,402 a year — which translates to about $22 an hour. Then he compared that with an SEO agency in Minneapolis, which costs about $21,600 a year. A marketing coordinator is one person, while an SEO agency consists of at least five people, allowing them to get faster results.
Not only is an agency cheaper, but it will also save Sarah the costs that go with hiring an employee like 401K, taxes, PTO, etc.
He also added that several Minnesota SEO consultants also offer packages for businesses with small operations that are much more appropriate and affordable for her. SEO is a very technical field, so she and her agency could communicate together on which details the SEO strategy will focus on. The basic features of the packages of these agencies should include:
- An SEO strategy customized to her restaurant
- Keyword research focusing on her area and business
- Website optimization
- Weekly and monthly reports regarding their progress and goals
- Continuous education and discussion regarding SEO for her business
Lastly, Chris stated the results are more guaranteed with SEO agencies because of the services they offer. Sarah may hire a coordinator, but if they can’t produce results, it will take a very long time for her to be able to fire him — and it will cost her a lot to do that, too. Whereas when it comes to agencies, if she is unhappy with her results, she can just leave the agency and find another one.
But before looking for an SEO agency, Chris added that there are also things Sarah should consider before hiring them — like how to know if they are the right agency for her based on the services they offer.
Before Hiring an SEO Agency in Minneapolis...
The city of Minneapolis has a thriving SEO industry, so the options of agencies Sarah can partner with can be overwhelming. That’s why Chris gave his aunt some pieces of advice to keep in mind when choosing the right agency for her business.
Review the History of the Agency
Reviewing the agency’s history is necessary, as it provides a glimpse of how the SEO agency works through their previous clients and past projects. It will also include the challenges they have faced with their clients and their methods to resolve those issues. This kind of information is usually found on the “Case Studies” and “Success Stories” pages on the agency’s website.
Knowing the experts behind the company can also give a preview of what goes on behind closed doors. Thoroughly check the “About Us” page on the agency’s website to find their company mission, how they started, and who is on their team.
When choosing an SEO agency, look for local ones — which, for Sarah, is in Minneapolis. Local Minneapolis SEO consultants have already rooted their connections and personal relationships with their clients, which cannot be found with agencies based in other states.
An SEO Agency Should Be Responsive
The agency should respond to questions that can preview how they will work for the long-term. If they take more than a day to get back after an initial consultation, it will also take them days to respond to existing clients.
During the initial consultation, the agency should be able to respond to questions regarding:
- Plans, packages, and pricing
- Deliverables and plans
- Estimated time to complete deliverables
- Hours committed within a week
- Updates regarding campaigns
Searching and talking with different agencies can get confusing, so a great strategy is to record all the meetings to review them later on.
Ask for References
Agencies should be able to provide references for existing and previous clients, as well as details of their projects with them. It is more beneficial to talk with these clients to get feedback and insights into how the SEO consultants work on their campaigns — specifically the time it took to finish and how it was delivered.
The length of time an agency has worked with a client is also a crucial detail. It should be a red flag if their clients do not last for more than six months.
Know What the Agency Is Guaranteeing
If an SEO agency promises to deliver guaranteed results overnight, leave and look for another agency. Those people are not working for Google, so how can they guarantee that kind of result instantly?
SEO is very complex, and it will need time for a business to get more traffic on its website and get to the first ranking of a search results page. It’s misleading for an agency to make promises to deliver results in such a short amount of time.
A good Minneapolis SEO company understands its client’s expectations and properly communicates with them regarding their services and results.
What SEO Consultants Need To Deliver
Transparency is crucial for digital marketing, so Sarah should be able to review reports, insights, and analytics that will be provided by the SEO agency she will hire.
Getting a high ranking on Google searches is the reason why Sarah needs to hire an SEO expert. Chris explained that although these kinds of results don’t happen overnight, she must be able to see that visitors are slowly and steadily coming to her website. New customers should be able to visit and dine in her restaurant after some days, and there should also be new reviews appearing about her restaurant on Facebook, Google, and other sites like Yelp.
Her chosen agency should be able to create quality content that will position her restaurant’s website in higher rankings with the use of strategic keywords. But if her website is not gaining views, and there’s no foot traffic in her restaurant after months since hiring an SEO agency, then she should look for other agencies that can do the job better.
2. Proof of ROI
Chris warned Sarah that there are multiple agencies in Minneapolis, but only a few are capable of improving her restaurant’s online presence. If she invests in a good Minneapolis SEO agency, for example, she will have to invest about $21,600 a year. That investment is justifiable as that agency has already provided 10,000-page one rankings with different clients in their years of work.
With that investment, she should be able to generate sales of at least $70,000-$100,00 or more/ annually. Chris further explained how it works —
If the agency has mapped out Sarah’s restaurant on Google after a few months, she should be able to receive leads per month for “Minnesota restaurants” or “Minneapolis restaurants” local searches. If her restaurant frequently pops up on recommendations for local restaurants, she should be looking at consistent foot traffic.
An agency with a good standing should always be transparent with their weekly and monthly Google Analytics and Reports. They should discuss how the campaign is going and what strategies they will use to improve their SEO standing further.
SEO is a continuous process, so she and her SEO agency should work together to maintain her restaurant’s page rankings. It requires strategic planning and constant communication regarding reports between the two.
Local SEO Is the Key To Success
After the long discussion of how SEO and the right SEO consultants can help Sarah’s restaurant, she realized that traditional marketing could only get her so far. The market is constantly evolving — everything is now digital, so Sarah and other business owners like her must adapt or get left behind.