My SEO Journey: Ray DelVecchio from websiteprofitcourse.com – My Local SEO tips to rank my clients on Google Maps & Search
My SEO Journey is a new series where entrepreneurs and Indie makers will share their honest SEO Journey filled with failure and success, and most importantly proven results. Episode #4 features Ray DelVecchio from Website Profit Course.
I’m Ray DelVecchio, and I’ve been building WordPress websites since 2009. Right now, I work with small business clients and teach what I’ve learned on my blog, Website Profit Course.
When I first started, I became fascinated by people who made a living from writing online. I tried several attempts to do the same, but they all failed to gain enough traction to become sustainable.
However, that experience taught me so much about SEO, link building, and the importance of being passionate about your work.
My First Success with SEO
The first website that I got ranked was a tech blog back in 2011 made on the free platform, Blogger. I wrote a post on how the newly released iPad didn’t support Adobe Flash, a popular internet technology of the era.
Today, it might be a “grey-hat” technique (or worse), but I signed up for a service that ran hundreds of blogs in a network designed to submit and share your articles with backlinks.
After a month or two of using that service, I’ll never forget when my traffic shot through the roof from a few visitors a day to almost 200 per day overnight once the post reached the top 5 in Google’s search results. It kept ascending, and I hit over 800 visitors in one day.
My only monetization method was inserting Google AdSense onto the blog, which resulted in roughly $1,000 in under a year.
Eventually, the Google algorithm caught on, the subject faded in popularity, and I stopped creating content. What I lacked was any form of content promotion or distribution – I would have benefited greatly from a cheat sheet like the SEO Checklist!
During this period, I took on hourly work from people in my network who needed a web presence. I realized that freelancing was a better method to make money fast than through passive blog monetization, which relies on high traffic.
How to Rank on Google Maps & Search
For client work, I dove into the world of local SEO to drive more leads to the websites I was building and maintaining for small businesses.
In the early days, on-page optimization was usually enough to separate yourself from the competition. That meant making sure you had a plugin like Yoast SEO installed to customize each page title and description, targeting the client’s primary services along with their local or regional modifier.
Then you want to break your page up into scannable sections, using keywords naturally within the headings and main content.
Another factor that I learned early was not simply optimizing search engines but also building trust with people. For instance, almost all small business websites lack simple things like:
- A picture of the owner and team
- A specific story of how/when the business began
- What separates you from competitors
- Honest reviews and testimonials
In today’s world, local SEO extends beyond the website into reputation management, where customers can leave reviews on dozens of websites.
Since I work mostly with local home service contractors, we focus mainly on Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Houzz, and Angie’s List.
Since Google is the primary source of traffic for all local businesses, it’s also essential to utilize the features available on your Google My Business profile. That means adding posts regularly, sharing photos of your work, and building a process with your sales team to encourage more ratings and reviews.
Here’s an example of how a tree service company I work with has grown their business each year by following these recommendations.
Many small businesses have had bad prior experiences with web designers and SEO agencies, and they’re continually looking for an easy button with short-term guaranteed results.
I always keep their expectations in check and promote these simple fundamentals as part of an ongoing strategy to rank better within the local search results.
For link building, the best options are:
- Manufacturer or supplier directories
- Local or industry associations
- Local networking groups
- Local sponsorships
- Partnerships with non-competing businesses
The home service industry is so far removed from advanced online marketing tactics that if you nail these basics, you have a high likelihood of becoming the go-to local service in your town and beyond.
A great tool that I use when redesigning a website for a local client is Screaming Frog SEO Spider, which crawls the website for all pages indexed within Google and allows you to export the information to a spreadsheet.
I then use this to ensure any existing URLs are redirected to the right page on the new WordPress website and improve the on-page SEO.
Content Strategy Behind My Blog
I decided in 2015 to give blogging another shot now that I had real stories to share about driving more business to my local client websites.
My primary goal was to build a following on YouTube and turn those videos into written content for my blog. As the SEO Checklist suggests, it’s crucial to turn your viewers into email subscribers so you have a direct communication line with them in the future, so I set that up from day one.
One of my most popular blog posts is how much to charge for a website, a question that all beginners struggle with when they are on the verge of landing their first web design client.
This topic of price applies to every industry, and every website should dedicate an article to it. People in research mode always want the ballpark cost of a project or service!
Another added benefit of making YouTube videos is they rank on Google, too. Here’s a look at my external traffic report on YouTube, which is mostly Google search.
Because YouTube content can get attention faster than a blog through suggested videos, one that brings many views early is a good indicator of a topic that also deserves a full-length written article.
The nice thing about YouTube today is you can get the closed captions of your video and use that as a first draft for a blog post instead of manually transcribing word-for-word. This tactic is something I’ve both done myself and outsourced when time is limited.
Now it’s time to discover the other 102 steps that will get more organic traffic flowing to your website. Get the SEO Checklist here.
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SEO Challenges & Future Plans
Like many others, I struggle with link building, and that’s an area I will focus on much more this year and beyond. Up until now, most of my exposure has come from consistently publishing content between my YouTube channel, blog, and email list.
As an introvert, I generally prioritize things I have 100% control over. However, that means I undervalue the benefit of reaching out to make connections with interesting people outside of those who find me.
That’s why I plan to do more guest posts (like this one) and find podcasts to have a conversation about my journey.