Welcome to Eventual Millionaire. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Arthur Cooper on the show. Arthur owns a couple companies. One is called ACTEL and the other is called Optimum7 and I am really excited to get into detail on 35 years of his business experience. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Arthur.
ARTHUR COOPER: It’s great. Glad to be here.
JAIME TARDY: Perfect. Why don’t we sort of get into, I mean 35 years of business experience, how did it all start? Did you know you were going to be an entrepreneur since you were little? What was that first company that you start?
AC: The first company I started was really after 12 years, almost 12 years of working for others. That’s too long of a story for an interview like this, but the bottom line is I had had it in terms of working for other people. Not so much working for other people but also the realization, in larger companies, which I was in at the tail end of my employee period, of my career, I was just very frustrated with the fact that decisions really were not being made from a business standpoint. They were more political and my body just doesn’t tolerate that. Yes, I struggled with moving forward in my life to have my own business, build my own business and I did that.
I won’t spend a lot of time telling you about the first company that I started but it was very, very successful. I say past tense. It still exists, ACTEL, but it is in the process of winding down and I’ll explain that very, very quickly. ACTEL was in the business and still is in the business of public telecommunications. Remember the good old payphone? Well, ACTEL owned and operated and later on consulted in that business. Yes I actually owned payphones in places like Dunkin Donuts and bodegas and train stations and things like that and it was a great business. It was a great business for a long time.
I don’t think it’s news to any one of your listeners that the use of payphones has been declining for some time. We all know that it’s the cell phone that did that and frankly, if you want one specific, was in 1997, I don’t know how many of your listeners can remember back to 1997, but when AT&T came out with their one rate plan that was the day that I knew that ACTEL was not forever and the reason why I tell that story frankly is that that was the beginnings of Optimum7 actually. Not that I started the next day with this great idea for Optimum7 but that was the moment in time when I said I need to prepare to not be behind the technological world but to be in front of the technological world. That was the real seeds of Optimum7.
JT: Okay. It’s funny; just the other day I was talking to a friend about payphones and I was going man whoever has a company that owns payphones, I hope they are doing something else. I seriously said that. I was like I hope they figured out something else, because this is not where it’s going.
AC: It is not for the future.
JT: That’s really amazing that you sort of had that foresight of knowing that it’s not going, a lot of the times when people, especially business owners, love their company, especially if it was the first company that you really started, it must hurt to realize that the trend isn’t going that way. How did you sort of really recognize that the trend wasn’t there and be okay with having your company start to dwindle?
AC: I think that’s a great question and I think the answer to it is recognizing what business that you’re actually in. I didn’t see myself as in the payphone business. I saw myself in the communications business. The tool that I was using to be in the communications business, however, was becoming an anvil, if you will, versus the machinery that was developed through the industrial revolution. I think you can catch my drift with that. Clearly I looked for other things. Please don’t get the idea that I didn’t try things and failed, because I did try things and fail. Failure is part of this.
Anybody who hasn’t failed is either not doing well or they are not telling you everything about their past. In the late 90s, when the internet was starting to take hold, I tried to have installed in strategic locations, internet kiosks, right, internet kiosks in strategic locations; but I made a fatal error and the fatal error was not realizing that people really don’t want to pay to use the internet in a public place. Before I lost too much money, I exited that business. That’s all part of it. There were lots of different things that I have tried. Some were successes but certainly there were failures and you learn a lot from those things and if you don’t fail, you haven’t tried enough things.
JT: Let’s talk about that, because that’s the thing, especially new entrepreneurs, especially since you were a day job kind of person before, when someone is just getting out of a day job they hope that that first success or whatever it is, that first business is a huge success. Like you said, you need to be trying a lot of things and so they get disillusioned like oh no, now this failed, I am not an entrepreneur. But really, of course, we know logically that failure happens. Tell me about your process though because I think this is really interesting. How do you know when that thing is going to work or not work?
I know Seth Godin wrote a great book called The Dip but it’s really hard to recognize, especially if it’s your idea and your business. How did you know, especially with the internet kiosks, right, tell me about sort of the evolution of starting it, you probably some success in the initial outcome, if you kept pouring money into it, and when you realized that was sort of not, that you had to call it quits?
AC: It comes down to, in every business; every business needs to have what I call a unit profit model. Like I said before, you try and I had put a few units in and I put a few more units in and a few more units and I had about 20 units. When I first started in payphones I had that same amount ten years prior. The difference is that 20 was the end of my kiosks and 20 was just the beginning of the payphones but it comes back to that unit profit model. As you can imagine, there is a capital investment involved in that type of business, whether you use your own capital resources or develop a relationship with a lender.
You still have to one way or another pay yourself back or pay the lender back and it has to be done in a specific period of time to justify the investment. It really comes down to; excuse me for getting boring, but basic accounting. If the inflows are not justifying the outflows, in other words, it’s just like if you are on boat somewhere, if you are taking on water, there’s a certain point where you have to take action. That’s the best way I can answer your question in terms of a process. It’s really a matter of monitoring results. To be most basic about it, it’s monitoring results.
JT: It’s funny; especially newer entrepreneurs like the sexier stuff, right? Not the oh I have to actually look at my accounting and my numbers and see what it’s telling me instead of going no this is great, let’s do this. Where does that happen though? Especially for you, you had 20, and you were like okay should I keep this going for longer? Maybe it’s an upward trend and it’s taking awhile to get going. Did you have any of that stuff or did you just look at the numbers and go that’s not good?
AC: I looked at the numbers and I talked to people. I talked to people. I keep doing research even though you’ve done research in the past and it became clear to me that people really don’t want to put quarters in a machine for internet access the way they used to for payphones and still do believe it or not.
JT: What? People use payphones?
AC: It’s almost gone but they still do, believe it.
JT: Good. Tell me then about the next idea that you had. Tell me about the timeframe too. How long were you doing that business or the failure of the business?
AC: The kiosks only lasted about a year. I exited that business as soon as I came to the conclusion that there is not a positive outcome here. I just didn’t see it working. I don’t want to take up all of your time but I have always been entrepreneurial and I was doing a great deal of business simultaneously to the work I was doing with ACTEL and the kiosks. I was very involved in business targeted at immigrants but having to do with telecommunications. That was the phone cards, which are still used today simply because the phone cards are used by immigrants in great numbers to lower their costs for calling home, calling overseas, calling to Latin America, calling to Central America.
That was very, very successful but it had a limited timeframe to it and the reason why it had a limited timeframe is because the best way I could put it is they were undesirable influences in that business that really made the business impossible over the longer term to be profitable. I don’t want to give you a New Jersey Sopranos, but it’s not far from that.
JT: Really? Okay.
AC: The exit strategy is very important at all times.
JT: So do you decide on the exit strategy before you get into something?
AC: No, because you don’t know what the circumstances are. I mean there are certain common sense exit strategy issues. Again, if you’re not making money and the trend is not your friend, it’s time to start thinking about alternatives.
JT: Where did you go from there? You tried a couple things. You still know payphones are going down. Then what?
AC: All throughout I had been successful as a distributor and as a marketer of computer graphics equipment including phone recorders. That sustained me. ACTEL and the payphone sustained me. But, as we got into the early 2000s, ACTEL, for one, was, let’s put it this way, not intellectually challenging. I developed a great system. I never went out into the field. I was never like a collector or repairer. I always had people to do that. Basically, it was a high tech business because I was able to monitor everything from this very chair.
The system was so smooth I had more and more time on my hands and I am not the kind of person who likes to have a lot of time on my hands. I simply began investigating, because I love business. I just do. I love it and by the way, passion has everything to do with any bit of success I’ve ever had. If you’re not passionate about what you do, don’t do it. Don’t do it because it won’t work. Generally speaking, what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about are generally one in the same thing.
JT: Interesting. Let’s talk about this, because we hear a lot, especially online, like follow your passion, go after your passion. It’s funny because it actually has got kind of a bad stigma and a lot of the things that I’ve been going through with a lot of the millionaires is that it’s not necessarily just about your passion. I think you probably agree with this too. It’s not go find your passion and of course you can make money at it because you are passionate about it.
AC: No, no, no.
JT: That’s rainbows and unicorns; that’s not the real world. Tell me your shtick.
AC: Let me explain what I mean by passion and where it actually does fit. The passionate person takes a look at something in their business and sees that they don’t know much about that aspect of their business and they say I’ve got to get good at that. The dispassionate person sees that and says oh I’m not very good at that. Do you understand the difference?
JT: Yes, that’s a big distinction.
AC: That’s what I really mean by passion. I’m not talking about a passion for something that isn’t profitable. I’m talking about what you have inside, what you have to bring to the table every single day in terms of dealing with obstacles. A lot of people, problems and opportunities are two sides of the same coin sometimes but problems are part of business and there is nobody that doesn’t have problems in business. Another piece of advice is okay, be passionate but don’t wear rose-colored glasses on top of that. It’s not just being passionate for passionate sake. It’s being passionate to be able to see through everything that your company faces, that your business faces regardless of the obstacles.
JT: So sort of holding that vision for success so you can get through the walls to get to the vision instead of letting those walls just stop you at every turn.
AC: Exactly. A passionate person would break down those walls, circumvent those walls, will deal with those walls. The dispassionate person would not. They will retreat.
JT: It’s funny; a motto that I love is no matter what or do what it takes. If you have that attitude and that’s sort of what you are saying as far as passion goes. If you have that attitude, well I can figure this out; no matter what I’m going to figure this out then that will carry you through way more than yeah I think this is good, I’m not really sure and that’s really what we’re talking about. Awesome.
That is a huge distinction though because a lot of people and I get this a lot, I just created a course, which will be coming out, called How Millionaires Start Their Businesses and one of the myths though is that you find what you’re good at, right, a lot of people are like I’m great at photography or I am great at this or I am great at this and I am going to go do that. I’m going to help people do this one thing and there might not even be a market there. You’re not saying necessarily go out and just do what you’re passionate about and the money will follow. You’re talking about something very different.
AC: I think I can add to what you’re saying or add to what I was saying before by simply saying you have to have a passion for business. Aside from any other passion that you might have, it has to do with business. You have to have a passion for the business itself.
JT: Did you always have a passion, like did you always know, even when you were working for someone else, that you were really excited about business?
AC: Yes. I’ve always been a hustler going all the way back to when I was a child. I mean 8 years old I got my dad to drive me around to deliver Sunday newspapers and I made my $2 a week and I was happy. I was happy and then one thing after another, I’ve always worked but I’ve always loved it. To me, it’s not work. Those are other clichés. If you are having fun you’ve never worked a day in your life. I kind of feel that way but again, for your viewers, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had days from hell.
JT: Thank you.
AC: That happens; that happens, but you got to come back stronger the next day. It’s just part of it.
JT: Awesome. You can’t love absolutely everything.
JT: Let’s talk a little bit about how you actually came to Optimum7 and how that sort of started coming about.
AC: Great. Optimum7, first of all I just want to say Optimum7 is my extreme passion now.
JT: Can you tell me a bit about what it is too so that way everybody knows?
AC: Yes, absolutely. Optimum7 is a full-service internet marketing company and our specialties however are search engine optimization (SEO), paid search or sponsored search, website design and development, custom programming, reputation management. There is a great deal more I could say but those are some of the major services that we offer and really excel at, which is one of the reasons I am so excited.
JT: How did you get into that to begin with?
AC: Again it goes back to me realizing I was in the communications business and the marketing business. I’ve always been in marketing so there’s no distinction there. Everything starts with a simple idea. The simple idea was and this is simply by me researching different business opportunities where I came on something that made a lot of sense and that is that no matter how great our website may look, it could be the Marilyn Monroe of websites, it could be the Angelina Jolie of websites, if nobody knows that it exists, it’s not going to do you any good.
That was the first simple idea then. I became a minor student at the time in search engine optimization and what I did was I bought a franchise believe it or not, in 2005, from a South Florida company to develop business in Northern New Jersey, where I am currently located and basically my job was to use my business skills to bring great clients into our services, the franchisor would provide them services which were SEO and website design. For about 18 months that’s pretty much the way it was. It became very clear to me that the franchisor really didn’t have the tickets to really take this where it needs to be. Results were spotty. The results weren’t what I would want.
JT: So you are talking about the results of the end client, the end customer?
AC: Right. I just didn’t feel like the commitments were there. I was the number one franchisee almost out of the box. It was basically, again, having to do with the passion, you know, believing in this as a real wave of the future back in ’05. To make a long story short on that, I negotiated a separation with the franchise work. During that time, I met a consultant for that company and kind of a mutual admiration society developed. His name is Duran Inci; he’s my partner at Optimum7. It all developed from those earlier days in ‘05 and ’06.
In ’07 we emerged as Optimum7 and the website was born, I can tell you, November 15, 2007 and we were starting from scratch. We had a Google page rank zero; if you know what I mean by that. It’s just another way of saying we started from scratch and today we enjoy being the provider of services for a good number of problems. Your audience should understand that search engine optimization is highly intensive, highly consultative. It’s just very intense work, for a relatively few clients. When I say relatively few clients, if I was a hosting company, we do hosting, but that’s really not our business.
But if we were a hosting company, you have thousands of clients. In SEO and internet marketing, if you are doing the real deal, you’re talking about hundreds and you’re at the top of the business, because you really can’t, in this particular environment of work, really do a great job. It’s a lot of interaction with the client, a lot of back and forth, a lot of collaboration, but it’s very, very rewarding for us in our business and for our clients. To see, to be able to take a client whose really in oblivion online, in terms of visibility; to take that and take that client and go step by step with the processes that we have developed and really generate the results, I can’t tell you what a satisfying feeling that is and to get paid well to do that. All that is great.
JT: It’s a win-win for everyone. I want to talk about SEO after, but I sort of want to go back just a little bit because you were talking about getting a franchise and it’s really interesting because you were already a business owner. A lot of people go for franchises because they don’t know how to own a business yet and that’s sort of an easier way to go. What made you decide to go with a franchise instead and what would you have done differently now?
AC: Okay. I must say I don’t think I would have done it differently but I will tell you why with a franchise. There was a very specific reason. I knew nothing on a relative basis about internet search technology. For me to try and do that on my own and, by the way, for anybody, to try and do it on their own by themselves, I would not recommend. I mean we’ve got 13 full-time people, in our Miami office. Not a single one of them could do all of the things for even a single client that has to be done because there is a lot of specialties, subspecialties and it’s getting even more so because the online technology, the Google search technology is changing by leaps and bounds.
It’s going to be more sophisticated over time and frankly, while it’s a challenge, it’s welcomed by our company because it has made us that much better. That’s a great thing. So anyway, getting back to your question about franchising, the best thing I can offer to your audience about franchising is to understand that all you’re doing is buying a system. Assuming you’re buying a good franchise, you’re buying into a system of doing business, however I’ve seen many, many times people buy franchises and think the magic pipe comes crashing through the living room wall filled with cash and it just keeps growing. All the franchise offers is, like I said, that system of doing business.
You still have to, in my case, produce the clients. You have to create the interest. You have to do many things on your own. It’s just that in a franchise there is a system there and I needed that system because I did not have the expertise and I couldn’t have done Optimum7 without that original experience and this is true in everything that I’ve done. Really what you’re doing is, when you get started, you’re getting a foothold in terms of your business. You don’t know everything that there is to know on day one, nobody does. All you’re doing is getting a foothold when you get started. It’s that commitment and that word passion again that takes it into the next step and the next tier.
I actually sound like I know what I am doing when I talk to people about internet technology. That wasn’t possible seven years ago. The one thing I am good at is being able to translate what technology does for the end user but now I can actually hold my own with even some geeky google.
JT: Go for the geeks! Most of my audience knows I am a huge geek. I think the interesting that you were talking about also; well first, thank you for saying that it’s just a system, because a lot of people don’t understand that. They think that they don’t have to sell and market or learn that stuff because it’s sort of already done for them. It’s already done for them. But what was really interesting that you said was that you were selling the stuff and you didn’t even know how to do it, which is really hard for somebody that’s just starting out. If they don’t really know, they feel like they can’t be confident in it. Give me some ideas; how were you able to become one of the top producers of this franchise when you didn’t even really know that much about the technology?
AC: First of all, like you said, you have to start somewhere and you do get some training and every day you train. It’s on the job training and you’re learning and you’re finding out what works and what doesn’t work. I think the most important thing is not to fear, not to fear success or being thrown out of somebody’s office because it’s obvious you don’t.
JT: I was going to say, were you thrown out of somebody’s office?
AC: I was just going to qualify that. That literally really hasn’t happened to me; however, in trying to answer your question, you learn step by step. But having said all that, if nothing else, I’m an old salesman. There is no relation between product knowledge. There is no straight line relationship between product knowledge and success in selling or gaining new clients. The straighter line relationship is understanding what those products do for the client or the customer.
In other words, and again I don’t want to get geeky here, you know, if you are in SEO are you’re selling a back link strategy or are you selling a visibility strategy? For the purpose of not only getting more visitors but actually converting those visitors into paying customers. Does anyone want to hear about a back link or do they want to hear what I just said? I would tend to think the later.
JT: At the very beginning also, you knew what business you were in. You said you weren’t in the payphone business; you were in the communication business, which is huge.
AC: By the way, let me relate that to where we are today. We are not in the SEO business; we are in the internet marketing business because, as we speak, and again I don’t want to get too far afield here, but SEO, with all the changes that have been going on, SEO is not SEO anymore the way most people think about it. SEO is marketing. It’s real marketing, which is great, from my standpoint. That’s terrific because it’s the real deal. It’s not trying to game the system trying to trick Google.
JT: Thank goodness. That’s what it used to be and now that they are changing things, like you said, you’re actually on the top end, which is good.
JT: Let’s talk about some SEO or some internet marketing. A lot of the people that listen to this are starting an online business or interested in online business and, of course, like you said, have a website, nobody comes to it, they know they need to do something, but things are changing constantly. SEO is pretty pricy. All this sort of stuff; we don’t know if it really works. Tell me your take from all the clients that you’ve had, maybe some of the successes that you’ve seen and why you think this is a good strategy.
AC: Well absolutely. If you’re going to have a website, make sure that you also ask yourself what the job description of that website is. It has to have a purpose. Most people in business are looking for a form submission, a phone call, a subscription; we call it conversion. There are two major elements that have to occur for that. You have to be visible number one and number two, the site has to be conversionable, right. How can you do that online?
Google still controls overwhelming majority and search in general. If you take the big three – Google, Yahoo! and Bing; if you’re not found on there, your business objectives or the job of the website, you’re going to fail. You are going to fail, if you are relying, if you need online business, the source from online, you have to be on the first page of Google. Not necessarily for an individual keyword but for lots and lots of keywords. There is a lot of misconceptions about keywords which I realized was probably afield from our conversation here.
I would say to anybody who has a website, the website, if you have business objectives online, you need to get found. You need to find a good internet marketing company and yes it is pricy and you have to be very, very careful because any number you come up with that you feel you can afford, somebody will tell you that they can do it. You have to be really, really careful because there are those that are looking to take your money and there are those that are looking to get your results. It comes down to a very basic tenant that we have at Optimum7, something that I live by, something that we repeat often.
Jaime, if you were my potential client, I would be telling you and making it very clear to you that I am going to tell you what you need to know which may very well not be what you want to hear. That, by the way, is in fact why we don’t hire salespeople in the traditional sense of having salespeople. I am, as President and CEO, the person who speaks to all new potential clients. I do get some assistance in terms of some technical kinds of issues, but this business can’t be built upon sales. It has to be built on clients and there is a big difference.
JT: Can you give me any strategies or tips or words to listen for? Some people are really good at talking and I’ve heard from people I’ve dumped money into SEO and it didn’t really do anything and all this stuff. Give us some ideas, before we hire an SEO person, whether it be you guys or somebody else, but give us some ideas on what we need to know to sort of qualify people.
AC: Great question and I’ll try to keep it as short as possible, but I have a lot to say on this. Number one, you need to know the bad news about SEO. Number one it’s expense. Number two it takes time and therefore patience and you can’t stop because the moment you stop you will start to fail and those are the most important. It’s like just eating the onions on a shish kabob, it doesn’t taste that good. You need to know that. In terms of evaluating an SEO company, I think I can speak to that pretty well.
If the SEO company is emphasizing the central importance of new fresh well written content or well produced content, in the case of videos or podcasts, that’s a good sign. If you don’t hear very much about that, not a good sign. If you are a local business, you should plan on expecting to spend at least an average of $1,000 a month for local SEO. If you are a national business, it’s more like four times that, on an average.
JT: I appreciate that.
AC: By the way, when I provide those numbers I am including our copywriting services as part of the SEO. That’s how important content is. Now we do have alternatives for clients. We are pretty flexible. Some clients actually prefer to write their own content. What we do is we assign them content based on our keyword or topic research and social media research, because it’s always nice to know what your target is looking for and what they are asking online before you start producing content. Anyway, my point is that 20 percent of our clients write their own content for one of two reasons – one to save money certainly and number two because they simply feel more comfortable writing about their own things.
We have a small army of copywriters. We have both in house but we also have 1099 type of employees that work from home that write for our clients. To get back to the question what should they be looking for in SEO – content driven, an onsite strategy and an offsite strategy that the content straddles. In other words, the content is a major component of both onsite and offsite strategies. Social media has to be a big part of that offsite optimization. One of the holy grails is something called naturally occurring back links. This is as opposed to gaming the system, getting links from things like link farms and content farms and things like that.
This is the kind of thing that went on for a long, long time and things like Google panda and Google penguin, which are really evidence of Google’s technological progress, really penalizes sites that try to do that. The other thing, I mean I can talk all day about SEO, but again, for your listeners, it’s very important that you see case studies and that you interview, not reference check, that you actually interview some clients which means not saying, “Hey did you like Optimum7?” That’s a yes or no question. Anybody could be put up to that.
You have to ask more penetrating questions. In other words, you ask essay type questions. Describe for me how XYZ company has benefitted you over the last 12 months or what have been the business results that you’ve seen in the past 6 months or 12 months?
JT: Results, yes. We need to know that. You need to actually have results beforehand before I want to give you my money. That’s really good, that’s a really good point though that it’s not about like getting just testimonials or hearing about people. It’s actually talking to them.
AC: Yes, you got to talk to them, interact with them and, by the way, one other thing that we do, which is not completely unique to Optimum7; I am aware that there are other companies that do this, but we also have as a major component a performance-based fee system. Our clients know that they will not pay a maximum fee until and unless we actually achieve certain metrics. The reason why we did that goes back to a business decision we made back in ’08. Basically, as you may imagine, people don’t contact us because things are going well. They are contacting us, they are frustrated, they are disappointed at previous hires or they tried to do it themselves, in some cases.
Ultimately, they are really angry and what they were angry about, in so many cases, is that they paid the same amount of money regardless of the result level. Me and my partner, Duran, we got together one afternoon. I said, you know, we’ve got two strikes against us and they don’t even know who we are. We’ve devised and designed a performance-based fee structure to demonstrate. It’s a market response, if you will, demonstrate to our existing clients as well as our new clients that we have skin in the game.
JT: That’s really interesting. It’s funny because one of my friends does an SEO company and I was asking her, going why can’t you guarantee? I know as a business owner I know costs and all that stuff, but is there any way that you can say I will guarantee you do this or you get this much money back or whatever. She’s like that’s not feasible. I’m like I know, but that, as a customer, that’s what I want. I want someone to be able to be in it so much and that’s sort of what you’re saying. You have some skin. That’s what I want to know. I want you to be like right there trying to do it as best as you can too.
AC: One key to the business and you heard me say it before, we’re not in this for sales, we’re in this for clients. It just doesn’t work if you have a 12-month agreement and the client leaves. The cost of acquisition is just not worth it, I mean client acquisition. You have to hold on to your clients. Our oldest client is still with us. He pays us top dollar. He wouldn’t do it just because he likes my face, actually nobody would do it, but that’s another story. But seriously, it’s all about having a long, because this is a marriage, it’s not a date.
That’s a big difference. If we wanted to buy the new iPhone today, go down to the Apple store and we just buy it. Instant gratification, right? SEO is not that way.
JT: Which is what makes it difficult. That’s sort of the thing. That’s what a lot of people and me too, where putting time and effort into something that’s going to take a very long time when you don’t know whether or not you are going to get results is a hard thing. I’ve heard this and I know this too, is it too late? Have these people, your clients have been doing it for years and years and years. I could never come across that many back links especially that well when they have been doing it for so long.
AC: Fortunately, first of all it’s never too late. I don’t mean that as a cliché. It’s truly not too late simply because of changes in Google’s technology for one. You don’t have to have a bazillion back links. As a matter of fact, back link quantity is not that desirable to begin with. It’s back link quality and what that means, what back link quality simply means is the quality of the sites that are linking to. That means quality sites, like your content so much they are actually willing to look to you and that people are willing to tweet and retweet your content that you are sharing with your circles.
Google Plus plus one and Pinterest pinning it, all those kinds of things. Those are the human social signals that Google and the other search engines are using. It’s really not too late and also, I have to share with you, 99 percent of websites out there are invisible. They are invisible because they are not doing what they need to do.
JT: Let’s talk about that then too. What sort of process, especially for someone who maybe isn’t really into it, doesn’t have a big enough company that can pay tons of money for SEO, tell me about what your process is for taking someone through and sort of, it seems like a maze, right. There is social media and there’s this and there’s this and there’s content and blah, blah, blah. Is there a step by step thing that you take clients through? Can you shed some light?
AC: Well we do have an actual document that we share with people freely and I’ll share it with you even, Jaime.
JT: Perfect, that would be great.
AC: It’s simply called SEO Methodology and we update it as technology updates, if you know what I mean. But basically what I said before is probably the best way to explain it. Yes it is step by step, it is processes. There are certain things that are done, for the most part, one time kind of stuff but there’s a whole bunch of things that are done on a consistent basis. For instance, Google webmaster crawlers, we do that every three days for every single client, because you need to do that to keep the site error free and not causing negatives to the ranking factors.
But, to try and answer your question, remember I said before there’s onsite optimization, there’s offsite optimization. Onsite optimization, as the name implies, are all the things that are done on the site, underneath the hood of the site, all the geeky things that are done. My best analogy for that is it’s like the foundation of your house. You absolutely must have that foundation but by itself, like as the foundation of a house, you can’t just live in the foundation. You can’t rank page one of Google for anything with just onsite optimization with that foundation, but it’s critical because you cannot do successful offsite optimization just how you can’t start building the frame to the house without that foundation.
So offsite optimization again, as the name implies, has to do with things that are done outside of the website and that includes things like social media. It includes what you and I are doing today, Jaime. I mean to get mentions in the media. Those are important to Google and there’s a lot of different ways to do it. This happens to be just one way, but there’s a lot of ways of doing it. All of these things, you know, mentions, getting back links, people tweeting, retweeting, plus oning, all those things, those social signals, those offsite signals linking right back to your site drives roundings.
Those are the key elements. Like I say, there are some things that are done mainly one time and there are other things, content writing, you know, that’s constant. Back link earning, I don’t like to call it back link building, but I should say that one of the top people in our business, his name is Rand Fishkin, is the person that actually coined that term.
JT: I need to have him on the show too. My friend had him on. I need to have him on the show.
AC: He’s terrific. He has his whiteboard Fridays and he is very well followed. He obviously knows his stuff. He’s at the top of business. That’s what offsite optimization is all about. It’s the most important part of it. But having said all of these things, remember SEO is no more than marketing.
JT: What I actually liked about what you talk about is it all sort of works together online which is really interesting. A lot of people, like I remember going I am not doing anything with SEO, whatever, and I just started doing social media and trying to get guest posts. It was back link strategy but it wasn’t for SEO. Turns out I was like number 8 for the term millionaire and I didn’t even know it and that’s a huge keyword. I was like sweet, I did SEO and I didn’t even know it. No idea whatsoever, but that’s sort of the piece that it all works together.
AC: What you’re saying is so revealing actually because it really isn’t SEO anymore. You got there naturally. That’s exactly what Google is trying to get rid of is the unnatural stuff. You got there naturally. That goes hand in hand with what’s going on.
JT: The question though and this is the question that I have too, how much, right, because it always seems like it’s never enough. It’s hard, as a business owner, and I love marketing, but it’s hard as a business owner to go it’s never enough, it’s never enough, it’s never enough, like keep going, more retweets, more this, more links, more everything. It’s all about more, more, more; there is no end game and it makes it very difficult to sustain or do.
AC: It’s a competitive world. You got to monitor your stats, see what the effect is of the things that you’re doing and if you’re not getting the business online, you know, the online arm of your overall marketing strategy, you got to do either more of what you’re doing, if it’s successful or broadening what you’re doing into other areas and there is a lot of broadening that can be done. Again, it’s all really about marketing. There aren’t a lot of people out there that are pitching stories to the press. That’s an excellent way of getting notoriety and getting mentions and that affects and I think more and more will affect search engine rankings.
JT: It’s funny that you say that because I have a whole talk on how to get mentioned in the press because I’ve been on CNN and Yahoo! and all this stuff too all from guest posts and it’s kind of crazy. A really good friend of mine named Pat Flynn has a great site called Smart Passive Income and he talked about the exact same thing and getting mentions in press, because they are such high quality links, make a difference. Like you said, that’s just marketing. So as long as we continually try and market, that definitely helps.
AC: By the way, this is something that we just started within the past few months, we recognize that there are a lot of people that don’t have $1,000 a month to support their local business online in terms of marketing and we’ve come up with some strategies that are less, but they are not SEO. They are not SEO. We have a press release strategy. We have a PR outreach strategy that we’re promoting, for those people who cannot afford, in other words, people who need to walk before they can run. We recognize there are, not everybody has $1,000 a month to invest right away but the main thing is do something because the site is not going to appear magically.
JT: Yes, darn!
AC: You have to do stuff.
JT: Yes, unfortunately, you actually have to do something. Let me say too, it’s really easy to talk about SEO and yes you do this stuff and it’s great and all this stuff happens and it is. It is complex. Not only the SEO strategy and all the metatags and all the craziness that can go along with it but even once you have traffic, the conversion to make sure that they are the right people right, maybe they are looking at keywords. There’s a thousand different facets and that’s why it is not as easy as it is, as it looks, when we just talk about it, but just to sort of get that out there, unfortunately, but once it works, it works. Why don’t you, before we wrap up with the last question, why don’t you give me one really big success story so we can get inspiration on like a site from before and after and sort of the success.
AC: For sure. I’m thinking of one not too far from our Miami office, probably about 100 miles to the north and east. He came to us about three and a half years ago and his website traffic, total traffic from all sources, was about 3,000 visits or about 100 visitors a day. He wasn’t invisible.
JT: What kind of company was he?
AC: Security equipment, mainly security cameras, both commercial and residential. I said 3,000 a month but I believe about 500 a month of that actually came from search engines. That site now is getting about 42,000 visits a month from search engines and what we did is the blocking and tackling of internet marketing, which is the regular production of the new, fresh, non-duplicate content, the titles of which, the subjects of which are well researched and promoting that content online. Develop that following.
JT: I’m assuming that’s also converting stuff too so it’s not just 42,000 of random people, it’s converting for them also.
AC: The owner of that business would not continue to be writing checks if it wasn’t.
JT: Right! He’s probably in the $4,000 a month or something like that range because he’s a national company.
AC: Yes, national campaigns, national and global campaigns are going to be, on average, $4,000 for the first 12 months. By the way, when I say that average, I’m including our performance-based fee and I am include all of our copywriting services. It’s about one fourth that for the local clients, about $1,000.
JT: It’s easier to rank for local than it is for global anything.
AC: It is but it has its own challenges. It has its own challenges. We’ll come back to interview me about that some other time.
JT: Yes and definitely. Things keep constantly changing and so thank goodness, like you said, it’s sort of, to me, it’s a wonderful thing. I’ve had people, I’ve even had clients that sort of got chopped down from panda and penguin and that really sucks. They will even admit that they were link building and so unfortunately that’s it. We’re really trying to have the cream of the crop rise to the top. Now we know and we’re doing the best we can with what we have.
AC: If I might add, the thing I am most proud of with Optimum7 is I could actually share my screen with you and go open up my Google analytics for all of our clients and show a two-year history of the traffic. This is what I am proud of is there is no decline in traffic throughout that period, growth continued, which means obviously that Google panda had nothing to penalize us for and Google penguin had nothing to penalize us for.
I’m very, very proud of that, because we really stuck to our guns. We stayed away from shortcuts and gaming the system. We felt like we had excellent vision of where this was going. We feel like we still have excellent vision of where it’s going and we have a lot of plans for the future, in terms of how we feel this is all going to be developing.
JT: And it’s funny, because I did have a whole thing, questions about trends, but we don’t have enough time right now. I do have to wrap up with the last question that I always ask. It flew by. What’s one action that listeners can take this week to help move them forward towards their goal of a million?
AC: I actually already said it. Follow your passion and make sure that your passion includes a passion for the business itself. In other words, if it’s photography, wonderful, but make sure you’re passionate about the business and understand that you’ll never be successful, to the extent that you really need to be in business, unless you’re really loving what you’re doing and you’re really paying attention and you are willing to dust yourself off every single day, no matter how many times you might get knocked down.
I would say passion and persistence. That’s what I would say and by the way, there’s no such thing, don’t ever let anybody tell you you can’t, tell you about your business idea being poor because everybody is always going to tell you that your business idea is poor. Why? Because they haven’t through it through; they don’t have a feel for it. If I listen to people that I have spoken to in the past, I would have never, ACTEL would have never happened, Optimum7 would have never happened, all kinds of things. You can’t do that. I realize I probably gave you a lot more than you were looking for with that answer.
JT: You know what, I need to ask a follow-up question too, because you talk about your passion. How do we know? Do you have a test question? How do we know whether or not because some people may be like well I like it?
AC: You’re so excited you can’t sleep at night. You’re so excited you can’t sleep at night, you’re waking up two hours earlier than you ever did before because you can’t wait to get to it. You look up and it’s a quarter to seven at night and you expected to see 3:00 in the afternoon.
JT: As I look at the clock and I’m like we’ve been talking about this stuff way too long. Good to know! Yes, definitely time goes by. Perfect. Thank you so much, Arthur. Where can we find more about you online, your site, all that fun stuff?
AC: It’s simple – www.optimum7.com. You can follow me on Twitter at @ArthurCooper and if you go to the about us page on Optimum7, there are links to my LinkedIn, to my Twitter, to my Facebook, as well as my partner who, by the way, is much more interesting than me.
JT: Oh well, why didn’t I know that beforehand?!
AC: You might want to interview him for a whole different reason someday.
JT: Definitely. I totally will. Thank you so much. We’ll definitely link everything up for you. I really appreciate it, Arthur. Have a great day.
AC: My pleasure. Bye-bye now.
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