Since the last recession, I was flummoxed by lack of web traffic. I thought it was simply the downturn but I hadn't even heard of Google Analytics and lo and behold, my web was flagged for nasty backlinks.
- I wrote a letter to Google disavowing the backlinks. THAT DIDN'T WORK
- I revamped my old web and 'poured' it into a more 21st-century format with social media links, better sizable formatting for iPads and smartphones. THAT HELPED
For the past 15 years, being found on the internet was crucial to my survival. Most of my work was out of town, out of state in fact. Getting slammed by Google and not realizing it meant I have lost about 8 years of visibility and goodwill... online. I do not have club memberships in local organizations, I do not mix socially for business, etc. I am in an ivory tower...
- Still, experiencing low clicks or hardly any at all, I panicked. I took all content off my old web and put it under a new URL. Then I used the old url with new content on a more slick web format. DISASTER DISASTER DISASTER. Nearly all my healthy inbound links developed over 15 years went to a 411 dead zone. I believe Google nailed the coffin on that move.
- The first knee jerk moves were to buy Adwords and advertise on Facebook. NOPERS. You have to have a huge budget to land at the top of the first page of results for your terms. Thousands of dollars down the tube.
- I read about how videos were very important in today's marketing. I developed about 20. SUCCESS. These seem to be working and rank very high on YouTube's search for my terms.
- I started contacting previous builder clients locally and went to meet with them, showing them current and past work, etc. SOME MEASURE OF SUCCESS
- I started an email campaign in Florida and around the country. Hundreds of emails to builders and real estate agents. TOTAL FLOP. Either I am doing something wrong or appealing to the industry directly using this format is just not the thing to do.
- I sent out attractive mailers to the same group above. TOTAL FLOP. Not a single inquiry.
- I had played with Pinterest and posted many of my projects there. And the images DO show up on the image results, so SUCCESS. However, they do not translate into regular high web ranking results.
- I did a remodel for a past builder and had my name on his sign. SUCCESS - not immediate but I feel it coming.
- A builder from last year contacted me to do a rush job in a historical area. SUCCESS - sign in ground in an area outside the typical gated communities. Not immediate but I feel it coming.
- I used an online SEO program to find all bad backlinks and digitally disavowed them. VERY SLOW GO
- I tried Facebook, I have a page, but have not managed to make it work for me. NO GO.
- I have joined the Google Business system and have another web basically that has brought in several local inquiries SUCCESS
- What I would say has worked best has been cultivating existing and nearby connections, old business associates, and making new connections face to face! SUCCESS
- I continue to blog on AR. SUCCESS. Most of my articles can come up using certain terms but the images especially, tagged with my name, are helping to populate the image section of search results. Very important to me as people look for images when searching an architect or probably looking to buy a house. AR adds the credibility aspect to anything you post. Gladly, no one has looked me up for ideas about Mediterranean cuisine, horror movies, or cellphone addiction...
- THE BOTTOM LINE -- I think you need to approach SEO from a strong base and a good budget. A pro should be engaged who can do what's necessary. HOWEVER, many of us are single owner businesses and when your back is against the wall there is simply no budget to deal with: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Adwords, Video production, Email marketing, Direct Mail, Google Business, Blogging, Web design, SEO, etc. You would need two or three full-time staff or an enormous budget to cover all these duties. And we have all been digitally brainwashed to RELY on these methods to bring in business while completely disregarding the personal face to face world, even the telephone! - to make contact and bring in work. We all still have to do this on top of the digital methods. It means that the sole proprietor in a small firm is responsible for most or all of the digital marketing. It can't be done.
- (and we haven't even begun to discuss Niches, Branding, Team Building, time management, goal setting, motivation, etc.)