Reading Time: 6 minutes
I’d just been rapping back and forth with George, an old friend of mine for a few days and at the same time I’d noticed that our inbound leads had taken a 45% drop – which was hugely concerning for me.
This gave me cause to ask my SEO team – what’s going on?
Why have our leads dropped?
Upon asking them these questions the answers I got were:
- Organic traffic looks stable
- Rankings look stable
- Referral traffic looks stable
- Conversions look stable from website to calendar booking
This got me scratching my head as I was trying to understand why the actual calendar bookings had dropped and then in parallel those who were booking were Indian startups who pretty much exclusively couldn’t afford our services.
…a couple of days went past with me asking…
No answers and the leads didn’t increase.
One day I decided to dive into Google Analytics myself and within 5 minutes identified that the directory traffic that was generating multiple phone calls for us had dropped.
It had dropped by half, and the SEO team had missed it.
They’d solely looked at the top-level referral traffic number and seen only a 5% drop and had chosen not to look any further.
I’d looked further and quickly identified that within the referral traffic section it was one specific directory that had lost us a large amount of traffic and that a couple of others had grown but weren’t providing any commercial benefit.
This led me to hit up the directory (Clutch) and begin to investigate both my profile on Clutch, as well as working with their support team to identify what had caused the drop.
I’d actually recently made some changes to the profile description as it was good for SEO and wondered if that had inadvertently triggered a decline in the referral traffic.
My heart raced as I went somewhat into fight or flight mode. If leads don’t continue what am I going to do – how is this going to play out? This will only be bad for Pearl Lemon.
With this fear that drove me I started generating new activity on all my friends in a dizzying series of adjustments to try and uncover the source of the lead drop and rectify it.
In trying to rectify this problem I soon discovered many many other problems.
It turned out that our retargeting traffic and click-through rate was excellent – but upon further investigation, it appeared as if it was mainly Indian and Pakistani traffic that was performing really well.
So we ran an exclusion process to stop targeting developing economies that perhaps couldn’t afford our services (at least those who approached us).
With the discovery that the SEO team hadn’t really plumbed the depths of our analytics, some fiery conversations arose as I wondered what else they had been missing.
And then it all happened, on one very ordinary Wednesday afternoon when I discovered my buddy was outranking us for a revenue-generating keyword I went into a fury.
How could it be?
How could it be that someone who knew nothing about SEO until we met, who didn’t have an SEO team as I did could generate such results and outrank us?
My whole world had collapsed in an instant and I shared this with my SEO team as they began to investigate what was going on.
This impetus; this stimulus – gave rise to a burning within me that forced me to get directly involved in the SEO work itself
Historically as I’d grown the agency I’d kept a distance away from the SEO work and let the team work on it exclusively.
And they had their reasons. They had multiple client sites and several internal websites to work upon whereas he had only one site to work on so an outcome like this could be possible.
All I heard though were excuses, and it felt to me that the team weren’t quite up to the task.
Then the investigations began – and I soon saw that George was doing excellent work with being quoted as an expert alongside getting some testimonials here and there, and it was something of a revelation to me.
This was the exact work we had been doing when we had briefly worked together – it had come from the relationships that I had, and for some reason, I’d failed to connect its value with the value of ranking on Google – and only considered it from a referral traffic perspective.
When I saw in aHrefs the numbers lighting up for George’s backlink profile, however, it became clearer what was happening and what I needed to do – and the game was on.
I needed to activate my relationship-building skills.
I needed to activate my ability to drive PR on the basis of the people I knew, and the ability I had to do email outreach.
That was the moment that everything fundamentally changed almost overnight I started reaching out to friends I knew in the industry and things started changing very quickly:
That night was maybe 6 weeks ago.
Since then we have built a dedicated PR outreach team of 2 primarily dedicated to generating press mentions for Pearl Lemon.
They are identifying publications where we/I am a fit and are getting me published a couple of times a week.
By reactivating the art of direct email outreach alongside using platforms where you can find journalists in need of content such as Help A Reporter Out alongside Twitter searches and several other sources it all began to change.
As I started to intently focus on George, alongside multiple other competitors and players in the niche, I began to get a much deeper understanding of what the game was and what they were doing.
And I also realised why my SEO team in this arena would struggle somewhat.
They had 25 clients to manage and were trying to do this at scale, not to mention all of our internal websites.
With this in mind, I knew I needed to step in and get involved.
It’s crazy how George, and seeing his success, got me wild, and led me into developing a whole PR team to counter what he was doing, and how it’s now extended to the whole agency.
One of the other discoveries when examining our competition was that there were many directories that they were listing on which looked to be driving power ‘do-follow’ link-juice to their websites.
These were directories that none of the SEO had perhaps had time to get around to.
Thank god then,
I love to record screencasts.
As I began to uncover all of these discoveries, I recorded screencast after screencast working through everything that I found and began learning more and more about what the competition was doing.
And as I learnt more, I understood more about all of their strategies and synthesised them amongst the team by sharing videos with everybody.
This whole journey started around 17 days ago – and since then we’ve been able to generate close to 100 links across our brands from our new PR/SEO efforts with the team I’ve activated internally
Here’s a sample of 8 links we have generated in which I am featured:
Here is what it is doing for our metrics in Ahrefs:
Similarly, our keywords are growing for our other brand:
And it’s now leading to commercial work:
Some of my team are now making strides of their own:
Noah has just been published in Hubspot with a link to Pearl Lemon:
So ultimately, in the end – George kicking my arse for certain keywords has been a beautiful thing for the business.
We’ve developed (overnight) a whole PR strategy and one that will not stop as we seek out more and more press mentions and continue to learn and grow in our sophistication.
I’m excited about what the future holds and will continue to hit up journalists for 60 minutes a day. Every day.
Well. My team will 🙂