Hernan Vasquez grew up on technology in Argentina and knew from a very early age that he wanted to make his living on the Internet. Despite racking up massive phone bills along the way, Hernan has pioneered a market which most people underestimate but is so incredibly important, SEO and sales funnels. They can work together to bring traffic to you and to build a long list of Google leads and lifetime customers, and Hernan knows how.
- Hernan so generously created a gift exclusively for the listeners of this podcast, and that gift can be found at HernanVazquez.com/derek.
- You can also ask Hernan and his partners SEO questions and have them answered live at SemanticMastery.com/humpday.
- You can connect with Hernan on Facebook at the Real Internet Marketing Group.
Transcript: Converting Google Leads – Building A Search Sales Funnel With Hernan Vasquez
Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast–a podcast designed to skip the hype, skip the BS, and bring you real, actionable tips and strategies to help you grow your business and your income on the Internet, and start living the internet lifestyle.Today we’re gonna be diving into a combination of topics that don’t get enough attention together. What I’m talking about is search engine optimization or SEO, and your sales funnels, and how to make these two work well together so you can start capture Google leads.
Today’s guest has been working with SEO for eight years, and over the past three years has been developing affiliate programs and SEO training companies where he teaches techniques that he uses on his own clients in both English and Spanish markets. He’s helped numerous small businesses reach the six figure mark by combining SEO knowledge and sales funnels.
He’s been featured in publications like SEMRush, Authority Hacker, Black Hat Community among others.
So without further ado, I’d like to welcome Hernan Vasquez to the show.
Well, we have some common acquaintances so that’s funny that you mention it. I’ve been doing SEO and in the past three years have been growing a lot in the Internet marketing community. But the first memory that I have is waking up really early at six or seven to go play videogames on my computer, which was a new thing then. I was exposed to technology at a really early age because my parents are both accountants and my father was really a technological pioneer. It was always like that.
I grew up playing video games at home, being really into technology. As I got older, I really wanted to make money online because I saw so many companies growing from the Internet. I spent so much time online anyways, and I really wanted to try to do something. I also would get into trouble with credit card and phone bills, because we used to have a 56 kbps modem. I would spend a lot of time online and the phone bills were crazy.
I was also getting into Adwords, and building HTML with Dreamweaver, and hosting–all of it. I wanted to see how they worked. That’s how I started working with WordPress several years ago. I had a bit of affiliate stuff, and that’s where we have our mutual connection.
I grew up, I went to university, I got a few “real” job, teaching English or working in HR. But I just wasn’t cut out for being an employee. So I took my leap of faith, started on my own. The first gig I got was web design services, setting up WordPress sites for clients. I had a partner that was five or six years ago that didn’t end very well, but I learned so much about client management, and getting sued… It was fun. Lots of learning.
Then again, when you’re doing web design, people would ask for SEO services because they go hand in hand. I started investigating SEO and started ranking, which came pretty easily to me because I was used to testing. So I ran a few tests and started ranking for web design services and SEO services, and then only SEO services.
I moved to more competitive niches in the US, for local doctors and contractors. I’ve been really experimenting with SEO ever since, and that’s become the main part of my business. That’s been the last two or three years.
Then over the last 18 months, I’ve started helping other Internet marketing people take their business to the next level; develop their agencies like I did with mine. That’s kind of the TL;DR of my path to Internet marketing.
Awesome. Now, let’s take that next step and dive into SEO and marketing funnels. This is something you brought to me. You said, I don’t think people are looking at this enough, but it’s my specialty.
And I think you’re absolutely right. SEO is one of those things where we optimize our websites and do our best to control what we rank for, but for the most part we’re at the mercy of Google.
So we create a new website, or Project Ignite for example. We’ve got the podcast, and we’ve been making lots of content–and while I haven’t been link building, we’re still getting a lot of organic traffic. But that traffic is all over the place. It comes into a hundred different pages under over 600 different keywords.
This is the challenge when it comes to sales funnels and traffic. Most people, when they talk about sales funnels, are talking about going out and buying media, getting it in front of a very targeted audience, dropping them into a customized funnel.
You don’t have that luxury with SEO.
To put this all into context, how do you develop a funnel where SEO is the main source of traffic?
Well that’s a really great question. You nailed it when you referred to SEO as an uncontrollable source of traffic. It also happens with PPC, and it’s not strange if a client comes to me and says, I got this proposal to recover a penalized website. These businesses are on the verge of closing shop because Google slapped them with a manual action, a spam action, or an algorithm change, and they’re about to close shop.
The main idea is that I’ve seen time and time again, many affiliate marketers saying whatever you’re trying to do with SEO, or with Amazon or authority sites–they get a ton of traffic, but they do not leverage that traffic. The problem with SEO is the effort that it actually takes you to rank on Google gets diluted in a way that you don’t know how much you’re paying for a click.
When you’re running PPC, you can still get your Facebook ads shut down, you can get your Facebook page shut down, you can get your Instagram profile shutdown. You’re leveraging on traffic that is not yours. It happens a lot with Google leads because it’s become a pay to play space. That makes sense, because Google’s main source of income is Adwords.
But when you’re approaching students and seeing that they get all their traffic from SEO, and you ask, but what are you doing with all that traffic? You realize that they’re not leveraging it. They need to stop borrowing traffic from Google. You need to create your own lead magnets and email lists; recycle your traffic so that you can market to the people that have visited you.
SEO traffic is usually very qualified, especially with long tail keywords, they’re usually farther along in the buying process. So what do you do with all of that traffic to leverage your efforts so that you don’t have to do all of that link building and just hope that you don’t get hit.
That’s generally my approach when implementing a sales funnel. You need a lead magnet, you need to follow up with them via email marketing, and all of those things that usually people with SEO traffic don’t usually do.
They think they’re not paying for it, but they are. Time is money.
Exactly. People always say, I want to get free traffic from Google. But there’s no such thing as free traffic from Google. Time is money. There’s always an investment in that optimization.
I just want to break down and summarize there because so much of what you just said was so valuable. The overarching message is that you’re getting free traffic, but you need to be capturing it as much as possible with free offers to get them into a database where you can market to them.
Message number two, and this is where a lot of people are not implementing yet, building your retargeting lists.
So Google is sending traffic to our website. What’s your strategy for developing lead magnets with SEO when, using my site, for example, there’s 50 keywords that are driving some volume of traffic, and the intent of these keywords really vary.
How do we develop lead magnets that are going to reach that broader audience?
First off, with SEO, strictly SEO, you want to tell Google what is your main and most important page. Google will dissect the whole website and rank the pages within the website that it deems worthy for the visitor. If you don’t tell it which is the most important, Google will randomly rank all of your pages.
How do you do that? There’s something called internal link building, which is another thing that SEOs don’t usually use. You can always link to the most prominent pages. There are some pages that will get the most amount of traffic. You can apply the 20/80 rule, where 20 pages will get most of the traffic, and apply lead magnets to those pages.
If you go to analytics, you will see what the queries are that lead people to you from search engines. That’s a great thing because people are telling you what they want to learn. If you can leverage that, people will be able to find you, and it’s a great lead magnet. Just dissect the queries that people are searching to get to your website. Make sense?
Absolutely. There’s one more element I want to add to this, because I see this mistake everywhere. Someone creates one lead magnet, and put it across all of their top ten pages. I’d like your take on this. My general rule is that I want a lead magnet that is congruent with why visitors are on that page, but I never want to have just one lead magnet.
When you build a site, how many lead magnets are you exposing people to when they hit a page?
It’s a good intake, Derek. I have the same approach and I like to split test my Google leads magnets to see which converts the best on which page. So when you have all of that traffic going to one page, it’s a great idea to split test the lead magnets. That way, you can offer different titles or formats of the same lead magnet. You need to make sure which lead magnet will convert better on that particular page.
The best way to do that is make three lead magnets, and once I have the best performing one, then I present that magnet in three different formats. Whether it’s a video, report, or mind map. THen I split test more until I find the winner.
Awesome. I want to change directions a little bit here. One of the challenges we face with Google is that Google’s mandate, especially with organic, if people aren’t using a buy-keyword, they’re usually using information keywords.
So over the years, I’ve seen Google adapt to not liking sales pages, because their mandate is primarily to send people the information that they need. So how do you build a good sales funnel or page that Google likes? Can you rank a funnel? Do you need to focus on ranking a website’s pages? Or can you rank a funnel without getting slapped?
We have ranked entire funnels, and we’ve ranked information websites that lead to that website. When you’re using something like LeadPages or whatever you use to make your funnel, you can optimize that to have them rank better.
We have done that with one of my companies.
My thoughts are that you need several entry points because you don’t know where the traffic will come from. Ranking a website whose sole purpose is to get someone’s email on an opt-in. So when you have several pages that have ranked, your best bet is to send them to your lead magnet that you want to provide them with.
People have gone through your content, and I’ve seen better results if you take those people and you retarget them into your funnel from there. If you’re putting them into a content piece where they can consume your value, they’re more likely to trust you and to leave their email with you.
I believe that when you’re providing a service, like local affiliates, or high ticket items, you can still use a funnel whose main source of traffic is SEO. You can implement a funnel, a lead magnet, and then a follow up process to get more value from a visitor. If you have a need, then you have a market. If you have that, and you’re getting traffic from your SEO optimization, then you can find a way to set up a funnel or magnet to catch their email and then a way to follow up with them.
I see lots of ecommerce sites selling really diverse products, but the first thing they do is hand the visitor a purchase or tell them to leave. So how do you keep in touch with people so you can follow up with them? Catch their email, and then keep a few retargeting lists to keep in touch, and then sell to them from there.
That would be my take on it. I’ve seen lots of local SEO companies offering a ten minute consultation as a lead magnet. It’s congruent with what you’re selling, with what you might offer afterwards, and with the traffic you’re getting via SEO.
Well here’s the deal. I think that SEO makes a lot of sense. It’s one of the best sources of traffic out there. But it does take a lot of effort. I’ve seen a lot of SEOs focusing only on SEO and forgetting other sources of traffic. But I think you need to diversify and use as many sources of traffic as possible. I like to think of traffic as cash flow–you can invest it, or spend it, but when it dries up, you’re in trouble.
The way that SEOs can leverage this is if you’re ranking in the top five or ten, start gathering emails and making retargeting lists so that you can still follow up with people even if you’re not ranking so well over the next few months.
Google has really become a pay to play space, as has Facebook. You could have 300,000 fans on Facebook but you still need to Boost the post to reach them all.
Even if you keep working on your SEO so you can rank for more longtails, there’s a bit of a breaking point where people begin to trust your website. Your pages will be ranked and indexed faster because you have that authority.
You gather your email lists. You become your own traffic broker, and you’re ready to change courses if you get slapped by Google, you can still grow your business while you’re deciding what to do next.
That’s really wise. I’ve seen people rely on only one source of traffic for a long time; but if there’s one inevitable thing about the internet, it’s change. Traffic withers and sales dry up. The old analogy is “make hay while the sun is shining.” If you’re ranked today, that’s fantastic, but Google could change their algorithm at anytime.
We’re not saying don’t do SEO. That organic traffic is some of the highest converting traffic that you can possibly get. It converts 7 times higher that pay per click ads. But I see so many websites that only focus on getting traffic. You need to get that traffic into channels which will let you follow up with people later on.
That’s number one, email. Two, retargeting. Three, connecting on other social channels. That is invaluable advice. It sounds like you’ve spoken from a place of experience, where maybe you’ve lost a few websites…
Exactly. On the sites that sell, keep it white hat. If you want to play it black hat, do it, it’s not illegal–or evil, so long as you’re not out there harassing people–but don’t do it to your money site! That way, if it gets de-indexed, it gets de-indexed. Drive the traffic there, add some links, but shield yourself and your money site.
You haven’t been doing SEO long enough if you haven’t lost a website.
If it’s okay with you, I have a gift for your listeners that I put together for this episode. You can go to HernanVasquez.com/Derek and find a seven day course on how to create a lead magnet based on SEO traffic and what we’ve been talking about here.
You can also connect with me on Facebook, which is the Real Internet Marketing Group. And again, if you have SEO questions, I hold a free SEO Q&A with my partners every Wednesday at 4PM EST at SemanticsMastery.com/Humpday, and you can drop your question there.
Awesome. Okay everyone, that was SEO expert and digital marketer Hernan Vasquez. Everything we talked about will be included in our show notes along with our transcription of this episode–that’s up on ProjectIgnite.com/podcast. Don’t forget, if you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe on iTunes–just look up Project Ignite, Derek Gehl, or Internet Marketing and I’ll show up! If you’re an Android user, just get us on Soundcloud!
Also, if you like what you hear–leave a review, tell us what you think. I love to hear what you think. Your feedback is what gives me the momentum and motivation to keep creating this podcast for you.
Now it’s time to apply the final essential ingredient to make this everything we’ve talked about today work for you: that ingredient is action. Without it, nothing is gonna happen. Go forth, take action, apply these strategies and watch your business grow; and stay tuned for more info-packed episodes of the Project Ignite podcast–a podcast designed to make this whole internet business thing easier so you can make more money and live the internet lifestyle.
This is Derek Gehl, signing off.