Poor Man’s SEO: How I Got on Google’s First Page

It was an accident.

The accident got me five calls. Of which, three prospects hired me. The gross fee for the three projects was over $4,000.

The first time it happened, I was a total newbie. I was a new freelance copywriter with no book of business, no in-house mailing list, no testimonials, and no decent samples to share.

I had no idea what the prospect was yammering about on the phone. He was on the East Coast, I was in California and he kept saying he found me online …

 … I was thinking, "How?"

I didn't tell him, but at that time, I didn't own a website. In fact, I didn't have a website, landing page, squeeze page, not even a free blog.

So How Did It Happen?

How did I end up on Google's first page without a website or any online property?

Around AWAI and the Wealthy Web Writer they like to say Ready, Fire, Aim. In my case, it was Fire, Fire, Cross My Fingers.

As I polished up my SEO, PPC, keyword, web writing, and online marketing skills I was able to reverse engineer this mistake.

And by the way, if you do have a website, blog, squeeze page, landing page, or other online property – this works even better because it can be automated to run on it's own.

"Find A Thirsty Crowd And Sell Them Water"

I advertised and marketed my services without online tools. I wrote long-form ads. I used direct and descriptive headlines. And the only way an interested client could reach me was by email or by calling a NON-toll-free phone number. Those five calls were all long distance!

I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually optimizing the ads for organic search. The long-form nature of the ads gave prospects a lot of information they wanted. And writing emotionally driven copy persuaded the client to send me an email and even call long distance.

The Best Part: Top Ranking Within a Month!

There was no-out-of-pocket-expense for this promotion. The ads were posted on FREE online classified ad websites: such as Kijiji, Oodle, Backpages, and Craigslist.

These sites have a ton of traffic and high page ranking. If I posted an ad well, it could turn up in an organic search within a month! Not the typical 6 months or longer that many SEO firms advise.

Plus, You Get Two Bites at the Apple

Poor Man's SEO shouldn't replace any other SEO strategies. However, it can easily be added to your bag of marketing tricks.

For instance, if your online client was selling a service such as … hmmm … Canine Weight loss Expert, you could be hired to write online ads and place them on FREE classified ad websites.

This way, the best prospects, those concerned about Fifi's belly and heavy breathing, could find your client's service in the classifieds, and also possibly by running an organic search for Fat Dog Help. It’s like being in two places at once.

It's Simple and Practical

Use this with clients who are moving online for the first time and who need to make sales, now.

Think about it: Who knows why your neighbor is searching Google, Yahoo, or MSN? He could be looking to buy something, helping his daughter on a school project, or goofing off.

SEO, developing content, and disseminating content is work and takes time. There're no guarantees because no one really knows how search engines are programmed. It's top secret. And Google, Yahoo, and MSN can, and do, change the software parameters often.

But … buyers search classifieds.

So, use this to give yourself a jump-start on a new copywriting practice even without a fleshed out web presence or to add an extra twist to your online marketing efforts (buyers search classifieds).

Here's What You Do …

  • Write ads that inform and persuade
  • Encourage a result: "Click this link, call this phone number"
  • Place your ad in the appropriate category so prospects can find you. A Canine Weight Loss Expert ad might be placed under the Family, Home, or Pet services category
  • Use a direct phone number or email address so that highly motivated prospects reach out to you, now
  • Combine your website, blog, squeeze page, landing page, or other online property to automate the process
  • Encourage interested, but NOT highly motivated, prospects to join your mailing list
  • Follow-up with your mailing list

What under-the-radar, street-smart marketing tricks have you discovered? Share it in the comment section below. Also, in lieu of a financial donation, please leave a 5-Star vote too.

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Published: June 3, 2009

4 Responses to “Poor Man’s SEO: How I Got on Google’s First Page”

  1. Thank you very much. This may be very helpful, as I'm working with a zero marketing budget right now!

    Margaret EJune 14, 2009 at 9:20 pm

  2. Hi Robert,

    Thank you for this encouraging letter. I really like this innovative approach you used. What do you mean where you write "Encourage interested, but NOT highly motivated, prospects to join your mailing list"? How and why do you do that? Would you explain that a little more, please?

    Guest (Sonya Jones)February 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm


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