The cafe’s busy. A bit noisy. But I’m sure I recognise the voice, so I turn around to look.
“Hiya, Billy!” I call out. “Not seen you for years. How ya doing?”
“I’m great thanks,” says Billy, his broad smile showing the distinctive gap in his teeth.
Yes, it’s definitely Billy.
“Sit down,” I say. “Let me get you a drink.”
Over the next hour, we catch up on the missing years. Billy’s adventures in the Royal Marines, his marriage breakup, his return to civilian life, and his new business venture.
“That’s brave,” I say to Billy.
He shrugs it off. “Nah, all part of being a soldier.”
“No, I mean starting a new business at your age. Lots of people are thinking about retirement, not investing all their savings into something that risky.”
“It’s not risky, mate. My pal Joe’s joined me in it.”
“Joe? You mean the lad who made millions in the marketing industry after leaving school?”
Billy laughs. “Yeah, that’s the story he wanted people to believe. He made a few quid, but he couldn’t afford to leave home. His parents subsidised him loads.”
My jaw drops. “Wow! I never knew that.”
“Yeah. His heart was in the right place though. And I reckon he’s learned a lot since then. Gone through a lot, he has. Tough times.”
“I’ll tell you sometime.”
I can sense Billy doesn’t want to talk about it.
“So what brings you in here today, then?”
“You!” says Billy.
“Yeah! I want to ask you something.”
My mind gets active. Do I owe him some money and I’ve forgotten about it? Have I upset him? Is he in trouble and needs my help?
“So… ask away then,” I say nervously.
“I don’t know how to ask this…”
“Go on. It’s OK.”
Billy avoids my inquisitive gaze.
“Don’t worry. It can’t be worse than some of the things I’ve heard,” I say with a slightly nervous laugh.
Billy clears his throat. He leans forward, placing his forearms on the table. Then, glancing both ways to make sure no one is listening in, he whispers…
“How on earth can I get onto page one?”
My mind is now working overtime. Does he want to start a book but can’t read? Does he want to get featured in a newspaper?
“Page one. Y’know. Google. Page one of Google. I want to get found on Google.”
I manage to suppress a laugh.
“You mean you want to get your website on page one of Google. You want your little company to show right at the top instead of the other 10 million-or-so search results?”
“Err… yeah. That’s about it, really.”
Billy waits for an answer.
“Where do I start, Billy?”
“Err… at the beginning…?”
“OK. Here’s how it works…
You need keywords, alt-image-tags, backlinks…”
Billy raises his hand in a sort of stop signal.
“I need what?”
“How long have you had this new website?”
“About a week. Maybe a bit less.”
This time I do laugh.
I grab a napkin and pull out a pen from my pocket. I’d always known that this pen would come in handy one day.
“Here…” I say pointing to the URL I’ve just written in fresh blue ink in the middle of the bright white napkin.
“When you get home, have a read of this. It’ll tell you all about that sort of stuff. And it’s easy to understand.”
I stop. Have I insulted his intelligence?
“Aww… thanks, mate!”
Seem’s like all’s good. Phew!
I continue. “No problem. You’ll learn a lot from that.
“But let me give you some good advice to start you off well.”
Billy leans in further.
This time, I look to the left, then to the right, before moving in much closer to Billy.
Looking straight into Billy’s eyes and speaking almost in a whisper, I utter the immortal words, “Here’s the ‘secret sauce’, Billy.”
But I don’t anticipate Billy’s reaction.
“We can’t have that yet, mate!”
“I’m not with you there, Billy,” I say with more than a puzzled look. After all these years, I’ve still not quite worked out how Billy thinks.
Billy explains… “I was always brought up that you can’t have pudding until you’ve eaten your dinner! It’s just not natural to have that secret sauce pudding until we’ve eaten something healthy.”
I can’t work out whether Billy’s joking. After all, it’s the sort of thing I’d say to get a laugh… but probably not when I’m hanging onto my mentor’s every word.
So I ignore the outburst and continue.
“Here’s the thing, Billy. You can do all the SEO in the world…”
“All the what in the world?” asks Billy.
I’m starting to get a little worn with the constant interruptions. But I realise Billy is completely new to this sort of thing. I think back to the times when I’ve not understood some important acronyms and just struggled on instead of asking – much to my detriment. I wish I had Billy’s attitude.
“SEO, Billy. It means Search Engine Optimisation. It’s what you do to your website to give it the best chance of being found in a Google search. You can learn all about that, there,” I say, pointing again to the fresh blue ink on the napkin.
“Right. Got that,” says Billy, his eyes widening. “I’ll check that out as soon as I get home.”
“Yeah, well, you can have all the SEO in the world. But if you don’t have this ‘secret sauce’, it won’t work.”
The only way I can think to add a little more emphasis is to look around once more, move even closer, and speak slowly in a deep, calm voice…
“You have to answer people’s questions, Billy.”
“Is that it?”
“Yup. That’s it Billy. Write about things that people are asking about.”
I wait for a reaction. Billy’s thinking it through.
“You mean like when I was asked what the difference is between our cars and the garage across the road?
“Perfect!” I shout a little too loudly.
I look around. The elderly lady on the next table doesn’t appreciate my excitement. She’s given me that ‘be quiet, young man, you should know better’ kind of look.
I turn back towards Billy.
“Listen. Why not write an article on your website which compares their garage with yours.”
I can see Billy thinking it through. So before he comes up with some reasons why he can’t do it, I continue…
“If that’s a question some people are asking you, what’s the chance they’ll also be asking Google?”
I can see Billy warming to the idea.
“Just be honest with what you say, Billy. Be accurate. No slandering them, even if you do think they rip people off. Just keep your opinions to yourself. Simply give people the information they’re asking for.”
“So what difference will that make, mate? asks Billy.
“All the difference in the world,” I reply, excitedly.
I glance aside. The old lady has given up with us and gone.
“Listen. How many other people will be writing the same article… comparing your garage with that other one?”
My gaze moves away from Billy, and I stare into the air as my imagination takes over.
This could really take off.
Back down to earth, I give Billy another tip.
“Make sure you give it a good title, too, Billy.”
“What sort of title? I’m rubbish at thinking up good titles!”
“Something like ‘Whatever-your-garage-is-called versus the-name-of-the-garage-across-the-road‘.”
His eyes tell me that Billy’s discovered a problem.
“But won’t I be advertising their garage on my website, in effect?” he asks. “I don’t want to do that.”
“What people will be doing, Billy, is looking for a genuine comparison between the two garages. You’ll provide them with an unbiased article about what services you both provide and how you compare. But here’s where this ‘magic sauce’ comes in… Tell me… What will you have created by giving them all this unbiased information for free?”
“Err… trust?” offers Billy as an answer.
“Absolutely right. And where will they be when they develop this trust?”
Billy’s eyes light up. He can see where we’re going with this.
“On my website, mate!” he shouts, arms shooting up into the air.
“On my flipping website!”
Phew. I’m glad his language has mellowed since I first met him all those years ago. And I’m even more grateful that Moaning Minnie has left her table.
“Yep. On your website. So if you play your cards right and you give them even more quality articles and information… and, you know, keep answering those questions your potential customers are asking… they’re likely to stay there.”
Billy is just nodding now, speechless.
I seize the opportunity and continue talking: “So if they’re reading more of your stuff… and they’ve begun to trust you… who are they more likely to buy from?”
Billy stands up, reaches over and shakes my hand excitedly, then rapidly makes a move towards the door.
I grab his arm. “Hey! Just one second…”
I look down and his gaze follows mine.
“Oops, I don’t think I’ll need that,” he says with a blush as he removes the napkin which is hanging sporran-like from his trousers.
“But you will need this,” I offer as I pass him another napkin – the one with the URL written in blue ink.
Billy takes the napkin, folds it gently, places it carefully into his inside pocket, pats his jacket, and offers me his hand once more.
I shake his hand.
“You OK with that, then, Billy?”
“Thank you, mate. I knew you’d be able to help. Gotta go. I’ve a lot of work to do.”
And off he goes.
Wow, he still moves as fast as he did when he was trying to get into the Royal Marines all those years ago.
“Let me know how it goes,” I shout after him.
But he’s already gone.
And I couldn’t care less that the whole cafe is staring at me.
‘Cos my mate, Billy, knows how to get onto page one!How do I get my tiny business's website onto page one of Google? Billy had this problem - but discovered a great solution. #SEO #Google #website Click To Tweet
This excellent book taught me
some great methods
for answering the questions
that people are asking.
In here you’ll find lots more ideas
than I told Billy.
Here’s that URL on the white napkin
where Billy went read how to do SEO on his website: