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EP 416: The ROI of SEO: How to Measure & Scale Your Marketing For More Deals w/Mike Otranto

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If your definition of a marketing budget is “spend money until I get a deal,” this episode is for you. Mike Otranto consistently brings in high-quality motivated seller leads from SEO, PPC, and direct mail, while keeping his business profitable and predictable.

We break down how to understand the effectiveness of each marketing channel, the specific ROI of each of Mike’s marketing channels, how to outsource your SEO wisely, and mistakes to avoid when managing SEO & other marketing channels.


Mentioned in this Episode:

Mike on Instagram

Mike’s Carrot Site

Spin Selling by Neil Rackham

Never split the difference by Chriss Voss


Episode Transcript (This is an automated transcript by robot carrots – please mind the typos 😉)

00:00:00:00 – 00:00:22:02

Mike Otranto

I started to realize is that my highest margin deals were coming from ACL. So that’s the other thing that you have to say, okay, well, if this is the most efficient way to get me in front of my target audience, well, how do I get more more leads? And how do you scale it? Yeah. And that’s that’s one of the challenges with SEO is it’s kind of mystical and it’s it’s will I hire somebody to do ACL?

00:00:22:02 – 00:00:26:13

Mike Otranto

But, you know, if I’m not getting results, well, what’s the problem?

00:00:31:17 – 00:00:48:08

Brady Winder

Hey, friends, you’re listening to the Access podcast, where we help investors and agents like yourself deal businesses of freedom and impact. I’m your host, Brady Winder. And today I have with me longtime Care.com customer and care camp alumni, Mr. Mike Otranto. Welcome to the podcast, Mike.

00:00:48:17 – 00:00:50:04

Mike Otranto

What’s up, Brady? Great to be here.

00:00:50:22 – 00:01:09:14

Brady Winder

Doing good, man. Thanks for joining us. So so we’re talking Madeleine online marketing. It’s SEO month at Carat. First month of the year. And we want to help you get your SEO dialed in because this is a long game. So we’ve had a couple of other SEO topics during the month. Today we’re talking about the ROI of SEO.

00:01:10:03 – 00:01:24:15

Brady Winder

And the reason why I brought Mike out of the podcast is because he looks at his marketing in a very analytical way where a lot of investors, they just, you know, they get some money from a deal. They say, Oh, I got five grand, ten grand to play with, I’m going to throw it at PPC, I’m going to throw it at TV.

00:01:24:15 – 00:01:41:02

Brady Winder

I’m going to see if it works and are not always as good with the follow up and evaluating that to see, okay, did it work, Why did it work? Why did not work? What was my close ratio on that? And so Mike’s really organized in that way and I like the way that he looks at the math behind marketing.

00:01:41:02 – 00:01:59:08

Brady Winder

So that’s what we’re going to talk about is is really math over emotion when it comes to spending your marketing dollars wisely and specifically with SEO and what he’s done with SEO to be effective and why it makes sense versus other marketing channels and a few other things. So it’s going to be a good conversation. Hope you guys enjoy.

00:01:59:08 – 00:02:08:23

Brady Winder

But yeah, Mike, give us a little bit of background. Like how do you, how did you get to where you are? What’s your your real estate origin story, if you will?

00:02:10:03 – 00:02:35:21

Mike Otranto

My real estate origin story is it really started in around 2000, 2001 when I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I already knew that I hated working for large companies. So, you know, I just started, you know, buying more books and then trying to get into it. I think I bought a couple of courses and eventually I hooked up with a guy that I knew from where I grew up and started out in New York, and I started to call him and he kept telling me, you know, come down to North Carolina, it’s so much easier.

00:02:35:21 – 00:03:04:05

Mike Otranto

Raleigh is a great market, you know, And eventually I followed them down. I started doing buy and hold real estate and general brokerage. And, you know, by the time I got up to about 40 units and these were, you know, for Plex’s six plex multifamily, unfortunately around 2009, a lot of stuff was losing money. So I had to basically come up with an alternative strategy and figure out a better way to invest it.

00:03:04:05 – 00:03:34:00

Mike Otranto

In addition, I had to get a job and join corporate America. So I started to rebuild on the side. I started to do some wholesaling just to get started. And, you know, the more I got into social media, digital aspects of marketing and how emerging they were and how effective they could be, that’s where I kind of started on my journey throughout the teens to say, All right, well, let me skip the MLS and let me skip the brokers and the realtors and let me go direct to consumer and try and buy houses that way.

00:03:34:00 – 00:03:55:07

Mike Otranto

So, you know, I joined Carrot in 2016, and almost immediately I started to see more converted leads come to me through the carrot website and then I said, Well, how do I get more leads? Well, you know, now let’s let’s start the SEO conversation, the paid search conversation and all that stuff. But once I started to figure it out, I worked full time in the late teens, 2018.

00:03:55:07 – 00:04:01:02

Mike Otranto

And then, you know, I’ve been a full time investor ever since. So I do fix and flip, buy and hold and a little bit of wholesaling.

00:04:01:20 – 00:04:09:17

Brady Winder

Okay, nice. Would you consider yourself like what’s the scale as far as tech savvy?

00:04:09:17 – 00:04:28:03

Mike Otranto

The funny thing about tech savviness is that, you know, there are a lot of people, especially in real estate, that are not tech savvy at all. They’re very traditional in their mindset. I think they’re they’re very well behind the tech curve, so I’m well ahead of them. But then there are some people that are very high on the tech curve that know a lot more than me.

00:04:28:03 – 00:04:41:23

Mike Otranto

So I guess some I’m an advanced I’m advanced on the tech curve, but I have to stay humble because there’s always new things that I don’t know about and new types of software and just new trends that I might not be aware of. So yeah.

00:04:42:11 – 00:05:06:06

Brady Winder

Things are always changing. You know, the algorithm is always making little improvements and changes and something we’ve got to be aware of. Oh, cool. I mean, what’s the I want to ask you one question before we go. Sort of what’s what’s the best thing you’ve like? What’s the best hack you’ve ever done to generate leads? A urban One thing, we’re like, Holy crap, man, this this really works for me, like a strategy or a thing you started doing over the past six years.

00:05:06:06 – 00:05:08:02

Brady Winder

We’re like, This is killing it. For me.

00:05:08:12 – 00:05:30:06

Mike Otranto

I would say the website and I would say a carrot website. You know, I’ve been a it’s rare for me to find a brand that I believe in so much that I would stay with it for. I mean, Carrot is what, eight years now? Seven years. And the thing is, is that with the carrot website, it’s designed for real estate investors to convert leads.

00:05:30:06 – 00:05:52:17

Mike Otranto

That’s what it’s for. A lot of other agents that will, you know, once I start talking to them and they visit my website, they’re like, Oh, is this your website? I don’t I don’t know about. Then the funny thing is they don’t like it. But the thing is, is that they’re designed to work subordinate to these big franchise names and their websites don’t get them any business because that’s not what it’s for.

00:05:52:17 – 00:06:19:04

Mike Otranto

It’s there to build the franchise brand. My business is designed to get me in front of my customers directly and buy houses directly from them. That’s its purpose. That’s what it’s for. So I’m not interested in subjectivity of I want green here, read here what converts, what builds authority in my local market, what allows me to provide tangible evidence that I’m a trustworthy business person and will allow me to buy houses directly from my customers.

00:06:19:04 – 00:06:23:02

Mike Otranto

And that’s that’s its purpose. And it does it does the that one thing very well.

00:06:23:19 – 00:06:42:11

Brady Winder

Hmm interesting I premise I genuinely wasn’t team that up to say let me get you to say something good about carrot but I appreciate it that’s you know thank you for that. I’m sure you know it’s interesting you know, especially looking at agent websites, it’s like I never thought about that. It’s building a commercial brand versus your local brand.

00:06:43:02 – 00:06:44:20

Mike Otranto

Yeah. So there’s a difference. There’s a big difference.

00:06:45:09 – 00:07:00:20

Brady Winder

Yeah. Well, let’s talk about let’s talk about our way of marketing. So tell me about kind of just first holistically your approach to marketing and how you how do you decide which channels to go with? Like how do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing and hopefully not lose tons of money?

00:07:02:14 – 00:07:20:15

Mike Otranto

Since I do have a background in corporate sales, you know, I did learn that they they want to look at their salespeople, see how productive they are and say, all right, well, how many leads did you get or how many calls did you make? How many? Now there’s an intermediary there. How many opportunities did you have? And out of those opportunities, how many of those did you convert?

00:07:20:15 – 00:07:38:20

Mike Otranto

So you have kind of three pieces of data using addition and division to come up with some percentages. But I started measuring things like even my bandit signs in the early teens. I would say, All right, well, how many signs that I put out this month that I put out 100 signs. Okay. Well, how many calls I get?

00:07:38:20 – 00:07:55:16

Mike Otranto

Well, I got 30 calls. All right. Well, out of all those calls, how many of them were actual leads? And then you start coming up with numbers like five and six or seven and then add up all those leads, how many deals that I get. And then you would get like one or two. And it was every other month.

00:07:55:16 – 00:08:16:11

Mike Otranto

It wasn’t quite as consistent. And what I started to learn is that when I have when the bulk of the calls that I’m getting are people complaining about the signs, I have to conclude that that is not the most effective way to get in front of my target market. So when you start doing things like direct mail, I would say, Right, well how many pieces that I send out, how many calls that I get?

00:08:16:11 – 00:08:43:16

Mike Otranto

And I would notice this real volatility in the amount of calls that I would get versus it’s because a lot of people would call up to complain about the fact that I sent them a letter and I’m like, This is not who I want to talk to, but sometimes I would get deals from it. So what I started to notice with people that found my website organically, especially in the beginning when I was doing my SEO and it was starting to gain momentum in the late teens, I started to notice that I didn’t have to do a lot of selling and a lot of negotiating.

00:08:43:16 – 00:09:11:17

Mike Otranto

They wanted someone that they knew and they trusted. Money was not the most important thing for them. They just wanted a very smooth, easy transaction and that allowed me to provide service in exchange for a discount where everyone was happy. I got my profit, they got their smooth, easy transaction and I was just easier. Yeah. So, you know, at the end of the you know, at the end of, let’s say a year, I’ll say, well how many leads that I get for the year.

00:09:11:17 – 00:09:34:17

Mike Otranto

Well all those leads did come to me from my website. But how did they come to my website, Did they get a postcard for me? Did they come via paid search or did they come by your S.O.? Now, in the last couple of years, I started tracking the source. You’ll see either Google search, you’ll see sometimes Bing or DuckDuckGo.

00:09:35:04 – 00:09:55:22

Mike Otranto

You also see paid search campaigns. So that allows me to delineate how or delete by channel is a paid search for. I use the category organic because whether or not they came via Bing, Google or DuckDuckGo, I’m not as concerned with that. I’m more concerned with SEO or paid search because how do I most efficiently allocate my marketing dollars based on channel?

00:09:56:12 – 00:10:25:07

Brady Winder

Hmm. Exactly. It’s more than just online. Yeah. Well, and I like how you mentioned it’s not just the how many deals did I close from this channel, but it’s like, how much time did that take me? Like where there’s this underlying sense of like, where’s my energy and my time go and don’t even if I am closing a bunch of deals from you, just, for example, direct mail or cold call inside, do I really want to spend if it’s working that much time, addressing the people that want my sign out of their yard or business, you know?

00:10:25:17 – 00:10:42:14

Mike Otranto

Yeah. And the way I look at it is, well, you take your total spend for the period, which is usually a year, but I’ll also do it by quarter. Then take how many leads you got and then got how many deals are closed. So you know, take it to expand, divide it by the amount of leads and that I’ll give you a cost per lead.

00:10:42:14 – 00:10:59:18

Mike Otranto

And also you want to get well what is my cost per lead really need to be to be efficient. I also look at the amount of deals I closed. So how many leads do I need to close? One deal. So that’s really a conversion rate is really what that is. Right. And then I’ll measure something else called a cost per deal.

00:10:59:18 – 00:11:21:04

Mike Otranto

What did it cost me to close this deal? Now at the best of the best from SEO, I think it was about 1000 to 1500 dollars cost per deal. And when I compare that alongside paid search page, search has always been higher, you know, anywhere from 2500 to 7000, just depending. I mean, there’s a lot of variables there.

00:11:21:04 – 00:11:31:23

Mike Otranto

But what what really dawned on me as well, what’s my so I will buy houses from wholesalers. I will do that. Yeah. With my average assignment fee you’re looking at least.

00:11:32:00 – 00:11:34:17

Brady Winder

Yeah. Thousand. So what’s your. Yeah. Your average far for deal.

00:11:35:08 – 00:11:48:16

Mike Otranto

So I mean even if paid search it costs me 6600. I mean I have to say to myself well how many wholesalers out there are satisfied with 60 $600. Therefore my direct marketing endeavors are more efficient.

00:11:49:20 – 00:12:09:23

Brady Winder

So what’s your you know, like in our marketing for care, we’re usually looking to get a 4 to 5 LTV, the lifetime value of the customer in a customer acquisition cost. Anyways, don’t get too deep here, but it’s a it’s a 4 to 1 return on your outspend. Yeah. Or, or more at the end of the minimum. So you’re looking at like 2 to 1, two to 4 to 1 at least that seems to be a range.

00:12:09:23 – 00:12:25:21

Brady Winder

Like 2 to 1 is acceptable, but 4 to 1 you can usually predictably pull out for sale. It’s for talking like maybe 2500 bucks or so, 15, 20, 500, put it into the SEO efforts and then, you know, a $10,000 assignment fee. Is that about right?

00:12:26:08 – 00:12:50:06

Mike Otranto

Well, the way I’ll do it is, you know, I’m familiar with the 2 to 1 or the 4 to 1 ratio. When I really started to compile the data and I started to see things how SEO always year after year would beat out the other channels based on, let’s say, conversion rate. So last year I was converted one out of 7.25 leads.

00:12:50:06 – 00:13:16:03

Mike Otranto

So it’s a very high conversion rate. And when I look at my cost per lead, it’s always been under $300 in the SEO world. The other thing is the cost per deal was a B about, you know, a thousand 1500 dollars depending on the vendor that you use, it could be upwards of $2,000. But the other thing that really stood out to me was my highest margin deals.

00:13:17:08 – 00:13:39:10

Mike Otranto

For example, this year I closed out a flip where at closing I got $272,000 back and Trevor was nice enough to jump on the carrot cast. Not think this is the carrot cash, but the the the annual summit, the carrot summit run on the end. And because what happened was when I got the I sent him something via Instagram and said, Hey, check this out.

00:13:39:10 – 00:13:40:05

Mike Otranto

This was an SEO.

00:13:40:21 – 00:13:43:08

Brady Winder

Oh, it’s coming back to me now. I’m remembering.

00:13:44:04 – 00:14:10:19

Mike Otranto

Yeah, yeah, come on, tell us about it. And I told him about it and it’s like this great deal. She was happy with the $275,000 purchase price. I put 150 into it, and my net was about 150. And since I funded the repairs, I got about $272,000 back at closing because I sold it at 651. Now, the person I bought it from, she knew they sold it for $650,000 because I let her tour the property once I was done with it and she was perfectly happy.

00:14:10:19 – 00:14:27:15

Mike Otranto

So the other thing that I started to realize is that my highest margin deals were coming from ACL. So that’s the other thing that you have to say, okay, well, if this is the most efficient way to get me in front of my target audience, well, how do I get more, more leads, right? And how do you scale it?

00:14:27:15 – 00:14:37:16

Mike Otranto

Yeah. And that’s that’s one of the challenges with SEO is it’s kind of mystical and it’s it’s will I hire someone to do SEO? But, you know, if I’m not getting results, well, what’s the problem?

00:14:38:08 – 00:14:52:23

Brady Winder

Yeah. So I want to touch on that in a second. Yeah, we’ll talk about outsourcing. One thing I want to touch on those. Before the podcast we were talking about what’s your spend like per marketing channel? Would you mind sharing what you know, the breakdown 2021, where your money was going, You don’t get it.

00:14:52:23 – 00:15:17:09

Mike Otranto

Context 2021 I was doing about $1,000 a month in SEO toward the end of the year. I did bump it to 1500 with paid search. I was doing about 3000 a month, 2500, $3,000 a month in spend. Now the interesting thing, in early 2021, the results were they weren’t that great. And I was trying to figure out why.

00:15:18:14 – 00:15:40:16

Mike Otranto

And part of it was, you know, we had record low inventory. I mean, there was almost no houses on the market. But what I was able to determine by looking at some KPIs was is that I needed new I needed new people, I needed a new SEO company and I needed a new paid search guy. And that’s what I needed to get better results.

00:15:40:16 – 00:15:46:20

Mike Otranto

So, you know, these very simple costs per lead cost per deal and conversion ratio was really what I used.

00:15:47:19 – 00:15:57:06

Brady Winder

Yeah. And you would have known that had you not been tracking what was, what were your close ratios like on SEO versus PPC versus direct mail. Do you know that.

00:15:58:01 – 00:16:26:08

Mike Otranto

Yeah. My clothes ratio was one in seven and a quarter on SEO and then it was one in 12 on paid search. I think direct mail was like, you know, I spent I spent like ten grand and I got one deal. So I mean, I didn’t make that much sense. And, you know, there’s a concept that is used on the carrot carrot website about evergreen marketing versus hamster wheel.

00:16:26:19 – 00:16:43:14

Mike Otranto

The reason why I like hamster the hamster wheel analogy is because to think about direct mail, you’re constantly pulling lists, you’re constantly going through data, there’s skip tracing. You know, you actually have to select the type of piece that you’re going to send out. You have to pay for it. But it’s this ongoing thing that I have to be involved in.

00:16:43:14 – 00:16:55:02

Mike Otranto

And I, you know, the I am notorious for starting things and not finishing. So, yeah, you can say anything you want about direct mail, but it’s not the best fit for me because I just don’t want to be involved in churning that hamster wheel every month.

00:16:55:11 – 00:16:56:14

Brady Winder

Yeah, exactly.

00:16:56:14 – 00:16:58:00

Mike Otranto

Yeah, I want to be buying houses.

00:16:58:19 – 00:17:18:05

Brady Winder

Yeah. And so. So two things I want to kind of dig into before we move on is one, before we recorded the podcast you were talking about like SEO is your bread and butter for sure. It’s it’s predictable, it’s consistent. You’re, you’re getting your best leads from there. But it’s also important to realize you don’t want to build your business on a three legged stool.

00:17:18:05 – 00:17:30:22

Brady Winder

And by that we mean fully relying on one marketing method. Putting all your eggs in one basket can be a little bit scary. And so you’ve got SEO, you’ve got your paperclip going and you’ve got are you still doing some direct mail? Right.

00:17:31:09 – 00:17:46:20

Mike Otranto

I’m still doing some direct mail. I experimented with some Facebook advertising. You know, I’ll buy some some stuff from wholesalers sometimes on the MLS. So you have kind of these alternative strategies as well. But yeah, I do like to have multiple sources to find deals, not just one.

00:17:47:18 – 00:18:07:16

Brady Winder

Yeah. So with our and so you mentioned set one and what it’s seven and a half, seven in a quarter, one in seven and a quarter SEO leads that you’re closing, That’s very respectable, that’s some of the best. So we see about let’s say on average about one in ten for SEO leads to a deal, PPC 1 to 10, 1 to 20.

00:18:07:16 – 00:18:27:22

Brady Winder

Somewhere in that range you a cluster of 20 direct mail cold calling. You start getting up into the forties and above. That’s a lot of leads to sift through. So with without turning this into a sales negotiation podcast, you had mentioned that your, your view on sales is a little bit different. Is there anything different that you’re doing because these are SEO leads, Are you handling them differently?

00:18:27:23 – 00:18:28:15

Brady Winder

Like what’s that like?

00:18:28:22 – 00:18:58:08

Mike Otranto

The way I handle my sales is I have to basically I have experience, hands on experience in corporate selling in two different types of selling. One is something called ESR, which is inside sales and really inside sales. As you never meet your prospect, you’re always on the phone meeting and about, yeah, B2B. The other thing about inside sales, this is involving outbound cold calling which it’s very aggressive, it’s very tactical in nature and it’s very pushy.

00:18:59:04 – 00:19:32:08

Mike Otranto

Now you have very low conversion rates. That’s where a lot of your your tactical questioning comes from. Like if I were to pay cash and close Friday, what’s the least you’ll take things like that. Now, when I went into another type of selling, which was enterprise sales, this was where our minimum contract was about $100,000. We I worked for a microsoft partner and what we did was we configured an existing project, Microsoft project, because it was so large and complex and the organizations were so large, the first call was, All right, we don’t know what we need.

00:19:32:08 – 00:19:53:19

Mike Otranto

What do you think we need? And there would be usually about a six month to a year sales cycle. And there was a lot of talk around, well, what is it that we need and what’s it going to cost? Now in enterprise sales, there was a total absence of this tactical selling style. So what I did with these SEO leads is I found that people were more relationship oriented.

00:19:53:19 – 00:20:08:19

Mike Otranto

They weren’t concerned with price, they really wanted service and trust. And I dispensed with a lot of selling tactics and just talk to them like human beings. I whittled down my sales process to keep it very, very simple, and I found that it worked. Hmm.

00:20:09:17 – 00:20:27:16

Brady Winder

That’s that’s really interesting. I had never thought about I asked that question not knowing or expecting. Does your sales strategy or your technique change based on the type of marketing that you’re doing? But from what you’re saying, it does and it sounds like the opposite would be true too, where if you took that strategy and applied it to cold calling, I would imagine that it would fail.

00:20:28:08 – 00:20:38:03

Brady Winder

And would it be if it was treating it relationship based and a little bit more relaxed, less tactical, would you agree or no?

00:20:38:03 – 00:21:06:09

Mike Otranto

I would have a reservation. I would say it depends. The thing about outbound cold calling, it’s a different style. When I was in inside sales and I was actually working for a Google partner and it was actually I was selling paid search to auto dealers. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m so comfortable with paid searches. I kind of have an idea of if it’s not working, it’s usually something the manager you have the campaign, there’s usually something else that’s going on that’s cause it’s not.

00:21:06:13 – 00:21:07:00

Brady Winder

It’s not the.

00:21:07:00 – 00:21:35:19

Mike Otranto

Platform platform itself. But what I learned is you had people with two different styles. You had your real aggressive outbound cold callers talk very fast or very pushy, and then you had some laid back people that were a little more relationship oriented. They took their time. I think that’s this more of a laid back approach. I think in the long run it’s more effective and you will see that that style in someone like Chris Voss and never split the difference.

00:21:35:19 – 00:22:02:14

Mike Otranto

He was a hostage negotiator. He I think selling has it’s evolved over time and the theories behind it are starting to change. I do think that there are different types of products that are sold. For example, one of my favorite books is spin selling and one of their their basic premises was you had features and benefits selling for things like coffee and watches and trinkets and stuff under 100 bucks.

00:22:03:04 – 00:22:24:16

Mike Otranto

Then you had these six figure plus type sales where they’re more complex, there’s less features and benefits, almost no features and benefits. And what they did in the book is you see two things. You see an ad for Digital Watch, which is all features and the benefits, and then you see an ad for a Rolex, which is no features and benefits because it’s a different product for a different market.

00:22:24:16 – 00:22:57:18

Mike Otranto

I think that real estate is more toward the enterprise space where it’s a more complex transaction. You’re dealing with high dollar amounts. There’s plenty of room for the transaction to fall apart. So I think it does lend itself to a little bit more enterprise style, relationship style selling. That’s my opinion. And based on my experience and one thing I noticed is that when I was doing cold calling, my no show rate for appointments was over 90% because people it didn’t matter what you told them, they weren’t listening because they get hammered with, with these types of yeah, these types of calls all the time.

00:22:57:18 – 00:23:11:06

Mike Otranto

But with anything inbound when they’re coming to me, especially when they’re coming to me via SEO, they’re much more serious about what they want to do. And I think that a lot of that has to do with the higher conversion rate and the the style of selling.

00:23:11:15 – 00:23:31:05

Brady Winder

Yeah, that makes sense. That’s helpful context. And really all things aside, it’s like trust still trumps tactic at the end of the day, regardless of which marketing channel the trust and relationship always comes before the tactic, regardless of what type of selling you’re doing. Before we hit record, you mentioned you spent 11 grand on Facebook ads and didn’t get a deal.

00:23:31:10 – 00:23:33:12

Brady Winder

What did you learn from that?

00:23:33:12 – 00:23:51:12

Mike Otranto

What I learned from that is that I got a lot of leads. So I think I got about 53 or 50 leads or something like that. I got two contracts, but both of the contracts had title problems. So that’s what really stopped me from buying the houses. Now, once I saw $11,000 and I saw there were no deals, I paused.

00:23:51:12 – 00:24:13:10

Mike Otranto

The campaign because even if I closed one of those contracts, that would have put my cost per deal at $11,000, which is too high. What attracted me to Facebook is that the cost to generate a lead is under $100. It could be 40 or $50. So I saw it as a more cost effective way to advertise my business.

00:24:15:06 – 00:24:36:11

Mike Otranto

What I learned is that people from Facebook are very top of the funnel. So if you’re going to do Facebook and you’re a self-employed person and you’re just, you know, you’re running the show, it’s going to be a lot of more, more work and follow up. And it’s much more long range. The way I am in my business.

00:24:36:11 – 00:24:43:22

Mike Otranto

I don’t have that kind of time anymore. So I do have some plans on maybe doing some more Facebook this year, but the follow up is going to be handled by someone else.

00:24:44:07 – 00:24:49:19

Brady Winder

And you’re talking about follow up with the leads, not even just managing the campaign, not the Facebook campaign. Oh, yeah.

00:24:49:19 – 00:24:53:08

Mike Otranto

I don’t manage any campaigns, any marketing campaigns. I manage the manager.

00:24:54:00 – 00:25:12:09

Brady Winder

So so so let’s talk about that. Yeah. So S-so a lot of people, you know, some people are going to listen to podcast and say, yeah, I’m going to dive into it myself. And awesome. I think, you know, there’s not a right or wrong either way, but a lot of people are going to listen to this and say, okay, I want to outsource my echo, and that’s okay too.

00:25:12:17 – 00:25:35:06

Brady Winder

But the the most important thing is to understand the marketing channel, the marketing platform enough to know how to manage the manager before you start spending money. So I say that. What’s your experience been like outsourcing SEO and for for context, like what was your you didn’t have a lot of SEO knowledge coming in. You sort of learned it.

00:25:35:11 – 00:25:39:09

Brady Winder

What’s what did the outsourcing journey look like for you?

00:25:39:09 – 00:25:59:05

Mike Otranto

I started out in your early teens with a VA that was doing a lot of spammy stuff and that was not very effective. Then I would say later on, once I joined Carrot, there were plenty of coaching calls where Adrian at the time he would discuss SEO strategy and that’s I kind of learned a lot of it from him.

00:26:00:19 – 00:26:22:05

Mike Otranto

And I noticed that, you know, trying to learn about SEO from books really wasn’t effective because it was just too general. I was like, Well, how do you create great content to get people to link to? And I remember I talked to Adrian about this and he said, Well, when you start out with a We Buy Houses website, a lot of people don’t want to link to you because their impression is that you’re the lowball or that’s going to rip people off so they don’t want to link to you.

00:26:23:04 – 00:26:44:12

Mike Otranto

And that’s one of the problems. So you had to kind of build your own foundation by creating your own content that you create and link back to your own website, sort of build that out. Sometimes they call it tier at link building or link pyramids and use that in conjunction with some more organic natural, some guest posting and some other strategies to get a real good strategy going.

00:26:45:22 – 00:27:14:14

Mike Otranto

I would say that to manage the manager, you need to find someone that specializes in not just real estate SEO, but real estate SEO for real estate investors, the problem is, since our industry is very traditionally minded and wants to do networking and postcards and motor mouth and all that stuff, our industry is not spending money on SEO, so there’s not a lot of incentive for an SEO to focus on on industry.

00:27:14:14 – 00:27:33:14

Mike Otranto

The people that are spending the money on SEO are e-commerce websites. So a lot of the companies out there are their main focus is ecommerce. So you had someone like Adrian who was a wholesaler and had some buy and hold properties and he had he did it all his own SEO and then gradually developing SEO company on the site.

00:27:33:17 – 00:27:37:22

Mike Otranto

Generally speaking, those are the people that you need, but they are very difficult to find. There’s a unicorns.

00:27:38:07 – 00:27:51:03

Brady Winder

Yeah, a So you mentioned that you hired a VA and they were doing some spammy stuff. Did you know it was spammy at the time or was it like, then you learn something from it and you’re like, Oh, that stuff wasn’t working.

00:27:52:07 – 00:28:15:14

Mike Otranto

Yeah, it wasn’t working at the time. And I think I had talked to someone else that was in the CEO world. And when he started to look at the reports, he said, Yeah, you know, this is spammy. And the other thing is he was using a lot of the tactics that were used in the 2000s when you could kind of stuff keywords and just like buy a domain and then point it back to your domain kind of thing and then you re spin content.

00:28:15:14 – 00:28:19:23

Mike Otranto

And it was just the craftsmanship wasn’t very good.

00:28:19:23 – 00:28:40:02

Brady Winder

Yeah, we talked about that on a podcast earlier this month with Brian where it’s like Google over the years thankfully, has made it harder to gamify it. Yeah, it’s harder to give a fiasco and it’s becoming more human, more natural. So you had mentioned that you were spending you were spending about a thousand on ASO and then you’d bumped it up to 1500.

00:28:40:11 – 00:28:47:05

Brady Winder

What said, What does that mean? Like, what are you getting for that money? What’s what’s the work involved? How does that change?

00:28:47:20 – 00:29:06:13

Mike Otranto

You’re building links. So really what you’re doing is, well, there’s two things with SEO is on page and then there’s off page. A lot of SEO companies will not touch on page and on pages are going to be the copy. And what keyword density you have on your page is relevant to what the person is typing it.

00:29:06:23 – 00:29:13:00

Brady Winder

Interesting you said a lot of SEO companies won’t touch your on page, correct? They just want to do backlink building.

00:29:13:10 – 00:29:29:18

Mike Otranto

Mm hmm. And it might be a liability thing. Like, you know, once you start touching someone’s website, is it going to break? And you’d be surprised how many SEO is that did do on page. They said, oh, you work with Karen. Well who owns the website. Well they own it. What happens if they go out of business? What happens if this whatever?

00:29:30:06 – 00:29:39:16

Mike Otranto

And I’m like, Dude, just do it. What’s the problem? I’m like, I already had a website. Then I’m the one that’s responsible for the plug ins. And when things break and I don’t want to be responsible.

00:29:39:16 – 00:29:48:01

Brady Winder

For that, that’s a bigger risk then. Yeah, right. That’s a bigger risk than wondering about what if carrot, you know, is what if I. Yeah, it’s a lot to manage.

00:29:48:13 – 00:30:06:07

Mike Otranto

Yeah. That’s why a lot of investors throw their hands up because they’re like, Hey, I’m not an SEO guy. What’s the problem? Get it done. And then there are five grand, ten grand in the whole and they have nothing to show for it. I kind of understand it. So one of the reasons why, due to the many algorithm updates that we’ve seen over the last couple of years, I’ve always stuck with SEO because the results were always there.

00:30:06:07 – 00:30:26:00

Mike Otranto

I could always look back and say, What are my best deals? As they came to my website, the ratio, the the highest margins, the best conversion rates. Therefore this is a good channel. How do we get the best results possible at the lowest cost possible? But you would ask me a question. I think I digress a little bit off page.

00:30:26:00 – 00:30:47:12

Mike Otranto

Okay, so with link building, really what it what it’s doing is someone’s writing an article and they’re there have a link and they’re pointing to your website. So the way it was described to me is like picture link building, like a soccer game where there’s a bunch of players passing around a ball and every time a player gets a pass to them, that’s like a link.

00:30:47:16 – 00:31:12:01

Mike Otranto

It’s a pointer saying This guy knows what he’s doing with Google. The way it was explained. And you know, there’s been a lot of changes. Is it used to be, well, the person that’s the most authoritative is the person that gets the most passes. And it used to be in the early days of the search engines in the late nineties, you know, when you typed in something and you got a bunch of search results, you had to scroll back to page two and three to figure out what you were looking for.

00:31:12:01 – 00:31:30:02

Mike Otranto

The search results were garbage. So one of the things about page rank, as it is explained to me is that Google started to look, well, let’s not concentrate on who’s getting the most passes, who not only who is getting the most passes, but who are they passing the ball to. So who are the blessed best player passing the ball to?

00:31:30:09 – 00:31:54:08

Mike Otranto

And then you started to look at things in a little bit different light. So to bring that back, I mean, to get a backlink from like a local news website or university, those have a lot of authority. Those are very valuable. They’re also very difficult to get. And that that, that in lines, that’s where the art form comes in is how do you get the most, the most valuable backlinks.

00:31:54:08 – 00:31:55:05

Brady Winder

Nice value.

00:31:55:15 – 00:32:08:02

Mike Otranto

And because the thing is you could either buy it outright or you could hire somebody to go and ask for a backlink. But either way, it costs money. So the question is, how do you do this without spending $10,000 a month?

00:32:08:19 – 00:32:10:14

Brady Winder

Yeah. So yeah.

00:32:11:11 – 00:32:29:03

Mike Otranto

Some of the problem you have to hire someone that knows what they’re doing can do it affordably and knows how to do it for our industry. Specifically, things like how do you hire the best real estate agent? Well, tens of thousands of them all over the country. I mean, you have to whittle it down and maybe go through four or five and until you find the right one.

00:32:29:18 – 00:32:32:11

Mike Otranto

Yeah, for the most part, that’s kind of how it is.

00:32:33:07 – 00:32:49:21

Brady Winder

That makes sense. So for context, for people listening, you’ve already got your on page. Now then your website has been dialed in for a while, so most of the money you’re spending is going to backlink building to further increase your Holger SEO rankings. Who’s doing it? Who’s handling your SEO right now?

00:32:51:03 – 00:32:56:16

Mike Otranto

The guys that I met at Carrot Camp, so SEO meets real estate investing.

00:32:57:08 – 00:33:02:16

Brady Winder

So yeah, yeah. Facebook group. Go to Facebook search, SEO meets real estate investing.

00:33:03:03 – 00:33:03:06

Mike Otranto

Yeah.

00:33:03:15 – 00:33:05:01

Brady Winder

We’ll link it up in the show notes. Yeah.

00:33:05:08 – 00:33:10:05

Mike Otranto

That’s Keith Sansone and Andy Ecology. So they handle both on and off page for me.

00:33:10:23 – 00:33:29:14

Brady Winder

Okay, awesome. I’m glad to hear they’re working for an awesome dudes really know their stuff. You can. I believe you could find Andy’s backlink building service in the current marketplace. So if you guys are a care member marketplace dot Care.com and these backlink service in there or you can look at the Facebook group and learn from Keith and Andy, we’re going to wrap this up here.

00:33:29:14 – 00:33:45:21

Brady Winder

Anybody listening? If you want to dive deeper into SEO or if you missed our episodes earlier in the month where we talk about the strategy of SEO and why you might want to get into it. And we’ve got like a ton of resources, all of our resources on SEO at Care.com slash SEO, and so you can go check it out there.

00:33:45:21 – 00:34:03:01

Brady Winder

Just dive down the rabbit hole with us if you have any questions, any comments, anything you’d like to hear on the podcast or if you have a question for myself or Mike, hit me up. Brady at Care.com, I love to hear from you and we’ll talk about it on our next podcast. Mike, anything else you want to address before we wrap it up here?

00:34:03:02 – 00:34:04:06

Brady Winder

Any last final words?

00:34:04:11 – 00:34:11:06

Mike Otranto

Sure. If anybody has any questions for me, you can reach me on my Instagram at Mike underscore otranto. I’d be happy to answer any questions.

00:34:11:19 – 00:34:14:19

Brady Winder

Yes, and I’m sorry I forgot to ask. Yeah. Yes.

00:34:15:19 – 00:34:18:03

Mike Otranto

Actually buying houses by what I post on my Instagram.

00:34:18:21 – 00:34:49:08

Brady Winder

Yeah. And give Mike a backlink. So thank you for listening this episode. All right. Well, thank you, Mike. Appreciate the conversation. It’s been good. Everybody. Thank you for watching. Thank you for listening. And we’ll see you next week.

Brady Winder

Carrot's Content Strategist & Host of Carrot's Podcast. Loves family, music, good conversation and all things Volvo.

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