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Shé Langley

Host: Isaline Muelhauser

Guest: Shé Langley

Shé Langley is a full-stack digital marketer with over 17 years of experience in helping businesses grow their online presence. In this week’s episode, Shé shares ways to package SEO skills to make them scalable. We also find out what inspires Shé and what empowers her to be the brilliant woman she is today.

You can connect with Shé through her LinkedIn and website.

Episode Transcript

Isaline: Hello and welcome to the WTSPodcast. We are on a mission to amplify brilliant women's voices. 

I am Isaline Meulhauser, and I am your host for today for WTSPodcast. We'll discuss a very important topic as usual. We have Shé Langley here. She will be talking about how to scale your SEO skills. Welcome.

Shé: Thank you so much. It's great to be here with you. 

Isaline: It is. It's lovely to have you here. And so, in your application, you mentioned that you're an SEO strategist and the founder of your agency, RankLift. 

Shé: Yes.

Isaline: You are passionate about educating and uplifting your clients. You believe that every business has the potential to succeed online. I love your website. You can feel the energy, everything about it. I really liked it, by the way. 

Shé: Thank you very much. 

Isaline: Preparing this interview, you mentioned that since 2018, you are the caregiver for your mother, while raising two children with your husband and, of course, running your agency. During this time, being an SEO and an entrepreneur has had its benefits and disadvantages, which starts your number of lessons, which we can imagine. This is what we're here to discuss today. 

Shé: Sounds good. 

Isaline: First thing, you mentioned you have learned how to package SEO skills to make them scalable. Tell me more about that. 

Isaline: Yes. So, what I found, just what you were mentioning before, around 2018, with the pandemic, everything that came along with that, it got to be a point where having packages for the SEO services that I was providing through the agency really helped as far as making sure I could scale up or even sometimes scale down when I needed to maybe have some time to focus on caring for my family or caring for my mother, but still bringing in some resources, some money, through the agency to make sure it could survive through that time period. So, it was really important making sure that there were packages available that were scalable and available to the different types of clients that I have. 

Isaline: How did you scale? Which SEO skills were most scalable? If I can say it like that.

Shé: Yes. To me, the most scalable services that an SEO strategist can provide is, number one, keyword research. As far as keyword research, how the keyword research can be utilized. Some people aren't going to have just one blog post that they need to optimize. It may be a package of services pages, or maybe 10 blog posts a month. So, finding a way to take a service that is repeatable. Maybe it's the keyword research, maybe it's analytics reports or audit reports, and finding a way that it can be applied to multiple tasks. I mentioned, if it's a local service provider, maybe they have different cities that they're serving. Making sure those different service area pages are optimized. So, you're offering the client a package of the services that you provide. 

Isaline: It sounds like the dream. Because I spend hours doing offers and customizing things. This is time-consuming. Did you template everything, or did you touch the same industry each time or what was it? 

Shé: That's an interesting question you ask. I don't know if you've heard it or if some of the listeners have heard, but I've also always heard recently, "The riches are in the niches." So, hyper-focusing on an industry or a type of client can sometimes make your services more valuable. Now, for me, that hasn't been the case. I touch a number of different industries. It wasn't that I could package a deal that worked for a specific industry. I really had to focus on the specific services, and how they can be tailored across multiple industries. 

For example, I mentioned keyword research, maybe local SEO, optimizing a Google Business Profile page or account, maybe an audit report, or a package of reporting that you can do month to month. As you asked, it is helpful to create templates for those that can be repeated over time. I am a lover of Excel. So, whether it's Excel or Google Sheets, once I do a service or provide a service once, I can then use that same template over and over.

I think that's actually, earlier you mentioned, how do you scale? I feel like that's an important piece of it, too. It’s making different templates that you can use across different clients, and Excel is going to be your friend. Sometimes, you can find them online from other SEO providers. I love this community because we love to tell each other how to do better at the work that we're doing. Often, you can find templates online that you can then customize for yourself and use them for the clients. 

Isaline: Did the idea of packages in templates grow over time? Or, did you come to a point where you sat down and you were like, "Okay, no. I need to package things to make my time easier"? Was it something that grew because you were doing, for instance, the keyword research for local business? Or was it a very intentional effort? Like, "No, I have to do this now," and you create the template? 

Shé: It was an intentional effort. What I was finding is, sometimes, clients will come to you that don't have a knowledge of how SEO works. They may come to you wanting one service. But, you really know all the pieces of the puzzle that have to be there to really make the SEO strategy work. So, they actually don't just need one blog post. They also need to figure out why their pages aren't being indexed, or if there are technical SEO issues with their website, or maybe how the website looks is not actually going to keep a user on the site. 

It was intentional about making packages that could offer the client more value add to what they were requesting, and also transfer of knowledge. In my business, it's very important to me to have transfer of knowledge with clients. I find that with the packages that I provide, if I can also help educate the client on what is needed for their SEO strategy, they're more likely to buy into that package deal, and then consider more services later, which also helps with scalability. 

Isaline: Did your process look like, "Oh, I'm going to make the templates and think about which tasks go well together. If I'm selling the keyword research, I'm selling training to update Google Business, for instance," or like that. How did you go about it? 

Shé: I think that was a learning experience over time. That was not intentional. I think just as you have more time working in the industry, you start to pick up on the pieces of, like I mentioned, the pieces of the puzzle, which ones fit together. You could have a virtual client that has no local services. Of course, they're not going to need service area pages, or a Google My Business listing, or maybe different listings on a directory. So, they wouldn't be interested in that package. 

Over time, I just started learning with the type of client that I have. Whether it was often I work with service-based businesses. And then, some local businesses that have actual buildings in the community, have a physical presence. It is a learning experience. Over time, working with different people and figuring out what they need. And also, when you're tracking the data that a client has, learning what works, then you're able to use that knowledge and decide which services should go into the packages. 

Isaline: How do you communicate this with the clients? You mentioned earlier that maybe one client comes with one request, but of course, you know that they will need more for this to work. How do you communicate with the client, "Oh, well, this goes well together. You shouldn't stop there"?

Shé: I am a big proponent of storytelling, or bringing the client into their own story about their business. What I have found that is so interesting to me is that some clients that I work with have never actually considered or put themselves in the shoes of the person they're trying to reach. They just know their services, how much money they want to make, what their goal is. But then, you have to ask them. Let's take a plumber, for example, just for our conversation. If someone had a problem where they had a leak in their house, how would they search? What would their search intent be? Who would they be looking for? What would they expect to see if they're trying to choose between you and someone else? 

So, in a discovery call with a client, asking those types of questions, about their target audience and asking them to put themselves in that position is, for me, has been an excellent way of communicating how SEO can work for them and what they may be missing on their website or just in their digital marketing arsenal that could be reaching the audience that they're trying to reach.

Isaline: I see. So, in the discovery call, it would sound like, "Oh, you want this. But, let's pause for a minute and think about who your user is." 

Shé:  Yes.

Isaline: I find myself sounding a little bit not snob, but like, how do you communicate? Well, for the client to understand that you're going to help, but you're not there to teach a lesson. 

Shé: This just may be my position of how I think businesses run anyway. I do feel I'm there to teach. Well, just to give you some background. I started my agency because I believe in business, in general, as a way to affect communities, as a way to affect the owners, a business that does well, could do well for generations. There's so many positive things about a business being able to grow. I feel what I've been gifted to do is help people with SEO and digital marketing to help them grow their business. So, I do feel a strong push that I am there to teach, to help the client understand what digital marketing, what SEO, what their website could do for their business to get them to the next level. 

Especially, businesses that are mission-driven, that have maybe they started their businesses because they were trying to answer a greater question or answer a greater call that they had on their lives. If I can teach them how they can get that done, I feel my job is done. I feel like that is an understanding that you end up having with your clients. I feel like they can catch that vibe from you when they're talking to you that you're not there just for like, yes, as an entrepreneur. Yes, this is a transaction. I do expect to get paid, but also, I'm here because I am a part of your team in helping your business grow. 

Isaline: Yes, I can see the difference. You mean you really support. The vibe is completely different. You're not just there to deliver the keyword research but to actually help them achieve a purpose. 

Since we're talking about local business and sometimes smaller companies, they can have smaller budgets also. Is it easier to talk to the clients when you mention project-based, or do you have retainers? Because we know, sometimes, it's good to have a longer relationship. How do you communicate that? 

Shé: Well, for me, personally, I have those both options. I do have clients where we work on retainers. Often, I find those are the clients who are more hands-off. They want it done for you. The other clients who want to be a little bit more involved, and maybe they want to learn a little bit more, they're usually the ones that do want those packages because they want to be able to get a product that is of value. And then, learn from it, maybe implement it themselves. But then, if they need help, then come back and talk to me. 

So, I've had both types of clients. For me, it hasn't been that one has been a better relationship over the other. I find that even the clients that are coming just for the packages and not the retainer, if you build that relationship where, as I mentioned before, where they feel like you're on their team, they will eventually come back around. Or those you even have a better chance of, maybe a year from now, pinging them and saying, "Hey, have you checked on this service with your website?" Or, "We haven't spoken in a while. How are things doing? Would you be interested in this other service?" Really, the foundation is building a relationship with the clients. That helps build whether it's a retainer, or whether it's project or package-based, building the relationship is going to be important.

Isaline: Let's say it's a company whose project you really like and you really would like to help them, but they're like, "Okay, no. We've had this first part. We are done now," but you want more. 

Shé: I'm going to tell you; I know exactly what you're going to ask. I have a trick for that, which made me laugh because that is a situation I've been in before. A trick that I found is, sometimes, not in every case, but sometimes, these clients also don't have the free tools setup. 

Let's say search console. Important. We all know, it's very important. They may have never seen a search console before. On that call where we're discussing, maybe we don't want to move forward, or there's a person, a guy/gal, whoever on my team, I think they can do it. What I like to say is, "Okay. Well, there's a free tool. Let's get it added to your site just to make sure you have the data that you need to make business decisions. Let me just show you how to use it." Often, at that point, their mind is blown at the amount of information that is at their fingertips that they never accessed before. And then, you also are at a point where you've built some trust. Like, "I'm willing to help with this in the future. If you do need some help, I'm the person to reach out to." So, I feel like that's important. If you're an SEO strategist or someone working in the SEO field, we have so many free tools or just tips and tricks that we have in our brain that really wouldn't cost us anything to mention to that type of client. If we can mention it, kind of start building that relationship, that will help tremendously. 

Isaline: Yes. I see. I understand. 

Shé: I want to mention, too. I mentioned that showing them the search console can be helpful. I've also had clients where we pull up the search console and find out that, "Your website isn't getting any traffic. So, you do need help." I just feel like that's a good way to open the door with those types of clients. 

Isaline: Yeah. To let them see what is possible to do and what kind of data decision-based they can do for the future. 

Shé: Yes. 

Isaline: But now, I wonder if there is anything you would do differently? When you look back or a situation with the clients where you're like, "If I had known, I would have done differently." 

Shé: Yes, there is actually one situation I'm thinking of. As an entrepreneur, you wear all the hats in your business. You're both working in the business and you're working on the business. Even when it comes time to maybe start building that team, you're still the one. You're the manager, you're CEO, you're CFO. So, there was a point where I was trying to scale the business overall, just build the business. Not as many leads were coming in, so I had an idea. I'll start doing some cold calling or cold emails, see how that works. I got one of those clients, and it was not the best relationship. Because there was such a high learning curve for them to understand what they even needed as far as SEO, and that can be very difficult. 

So, that's something I would change in the beginning is maybe focus more on clients that had some foundational knowledge on SEO, and kind of knew that it should be included in their marketing strategy, but may not know how to implement it and needs a strategist to help them through that process. Instead of clients that don't even know. Maybe they've never heard of SEO because you have to get over that hump of just getting them to the point of understanding how important it is.

Isaline: What if those are the clients for whom you can have the most impact? 

Shé: Are you asking for the clients that I feel like I've had the most impact with? 

Isaline: No. I mean like, what if those clients who have no idea are actually the one for whom you can have the most impact? 

Shé: Yes, that's such a good question. I would say that is excellent since we've been talking about scaling and packaging your services, I feel like that type of client is an excellent option for maybe a self-paced course where they can kind of do some of that initial learning on their own, but you're also giving some calls to action throughout that course to reach out to you with questions so you can kind of build that relationship. And also, maybe help educate them to get to a certain point where you can offer maybe a larger value service, or even email, like a newsletter. Have them sign up for the newsletter where you can sort of nurture that relationship with maybe some tips and tricks that they could implement on their own. Because then, that to me helps you focus your time on clients where you can move the needle faster, but it doesn't leave that other group out completely. Like it just kind of helps them along until you can really focus some more effort working with them. 

Isaline: I see. It's like, if they sign up for the newsletters, you keep a relationship with them. Instead of telling them, "I can't help because it's going to be too much."

Shé: Right.

Isaline: Have you ever thought about creating those courses? You mentioned just now that maybe self-learning with some class. Have you thought about hosting your own? Like, recording a couple of classes for this type of client? 

Shé: Yes, I have. It is something that I would love to do. Even, hopefully, this coming year is something that is definitely on my radar. I do right now have a newsletter. So, that's how I've been focused on that type of client so far. But, yes, I would love to have that type of course. I feel like they're so helpful. Courses for me in this industry have been helpful. Being able to have something that is kind of self-paced, you can work when you need to, or you can take a break, but you can always go back and reference it. So, yeah, I would love to have a course. 

Isaline: Have you tried doing tasks, doing training for multiple clients? For instance, let's say that someone needs to understand on-page SEO but they don't have enough of a budget to pay for you to teach them for two hours. So, you know these other clients who have the same needs and the same issue with budget. Have you tried doing that? Like, I don't know, just asking them. Do you agree to split the price between the two, and does that work? 

Shé: Yes. How I've approached that, and this is also, to me, related to scaling your business or scaling certain packages is, speaking more. I know, recently, there was a podcast with someone who talked about how to get your first speaking gig or how to pitch to be on a podcast. Those types of services have been very helpful to me over the past years. Especially with things going virtual with the pandemic. I've had a good amount of speaking opportunities whether from stage or sometimes there are small business communities that I've been able to present to their group. You can even partner sometimes with your locale. If there are business chapters, or if there are community locations that want to offer some value to other entrepreneurs in the community, you can always pitch yourself as an expert that can help them grow and build their business. 

Isaline: In that sense, if it's a speaking opportunity, it's more like voluntary work. 

Shé: No, sometimes speaking opportunities can be paid. It just depends on which audience that you're working with. I've had some paid, I've had some unpaid. But, whether it's a paid or unpaid speaking opportunity, you can always offer additional services after that the audience can reach out to you directly and talk to you about. You can gather emails from there and have them in your newsletter list.

Isaline: I see that you are always one step ahead.

Shé: That's one of the ways I've learned over the past years. I just don't have a lot of free time. It's so many people that I have to care for that I try to make the processes in the business as streamlined as possible. Yeah, trying to think ahead, like you mentioned. 

Isaline: Do you have any other advice on any other thing I should think about streamlining if I have very little time?

Shé: Yes. So, I actually worked with a business coach as well over the past year. What that helped me do is I was so focused on working in the business, it gave me a chance to have somebody that had more of a bird's eye view of what was going on in the business and could help me kind of zoom out to see what could take place or whether I needed to hire someone that could just take care of the tasks that were repeatable for me that I didn't need to have my hands in all the time so that I could really focus on growing the business. I definitely recommend a business coach, if that's something that's possible for you. 

I also recommend putting processes in place like I mentioned before. If there are things that can be automated, automate them. Take your hands out of it so you can focus on really what's bringing value to the clients. If you're noticing it's something that you're doing every day that could either be automated that you can hand to someone else, I would say that do that as quickly as possible and get focused on providing value to your clients. 

Isaline: Do you have an example of a task you have automated that freed some time?

Shé: Yes. It sounds funny when I say it out loud. But, I was in the weeds with so many things in the business that I had to just take my hands off of. But, even down to the person that posts the blog post. That is something anyone can do. If that's really what you need to think, how you need to think about it. If it is something that anyone can do, you don't need to be doing it. So, if it was maybe just sending out the newsletter. Do I need to be the one that puts the newsletter in whatever my client is and presses send? No, because I could be doing keyword research, or I could be doing the audit, or the things that need a specialist or strategist to focus on. So, those are just some of the examples that I've been able to either outsource, or bring in a contractor, or just automate through different third-party tools. 

Isaline: And today, how much do you want to grow RankLift? What do you see for RankLift? 

Shé: What I see for RankLift, I dream big. I would love to have other facets of the agency. I want it to be a full-service agency. It's not lost on me how paid a partnership is to SEO. I don't have a paid arm right now for paid advertising, so that is a goal. Also, I'm very big on entrepreneurship for women of color. I would love to have a nonprofit section that helps just young girls who are like me, who love business, love marketing, want to have something of her own, but also help other businesses. Just giving those girls an opportunity to learn what I've learned over time. And then, also, I would like to take more of a CEO position in the company. Like, bring in more like-minded people to the team where RankLift can support them as in their careers. That's what I would like to see in the coming years. 

Isaline: It's wonderful. I love how you mentioned one part, "Okay, this is the service I want to grow," but how it's attached to how much of an impact you want to have with other people.

Shé: Yes, that's very important to me. 

Isaline: Teaching. I really love this about what you said. It links really well to what you said at the beginning of the podcast that you're here to have an impact on the business in the community. Oh, I love this. I have chicken skin. 

Shé: Thank you. Thank you so much. Yes. I feel like we're just all connected in that way. If I can help, I'm going to, but I'm going to pull some other people up with me.

Isaline: As a closing question, for someone who is running her career, their career in the agency, and also caring for other people. I know this is many, many, many people among us. For someone who is in this situation, what final advice would you give them? 

Shé: Well, something that I've personally been working on very much over the past years is, especially as an entrepreneur, your business is your baby. You want to take care of it. You want to nurture it. You don't want anyone to hold the baby. And then, also, what I find is many professionals in the SEO industry, or even if they're entrepreneurs, come with a certain personality type that doesn't like to ask for help. I would say learn how to ask for help and accept that help. Let other people along the way help you. You're not in it alone. Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely road. Some of us are in a position where we've never seen it done before. It was just an idea we had, and we're trying to build something. So, it's just important when those people or those resources show up along the way that can help you take advantage of them and keep an eye out for them. They will show up. You can't be so focused on the business that you're not looking around, looking for those chances at help.

Isaline: Thank you. I know I need to close the podcast, but this was so good. 

Shé: Thank you so much. I love being here and talking to you. Like, I love this industry and just everyone is just so helpful. I love communicating about it. 

Isaline: This conversation, like all the guests on the podcast, makes me feel joyous and hopeful. Because I can see how much love and caring you have. I'm like, "Yeah, I can do that. There are lots of good people around. I can do this. It's not as bad as it feels on a bad day. It's going to be okay." Thank you so much.

Shé: Yes. We're going to make it.

Isaline: Thank you so much for being here, for taking the time to answer my question. I suppose anyone can follow up the conversation with you on social media?

Shé: Yep. I would love to talk. I'm RankLift Digital everywhere on most platforms. You can also go to the website and shoot me a message. Yeah, I would love to connect and talk more. 

Isaline: Thank you for being here. Thank you for making the time. Also, to everyone who listened to this podcast. This was WTSPodcast. We are a community. Of course, you can find us on the website womenintechseo.com You don't have to be an expert in SEO to join us. If you identify as a woman and you're interested in SEO, do join us. We love helping each other out. 

That was Isaline, I was your host for this podcast episode. Thank you and see you in the next one. Well, hear you in the next one. Bye.