Nick Baird

Nick, the SEO guru, specializes in catapulting businesses to the forefront of search engine rankings. With a keen eye for cutting-edge tactics, he’s dedicated to maximizing client revenues. Elevate your online presence with Nick’s tailored strategies for unparalleled success

Building in Public: Indigo Tattoo Studio

Hello and welcome to the first edition of my Building in Public series, documenting the  process ranking a local business from day one.

Most SEOs are selective about which results they share. 

I am too! 

However, SEO is an experimental process that takes anywhere from 6-12 months of intentional effort to see results; sometimes, it doesn’t work at all. 

That’s why I’m showing you the process from A-Z as it unfolds, in all the flattering and unflattering detail. 

So follow along! Whether I succeed or fail, I will post updates to this URL at the end of every month. 

First Meeting: October 2023

My newest client, Sebastian Gonzales, engaged my services in November 2023. We launched his website in January 2024 and aim for revenue-generating results by the end of June.

I began my dream life that same November. After a year of sacrifices (what’s a social life? Why, yes, I’m 29 and live with my dad, don’t you?) I finally moved to my first nomadic home: Augsburg, Germany. I’m frugal, so I chose an Airbnb with roommates to save on costs. That’s how I met Mr. Gonzales. 

“Hi, I’m Sebastian. I run a tattoo shop. What do you do for a living Nick?”

“Hi Sebastian, I do marketing for local brick-and-mortar businesses…”

What are the odds of me sharing a living space with an entrepreneur who also happened to be my perfect ideal client? Instant connection. Maybe even serendipity. 

Aside from introductions, though, we didn’t spend much time discussing business to begin. Jet lag ate me alive that month (what’s a sleep schedule?) so I wasn’t around during “normal” hours.

Instead, we traded life stories over the odd day our schedules overlapped.

And let me tell you… his story is an inspiring one. Originally from Venezuela, he immigrated to Europe and started his business to build a better life for his partner Stephanie and daughter Sienna. 

He’s bootstrapping, so he works 10-hour days in Germany (better wages than in Spain) and sends money home for living expenses and investments in the shop. 

What a man. I’d be so happy to earn his family a win.

Getting Down to Business: November 2023

Between technical jargon and esoteric debates amongst ourselves, SEOs have a habit of overcomplicating what we do. But my mentor, Liam Carnahan, gave me a roadmap that helped me avoid many of these rookie mistakes. 

So instead of diving into the deep end when he asked “so how does your business work” I pulled out my phone and Googled: 

“Tattoo shops near me”

After all, a Google results page is familiar to everyone. 

“It’s my job to make you appear when people Google tattoo shops,” I said.

“That makes sense. What do you charge?” he said. 

“I charge $X,XXX and offer a money-back guarantee if I don’t get you results in six months,” I said.

“Cool. Let me think about it,” he said.

After a few weeks of deliberation with his partner, he was in. 

December: Strategy, Design, and Delays

I had the good fortune of being introduced to Dylan Nichol by a mutual connection. He’s a WordPress designer with over a decade of experience. Plus he’s pretty metal, so designing a website for a tattoo artist was a treat for him. 

I brought him in to help with the design.

The process proceeded in three steps

  • Strategic Planning
  • Design
  • Development

Strategic Planning: Is This a Good Idea to Begin With?

I’ll never let myself be hired by a company that I know I can’t get results for.

That’s why, despite everyone and their brother running a safari company in Arusha (my nomadic home, January-March 2024), I haven’t pursued any of those connections. Booking.com and big review websites dominate the niche, I can’t beat the giants, so I won’t waste somebody else’s money trying just for a paycheck. 

But as it turns out, ranking a tattoo shop in A Caruña is viable. 

When I do this research, I’m looking for two things:

  • How competitive is the map pack?
  • How competitive are the organic spots?

Ranking these spots takes different SEO tactics, so they should be separately analyzed.

Map Pack

At first glance, Sebastian’s map pack worried me. Reviews are a huge deal for ranking. Thankfully he already had ~60 when I met him, but his were up against 102, 392, and 573 review competitors.

However…

The “website” links for his competitors go to either Facebook or Instagram. Maybe that’s just how the niche works, I thought. 

So let’s run a test…

I hypothesized that: if the most competitive landscapes also have Facebook or Instagram “websites” in the map pack, then this project isn’t for me. 

A coruña has a population of ~250,000. So, I checked out Google listings for larger cities, thinking that as population size grows, so does the number and level of competition.

Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New York City; all gave the same answer.

Websites beat Facebook & Instagram pages in the most competitive cities. Building Sebastian a website will be a competitive advantage.

Organic Spots

There are dozens of features on Google result pages these days, but for our purposes, “organic spots” refer to the classic link most of us look for; a plain headline leading to a relevant website. 

For most searches, they appear either first or directly underneath the sponsored ad section. 

Ranking here comes down to two things:

  • Keyword Optimized Content
  • Backlink Profiles

There are plenty of ways SEOs do research here. Most start with domain authority (a third party measure of backlink quality) but this measurement isn’t explicitly endorsed by Google.

Instead, I look for weak spots in the Google results themselves: websites with little or no traffic. Sebastian’s city has quite a few. According to KeywordSurfer, a traffic estimator tool I use, three of the top ten listings have virtually zero traffic and another two have ~2000 visitors a month. 

That’s perfect. I can beat those guys. 

Design: Bringing Sebastian’s Vision to Life

The basic setup for most local businesses will be the same:

  • Home page
  • Services
  • About
  • Contact
  • Blog
  • Portfolio/Case Study

And the process will be the same from client to client:

  • Wireframe 
  • First draft design
  • Client feedback
  • Second draft design
  • Repeat until client is satisfied

To begin, I had Sebastian share three websites he liked and I created Miro wireframes that mirrored their layouts and content. Here’s a snippet of what that looked like:

Looks terrible, right? That’s because it is. It’s not supposed to look good. It’s just a sketch.

Then I handed this off to Dylan, my designer, and had him put his expert professional touch on things. 

Much much better. Now it’s looking like a real website.

Sebastian was incredibly helpful during this process. VIsuals are of key importance for tattoo shops, and every photo we used on the live site was his. No photographer required, just his backlog of photos from a decade of practicing his craft. 

We went through a couple design iterations. Small things mostly: an edit to copy here, a few different fonts, and an interview with him so that his story would shine through in the about sections. 

Delays: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The original plan was to have the site live by the New Year, a month after Sebastian paid me. We went live around January 15th.

Ooops. 

Next time, I’ll factor in that “Christmas” thing into my plans.

Sebastian, his family, our Airbnb host Rita, and my friend Shouna celebrated together. Everyone got their favorite gift from me: socks

Shouna and I even performed for everyone! We played Christmas classics of course, but my favorite was When I’m Sixty Four. I love the Beatles. 

Time well spent. 

Wir haben alle zeit der welt. 

January & February: SEO Work Begins

Remember that money back guarantee I mentioned? I have until the middle of June to get Sebastian results, or I owe him a pretty penny… 

I won’t let that come to pass, though.

SEO comes down to two things:

  • SEO Optimized Content
  • Backlinks

SEO Optimized Content

Between Sebastian, my other clients, networking, and promoting myself on LinkedIn I ran out of time in the day to handle everything. So! I contracted a content production agency, Flocksy, and had them help produce content for a variety of projects.

I did keyword research for the tattoo niche in Spain. Our goal is to win transactional intent phrases. For example, when somebody is in the headspace and want a tattoo, they search for things like this:

  • Tattoo shop a coruna
  • Tatuaje estudio a coruna

The steps for winning these phrases are threefold:

  • Optimize the home page title, H1 tags, and content for the value keywords we want to rank for. That means optimizing for “tattoo shop a coruna.” If you aren’t familiar with those words, just know they’re HTML code things that an SEO will do for you.
  • Create blog content for commonly searched tattoo ideas. The highest volume searches centered on body parts (leg, forearm, etc) followed by themes (mother daughter, butterfly, etc).
  • Translate blogs for both English and Spanish speakers. Most of Spain speaks Spanish but tourists mostly speak English. Why not go for both? Sebastian is a native speaker so he translated the content from English to Spanish.

Not only that, but I was blessed by the first writer Flocksy put on my project. The first message I received from Olivia was “Hi Nick, a life goal of mine is to get a tattoo on every continent, I’m super excited to get to work on this project!

Sebastian’s blog page is quickly filling. The normal clip for content production is 1 per week and we managed to produce six blogs between mid January and the end of February. The final three haven’t gone live just yet but will soon. 

Backlinks

The first place to begin linkbuilding for a local business is name address phone (NAP citations).

If you aren’t yet familiar, the basic gist is that, in order to confirm the geographical location of a business, they look for “citations” of your name, address, and phone number on other websites.

Frankly I can’t say why Google does it this way, but the place they look is on the “yellowpages” of the internet. There’s the literal YellowPages.com for one, but an additional hundred or so smaller websites that perform the same function. 

You can get listed algorithmically through a data aggregation service or do so manually. I’m frugal, so I had a Flocksy VA do this work for me.

I built them a list of relevant directories (getting listed on a restaurant directory, for instance, is counterproductive) and provided instructions. 

Sadly I was too slow verifying the accounts he created and the email invitation links expired. I will have to redo this task in March.

Results as of February 15th 2024

We’re on the board! For a website that’s a little over a month old, I’m pleased with these results.

  • We’re 14th for our branded search term (Indigo Tattoo). This is good; if they hear about us from social media, and go to Google us, it’s important they find our website.
  • Tattoo coruña and tatao coruña are transactional keywords and, ultimately, what we are aiming to rank for. The fact that the phrases aren’t “tatuaje a coruña” surprised me though. My original keyword research didn’t find these variations; these searches must be local slang. Doing keyword research in a non-native language is fun! 

Discover the secrets to skyrocket your business’s visibility and dominate search engine rankings in 2024.

Nick Baird

Nick, the SEO guru, specializes in catapulting businesses to the forefront of search engine rankings. With a keen eye for cutting-edge tactics, he’s dedicated to maximizing client revenues. Elevate your online presence with Nick’s tailored strategies for unparalleled success