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Battling search engine invisibility

Friday, 2 September 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Matt BurgessOperating online is the norm these days, particularly if you’re a new business. But as Matt and Richard Burgess found out, setting up a website is the easy part. Being found online presents an entirely new set of challenges.


The Burgess brothers are the founders of vehicle financial brokerage service 360 Financial Services, established in 2007 with the sole aim of providing finance products.


“To do this, we needed to own the relationship with the customer and to assist them through the sales process when buying a new vehicle to ensure the best outcome,” Matt says.


“We achieve this by having an online business, which attracts customers who are researching their next car finance package online.”


While deciding to operate online was a no-brainer for the brothers, the biggest challenge they have faced is being seen online.


“Car finance is an extremely competitive industry and there are some very big competitors who dominate the online market,” Matt says.


“Without the massive budgets of these competitors, we have had to slowly and gradually invest profits into search engine optimisation.”


Matt says he and his brother knew they needed to train themselves up in SEO but didn’t have the resources to do it in-house, hence the decision to outsource.


“We knew we had to get our website organically ranking, but neither of us had a background in IT or SEO. We have outsourced our SEO requirements, which has been a challenging process to find the right partner to work with,” he says.


“Google doesn’t give you a black-and-white rulebook, which makes it easy to be taken advantage of. Being two new guys, there were a lot of people out there guaranteeing results in SEO but we realised they rarely gave you the results they promised.”


“We’re on our fifth SEO vendor now and we have finally found someone we can work with.”


Matt says he has and his brother learnt what it takes in order to be seen online, and have refined the company’s sites to get the best conversion rates.


“We have also become quite knowledgeable about SEO and now take a very hands-on approach with our SEO partners,” he says.


“We also subscribe to about half a dozen online providers who give you the tools to check what your vendors are doing, making sure it’s all white hat.”


“As a business owner, you want to be able to focus on what you do well but up-skill yourself so you can keep SEO vendors accountable and get the most bang for your buck.”


The company has come a long way since its struggle to be seen, recording revenue in excess of $500,000 last year.


“When we started our business, all our enquiries were generated via Google Adwords. It is now a 50/50 split between organic visits and Google Adwords. We would average 15 unique enquiries per day,” Matt says.


“With our Adwords, our click-through rate averages 6-10%, with the conversion rate between 10-15%. We know these figures are a great result in our industry from the feedback we’ve had.”