Tiger29 is a corporate sponsor and premier level patron of Startup Sioux Falls.

Pete Kleinjan recently celebrated ten years of running his own SEO agency, Tiger29. But the Dakota State University grad wasn’t always a web professional.

After receiving his degree in elementary education from Dakota State University, Kleinjan moved to Sioux Falls where he struggled to find a teaching job. He wasn’t interested in substitute teaching, so he took a job in credit card collections instead.

Kleinjan later transitioned to a role in sales where he found he had lots of downtime. 

“If you want to sell more you need more leads, so I went to the web developer and asked what I could help with,” Kleinjan said. “That started the journey with SEO and learning to leverage the website to get more leads.” 

One thing led to another, and Kleinjan began running the company’s SEO strategy while working remotely from the comfort of his own home. 

“Eventually, I went to the owner of the company and said, “What if I started my own company and you were my flagship client?’” Kleinjan said. 

That company has been a client ever since.

Who needs SEO?

For the past ten years, Kleinjan’s business has dealt strictly with SEO optimization. Though he’ll soon be expanding to include pay-per-click and Google AdWords services, he says maintaining a niche has been a key element of his success. 

From Kleinjan’s perspective, SEO optimization is a valuable investment for any business owner. 

“To a certain degree, most business owners are aware of the power of being available on search,” Kleinjan said. “It’s the logistics of making that happen that’s a whole other story.” 

Kleinjan works primarily with local businesses, with around 80 percent of his client base in Sioux Falls.

“I love local business, and I love small business owners,” he said. “It’s cool for me to be able to create an impact for a small business.”

Because of this local focus, Kleinjan tries to maintain a wide range of clients in order to avoid conflict. Keeping a broad client focus actually helps his strategies remain fresh, Kleinjan says.

“The things I learn from a dental client can apply to an attorney,” he said. “If you only work in one area, you can get blind spots and start to miss things you can leverage with other clients.”

One of the greatest challenges he faces is finding clients who are willing to stick with an SEO plan. 

“Lots of companies have been burned by it,” he said. “I don’t have a hard and fast rule, but ideally I want to work with a company for at least 13 months. If you can commit for 13 months, you can compare year over year, and at that point, it usually sticks.”

Kleinjan says Sioux Falls’ smaller market has its challenges, but ultimately it provides a business community that is willing to invest in itself.

“The economy here is great, so people aren’t too fearful,” Kleinjan said. “Even back in 2008 and 2009, the smart companies spent more on marketing. You can’t just sit back and let your business die on the line. You have to do something to make things better.”

How to get started with SEO

Before approaching an agency like Tiger29, Kleinjan says it’s important for a business to set up a few basic systems. 

First and foremost, a company needs to have a website. As a niche SEO agency, Kleinjan doesn’t offer web development or design. 

The next step for any business is to set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console. The systems are simple and free to set up, and they allow agencies like Tiger29 to view baseline data before optimizing.

If you’re interested in developing an SEO strategy for your business, reach out to Kleinjan via email

“There are misconceptions about SEO for a lot of different reasons, but I really like what I do, and I’ll talk to anybody about it,” Kleinjan said. “If you’re curious, let’s have coffee. I’m not going to hard sell to you.”

At the end of the day, Kleinjan wants to use his expertise to help clients attract leads.

“SEO is the feature, and the benefits are the leads,” he said. “I’m happy to tell you whatever you want to know about SEO, but I don’t want you to worry about it. When you go to the mechanic, you don’t have to stand over his shoulder, you just let him fix your car.”

When it comes to running a successful business, making the most of professional assistance in areas you aren’t as proficient in (like SEO, perhaps) is a powerful and efficient way to leverage the skills you do have.

Learn more about Tiger29 at https://www.tiger29.com/.