Dima Sobovoy is the founder of Roofing SEO School, which teaches roofing contractors how to do SEO in-house so that they’re not constantly looking to third-party sources to generate online leads.
For Sobovoy, helping roofing companies become independent, self-sufficient online entities dominates his work life, but years ago, Sobovoy was a young boy growing up in the newly democratic Ukraine, his focus not on business, but rather navigating life in a country that hadn’t yet developed a clear identity.
“I got a chance to live in a free Ukraine. I was born right when they became independent,” Sobovoy says, “but within new democracies there are a lot of issues and corruption.”
One of the issues that plagued Ukraine during its infancy was establishing a stable economy.
As a result, fostering a successful business was immensely challenging, as Sobovoy’s father continuously discovered while trying to become a successful entrepreneur.
Seeing his father’s endless grind reap little rewards, as a boy Sobovoy was turned off to the idea of entrepreneurship.
“Growing up I did not want to be involved with anything related to business,” he admits.
“I considered acting, but at one point I decided that I wanted to be a minister, someone who is able to help others find answers in the Bible and give their life meaning.”
That desire to positively impact others would follow Sobovoy into his teenage years, and when he was seventeen his family immigrated to the United States.
By then Sobovoy had already graduated high school, and after getting rejected by the American public school system when he tried to obtain an American diploma, he quickly transitioned and began working in a senior living center as a server.
Considering that Sobovoy had previously only been exposed to the British dialect of the English language, working in the senior living center proved to be particularly difficult.
“That’s where I started learning American English. People would order food and I had no idea what they were talking about. I would just write down something that resembled what they mentioned and then run back and ask someone what it was,” Sobovoy says with a laugh.
For context, Sobovoy was already fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, and even though picking up on American vernacular took time, eventually he acclimated to the American way of life.
Around this time, he met his future wife, and soon after entering into holy matrimony the couple had the first of what would ultimately be five children.
“We didn’t want to waste time. We wanted to build a family,” Sobovoy says.
Becoming a husband and father in his early twenties was part of his plan, but Sobovoy also knew that in order to support his wife and children, he would need to secure gainful employment in order to live comfortably.
Shortly after leaving the senior living center, Sobovoy found work with AT&T as a sales rep, a position that taught him a lot, namely that sales did not mesh with his personality.
“I didn’t enjoy the pressure aspect of it,” Sobovoy says.
“Management had unrealistic expectations and attitudes, and even though the money was good, I wanted to get out of there.”
Suddenly in need of a new career path, Sobovoy sought to develop skills that could transcend time and locale, so after a few years cutting his teeth working temp jobs to pay the bills, perhaps ironically Sobovoy eventually became a lab manager for Aspen Dental.
“I wanted to have a medical skill, something that was useful and that I could take with me anywhere in the world,” he says of a role where he indirectly helped people reinvigorate their smiles.
“That job was really enjoyable. I produced thousands of dentures and made a lot of smiles, literally.”
Working for Aspen Dental, Sobovoy was making a comfortable salary, but soon he became overly content, and he wanted to create a future where he could quickly generate large sums of capital so that he wouldn’t have to trade his time for money.
When he wasn’t on the clock or spending time with his family, he was diligently scouring the internet for potential solutions to his professional dilemma.
This is where, after copious amounts of research, Sobovoy was convinced that specializing in SEO (search engine optimization) was the best path toward achieving a sustainable way of life.
For context, SEO can be used to improve the quality and quantity of traffic that a business attracts to its website, namely by creating content (articles, blogs, videos) and then supplementing those pieces of content with backlinks that show Google’s algorithms that a company is an authority figure within their specific area of business.
In other words, if you’re a roofing company looking to generate more leads without paying for ads or marketing, employing effective SEO strategies has the potential to place your company website higher on the first page of Google, which will consequently lead to more phone calls, and ideally more sales and revenue.
“I saw SEO as the future,” Sobovoy says of a business strategy that has yet to be fully embraced by small business owners, especially those in the roofing industry.
“And if I could be found online and monetize a good or service, that would be effective and potentially profitable.”
In his thirty-plus years on this planet, Sobovoy has never been reluctant to bet on himself, which is why in order to fully grasp the concept of SEO, he initially invested $5,000 into an introductory online SEO course.
“It’s hard to progress and grow if you don’t take risks, so I spent $5,000 to get into this school and become an SEO expert,” he says.
Unlike most of the online courses being promoted on the internet by charlatans with no real experience or understanding of the business they’re claiming to have mastered, Sobovoy’s mentor had a proven track record of SEO success.
During the course, Sobovoy was instructed to build a case study for why he could be viewed as a trusted source for SEO optimization.
This meant that he had to build a website and create content that would drive traffic to his website, which in theory would cement the landing page as an authorial agent.
Essentially, Sobovoy had to successfully apply the theoretical concepts he was learning so that he could market tangible results to future prospective clients.
Impressively, Sobovoy then spent months building an online presence for a towing company in Spokane, Washington, to the point that the towing company’s website was at the top of local Google searches.
Yet the most stunning aspect of Sobovoy’s efforts was that he never actually owned a towing company in Spokane.
Instead, he had constructed an online presence that was so dominant that it steamrolled all other local towing companies that were actually offering that service to people.
“In six months my towing company was on the first page of Google, and it was getting tons of calls from people who needed to have a vehicle towed,” Sobovoy mentions.
“By doing that, I proved to myself that I know what I’m doing when it comes to SEO.”
Sobovoy later sold the website to someone who could stand to benefit from the flourishing website, and the deal also included a provision where Sobovoy would earn a percentage on all future leads that the website generated.
“That experience alone taught me how truly powerful SEO is,” Sobovoy adds.
Armed with knowledge that could potentially revolutionize any business on the internet, Sobovoy began partnering with tree cutting and lawn service companies.
He even joined forces with a local roofing company in Spokane, but Sobovoy says that achieving SEO success took longer than the roofing company anticipated, which put a strain on their relationship and ultimately led to the dissolution of the partnership.
Based on that experience, Sobovoy vowed to avoid working with roofing contractors in the future, citing the oversaturated and ultra-competitive industry as an inhibitor to attaining SEO superiority.
But soon after, a friend in the roofing business approached Sobovoy in hopes that he could elevate his company’s SEO prowess.
After much discussion, Sobovoy finally agreed to help his friend, provided certain criteria were met.
“I didn’t promise any timeline regarding when he would see progress on his Google ranking. I was just going to keep doing what I know, and success would come whenever we finally got there,” Sobovoy recalls of their outlined terms.
Sobovoy may have been reticent to re-enter the cutthroat industry of roofing, but over time, something unexpected happened.
“In the process of trying to optimize my friend’s SEO, I fell in love with the roofing industry. I enjoyed going to roofing conferences and meeting people at events, but what I also learned is that the roofing industry is very family oriented,” Sobovoy explains.
For a man whose ambitions rarely take precedence over his loved ones, it was difficult for Sobovoy to ignore the fact that many roofing business owners with a track record of success were not only trying to put food on the table, but also build something that could be handed down to the next generation.
But for as much as Sobovoy wanted to be a part of the roofing industry, behind closed doors there were many contractors deriding the concept of SEO, calling it a scam that sketchy marketers were pushing onto unsuspecting roofers.
In fairness to those detractors, there are a plethora of smarmy marketers with little to zero SEO pedigree who are doing whatever they can to make quick cash without offering much value in return.
Which is to say, it’s important for roofing contractors to thoroughly vet any SEO company they are thinking about partnering with to gauge whether an SEO expert can truly deliver results.
Of course, verifying the validity of an SEO expert is no easy task.
That’s why Sobovoy is routinely creating content around what he does and going to conferences around the country to show contractors just how impactful SEO can be when they create content that blends science and art.
“At its core, SEO is a combination of science and creativity. With SEO, you’re not only writing for your readers, but you are also writing for Google, and if you don’t satisfy the computer, your readers are not going to read it,” Sobovoy mentions.
“You are trying to feed two beasts: Google and the reader. That’s a challenging task because to feed the consumer is a matter of creativity and speaking their language. To feed Google, that’s science.”
As of May 17, 2022, Sobovoy has sixteen roofing companies enrolled in the Roofing SEO School.
All his clients are paying a monthly rate to receive his SEO services, but what makes Sobovoy and the Roofing SEO School different from their competitors is that they are trying to get their clients off the payroll, meaning they want their clients to become so well-versed in SEO practices that they no longer need Sobovoy’s help in ascending and maintaining their position on Google’s first page.
If the approach seems too altruistic, Sobovoy emphasizes that this philosophy isn’t a matter of money, but one of principle.
“I treat my clients that way because that is how I would like to be treated,” he says.
While Sobovoy would never deny the importance of the need for consistent capital within a business, he also views building a legacy and setting impeccable business standards as equally crucial.
“You don’t start a roofing company because you love nailing shingles. You start a roofing business because you want to have a legacy, control, and independence. You want to be able to pass on something to your children, a system that is not dependent on the exchange of time for money,” Sobovoy says.
“A lot of companies invest in paid advertisements, and that’s fine, but you’re not creating legacy when you employ that strategy. What you’re doing is creating a business that is dependent upon an outside source for revenue, and when that revenue source dries up, your most valuable source of cash flow, which is customers, might also come to an end.”
With SEO, there exists the opportunity to create a foundation that can last for many years, assuming Google doesn’t go bankrupt or mysteriously vanish from the internet.
For family-owned businesses, that can spell the difference between having a job and producing generational wealth.
That possibility alone is enough incentive for Sobovoy to continue aiding in SEO optimization for his clients, long after his services have been rendered.
“Some people are fearful of losing clients, so they’ll do whatever they can to keep them on board, but the reality is that the client is going to eventually leave anyway,” he insists.
“I just want to make sure that when my clients leave, I have equipped them with the knowledge they need to be successful moving forward, and with our relationship still intact.”
Despite the litany of case studies and testimonials from roofing companies across the United States, the resentment toward SEO still burns in the hearts and minds of many contractors.
That animosity will likely never perish, unless perhaps the archaically-minded roofing contractor who refuses to adapt also fades into oblivion.
For Sobovoy, he doesn’t need to persuade the disbelieving throng of roofers that SEO is for real.
Moreover, he doesn’t want to.
“I’m not in the business of convincing people that they need SEO because it is one of those fundamental beliefs that you either have or you don’t,” Sobovoy shares.
“I typically work with people who have come to that realization themselves, and those are ideal circumstances to operate under, for both me and my clients.” QS
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