Take the fear out of S.E.O. and find out how simple it can be to grow your business with SEO.
SEO is just another tool we have in our marketing toolkit. The problem is it includes so many words that are unknown to us that it seems very complex and difficult.
Admittedly, some parts of SEO are quite complex and need you to know about coding. But, as you’ll soon see, that’s only a tiny amount of what SEO is.
There’s so much YOU can do to grow your business with SEO. Grab a cuppa and prepare to learn what you can do yourself. Or at least, know what to contract out!
Let’s start with what SEO is
‘SEO’ is Search Engine Optimisation and refers to things you can do on your website (including your blog and product pages) to help the search engines find it and read it.
Your goal with SEO is making sure (optimizing) that your website and all the content you have on it can be found by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
We’re going to talk mainly about Google search engines being able to find your website. Why? Because around 90% of all searches are done on Google.
Why do you want your business to be found by search engines?
Google is an information provider. Think about it. You want to know something. You ask Google.
Search engines help you
Why should you spend time focusing on SEO on your website?
If your tribe are online and looking on Google for your help it makes sense that to grow your business and attract customers and clients, they can search and actually find you on Google. The closer to the top of the pages of results (SERPs = Search Engine Results Page) the more people will see you.
75% of people never go further than page 1
Yes, you could pay for ads. After all, paying for ads can be a shortcut to the top of the page. But paid ads get a lot lower click through to your page rate. Websites that come up organically (i.e. not paid for with ads) are seen as more credible and trustworthy.
SEO drives 57% of clicks through to websites
If your goal is for more people to find you through organic (not paid ads) Google (or any other search engine) searches then SEO is what you need to start working on.
And it’s a long game. Not an overnight success story. So the sooner you get started the better!
SEO starts with being clear about who you are, what you do and who you help
SEO is a means to an end. It’s a way of getting more people to your site. But you don’t just want more people on your website. You want more of the RIGHT people to you website.
To know how to attract the RIGHT people to your site you first need to work out WHO the right people are and how you help them.
A (clear) brand message is how you can nail down who you are, what you do and who you help. And how best to help them. Learn more about what a brand message is here.
Before you even get started with the ‘official’ bits of SEO
How do I get started with SEO?
Now you know that SEO will help your tribe find your business, increasing your clients and customers (and growing your business), where do you begin?!
After all, we’re led to believe that there’s some serious magic mojo behind SEO where only those with the ‘gift’ can impart SEO gift to the unwashed masses. And then charge the earth for it.
But, as a small business owner there are lots of things you can do to start working on your own SEO.
Moz is one of the BIG three SEO toolkits. In the Moz's beginners guide to SEO they share this great graphic.
Using Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO needs you can see that there is little point hitting the top without having addressed the foundations.
Let’s use Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO needs to get you started with SEO to grow your small business.
1. Crawl accessibility
I’m sorry to start with such a technical term. Don’t let it put you off. But it really is the best way to describe what it is, when you know what it is!
The role of the internet search engines is to find your website, learn what’s in it and store that information. So that when someone searches for an answer it knows you can provide it.
So the first thing we need to make sure of is that the search engine ‘bots’ can find you, crawl around your site, index what’s there and store that information. All ready for when someone asks a question.
Bots are programmes that search engines send out to craw your website, index what’s there and bring the information back to be stored.
And there are about 3.5 BILLION searches made on Google every day.
How can search engines crawl my website?
To crawl your website the search engine bots need to first find you. It helps to think of the internet like a massive interlinked web (funny that). If the thread of the net doesn’t go to you, how can the bots find you?
The first thing is to make sure your website is linked into at least one other website. So the information thread leads the bots to your website.
Creating the first links to your website
How can I help the search engines crawl my website?Yay, now the bots have found your site they need to be able to navigate around it.
Make sure the pages and links go to places that are meaningful and relevant to your client. Your aim is to simplify their experience of navigating around your website to find the information they need to engage with you. Make your site easy to find your way around for the humans and the bots will be happy.
When was your website last crawled by a bot, and which version of your website is indexed? There’s a quick way to find out.
Click on ‘cached’ and it will show you the saved copy. It will also flash up (superfast) the date it was lasted crawled. But you can then check what’s there.
When you arrive on a website and find information that is relevant, easy to read and gives you answers you’ll find a reason to stay on your website.
Creating compelling content comes from knowing your clients and creating content that they want. So we go back to the basics that knowing your clients is the most important thing you can do before you jump on the SEO train.
Once you’ve sorted out your brand message, it’s easier to create compelling content. Especially when you use your brand message to create ‘talking points’. Talking points are those key conversations that you want to become known for. Keep your messaging clear and consistent. And are a great way to spread your message.
Find out how to create clear, consistent messages here.
Before you go any further with SEO you need to be able to answer the questions
The more details you can give, the easier the rest will be.
If you need a guide to help you create this profile check out Catch Your Dream Client.
I wrote with course with Kat Soper from The Helpful Academy. In this course you’ll be able to identify your dream client, learn all about what they want from you, the words they use to search for what they need and where they hang out. Helping you create clear, compelling websites, emails, products, services, promotional materials and blogs. Everything you need to market your business.
And of course, some super-important information that will help you nail your SEO.
Creating relevant content
Now you know all about your dream client you can answer these questions:
Create the best content to grow your tribe and give them what they’re looking for.
Creating relevant content doesn’t mean spending all your hours writing. (I can do that for you!) What it helps you to do is make sure that all your blogs, product pages and main webpages are all RELEVANT. It helps you stay on track with your message rather than spending hours going off on a tangent!
Relevant, compelling SEO content should be
Blogs are a great way to update your content. Find out how often should you be blogging.
In Catch My Dream Client you’ll be able to develop a profile of what words your dream client use to describe what they’re looking for. These are the words they’ll type in to Google and hope to get the answers they need.
This is what we call ‘keywords’. But don’t be misled. It’s not just words it can be phrases too. You might see these phrases also called ‘long-tail keywords’.
Keyword creation tips
Choosing the right keywordsNow you’ve found the words that your dream clients are looking for, and hoping to find you, it’s time to narrow down the list.
There may be some keywords in your industry that are being hogged by the big companies, or that everyone is trying to be listed for. These are called competitive keywords.
There may be keywords that are looked for more than others. This we call keyword volume.
The trick is to find a moderate to low competitive keyword with a high volume of people searching for it.
You can also use free tool to find keywords that people are searching for. Here’s a blog where I list my favourite free SEO keyword research tools.
Creating your website keyword hit-listNow you should have a heap of keywords. What do you need to do to make sense of it?
First, set up a spreadsheet and create a new spreadsheet page for each page on your website. On each page create a list of keywords for each webpage.
What you now have is a list of content for each page of your website. Yes, keywords too, but mainly content ideas of content that will be of great value to your dream client.
Because we write for humans first!
Where to use keywordsObviously use keywords in the content (words) you’re writing on your website. Use them naturally and make sure it’s easy to read. Don’t ‘keyword-stuff’. That’s where you use the keywords at any given opportunity to the point that it’s almost impossible to read.
4. User experience
Also known as ‘presenting the information in the way your dream client wants to see it’.
Please note, we’re talking about people again. Bots aren’t users. Write human-focused content at ALL TIMES!
Keyword research gives you great ideas on what kind of content your dream client wants to see. And it can also show you HOW they want to view this content.
Do they want to read about it, watch a video, see an image or map, or see online store listings?
Try searching for your keyword and see what comes up in the search results. What do you see presented to you? This is the favourite content people are viewing. No go create!
Obviously people who search for Katy Perry are interested in videos as this is what is shown first.
5. Share links
We’ve already covered how your website needs to be linked in to other webpages for bots to be able to find your website, crawl it and create an index of your wonderful content BEFORE it’s able to include you on search results.
Links are also a great way to show that you’re a reliable, reputable and expert site of authority. People visit your page and they like it so much they share to it.
You may have come across link-sharing schemes, or emails asking if you’d share a link and in return they’ll share one for you. Be careful of these and investigate them thoroughly. If you’re paid to share links then this is a MASSIVE RED FLAG (and may be illegal). Walk away. But if it genuinely is a good link, it’s all above board and will be of value to your dream clients, then by all means go talk to them.
Great ways to build links to your website (backlinks)Get your name around
And at each of these make sure there’s a link back to your website! Slow and steady backlink building can really help tick another SEO box.
6. Behind the scenes words
We talked already about keywords and using them in the words you have on your website. But you can also use your keywords behind the scenes on your website. Yes, we’re dipping our toes in the really scary side of SEO now: what goes on in the background.
Other places to use your keywords
URL = is the https:// … name that your webpage has. Using a keyword here for blogs or services pages is a great idea.
H1 = Is the main heading of the page. Having an H1 tag on your blog header or main title for your web page is like a fluoro sign flashing away to Google that this is the topic of the page.
Although it sounds really quite technical it’s not. Here’s how to make H1 tags happen easily …
Meta-description = Meta tag descriptions are that little preview text that comes up with the link on the Google search page. Using meta tag descriptions helps get the RIGHT client reading your page. The RIGHT client means that they’ll stay longer, improving your metrics for how long readers stay on your site. Which works beautifully for SEO ratings. Woo hoo!
If you manage your own website, then head to the page information whatever platform you’re with. Often it’s on the side bar under something that indicates that it’s for SEO settings.
Alt text = Alt text allows Google algorithms to ‘see’ images. Generally when you load up and image to your blog or website page you can set the alt text under an advanced setting button.
7. Coding/technical stuff
Okay, if the last section dipped our toes in the scary side of SEO (the rest wasn’t too bad, was it?!) this section is taking a full body dive into the part of SEO that drives everyone nuts.
The biggest problem with SEO is that people often START with the coding side of SEO rather than the rest of the list which is totally manageable.
We’re also only going to spend a short amount of time here, as this is the bit that you probably really should get a web-specialist to manage for you.
So I’m going to share a little bit of details, and then give you a list of what to go and get others to do for you! And how to find them.
This is the part that’s worth spending your money on. But only after you’ve sorted the other sections first.
Site mapsA site map is a list of all the pages on your website. A map of your site. Having a site map is very useful for analysing your SEO on Google Search Console. Providing a site map for your website through your Google Search Console account is a good way to say “hey, these pages are worth looking at”.
You don’t need a specialist to do this for you. I managed to do it for myself. WordPress, Wix and Squarespace all have an option in settings (use Yoast if you’re on WordPress) to create a site map.
Your site map will normally be in the format: domain.com/sitemap.xml. Hop onto Google Search Console and add new sitemap.
Robot filesThis is where I start deferring to the experts. You can use robot files (robot.txt) to stop the bots crawling (remember section 1 is where we talked about this) certain pages. Old pages, private pages, low word content pages are usually what are blocked from the bots.
Messing around with Robot files to hide certain pages needs a good overview of what you’re doing. Hiding the wrong page from the search bots (as we talked about in section 1) can mean that the bots miss crucial information about your business.
For most of us we don’t need to be touching robot.txt. But if you want to learn more here’s a great, simple blog from SEM Rush, one of the top 3 SEO tool providers.
Don’t touch. Call an expert – one who set up your site for you or ask on the help chat on your site provider.
Schema/Structured dataSchema (also called structured data) tells the search bots what your data means, not just what it says. Wild stuff! What this means in human-speak is that it can present to your dream client as they search for you content and information that may help their experience of your website.
So schema is another tool to help the bots understand our site (like site maps) and present the best information tailored to our dream client. And present information in a way that might help your client click on your listing.
Adding schema allows you to take advantage of your content being provided in a search as a video, event, online store product listing or infographic.
Schema also helps provide the information for rich snippets that show the 4 star rating next to this product.
If you’re feeling out of your depth already it’s worth contacting a web developer to talk this through. If you’re wanting to add your own and need the code to do it, head to Google structured data markup helper.
Load speed and mobile responsive pagesLoad speed and mobile responsive pages won’t necessarily influence SEO but will improve the experience of your dream client when they get to your site.
How many times have you scrolled away or shut down a tab when it’s been slow to load? Yeah, me too. It’s frustrating and annoying.
Almost as frustrating and annoying as opening a website on my mobile and being presented with a PC-sized website on my teeny-tiny phone.
What this frustration means is that your dream client flips away from your site quickly. Which Google bots take to mean as “I didn’t find anything helpful here so it’s not valuable” and may present other websites before you. Having people stay on your site for a while shows that your content is interesting and being used.
Number one in fixing this is to make sure that you are using a mobile responsive template for your website, or the person who built it made it responsive.
Next is to test it on a mobile phone and make sure it really does look okay and interact okay. Some website platforms, like Rocketspark, allow you to edit in mobile view and hide images that may not enhance the mobile experience.
The main problem when it comes to load speed is images. Big size files of images take AGES to load on your page and is an easy fix.
This is especially important if you have an e-commerce or blogger site where you’re likely to have lots of images.
The other thing to check (again, important with e-commerce sites) is that you haven’t overloaded your website with apps that slow down your site.
Tracking your SEO
It’s great to see over time what’s happening with your SEO. And the best way to see this is to see where Google presents you on the search engine results page for the keywords you’ve allocated to each page.
You can track your SEO each month very simply by entering the keyword and seeing where you pop up. This gives a slightly skewed results as Google knows the history of what you’ve been looking at. But it will show you vaguely if you’re getting closer to page one.
Creating a free Google Analytics account is however by far the better way to track your SEO efforts. Google Analytics can be fairly overwhelming when you land on it. This is the Google Analytics video I keep going back to.
Your SEO checklist
The final word about SEO for small businesses
As you can see there’s a lot that can be done before calling in the experts. The first place to start is finding out all you can about your dream client and creating a clear brand message.
Let me help.
Let me audit the clarity of your website and give you a fully-actionable checklist of how to make it stand out to your dream client. I audit against the StoryBrand framework, one of the gold standard frameworks for user experience and brand message clarity.
Website + SEO audit.
As well as auditing the experience your dream client has on your website I’ll double check what else you can do to improve SEO and give you a fully actionable checklist to help you climb up the results list. I’ll stalk your customers, give you some more keyword suggestions and tell you if there’s anything ‘interesting’ going on in the back of your site.
Want to do it yourself? Catch your dream client
Head to the The Helpful Academy and check out the course I wrote with marketing expert Kat Soper. Learn all you can about your dream client so you can laser point your marketing and SEO to attract the right clients
Want to do it yourself? Step by Step SEO
Join Kat Soper and Iona Elwood-Smith, web strategist, in this online course. They’ll hold your hand and guide you through fully search engine optimising your website to improve your organic search page ranking for your key search terms AND motivate your ideal customers to click through to your website!
[These are affiliate links. I’ll earn a commission at no cost to you for purchases of these courses]
Hi, I'm Katrina
I'm the brains and creativity behind Words for Wellness, copy writing and marketing services for health and wellness businesses.