You found this blog on Google? Great! To be honest, my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is still in the beta testing phase (I wrote this in the summer of 2016… but Google still keeps me busy). I try new things and learn new things every day. Time to ask an expert! Kerry Brind has more than ten years of experience in Copywriting, Blogging and Content Marketing. Today she works with successful female entrepreneurs and small business owners; using the power of copywriting, blogging and SEO to boost their businesses and their bank accounts. Kerry’s mission: Write to Win Business!
Most business owners are overwhelmed with everything, especially in the beginning. They are happy when they have put their website together. Why should they also start with SEO?
Getting your website live is an amazing feeling, in my case it made me feel like my business was finally ‘real’. But here’s the thing… how are people going to find your gorgeous website? How are you going to get yourself and your fabulous products and services in front of your ideal customers? Sure you can tell your family and friends and share links on your social media platforms, you might even take out a Facebook ad to drive traffic to your new site. This may nab you a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand hits. That’s all good. But search engine traffic is much… MUCH better.
Google handles around 3.5 billion searches per day, every day and if you want your site to be ranked and included in the relevant results for those searches, you need to invest your time in SEO. Without it, you’re not only missing out on loads of traffic, but hundreds, possibly thousands of potential sales.
You see, someone who discovers you on social media might admire your products and services, but may or may not be in the mood to buy. Someone who searches for exactly your products and services on Google is almost certainly looking to make a purchase; SEO is what helps them find your website and your products and services. Starting your own business is tough; there’s so much to do and only so many hours in the day. But of all the marketing strategies available to you, SEO is absolutely the most cost effective, future proof, and clever.
How can one optimize a website to get a better Google ranking? How important is social media here?
As a Copywriter and Content Marketing Consultant, my SEO strategy is built around content. Useful, inspirational and informative content that builds your reputation establishes your authority and gets you firmly on Google’s radar. Here’s why: When Andrey Lipattsev – a Search Quality Senior strategist at Google – was asked what Google’s top two ranking factors were, he answered: “I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.”
Optimizing your content for great Google results starts with the keywords. Keywords are words and phrases that Google uses to understand what your web page is all about and that you want to rank highly for. So, say you make and sell organic curry sauces, short keywords you may want to rank for might be: curry, sauce, organic, homemade. But there are also long-tail keywords. These are longer phrases that people might use when searching for your products and services on search engines. They tend to be more specific, so Google likes them lots. So, for our organic curry sauces, a few long-tail keywords might be: Organic curry sauces in Hannover or Buy organic curry sauces online.
Ideally you want to have a list of at least 20 keywords you want to rank for and use a different one on each web page. Once you’ve assigned your keywords, you need to sprinkle them like SEO stardust across your content. Ideally you want your chosen keyword for each page or post to feature in:
- Your headline
- The first paragraph of your page content
- At least twice more in the content of your page
- In the title and Alt Tags of any images on that page
- In the page URL
- In the Meta Title and Meta Descriptions for that page
Social media is certainly an important part of your SEO strategy. Whilst Google has stated that it doesn’t take social media links directly into account when ranking your site, it crawls social media websites just as it does any other website and for this reason many marketers believe that social media shares and backlinks can certainly have an indirect impact on how Google views the authority of your site. In any case, social media can drive traffic and increase engagement, so keep sharing!
What is good and for free in case of SEO and what is it worth to invest in?
The great thing about SEO is that – despite what many SEO agencies would have you believe – you can do loads of great stuff for free! Many people forget that Google is a business too and in fact, it wants to help you! Google wants to know about your site so it can deliver the best and most relevant search results to its users and it has created lots of free tools to help you out.
Google’s Keyword Planner is free to use and if you click ‘skip the guided set-up’ when setting up your account, this will allow you to bypass setting up a campaign and adding payment details. You then simply access the Keyword Planner under ‘tools’ in the main AdWords menu. Google My Business gets you listed in search results, Google Maps and Google+. It’s like having your own personal business listing and it’s free. Submitting your website sitemap to Google Search Console is also free and it helps Google and other search engines to crawl and categorise your site.Google Search Console also offers lots of fantastic tools and resources to help you check and monitor your sites search engine performance.
If you’ve got time to invest then it’s worth subscribing to sites like Moz.com and Kissmetrics.com, both of which publish brilliant guides and blogs on SEO. I personally believe that the best investment you can make in terms of SEO is to invest in yourself. If you’re going to spend money, spend it on teaching yourself more about how to master the SEO techniques you need to know to get your site onto the first page of Google. Once you’ve invested in these skills they are yours to use over and over again.
What were your first 3 steps to a successful SEO strategy?
I first learnt about SEO and how powerful it could be when I was an Editor at a major ad agency in London. I worked alongside an amazingly talented digital team and we used SEO to really drive traffic to our client’s websites. It was here that I realised that the real power of SEO lay with content. Today, when I teach my own clients about SEO I almost always start with three key tasks:
- Figure out where you really rank!
Did you know that Google personalises search results for each user? This means that what you see when you Google your business, your name or your keywords may not be the same as what potential customers see. To figure out where you really rank I recommend making a list of 5-10 keywords and phrases that you think you rank for or would like to rank for. Then make sure you are logged out of your Google account before you start searching. If you’re using Chrome as your browser you can also open an ‘incognito’ window to depersonalise search results.
- Create a list of short and long-tail keywords!
Brainstorm a list of up to 50 words and phrases that people might use to search for your business or the products and services you offer. If you’re having difficulty, Google’s free Keyword Planner is great for suggesting alternative words and phrases that are related to your original search term. Ideally you want keywords with high search volume and low competition.
- Assign those keywords!
Once you’ve created your list of keywords, assign each on to a page or blog post on your website. Once you’ve done this you can start working through each page using the techniques listed above to optimise each page or post.
The key to a great SEO strategy is not to let it overwhelm you. Like any marketing strategy SEO takes time so don’t get disheartened if you optimise a page and it’s not showing up a week later. You don’t have to get everything done overnight either, your website isn’t going anywhere and neither is Google. Set aside a few hours each week to optimise your website and once that’s done you can optimise blog posts as you go.
Kerry, thank you for the interview!