9 Things I Wish I’d known About SEO a Long Time Ago
SEO used to make my skin crawl. It seemed so difficult to understand and even harder to implement. Reading blogs on blogs on blogs, listening to podcast, signing up for email lists to get SEO checklists… it was all too much. I would Google keywords to see how I would match up against competitors and end up completely discouraged. After all, how could I stand out next to 10,000 word articles and other businesses that had been running for years?
Post drama (and a little crying), I decided I needed to change the story I had in my mind about SEO. I needed to lean into it, get over it, and be friends with it. All of the resistance wasn’t getting me anywhere, and it’s probably not getting you anywhere either.
One day I came across Pat Flynn, his blog, and his podcast. On one episode, he interviewed Tim Soulo who is the Chief Marketing Officer and Product advisor at Ahrefs. Ahrefs is an SEO tool used by Facebook, Youtube, and other big name brands so you can imagine they know what they’re talking about. This episode was extremely helpful to me (if you want to listen click here). I spent the whole day diving into podcasts and blogs like this one that could help me with SEO for clients. I’ve also been taking a reallly helpful course by Paige Brunton (Squarespace guru) that covers the topic of SEO.
Basically I have been doing a lot of the deep diving for you. Here are my most recent take aways that I wish I’d known about a long time ago. Ones that you can start working on right now to get your beautiful brand and website found!
Name your images
Strange but true: People aren’t going to Google 528506c8.jpg. If you don’t name your images and they are just a mix of numbers, it’s going to be really hard for pictures to help your SEO. Name your images prior to uploading them to your website, or once they are in your website editor. Doing this will help your site carry more keywords and help search engines know you better.
***Bonus points if you can fit one of your keywords into your image description! It is always good to use images relevant to your brand. If you are a yoga studio and you have an image you can post that is titled “yogi doing yoga in a yoga studio” then you’re really nailing it. BUT that doesn’t mean you should be misleading. Make sure it really is a picture of a “yogi doing yoga in a yoga studio”.
Obviously the more keywords you can fit in your website the better, but don’t assume that the algorithms won’t find you out if you aren’t sticking to the best practices. Search engines like Google will actually dock you some pretty important SEO points if it catches wind you aren’t being truthful. If you have a picture of a plant, say it’s a picture of a plant. Images that can’t use your keywords are still useful. At the end of the day they are still considered content and consistently updating new content is key. The more images, blog posts, and pages the better!
Find your key words
You know your business better than anyone. That means that you also know who you are trying to sell to and what you are trying to sell, right? Use these two pieces of information to figure out the keywords relevant to your business. The ones that your dream clients would Google if they were looking for you (which they are).
Here is one way to do that (more tools to come in future posts):
Start with a hypothesis of what you think people might google to find your services
Notice what comes up when you search your keywords. Scroll a little to check out other businesses that are ranking. Do they fall under the same niche as you? Are they for a business that does the same thing or something totally different?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at other common searches. This may shed some light on the way people search the keywords you are interested in:
Stay in touch with your SEO. Consistently test keywords and add new ones as needed depending on your websites performance
The words you choose are ones that you want to incorporate A LOT on your website, images, blog posts, etc. Keep testing them, implementing them, and staying open to adjustments if you need to make them but…
Remember you are writing for a human, not a machine.
This brings me to my next point.
Using keywords is good, but…
Using them in a way that is enjoyable to read is better. If you have to use less keywords to make sense PLEASE DO THAT. Search engines care about keywords you choose sure, but they MOSTLY care about user experience. Google wants to be considered a useful tool. They do that by helping customers find what they are looking for and leading them to services/ products that can actually improve their lives. You aren’t doing that if you aren’t thinking about customer experience. Place that priority above all else!
Pursue some backlinks.
Backlinks are links placed on other websites that lead people to your work. For example if you write an article for someone else, your URL is likely next to your name and information on their businesses’ website. This is the most ethical way to get more backlinks. Get in contact with some relevant influencers in your field. Who’s doing what you want to do in the future? Could you submit an article to Yoga Journal or Forbes? Show casing your link on a well known source like these can show search engines and clients that you are a credible and reputable source. We all get by with a little help from our friends!
Make sure your website is mobile optimized!
Imagine you are scrolling Facebook or Google and you see an advertisement for a new yoga mat that catches your eye. It’s sticky, easy to clean, environmentally friendly, the whole package! You click on the link because you are looking for EXACTLY what that product offers. The website loads…you’re excited…but you can’t read a darn thing on the home page. Their branding is great, their product is great, but their mobile website is…well… not. You can’t find the buy button, or more information so you give up and leave. Sadly, that business just lost a sale.
Most people find websites they want to visit on their smart phones. Make sure your websites and sales-funnels work there too and not just on a desktop. A bad user experience leads to a high bounce back rate on Google, meaning people won’t like looking at or reading information on your site. This leads potential clients to bounce in a hurry. Conversion rates will plummet and Google will not reward you. That’s obviously not what we want.
SEO rankings have EVERYTHING to do with user experience. A slow load time on your website will really hurt your rankings (and cause that high bounce back rate) so make sure all images on your website are at or under 500KB. See my post here on how to resize your images for your website.
*** The image below was originally 19 MB and it used to be on my old website….thats HUGE…and embarrassing…and made my site soooo sloooww. Now I convert EVERY image I use to protect the efficiency of my site. The size is now 420KB. Thank goodness for Compress PNG and Preview.
Publish regularly to your website
A little is better than nothing, but the more content that is updated on your site the better! Google likes to see that there is an actual living human monitoring a website. That makes it more relevant and therefore more useful for people searching for what you have to offer. Content includes social media, blog posts, images, copy updates, what have you. Remember your keywords!
Stay in the know
The internet is always changing, growing, adjusting, and expanding. Search engines and social media platforms are no exception. They can change their algorithms thousands of times in one year alone! That’s pretty overwhelming but don’t worry, you can stay in touch by keeping an eye on your keywords through google analytics, Squarespace analytics, other keyword tools, or by simply searching current SEO best practices. Lots of little actions can add up to make a big difference. Just like anything, consistency is key!