Let's chat about SEO
Yes, another acronym that you hear coming from our lips aka. 'blog' - and we promised ourselves we'd stop using them after spending many years in the corporate jungle with far too many to mention. But, in our defence - SEO is bantered around everywhere, and particularly now with recent changes to the algorithm of Social Media platforms (need we say more) - more and more people are looking outside of their Social Media for a good solid digital marketing plan (THANK GOODNESS!).
Last year, we decided to invest in a 'SEO Audit' with Karlie from Techno Bird. We had a base level understanding of SEO and what needed to be done, however, we thought it was important for our small business that we got the 'expert' to check if in fact we were missing anything. Turns out - we were doing ok, phew!
We know that a lot of you have SEO on your 'to do list' but it perhaps keeps moving to the bottom as it all seems a little too hard and often, you're not even sure why you need to worry about it? So, let's chat about SEO (ahem, did you see what we did there - we wrangled SEO again into the body of the blog so we can improve OUR SEO - ha!) with Karlie and see what she has to say...
1. So Karlie, can you tell us (and all those new to the language of Small Business) what SEO actually is or means?
Sure can - SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation; optimising your website for search engines (Google) in order to gain the best possible ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPS) for keywords that people type into Google in order to find information, services, products etc. We all want our websites to be found on page 1 of Google, right? But if that were to happen, the first page of Google would take us years to scroll down and that’s just not going to work. So Google put in place a bunch of ‘rules’ that we should follow and abide by as best we can, so that our websites are dished up to people searching in Google for certain things if it’s going to provide value to them.
It’s not all about having the prettiest website or using the latest website trends, but more about having an engaging, useful, valuable, easy to use website that ticks all the ‘Google Rules’ boxes (this is referred to as ‘On-page SEO’), as well as ensuring we do a bunch of other stuff off our websites (referred to as ‘Off-page SEO) to help drive traffic to our sites and show Google that your website is all of those things I mentioned above. Things like social media marketing, Google Adwords, Link Building… This helps Google to understand and decide that your site is awesome because it’s helping people or providing valuable content to the intended audience, it ticks all their boxes, people are finding your site/finding it useful and your ranking in the search results pages will usually reward you with a high ranking for this.
2. And what is Local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the practise of getting found online or via Google in your local area; for example, if you were to search for an Osteopath in your suburb or town, or near you, you’re likely to use a search phrase such as “Osteopath in Kyneton” or “Osteopath near me” - people will usually always add a location to their search phrase when they want to find someone/something/a service close to them, because what is the point in searching for an Osteo if you live in Bendigo and the result pages show websites for Osteo’s in Perth?
Moz explains this further: “Local SEO is all about increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face. These can be brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations, like a grocery store or dentist's office, or service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area, like an electrician or house cleaning company”
3. Why do you think it is so important to small business, particularly those that are new to a market? and what does it mean for your business if you haven’t considered it?
If you’re a small business and new to a market where others have been for much longer already, have been marketing or ‘SEO-ing’ as I like to call it, for much much longer than you (and doing it well), they are going to rank higher than you and get found online more than you are at first, because they’ve put the effort and hard yards in.
So if you’re new the market, and your website isn’t optimised for SEO and you don’t have an SEO or marketing strategy in place and just hope for the best? You’re highly likely to fail. Sounds harsh, but it’s reality. So to give yourself the best start possible and start making your competitors shake in their boots and show them you’re a force to be reckoned with, SEO needs to be at the top of your priority list before you even launch your site.
4. Everyday, we get an email from someone, somewhere around the globe telling us that our website doesn’t rank high enough on Google (ahem….thanks for that) - but they are all plugging their genius around how they can help improve this - to us, it rings ‘red flags’ and terms like ‘come in spinner’ come to mind. What are your thoughts on these?
One word: RUN!
These people are either desperate for work, scammers, don’t actually exist or are shit at what they do if they have to chase and cold call/cold email total strangers that they’ve never met nor know who you are or what you do or even know you’re actual name. No reputable SEO consultant or agency will ever send out random emails to random people telling you lies, telling you your website is poorly optimised and telling you to contact them and pay crazy amounts of dollars to get you on page 1 (which, by the way, is IMPOSSIBLE to promise because there is no amount of money you can pay to ANYONE, that can guarantee to get you on page 1, it just doesn't work like that and don’t be fooled otherwise!).
So if you get those emails, there’s 2 things you can do:
Delete and block their email addresses
Make sure you have the privacy option on your domain registration so your email address and contact info is not listed publicly for these people to find and use.
5. Is it possible for small business owners to manage their own SEO to an extent? and if so (without giving too many of your secrets away) - where is a good place to start?
Yes it is absolutely possible for business owners to manage their own SEO, if they’re willing to learn how (and continue to seek education as SEO can rapidly change over time), and put in the time and effort SEO requires regularly (it is not a ‘set and forget’ type of process).
A good place to start is heading to my website and downloading the free SEO checklist which will guide you through the on-page or on-site SEO elements your website needs to have that Google will give you brownie points for, or have someone (ahem.. me) conduct a Website/SEO Audit on your website which will provide a comprehensive report on how your website is performing, and tell you exactly what you need to do to improve it and enhance your SEO. Then, I suggest getting educated on SEO; there are a few really good places you can do that:
- General Assembly have some fantastic workshops you can attend in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney (and worldwide) that dive into the basics of SEO, digital marketing, SEM (search engine marketing) as well as advanced SEO. They have day time workshops, night workshops, weekend workshops and long-term courses, full time, part time and online courses available.
Join some FB groups that are SEO focused, such as Kate Toon who is my own personal SEO guru and is a wealth of information and insider scoops on all things SEO.
Just be prepared to learn learn learn ALL THE TIME, and don’t slack in your SEO efforts because it’s very easy to fall off the wagon when you do end up getting that number one ranking - you become an instant target when you obtain the number one spot and people will gun for you, so you can’t afford to celebrate then let it all go away or you’ll find you will slip down the rankings quick smart.
6. With recent changes to the Facebook Algorithm i.e.; everyone’s panic about Facebook being more about the ‘personal’ connection vs. businesses in our feed, we think it’s more important than ever for small business to have their Digital Marketing Strategy include SEO. Would you agree? and if so, is there anything in particular that they should be considering?
Ah yes, the panic that is the ever-changing Facebook algorithm. It’s certainly a pain point for most small business owners, myself included! I 100% agree that it’s more important than ever to have a digital marketing strategy with SEO high on the priority list, because basically, not having a website without SEO/digital marketing strategy is like having a billboard in the middle of the desert, nobody will see it.
The main points people need to consider when it comes to SEO and digital marketing are:
1st, optimise your website;
2nd, focus on building a genuine connection with your audience/customers/potential customers and don’t look at them like they’re dollar signs, look at them like human beings;
3rd, find your tribe and just focus on them where they are; are they on Facebook? Are they on Instagram? Are they even on social media? Work out where they are, and how you can best connect with them and solve their problems
4th, be prepared to pay. Sorry, but SEO isn’t free. If you want to get results quickly then you have to consider a decent budget for things like Google Adwords, or social media paid advertising. You can absolutely build your following without paying a single cent, but it can take you years to get to that point, and in the end you’ll wish you put money towards online advertising and driving that traffic to your site quickly.
7. What is your experience with Google Adwords?
I personally have not invested much money into Google Adwords for my business, even though I *just* said that you should highly consider it, but before you call me a hypocrite let me explain! People actually don’t come to me via Google very often. Instead, I’ve found that social media marketing and word of mouth has helped me to grow my business over the last 4 years - that’s just how it’s worked out for me though. I’ve taken the longer approach to building my business as I just talked about, but if you’re wanting to get your business and website out there really quickly, Google Adwords needs to become your best mate and you need to be OK with handing some cash over to them.
Depending on the type of business you have, your competitors, your budget, your competitors budget etc. will determine how much you should be spending on Adwords. Google will help you to understand what you need to be spending on Adwords, what keywords you should be using via their free Keyword Planner tool, and how high the competition is for you when you set up your Adwords campaign, which I think is a fantastic service. They also have great customer support. For my own clients that I’ve helped out with Adwords, I’ve seen huge success in a very short amount of time when a decent/appropriate budget has been used and the correct keywords and wording of the advertisement has been implemented. For example, I ran a Google Adwords Express campaign for Milk & Cookies by Jewels in 2017 which a smallish budget (she didn’t have to spend much as her competitors weren’t spending much) and she didn’t have many competitors at the time, and along with a few minor tweaks on her website to fully optimise it, she found her ranking jumped through the roof and landed herself in position one in just a couple of weeks.
8. And finally, the question we ask all of our guests - how do you manage the juggle between motherhood and business?
Oh Gosh, is there even an answer to this question?! If you find the answer please share it with me, Ha!
But how I personally juggle “it all” at the moment? I’m trying really hard to find a routine that suits all of us and our individual needs, but understand that shit can hit the fan at any time and you just have to make adjustments if and when you can. It will never be perfect or set in stone. At the moment my oldest has started Prep this year but she has Wednesdays off for the first 6 weeks, so I have 4 days without her home and that will soon be 5 - my youngest is 18 months and he attends day care 2 days a week, and goes to my mum’s all day for 2 other days which means both my kids are out of the house 4 days a week which gives me 4 days in a row to focus on work (and I work from home). I have 3 days of the week where I’m home and don’t work (weekends plus Mondays this year) so I still feel I’m spending a good amount of time with them and well as giving myself time to work. It does feel quite balanced at the moment, which is such a good feeling, but I’m always prepared for things to change if kids get sick, I get sick, things happen, circumstances change etc. That’s the beauty of working for yourself and working from home; you get to set the rules and break them at the same time, in order for it all to work for you and your family.
I also learnt to say 'no' to people, which is such a good lesson to learn! And I recently put some things in place in order to help me run my business a lot smoother - by employing subcontractors, a VA, a social media manager and a business coach, as well as putting a curfew on myself at nights - I used to work all day long for hours and hours, then work for hours and hours at night (most nights) which always result in stress, fatigue, lapses in concentration and focus, and ill-health. Self care is way up there on my priority list this year and for the future.
About Karlie, Techno Bird
Techno Bird is a boutique Website Design & SEO team that provides all your website needs in one place.
Founder, Karlie Plowman, realised there was a gap in the market for a website designer who was affordable to mums with side hustles, start ups with little to no budgets, new businesses and recently established businesses, who needed a website that didn't mean it LOOKED cheap, if it didn't cost thousands and thousands of dollars.
Techno Bird is all about quality, customised and fully functional websites that represent YOU, your business and your branding, that catches the eye and attention of your target audience and keeps them coming back for more