How to Get Optimized without an SEO Expert

Get Optimized without an SEO Expert | via the Rising Tide Society

When there are slow times in my business I get this knot in my stomach. You know the one?

And when it gets really slow, it’s more like a freakin’ boulder. I don’t know about you, but January and February can be slow months in my industry. So in December, I tell myself that I’m prepared for it. Sometimes I’m even so deluded as to convince myself it’ll be good. *eyeroll*

I’ll blog regularly.

I’ll finally figure out Instagram.

If all else fails, I’ll organize a closet.

It’ll be GREAT.

Let me confess right now, I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than do housework. So begins the push to get more clients. Whether it’s January and February for you, or some unpredictable time, we’ve all been in that place – the empty roster!  

There are usually a few things that I will do in these times.

1. Check the analytics for the best traffic sources.
2. Work on making my site’s opt-ins more compelling.
3. Nurture those leads through email to sales.

Today, I’m here to talk about a traffic source that can work for anyone. Seriously! From the noob to the seasoned veteran, this actually works!

I’m talking about SEO. Yes I am. Just give me five minutes and I’ll transform your ideas of SEO. Five minutes!!


K. The dreaded, mystical practice of SEO:

What I propose is that we take the mystery out of it. Let’s go back to basics that don’t change. And happily, the basics, in this case, are the most reliable and effective.

Basics of SEO
1. Google simply wants what all businesses want – to be the best. The best search engine produces the best results.
2. Google’s results must be the best: relevant, fresh, authoritative.
3. Google is a machine. Girl Boss does not equal Female Entrepreneur. But it will soon, because Google also learns.
4. If YOU want to be in google’s search results – you must be the best result.

Did you see that? The entire ‘secret’ to SEO: BE THE BEST RESULT.

That’s it. Thanks for having me, bye!

🙂 Just kidding! There are things, of course, that we can do to be the best. But a very important guideline – more like a rule – a law actually. Do not try to cheat or trick your way to being ‘best’. Remember how I said that Google learns? It really does.

Were you around during the Panda update by Google? All the sudden people who had spammy links coming into their sites (the ones you can buy for $5 for 1,000) were de-indexed! If you had white keywords in your white background (Yes, really.) you were deindexed.

Sooner or Later Google will Figure You Out (sounds like a title, so it’s in capitals.)

Guidelines for how to get optimized:

How to Get Optimized without an SEO Expert | via the Rising Tide Society

1. Be relevant. Keywords: know what people are searching for. Don’t guess. Actually know.

As a Brand Creative, are they searching for “logo designer” or “branding for my logo” or “business brands”. There are lots of tools online to find out what people are searching for but a great free option is Google Adwords – Keyword Planner.

2. Be direct. For WordPress users, install Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin. Use the SEO box that is beneath the editor on each post page. Use the suggestions. But don’t use them ALL – be natural. Write for your reader, not search engines.

For non-WordPress users (what?!) use keywords in image alt tags, headings, first paragraph and occasionally throughout the article.

Do not overdo the keywords!

3. Be current. Keep your content fresh and up to date. Blog at minimum twice a month for a business site. If you’re working hard to optimize, blog every day.

4. Be an authority. Things like visitor engagement, incoming links, and pageviews determine your authority.

If CNN links to your article, its likely you’re an authority on it.

If 100 visitors engage in a long discussion with you, you’re likely someone knows what they’re talking about. Likewise, if your readers can’t get enough of your posts, it’s likely you are meeting their searching needs.

5. Be established. None of us really trusts a company that sells boomboxes out of the trunk. Boom boxes, stereos, you know? Don’t look at me like that.

You can’t do anything about the age of your domain but you can work hard at the other areas and establish real credibility. By doing so, you make the age thing irrelevant.

I’ve been in business for 10 years now. And one thing never changes – excellence. We want to be the best! So does Google. It’s a very simple formula.

Google wants the best results. So be the best result.

Easier said than done my friends, but I hope these tips get you started in the right direction! I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments! I’ll be checking back here to hear from you!

Cathy Tibbles

I started this crazy adventure as a blogger in 2007, and am learning as I go how to bootstrap a business together, make a difference in this world, and love my 3 daughters to death. WP Barista, my small biz, is a small team of female entrepreneurs who work together to help bloggers make money, fix WordPress issues and create beautiful designs. We're here to help if you need us!


  1. Love this post x1000 😉

    I usually ask these questions:
    1. Am I the best result for this query? Honestly?
    2. Can I be 10x better than the best current result?
    3. Do other people agree (not including my mom)?

    Strive to be the best, keep creating excellent content, then have a solid plan for promoting that content. If you can do that consistently over time, Google (and other search engines) will reward you!

    Thanks for such a simple (yet profound) article!

    1. Cathy Tibbles

      THANK YOU Corey! That made my day! 🙂

      I love the “honestly?” part. It helps to try to take a step back and really challenge our initial response, doesn’t it?

      Thanks for checking this out!

  2. Jessica Freeman

    SEO has been huuuuuge for my business! Google is consistently the highest traffic referral to my site, and I haven’t paid a dime for SEO optimization, Google ads, etc. It’s all about fresh content and keywords — and I’m not even on WordPress 🙂

    1. Cathy Tibbles

      Haha Jess! What a lucky break. When you want to get onto a REAL platform, let me know. 😉

      1. Jessica Freeman

        Like I said, my SEO already has me on the first page for my keywords, and I’m booked out for 4 months – so it’s safe to say that my website is really working for me. Squarespace is just as real of a platform as WordPress.

  3. Feuza Reis

    Google wants to know if they can trust you! so yes be the best result, is your site or blog really what it says it is about.I would also add that social proof your site and blog as Google looks at that as a vote of confidence. And write with your audience in mind, photographers love to write about their work and tend to focus more on themselves or that particular client, but should focus on being a resource for their client and future clients so put their ideal audience in mind.

    1. Cathy Tibbles

      So true Feuza! Lots of ways to keep readers on your site – from writing to them (not ourselves or colleagues) to related content and a ton more stuff too. I have an e-book that I give away on my site too if you’re interested in even more ideas. 🙂

  4. Love, love, love your writing style Cathy, especially for an SEO topic, made me ‘feel’ like we’re sitting right across the table, chatting over a glass of wine! (It’s 5pm somewhere). I love even more your three time mommy award … Can I borrow that tag line?

    1. Cathy Tibbles

      Thank you Thank you Thank you Ronnie!! You have no idea how much that means to me. I’m trying to find the balance between being silly (which comes very easily to me) and being professional… its difficult! Sometimes I feel like a clown, and sometimes I feel boring! Your feedback just MADE MY DAY. and of course – use whatever you like! 🙂

  5. Great post! You did a really wonderful job of simplifying SEO. I blog with WordPress and have Yoast SEO installed. What “suggestions” are you referring to in the editor box?I don’t see that I’m offered any suggestions, would love to know where to look for this!

    1. I would assume the green yellow red light as “suggestions,” as those are tweaks to how google sees you. Love this! I have been playing with self-taught SEO for a while and its greatly paid off!

    2. Cathy Tibbles

      Hi Steph – I have a more in-depth description of how to use the SEO plugin on my site. You can find it under the Free Downloads section. I wrote an e-book with simple step-by-step instructions.

      Hope that helps! 🙂