There is so much tech-y language around SEO—meta descriptions, SERP, alt text, local pack, backlinks, page speed, keywords. . .
But while these elements are important, what most business owners don’t realize is that you can get started with SEO without knowing any of these things!
If you’re finding that all that technical language is stressing you out, breathe easy—I’m going to share a new approach to SEO.
SEO: A new approach
Have you ever put off publishing blog posts or updating your site because SEO feels like a huge, complicated roadblock? If so, I’ve got good news: it doesn’t have to be. Your search engine rankings (where you show up in search results) can be affected by non-tech-y issues, such as:
- You’re prioritizing quantity over quality
- There’s a lack of engagement or shareability
- You’re not writing with your audience in mind
- Your blog niche isn’t obvious
- Your site is brand new (or you haven’t started a blog yet)
These are all content strategy issues, not technical ones. Because your #1 SEO tool is your content strategy.
SEO is an organic, long-term marketing solution with high-value content at its core, and it requires a strategic approach. So I’ve put together five simple yet powerful steps you can take to start improving your SEO today.
Step 1: Understand the core values of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is about asking your (potential) tribe to voluntarily opt in—as opposed to outbound marketing, where you’re “interrupting” people via things like TV commercials, online ads, cold calls, and direct mail.
Don’t get me wrong, outbound marketing can be a really effective and appropriate tool, especially for specific promotions and campaigns. However, inbound marketing tools, such as organic SEO, email marketing, social media, and podcasts, will help to support your business for the long-term.
In my view, the core values of inbound marketing are:
- Helpfulness: Offer relevant advice and knowledge without any expectation of sales.
- Empowerment: Enable your tribe (readers, fans, followers, subscribers, clients and prospective customers) to make the decisions that are right for them, not you.
- Community: Build supportive relationships and an active, engaged community that has shared values in common.
Step 2: Develop a new mindset for how you view SEO
Next up is reshaping what your SEO goal really is. Rather than seeing it as hacks or tricks to get onto page one of search results, view SEO the same way you view the rest of your marketing and messaging.
The goal of SEO should be to help your ideal client find your solutions (which were created directly for them) by providing valuable, relevant and authentic content.
That’s the way you succeed with search engines, and it’s what you should focus on before you go anywhere near the metadata and other “tech-y” stuff.
Step 3: Empower your audience to make their own decisions
As a purpose-driven business owner, I know you value authenticity and want to put your clients first.
That’s what search engines do, too – they put their users first by making relevant content their top priority. For example, Google’s #1 point on their 10-point philosophy is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”.
With permission-based (aka inbound) marketing, you can empower readers, followers, and potential clients to make their own decisions, instead of forcing your brand on them. Here’s what that looks like from an SEO point-of-view:
And once a new person clicks through to your site, search engines are more likely to display your site in relevant future searches for that same user. This is important because customers typically need to interact with your brand at least 6-8 times before buying (via Salesforce).
Step 4: Develop a content strategy for your blog
Content is a huge topic that can cover social media, outreach, and email marketing, as well as blogging and other media channels. However, when it comes to improving your website’s search rankings, blogging is where it’s at.
Your top blogging priority should be creating content that is high-quality, shareable and relevant to your ideal client’s pressing needs/frustrations/desires.
From this foundation, you can develop a cohesive content strategy which supports your business throughout the year, building out from your digital hub—your website.
You can choose a range of sub-topics for your blog, set a regular posting schedule, and write a blog series to lead up to a product/service launch or event. If you post videos or have a podcast, you can repurpose that content for your blog. Finally, if you’ve had an active blog for at least a year or two, you can go back and update your old posts, and search engines will treat them as “new” content.
Step 5: Face your SEO fears (it’s doable, I promise!)
Now that you have your foundation in place and a new mindset, you can turn your attention to learning the slightly more technical side of SEO. But don’t be put off by the terminology! SEO may sound complicated, but it really boils down to the following core strategies:
- Getting strategic with your content (check!)
- Qualifying traffic through long-tail keywords—aka focus on longer search terms.
- Optimizing how fast your site loads—ideally, this should be less than 2 seconds, but try for at least under 5 seconds.
- Making sure your site is mobile-friendly.
- Persuading ideal clients to click through to your website—use strong headlines, metadata, and title tags (you can edit the title and description that show up in search results).
- Increasing engagement on your blog—think shareable images, tweetables, encouraging comments, and internal links to other posts on your site.
Don’t stress about doing all these things at the beginning —just break your SEO into small, manageable tasks to start taking steps in the right direction.
SEO is a long process, but you don’t need to be an expert to get started. And if you take the simple steps listed above, you’ll experience big wins along the way.