Recently a client said, “I’ve heard that SEO for entrepreneurs is critical to my success. I want to hire an SEO expert but they’re quoting me thousands of dollars. Should I do this?”
I work with solopreneurs and small businesses. I don’t know any who have invested heavily in SEO consulting. Mostly they do a few basics. They take courses. It doesn’t make sense for them.
Some of my clients are new to the web and not clear on SEO. They’ve just heard, “It’s important.”
Here’s a good description from copywriter and marketing expert Neil Patel, whose article would be worth reading if you’re seriously investigating this option.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the process of taking steps to help a website or piece of content rank higher on Google.
The key difference between SEO and paid advertising is that SEO involves “organic” ranking, which means you don’t pay to be in that space. To make it a bit simpler, search engine optimization means taking a piece of online content and optimizing it so search engines like Google show it towards the top of the page when someone searches for something.
Here are my tips, based on my experience with my own sites and those of my clients.
(1) Know what SEO can and can’t do for you.
SEO won’t be helpful if people hire you from referrals and from searching on a platform. If you’re a child psychotherapist specializing in ADD, will potential clients go online and type in, “ADD psychotherapist in Maryland?”
More likely they’ll ask their friends, neighbors, doctors, school counselors, and parent association members. They might attend a workshop, podcast or, webinar where they hear you speak. Then they’ll go to your website to review your writing and your testimonials. They might go to a platform where many psychotherapists will be listed.
If you’re in this category, you’ll get more clients by reaching out through speaking engagements, blogging, social media, podcast guesting, webinars, and publicity.
You may grow your business even faster by meeting “power partners” who will generate referrals. One life coach partnered with a personal trainer to offer workshops. One therapist offered to hold a workshop for the midlife women clients of a medical clinic.
(2) Even if SEO helps you get traffic, once someone’s arrived on your site, your content builds trust and engagement.
You make the case, “why you should buy my services.” If your website seems unprofessional or unclear, your visitor will click away. Therefore, you need to make sure you have a strong, confident message before you reach out for more traffic.
More than once, a client has said to me, “Since you wrote my website, I’m getting more traffic.”
That’s not a guaranteed outcome. It’s not something we deliberately aim to achieve and certainly not something I can promise. But every competent SEO pro will tell you that Google rewards well-written copy and effective site navigation. They’ll also advise you not to distort your copy to make space for more keywords.
Good copywriters will focus on what your client wants. In responding to your client’s backstory, your copywriter uses keywords and phrases that draw visitors.
Additionally, good copy will hold your visitors’ attention longer. When they stay on your pages, Google gets the message, “That content must be worth reading.” And your website or blog post will get a boost.
(3) If you don’t know what your clients want, you won’t come up with keywords and phrases that will attract your ideal clients.
SEO can help you attract traffic…but it won’t be traffic that can help you earn revenue.
Some SEO specialists gauge their success by “made it to page 1 in a google search.” That’s not always helpful. One entrepreneur was thrilled to be ranked Number 1 as a “ business coach for women…” until she realized she wasn’t a business coach for women. She was a marketing specialist for small and medium-size businesses.
Here are some basics, if you’d like to get started.
1 – Know your keywords and keyword phrases. Use a keyword research tool, such as ubersuggest. You can pay someone to do keyword research for you and suggest keywords. But you have to keep testing to see what keywords bring you not just traffic, but targeted traffic.
2 – Learn where to use keywords, such as your headline (the H1 metatag, for those who know a little tech) and the image alt text. Write an enticing meta description – the paragraph that shows when your website or blog post appears in a search.
3 – Write lots and lots of high-quality content. When I first started, that’s all I did. The search engines found me. Today of course it’s harder to get ranked, but you will still get a great deal of mileage from sheer quantity.
4 – If you use WordPress, use the free Yoast tool to optimize every blog post and page.
5 – Set a google alert for your topic. Google will send you a daily email, showing how the phrase was used, so you get a sense of what other people are doing in the area. I have a google alert for “business storytelling” and I’m often surprised to see how the phrase gets used.
You can also go to the next step and install Google analytics…but there’s a learning curve unless you want to pay a significant amount monthly. It’s a diagnostic tool: you still have to interpret and implement after you’ve reviewed the findings.
The bottom line: SEO is not a “set and forget” tool. It’s expensive to hire an SEO expert and you have to know enough to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from the expert.
As a copywriter, I’ve seen some knowledgeable experts who really helped my clients.
I’ve also gotten ridiculous instructions, such as a long list of keywords to add to the copy…after I’d already written a first draft. If you’re going to hire an expert, make sure you understand what they’re doing and why.
And don’t forget…a professional copywriter does a lot of this for you.
They’ll incorporate keywords and remind you to include them in the area “above the fold.” They’ll create engaging copy. Click here for a free report: 3 Big Ways A Copywriter Can Grow Your Small Business.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say, “Make sure you’ve got a good platform before you dig into SEO.”
Are prospects spending time on your site? Do many of the become clients after they’ve browsed your website? Are you getting prospects from search engines (not just referrals and audiences from speaking engagements)? If so, you could consider attracting more traffic and spend more time on SEO.
Otherwise…why bother? You’ll attract people who show up and fly off again…doing nothing for your business and possibly lowering your rankings on the search engines.